Who’s the Fairest (Decorator) of Them All?

By Ann Ipock

I love my home. I love every home I’ve ever lived in. That’s because I make it MY OWN. I’m not a great decorator, but I know what appeals to me. Like a well-seasoned steak, I think we “season” our homes over time with special keepsakes from travels, celebrations and happy moments. I no longer go for large scale redecorating (been there, done that), but I do like to add or change-out accessories. For instance, I have bowls of seashells and coral from Cancun, a three-inch piece of driftwood in the shape of a cross from Pawleys Island, now framed in a shadow box; a small bongo from the Bahamas, next to the mandolin that my dad made.

Then there’s that whimsical, beautifully painted four-inch tile with two fish, a crab and some algae that sits on a shelf. Betsy Boyle Harper, my artist friend from Pawleys Island, painted it for me. (Bless her heart, the poor thing; she tried to teach ME how to paint on tile. She would’ve had better luck teaching me to draw in the sand. I could NOT get the hang of it!)

Right now, I’m pleased with every room in my house, except one. (Isn’t there always just ONE?) It’s my office/guest/play room – the one I take the most chances on, keeping it artsy, eclectic and funky. I recently replaced a dresser with a large armoire, added a family heirloom – a green-suede accent chair – and a drop-leaf, shabby-chic table “desk.” The latter was a flea market find when hub-Russ and I first married thirty-two years ago.

The problem with this room lies in the daybed, no pun intended, and how to arrange the pillows. Two pillow shams, “Lilly-like,” with pink-and-green paisley, are identical to the quilted coverlet–so far, so good. Two huge magenta pillows match the Tommy Hilfiger bed skirt – but the shapes aren’t compatible: square and rectangular – uh-oh. To further complicate, I have two custom-sewn pillows: a long, bolster pillow in pink-and-green stripes and a square lime-green with the striped envelope top (matching my window treatments). The pillows themselves are fine – but placing them on the daybed to coordinate is impossible.

In fact, it’s become a game/contest for me to see how overnight guests place the pillows on the bed when they leave. In other words, “Who’s the fairest (decorator) of them all?” Trust me, no two designs are ever the same. Case in point: if you multiply 6 x 6, does that mean there are thirty-six combinations? Well, hub-Russ would tell me, “Ann, forget that theory! You can’t do math!” True statement: I once received a check from a book store that was one book short of the total payment, but how? Duh! I pulled up the invoice from my computer, and you guessed it, bad multiplication. Note to self: 9 x 4 does not equal thirty-two.

This decorating game began when our oldest daughter, Kelly/aka Martha Stewart, preppy-perfectionist, visited a while back. She’s a neat freak if ever there was one! She can make a flimsy, under-stuffed pillow stand up at attention. She can shake a rug so hard, fluffing up the fibers so high that you swear it looks brand new. She can clean out a refrigerator until it’s nearly empty. In fact, if she even suspects mold, goop or something sticky on an item – which is pretty much the entire contents of my refrigerator – she’ll throw it out: Without hesitation. When Kelly last visited, I was quite impressed with the way she styled the daybed. She’d been gone an hour when I observed this magazine cover-worthy ensemble. Too bad House Beautiful didn’t photograph it. Heck, I wish I’d photographed it because I’ll never be able to duplicate it. Believe me, I’ve tried.

The next house guest after Kelly was my nephew Huck. Now, he’s a sharp dresser – Cole Hahn shoes, Vineyard Vines shirts, etc. I expected something stellar. Instead, his placement of THE PILLOWS was, well, shall we say, simply “there?” Actually, it was more like, “here, there and everywhere.” They were more or less thrown into a pile. (He did, however, make up the bed neatly.)

This morning, I waved goodbye to my oldest sister, Cathy, on the porch, while sliding one leg back into the house, anxious to check out the daybed. Keep in mind, I told her nothing of this little contest. Dang! She decorated just like me – boring and predictable. Magenta pillows at each end, pillow shams in the middle, bolster pillow centered – but, wait! OMG! There was one cute little decorating trick she threw in: she placed the square envelope pillow on TOP of the bolster pillow. Aha! Nice touch! I really like it, more or less. It still doesn’t look like Kelly’s though. Shoot! I don’t know who my next house guest will be. Maybe I’ll invite Martha Stewart. Would that be a good thing?

About this writer

  • Ann Ipock Ann Ipock, the first Sasee hat recipient, is the author of the “Life is Short” humor trilogy. She currently writes for four publications and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband, Russell. www.annipock.com

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One Response to “Who’s the Fairest (Decorator) of Them All?”

  1. Rushing into my bedroom to see how the pillows are arranged. The dog has the ones in the guest bedroom stacked up for her afternoon nap! Funny but true, girl!

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