Editor’s Note

When It Comes to Home Design, It Pays to Consult the Experts

What does your home say about you?

By Catherine Matusow August 22, 2016 Published in the September 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Image: Shutterstock

Your home says a lot about you. Maybe it’s “I never met a floral pattern I didn’t like” or “I spend my weekends antiquing” or “I have a friend with a designer discount at High Fashion Home.” Perhaps it’s “I want to make you cry with my amazing art collection” or “I (Heart) Chip and Joanna Gaines” or “I will make Architectural Digest if it kills me.” Mine, for better or worse, says this: “I like to party.”

Let me explain. The house was built in 1970 and, like many homes of the era, features a vintage wet bar complete with mirrored walls and faux-walnut bar top. We may update it at some point, but for now, it’s out there in all its ’70s glory, the only nod to modernity the wine fridge we installed to replace its ancient icemaker.

Outside, meanwhile, the house has a pool and, next to it, another bar, this one an honest-to-God bamboo tiki bar installed by the home’s previous residents and outfitted with a grass roof, TV, café lights and silly signage along the lines of “one margarita, two margarita, three margarita, FLOOR.” People give you such things when you have a tiki bar.

Embracing the kitsch of our not-one-but-two bars was something my husband and I agreed upon immediately when we bought the home three years ago. I mean, if you find yourself in possession of two bars, go ahead and install a portrait of a busty pinup behind one, and hang papier-mâché Corona bottles off the other, right?

But I do have my limits. One night soon after we moved in, he blithely hopped on Amazon and, without consulting me, made the following terrible purchase for the indoor bar: New Modern Adjustable Synthetic Leather Swivel Bar Stools, $68.98 for the pair. When he showed them to me on his iPad, I grimaced, but the thing was done.

It’s hard to explain why I hated these barstools so much. Was it their ugly brown plastic seats? The fact that they were pretty much the first item to come up when you Googled “barstool”? Their undeniable featherweight cheapness? They were like my own personal leg lamp. And like the mom in A Christmas Story, I kept finding excuses to hide them away, stashing them in the garage, only for the man to drag them back inside.

For his part, he maintained that the stools were cool and I was being a pain—that is, up until recently when, planning a home renovation, we hired a designer, Byron Kidder of Interior You. One afternoon when we were sketching things out at the dining room table, I pointed to the barstools and asked his opinion. When Byron quietly nodded yes, they needed to go, I tried not to grin too widely. Shortly thereafter, my adversary gave in. The war was over.

As for the renovations, my main takeaway from the experience—and something Houstonia’s editors kept in mind while planning this month’s wonderful cover story on home design—is that no matter what you think you know, it always pays to consult the experts. They know better.

P.S. Anyone need a pair of New Modern Adjustable Synthetic Leather Swivel Bar Stools?

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