The Jaunty Lady Decorator
By Jean Nadeau
Over the years I was the decorator of our home. Understand of course, that decorating meant painting each room or moving the furniture around as my spirit dictated.
The only painting at our house was that done by me — except for the living room because of the vaulted ceilings. Early in our marriage my husband was a carpenter. He did enough work in his job and really didn’t want to do too much at home. He would build shelves for me anywhere I wanted, but painting was my domain.
When I decided a new color was needed in any room, out came the ladder, rollers and brushes and voila! A new room decoration emerged. Of course the ceiling was always white. This style of decoration prevailed for years.
Later when I was in the work force, I began to be involved and responsible for office space. We were always trying to fit more people in space that was already occupied. I worked with a designer consultant and began to learn about space and design.
It became my responsibility to arrange office moves. I arranged or maintenance staff from the main hospital to assist, made sure phones would be moved and saw that computers were moved and ready to go. It went well.
My education for design was in an embryonic state. These exposures and experiences were slowly infiltrating my system and I was beginning to look at my home space in a different way. By this time I had become divorced, had finished raising my family, and had moved a couple of times. When I moved into a new condominium, it was no surprise to see nothing but off-white walls and beige carpet throughout.
I had purchased a painting sometime in the past that I really liked. It was a woman sitting on a red and white striped chair, looking jaunty, and wearing a white dress and black hat. I liked this picture and told everyone that it was a picture of me on the inside. It hung in my master bedroom suite and always made me smile.
Next I found a red valance at Good Will for only 89 cents. No big bucks decorator here! After awhile I started buying red frames and made a grouping of framed items over my bed. One item was my ticket to the Kentucky Derby. Another was the card I was given by my coworkers when I retired. Others were cards that friends had sent me. One was a picture of a little girl playing an alto saxophone. I know this friend didn’t know I had played an alto sax in high school.
In the center of this grouping, I hung the red and white hat I wore to the Kentucky Derby. The jaunty lady in her special frame seemed to look on with approval.
Then my decorating really took off. I started painting all my frames red. One wall now has pictures of my children all framed in red. Another wall has pictures of grandchildren in their red frames.
And now the piece de resistance! I decided I wanted to paint the sink area in my bathroom red. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Are you really sure you want this red? Yes! I did.
It took awhile to convince my family that all I wanted for Christmas was to have my bedroom painted. They obliged and the painting was done. I now have white in the tub room and walk-in closet, a light gray on the bedroom walls, and red — I mean bright red — in the sink area.
Somewhere I picked up the idea that you can use plaids, stripes, floral, and geometric designs all in the same space. So, I have floral print on my blue comforter, floral with plaid bows on the seat cushion for my chair, and of course the red and white stripes in the original picture that started all this interest in color!
When my friends come to visit, they immediately demand, “Show us your red bathroom!” After seeing it, they exclaim “That really works, doesn’t it?!” Yes it does and it makes me feel good!
A plethora of designing programs now appear on television: Trading Places, While You Were Out, Decorating for the Sexes, and Designer Challenges, to name a few. In these programs they do all kinds of things I would never ever have thought about. Many of them work well and then some don’t.
Now I am trying to decide what colors to use in my kitchen, dining room, and living room. The last few days I have been looking at different shades of aqua and wondering if I want to use a different shade on each wall. Today I found myself thinking about stripes on the walls. Oops, maybe this is getting out of hand.
It is probably a good thing that finding someone to do the painting gives me more than ample time to confirm what I want and what is workable — but stripes?! Well, we’ll see. I just may be jaunty enough to do it!