What I’ve really been doing

If you’ve ever met my mother-in-law, you’ll know she’s a force of nature. When she knows she’s right, she’s like water. She can overwhelm you in one great flood, or wear away at you like long, slow erosion. Fortunately, the focus of her nature tends to be home decoration, where she is (I confess) usually right.

About a year ago, we were in progress on buying this, our first house. I vowed when I moved in not to spend a lot of time or money redecorating/renovating right away, until I knew what was most important. I think I kept to that goal. We did some big structural things (hello insulation!), we renovated the baby’s room, but in terms of decoration? We’re still using some things we found on sidewalks 6 years ago.

I’m not really sure how this happened, but my mother-in-law got me started on the living room. Now, my living room is rather bland. It has a wood floor, white paneling, beige leather couches, a white carpet, white curtains and a wood ceiling. So there are three main colors: brownish neutral, white and kid’s toys. All in all, it was a rather bland room. I think her introductory drug was some throw pillows for the couches to spice it up. Then there was the chair cushions for the chairs in the dining room (same color scheme, but brown wooden paneling). The new lamp shades were really quite necessary since the old ones truly were broken. She reorganized the top of the hutch to pull out the blue accent color we’d opted for. The throws were needed to replace rather tattered ones we were given for our wedding. (Makes me feel old — that wedding gifts are old enough to need replacing. 8 years!)

Picture of the living room as it was
Picture of the living room as it was

First, she helped me settle on a color. I thought I had settled on a color — a sort of steel blue. She said it would be a very cold color during long New England winters. I suspect she is right. So instead we went with a sort of sage or celadon with blue accents. We used some sheets as tablecloths to give big splashes of color in the dining and living rooms. We pulled it into the downstairs bathroom and kitchen with towels, rugs and potholders. Finally (and here’s the expensive part!) we have ordered new curtains (living room — may be extended to the dining room later) and carpets (dining room and living room) to complete the ensemble. We also picked out new dishes, which I’m giving a trial run before purchasing enough of.

I’ll post final pictures when the final elements arrive, but here’s how it is so far:

Throw pillows are more expensive than I would've guessed, even at Target.
Throw pillows are more expensive than I would've guessed, even at Target.

We got a nice washable canvas tub for the toys under the tv.
We got a nice washable canvas tub for the toys under the tv.

You know those TLC programs where people come into your house, tell you what’s wrong in amusing language and fix it over two days with little sleeping? I get that when my mother in law comes to visit. But man, is she right! I’m very excited about a downstairs with, you know, color!

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

2 thoughts on “What I’ve really been doing”

  1. Would she like to come and visit me? Actually, I need major help. New carpets, for example! These were old when we moved in 21 years ago.

    Looks nice. I can hardly wait to see it in person.


  2. Perhaps someday you two will be in the same place at the same time! Laureen is very gracious, however. The font of all decorating (and dressing) advice usually only turns on after she knows she won’t scare you off.


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