Sylvia and my design star

(a 500 word post)

I saw a quote this morning that reminded me of one of my old design instructors. She was an instructor and freelance designer and she was one of the most inspiring instructors. She has an impressive portfolio including being a designer for the Kentucky Governor’s mansion. I have not seen her in almost 20 years but, think of her often.

Most of the time, when I see bad or super trendy design.

She is the reason that I cannot look through an issue of HGTV and have gone back to House Beautiful and Architectural Digest.

She is the reason I have watched Everything But the House for months on end bidding on Walnut, Drop Leaf Tables.

She is also the reason I begged my mother for her Century Furniture Chinese lacquer and inlaid desk (with matching chair) when my mom was re-doing her living room.

Over the past decades, I didn’t realize how often she had crossed my mind until I read the following had to rip it out of the magazine, I think I might send it to her…

This morning I was thumbing through my House Beautiful and I came across an article about an apartment in Manhattan with rich orange plaster walls. Under the title “The Forever Home” it reads:

Designer Justine Cushing has held on to the same uptown Manhattan apartment for decades, and it’s never warranted a reinvention, only an occasional refresh, why? She got it right the first time.

I cannot tell you how many times Sylvia would say the same thing to us. She would tell us how much people SHOULD spend on their home furnishings (a certain percentage of the cost of their home) and as 19 and 20 year old women we would gasp.
Who could afford that???

And she would smile and say, if you do it right the first time, they won’t need to do it again.

And she is right.

If you take shortcuts and do it the quick way or load your house up with Ikea, it will work for THAT point in time, but it won’t be there for your children and grandchildren.

She always said buy heirloom pieces to pass on to your children.

Sometimes I test her statement by picking up old issues of ID or another high end interior design magazine and browse the pages. More often than not, the issues are dated by the technology or photography, not the principles and theories of design.

I also see proof of her powerful statement when I go into some estate sales of homes that have not been updated in decades (the condition of the carpeting and need of fresh paint) yet, people are carrying out the homes furnishings by the truck load.

This doesn’t happen every time, I have also been to sales where the furnishings were bought for the style of the time. Anyone remember wagon wheel furniture?

The spouselet calls this person, the version of myself that has very strong opinions about Design and home furnishings his “Design Star”. It originated after we used to watch the HGTV show. I have opinions.

I have an art/photography star.
There is also the stationary star (the version of me that has a thing for pens and paper).
I know there are more of them-every time I have a strong opinion, it gets dubbed a “star”.

Today, you have met my Design Star.
The Spouselet thinks she is about 8 years old, but she was born in 1989 sitting in Miss Sylvia’s class, learning how to do it right.

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