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When Home Decorating Should Be ‘A Matter of Time’

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera

Normally I don’t watch television in our living room, although there is one there just in case we want to tune in when our extended family visits. My wife and I prefer viewing in our master bedroom.

We are lucky to live in Trump Park in Yorktown where we decided to downsize from our six-bedroom historic colonial to a two-bedroom condo with all the expected features and services that make life easier. Sometimes that’s of benefit.

Not so long ago, having had an operation to remove a painful bunion, I was marooned at home, unable to drive or walk with ease for two months. The first time I was able to limp with crutches to the front desk in the lobby after the procedure, the wonderful concierge, Gina, asked how my recovery was going. Trying to be optimistic, I replied, “I’m getting there.”

Her response was almost epiphanic to me: “Well everything is just a matter of time, isn’t it?”

That message also applies to home decorating that comes together when we do it ourselves. Whenever I see a model home, I marvel at how a professional designer can throw together a beautiful living space with so many creative ideas so quickly. Some peoples’ minds are just wired that way; obviously mine is not.

I remember years ago when I invited a Good Housekeeping editor to my home. She surveyed my garden and asked how long I had lived at my property. When I responded, “20 years,” she said, “It shows.” It wasn’t until another 10 years that I was happy with what I had done there.

I know I’m not alone. When the question “How long did it take for you to decorate your home” is asked online, most people respond “I’ve been in my house three years and I’m STILL not done.” Some will elaborate and share that they enjoy the “process.” Another response was “I just kind of bought things here and there, changed them out, changed my mind and now I am starting to fix it exactly how I want it.”

My wife’s theory is that when a decorator works on a model home, it’s easier because the assignment is impersonal.

With our last move, our biggest dilemma was dealing with too much “soul.” All of our belongings, which fit in nearly 4,000 square feet, needed to go to less than half that space. This time around, my wife wanted more open space than we ever had in our antique home. But after six months in our new condo, slowly adding this and that from many things we had previously vowed to sell or give away, we’ve definitely missed that opportunity.

There was a second problem, one that time helped solve. I had always resisted the idea of having a television in our living room, no matter where we lived. In our old home, we had it only in the master bedroom and a small one in our library. When our whole family visited, we all would pile into the bedroom if we wanted to watch a show together, and my wife always hated that.

She insisted that in our new home there must be a large television installed above the fireplace/mantel that we were having designed and installed by master cabinetmaker Jan Efraimsen of Woodtronics in Yorktown. I had angst about that for months. It was probably the biggest decorating conflict my wife and I had ever had in our long marriage. I have always detested visiting beautifully designed homes costing over a million dollars to find a big “black hole” of a television over the fireplace in a living room. In a family room, fine.

When Efraimsen’s crew arrived to install the magnificent mantel with its gorgeous Carrera marble inset and rich baronial style design, I was inwardly balking at the idea of having the television on top of it. I stayed awake thinking about it. I knew that once the new TV and sound system was installed, I would be stuck looking at that big black screen, center stage, for the rest of my life.

With plenty of pleading, my wife gave me one last stay of execution. We decided to place it on the far side of the room above a bookcase in the corner. Thank goodness it took some months to plan, design and build the cabinetry for my living room because it helped me avoid the bullet of a lifetime eyesore. Once again, time came to my rescue.

Moral of story: It’s not such a bad idea to take baby steps with decorating. You may be living with it for a lifetime.

While a writer and journalist, Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. ( His real estate site is To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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