Thursday, August 19, 2010

Making "The Office" Habitable

The "office" with a few, new added splashes of color.

The office (bedroom number two at the home I inherited) was looking pretty droopy: a mass of file boxes, electronic equipment, electrical cords and two beds with dreary old bedspreads.

Since I bought my new MacBook, I WiFi'd the house and use the Mac on a desk in the kitchen/family room where it is convenient, and the light is nice all day. The MacBook came with a wireless printer, so I don't even have to have the printer in sight. Add the iPhone--which serves as a mini computer for checking email and doing other quick Internet chores--and I found myself not going in to the office very much. It grew dusty and gloomy.

I knew it would look great with a new coat of paint, as it has chair rail moulding around the room. But I'm in the middle of refinishing the floor in bedroom number three, and since one gaggle of workmen in one room at a time is enough for me--I haven't gotten to this room yet. In the meantime, I thought I would try to brighten it up with a few simple things that wouldn't cost much money and cost me even less in the time and stress departments.

First I cleaned the room--amazing how much that improves things--put away a lot of the paperwork, tied up the electrical cords and put them behind furniture pieces.

Then, I bought two new white bedspreads--cotton Matelassé from Portugal, on sale. Cotton is wonderful. Cool in summer, warm in winter. Cotton Matelassé bedspreads will wash easily in a home machine, soften over the years, and last forever. The best ones come from Portugal and the two I found on the Internet immediately improved the look of the maple twin beds I inherited.

I had two needlepoints completed from the months my father was ill--nervous energy sped them along, but I didn't know what I would do with them. They were traditional in pattern, but the colors I used were weird and not my usual sunny ones. White lilies on a dark brown background? (Death on my mind, or what?) My own first initial done in pink and dark cranberry with two slightly satanic-looking clowns forming the humps in the "R"? Heaven and hell swirling around in the subconscious, I guess.

Anyway, my niece brought me an ethnic rug from Afghanistan--something she picked up during her tour of duty there with the military and I had already put the rug in there. And I had a textile from her Peace Corps years in Uzbekistan in there too. So, what with my strange needlepoint pillows and the Near Eastern textiles, I thought I might have the beginnings of an ethnic theme going in there.

I remembered a shop in Palo Alto filled with textiles from Tibet--actually from exiled Tibetan workers in India. (Tibet is presently under the harsh control of the Chinese. Google "Dalai Lama" for more on that controversy.) And I thought I might find something at the Tibet shop that would to speed along my decorating.

Indian quilt in traditional cotton fabric.

It was there I found two Indian Calico quilts for the foot (feet?) of the beds: they are beautiful, hand-stitched, and the price was unbelievably reasonable.

The quilts don't match but that is part of their charm.

My niece tells me the below-one-hundred-dollars-each-price means the workers are probably handicapped children who get three cents an hour. She knows whereof she speaks as she's an intelligence expert on that part of the world: but I remind myself that India is, at least, a democracy (unlike China--from whence comes almost everything else we buy). And I don't think I help the Indians/Tibetans in need, if I don't buy their goods. Ah, the moral perils of shopping amidst a sea of globalization.

Hand quilting makes the Indian textiles imperfect and especially beautiful.

Work made by hand is so rare in this age of machines. I think each quilt is a work of art. I hope by buying them I actually helped someone. Because the person or persons who made them certainly helped me. Their work is a gift that traveled to me through both time zones and ages and--in a room that by necessity still features modems and printers--brings a simple Eastern beauty into my home, halfway around the world.

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Jon said...

Your decorating style is classic while still being inviting. I appreciate the eclectic folding of colors, cultures, and textures into an environmental comfort food. And done with your Scot thrift!

Robin Chapman said...

I wish it were true that I were a thirfty Scot like my father. Unfortunately, I am more like his English father, who was generous to a fault, denied his family nothing, and died at 57 with only about ten cents in the bank. But I can try ... glad you like the room.

Devon C. said...

It looks great.

Robin Chapman said...

I want to have everything nice in case my friends like Devon come and visit.