Thursday, 13 January 2011

When two become one - what do you do with what's left over?

I recently caught a re-run of that 2005 Lifetime TV show "Merge" where a man and woman, deciding to cohabit, try to make their independent tastes in home decor merge together, without nominating too much of each other's stuff for the wood chipper.  It reminded me of the situation Hank and I face in our first home together, trying to make his chrome, leather and black furniture merge with my floral Victorian chaise longue, Wedgewood china and Royal Doulton figurines.

Figurines and cuddy toys - what you men love most about cohabitation

Hank and I had each owned pretty full sets of furniture in our former, independent lives but I was at a disadvantage here in DC - not that it's a power struggle - because I'd left most of my furniture in London to rent out with the apartment.  So, with the relatively few items I have in DC, even a tiny sacrifice for me now could signal a huge shift in the balance between Hank's chunky man-stuff and Georgia's tasteful and refined selections.

Ok, ok, I accept that last description was not very impartial.  Like most people, I am attached to my sense of style, and change is all the harder because sentimental women such as me attach such personal significance to decorative items like a dinner service ("ah.... remember that Christmas when we got Chinese take-out?  Best ever...").  Still, at least these merging pains are really not exclusive to me and Hank.  I have heard of homes where DVDs were shuffled up on shelves so that the perusing eye took in Alien vs Predatorthe Godfather, Terminator, The Wire, Platoon, Mama Mia ... Wait, what?!

Fortunately for me and Hank, what seemed like a daunting task at first has become quite worthwhile.  You may by now be wondering, where on earth dark wood furniture could meet antique Victoriana halfway?

Unknowingly, Hank's parents provided the final piece of the design puzzle when they kindly donated their Asian-inspired mahogany sleigh bed.  It became obvious: SE Asia, colonial-style.  Hank's dark-stained Balinese teak will blend with my screenprints and his rice paper and wicker room dividers.   We hope to choose some campaign-style pieces from my favourite DC vintage furniture store Miss Pixie's.  Lots of tall, leafy house plants to create the illusion of the East Indies.  Maybe we'll scatter a few silk cushions.  With my repositioned Japanese altar cabinet now housing the Wedgewood,  I really feel comfortable with the way this is moving....  This could really work!

I've hidden the Wedgewood in the cabinet, ok?  But Hank, if the china gets into any "accidents" I will call the FBI to dust it for your prints.

But as with all power struggles (reminder: this is not a power struggle), there are sacrifices: this week's loser is poor old Debbie, the Royal Doulton figurine pictured earlier.  Hank just can't find it in him to display her beside the TV.

So, goodbye, Dolly.  It's the bottom shelf of the bookcase for you.  With a smile, I must confess: since she is so valuable and so breakable a dust-magnet, even I am relieved to see her go.

NY Times tips on avoiding a "no-holds-barred meltdown right out of “War of the Roses.”

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