My friend Mary Reyes of Abilene, Texas, does not have a messy house. I repeat: Her house is not messy. I call it “tastefully cluttered.”
Maybe you know someone like Mary.
I believe there’s a little charm to this term, “tastefully cluttered,” which I coined myself. You are not likely to hear it used on Home and Garden Television, but I find it is a perfect term to describe Mary’s busy decor, which is too cute and charming to call a mess but too cluttered to consider elegant.
Have you ever noticed that some people’s clutter looks a lot nicer than your own clutter? It’s all a matter of display and organization. Some people are just better at putting things in the right places, or in some cases, putting things out of place, but in so doing, create a whimsical or down right comfy, welcoming effect.
When you walk into Mary’s house — which would be hard for you to do since you do not know her and she lives in another state, so you’ll just have to take my word for it — you’re welcomed by this laid-back cottage charm. The clutter is everywhere, but it is so inviting, so tastefully arranged. There are antique trunks, candles, faded paintings, stacks of books and magazines, stuffed animals, church replicas and antique candlestick holders on the walls.
Mary has the kind of house that every time you visit, you discover a new little hidden treasure tucked somewhere that you didn’t notice before. And sometimes she just rearranges all of her stuff, much of it collectibles, to create a whole new look.
Her knickknacks have a combination of European and Old American influences. The last time I visited Mary, which was during spring break, she was painting her living room a rustic red.
You wouldn’t believe how much money people are spending nowadays to make their things look old. It’s kind of silly, how much they spend on various paints, varnishes and treatments, only to turn around and bang their walls up with a hammer or ax and then apply another special texture to emphasize that old withered effect.
There is a cheaper way. Just give me a few bucks and I’ll bang your walls up for you.
You would think that just buying old stuff would do the trick, but people are paying good money for old stuff just to go buy new stuff to make it look even older.
The rustic look is definitely in. I’ve been looking around at local restaurants and homes and have seen people doing clever things with old beaten doors and windows. So if you’re looking to add value to your home, take out a hammer and start beating up the walls. Of course, you have to know what you are doing. Dents and chips can actually add value to your property, but only if they’re in the right places, and I have no way of telling you which is right and wrong. It’s all a matter of taste.
If you start ripping apart your walls and someone says, “Wow, I’ve been trying for that effect at my house!” then you’re on the right track. On the other hand, if someone makes a remark like, “I didn’t know you were getting a divorce!” then you’re probably on the wrong track.
I like the idea of someday buying an old house and restoring it to its original condition, preferably a small two-story Victorian cottage with window shutters and a big front porch. For now, my apartment will have to do. And since my daughter, Laura, and I moved into our apartment in January, we’ve been trying to get that “tastefully cluttered” effect.
I’m a little crazy about grapes, sunflowers, roosters and crosses right now. I used to just collect sunflowers, until Mary recommended the eclectic look, which is a little bit of everything. I definitely like the eclectic look better. Nothing has to match.
So far, the process has been slow. We’ve started collecting magazines for the coffee table and old books for the shelves. All that is lacking is a nice coating of dust to give the books a real rustic effect.
It’s probably just a matter of time now before somebody starts manufacturing spray cans of dust. It’ll be the most ingenious sales promotion since bottled water. People will shell out bucks for something that cost pennies to produce. Instead of Pledge to dust your furniture, people will be paying for spray cans of dust.
Wouldn’t surprise me!
Helena Rodriguez is a staff writer for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: