By Bill Primavera
Borrowing from the age-old question of whether women dress for themselves, for men or other women (it seems that other women is their primary focus), I pose the question: Do we decorate our homes for ourselves or for others?
I remember when I was single I visited a work associate’s apartment and found that except for a sofa, a bed and a kitchen table, his living space was totally devoid of any decoration whatsoever. I asked him if he had just moved in and found that he had been living there for a couple of years.
“Do you intend to get around to decorating?” I asked.
He looked at me puzzlingly and said, “Why do I want to bother with things to just look at?” I was astonished.
For my wife and me, the question of whether we decorate for ourselves or others is easily answered by the fact that after more than three years from the time we moved into our new home and decorated, we had invited very few visitors to our home. You might think we had become a cloistered society of some sort, but whatever the social or psychological associations may be, it’s just the way things worked out.
Last week, we had visitors to our home who are work associates. But more than that, they are fond friends.
As they toured our home, we were asked who our decorator was, which we found very flattering. But the fact is we take great pride and satisfaction in the fact that we have always done our own decorating.
After our friends’ visit, I thought about why most people spend so much time and attention decorating their homes. Indeed, is it more for others? Or is it more for their own enjoyment?
Home decoration dates back more than 35,000 years to the cavemen who decorated their homes with drawings of animals, which were important to them for their survival. It was a way for them to express themselves as well, and some of the paintings included human figures, documenting their day-to-day activities. Certainly, this first expression in home décor was for self-satisfaction.
Through the ages, it seems that each society has been driven naturally to the decorative arts – the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans all expressed what they saw around them and incorporated these images into their living environment.
The Renaissance saw great refinement in the decorative arts in Europe. In early America, itinerant artists, devoid of any classical training, stenciled walls for decoration (a substitution for expensive wallpaper) and painted those great landscapes and wonderful family portraits that preceded photography. Today we consider interior design a way to surround ourselves with things we find either beautiful or nostalgic, while factoring in comfort as well.
My research shows that probably for the majority of us the aspect of how our home looks to other people is more important. We want to make a home inviting for guests, that we can feel proud of and at the same time make them feel comfortable.
Also, decorating is a creative outlet for many people, especially when so many of us are compelled to spend significant time away from home. When we can relax in our own homes, we want it to be as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Interior design helps us accomplish that goal.
Bill Primavera, while a publicist and journalist, is also a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.