A look back at 2016 At Home, and lessons learned — part 1

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Marni Jameson, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

Ev­ery year about now, I re­view my col­umns from the past 12 months and fer­ret out the best mo­ments. Then I share the high­lights, one for each month, in two in­stall­ments. This year, as I be­gan the process, I needed a de­fib­ril­la­tor. To­gether, we’ve been through a wed­ding, a fu­neral and a new book, and that was just the first six months.

How­ever, sand­wiched be­tween the mile­stones lay smaller mo­ments. Al­to­gether these mo­ments, large and small, which we all have, de­fine life. I share some of both types be­low.

IN JAN­UARY, as a bride about to say “I do,” I said a lot of “I don’t.” When plan­ning my wed­ding, I bris­tled like a por­cu­pine at self-serv­ing wed­ding ven­dors who kept say­ing: “This is your day, so don’t hold back.” As an older and wiser bride, I know this: The more mov­ing parts you have, the more stress­ful your day will be. The more of a pro­duc­tion you cre­ate, the more con­trived it will seem. Sim­ple is di­vine. El­e­gance is re­strained. New par­ents, new grads and about-to-be

mar­rieds get bom­barded by pro­pa­ganda coax­ing them to dole out dough for prod­ucts and ser­vices rang­ing from un­nec­es­sary to inane.

The Les­son: Good taste does not have to come at a high price, and often doesn’t. Don’t fall prey to preda­tors.

IN FE­BRU­ARY, while on tour with my just-re­leased book, “Down­siz­ing the Fam­ily Home: What to Save, What to Let Go” (Ster­ling), I came across these stom­achchurn­ing sta­tis­tics: Amer­ica has more stor­age fa­cil­i­ties than all the Star­bucks, McDon­ald’s and Sub­ways com­bined — 53,000 in all! The rest of the world only has 10,000. Not units, fa­cil­i­ties! Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Self-Stor­age As­so­ci­a­tion, Amer­ica has seven square feet of self-stor­age for ev­ery hu­man liv­ing here. Over 90 per­cent is rented.

The Les­son: Amer­i­cans have a prob­lem. We buy too much stuff, and don’t get rid of enough. The chief rea­son peo­ple rent stor­age units is be­cause they are avoid­ing tough de­ci­sions. Face the emo­tions, then let go be­fore it costs you.

IN MARCH, I was rudely re­minded that if some­thing is meant to be, no amount of op­ti­mism or de­nial, or even the pow­er­ful com­bi­na­tion, which I have a black belt in, will change it. On the prom­ise of Florida blue skies, DC and I planned our wed­ding: an out­door lake­front ceremony, pho­tos on the dock at sun­set, passed hors d’oeu­vres on the pa­tio, then in­side a his­toric home for din­ner. I had di­aled in ev­ery de­tail down to DC’s ster­ling French love knot tuxedo studs.

Two weeks be­fore the wed­ding, the event co­or­di­na­tor asked: “What is your rain plan?” “Rain plan?” “In case it rains.” “Our plan is it’s not go­ing to rain.” Though I thought it an ut­ter waste of time, the week be­fore the wed­ding I re­luc­tantly met with the caterer and co­or­di­na­tor for a plan in case of rain.

And rain it did. Like a wa­ter­fall. And it was per­fect.

The Les­son: Re­gard­less of how you en­vi­sion your out­door event and de­spite how nice the al­manac in­di­cates the weather will be, have a Plan B.

IN APRIL, I is­sued a stern warn­ing to older par­ents: The kids don’t want your stuff ! And I re­ceived a stand­ing ovation from adult chil­dren ev­ery­where. The topic of older par­ents foist­ing fur­nish­ings onto kids sur­faced at one of my book ap­pear­ances. A woman in the au­di­ence said she wanted to give her “won­der­ful” bed­room set to her daugh­ter; only her daugh­ter didn’t want it.

“What should I do?” she asked.

“You don’t give it to her,” I said, which det­o­nated quite a dis­cus­sion. Par­ents, it’s not that your grown kids don’t love you. They just don’t love your fur­ni­ture, china, col­lecta­bles, hand­made Christ­mas or­na­ments or silver tea set. Ouch. Yes, I know you paid good money for these things, and your kids should be more ap­pre­cia­tive. But your kids want to cre­ate their own homes us­ing their own style, not yours.

The Les­son: When down­siz­ing, ask your kids what they want. Be­lieve them. Get rid of the rest.

IN MAY, I dis­cov­ered the best way to make sure­fire color choices. While I have often used an area rug, a piece of art, or fab­ric swatch to in­spire color in my home, a color ex­pert told me why this method is fool­proof: Trained artists se­lect and com­bine — or cu­rate — these col­ors.

For am­a­teurs, com­bin­ing col­ors is triple-black-di­a­mond dif­fi­cult. The skill in­volves pig­ment, hue, value, tone, un­der­tone, tetrads, tri­ads, cool yel­lows and warm blues. Artists who cu­rate color know what goes to­gether.

The Les­son: If you find a fab­ric, pil­low, paint­ing or rug you love, let it lead. Cu­rated color pal­ettes are worth latch­ing onto.

IN JUNE, the woman who taught me the mean­ing of home, my mom, died. She was 94 and lived near me in an as­sisted liv­ing cen­ter, where I got to see her often, un­til one morn­ing. A nurse called: “Your mom has gone home.” Mom. Gone. Home. The words “Mom” and “home” are as in­ter­wo­ven for me as sun­light and air. But the word “gone” was hard to hear. Like many moth­ers, mine de­fined home. From her I learned that home is where they will take you in at any hour; where pre­dictable pat­terns — the smell of morn­ing cof­fee, a dog asleep by the front door, roses from the gar­den on the ta­ble, a full cookie jar — as­sure you that what­ever hap­pens out there, life is safe in here; where loved ones will lis­ten to your half-baked ideas and tell you what they think; where some­one will hang your goofy art and awk­ward pho­tos on the frig; where you can find food for your body, mind and soul; where cof­fee and con­ver­sa­tion can re­solve most any prob­lem; where you can let your hair down, prop your feet up, take your ar­mor off, put your pa­ja­mas on and drop your cares. The home I grew up in was so warm and wel­com­ing my friends used to stop by even when I wasn’t there and long af­ter I had moved out — be­cause of Mom.

The Les­son: What a home looks like mat­ters, but, de­spite what my col­umns say, what a home feels like mat­ters more. A home should feel like the cen­ter of your uni­verse with a mag­netic pull just as strong.

Join me next week for lessons from the sec­ond half of 2016.

Marni Jameson, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

fool­proof color com­bos: Us­ing col­ors that de­sign­ers have com­bined into one tex­tile, like an area rug, is a safe, easy way to in­spire color for a whole room.

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