A Mindful Magpie Decorates her Living Room….Maybe

I’m itching to brighten up my living room.  Maybe I’ve just had too many gloomy grey winter days lately, but I’m craving colour and my living room feels a bit faded and dull. I’d like it to feel as fresh and happy as a June morning, like Justina Blakeney‘s sunny living room, pictured below.

Justina Blakeney

Source: blog.justinablakeney.com

Isn’t that pretty? It most certainly is.

I also have white walls and a yellow couch so, taking a cue from Justina, a collection of juicy persimmon pillows tossed on the sofa should brighten things up admirably.

Except here’s my problem and I know this from experience: looking for pillows, I’ll find other treasures. I have the nesting instincts of a magpie on steroids and updating my living room won’t end with pillows.

Tell me if you recognize this scenario.

Trolling for perfect pillows, I happen upon a lamp. Not just any lamp. A gorgeous lamp. A graceful lamp. It’s not modern, it’s not traditional. It’s perfectly timeless. The moment I cast my beady little magpie eye on it, I want it. I hear it whispering my name and I feel a toe curling surge of desire. But I’m shopping for pillows. I’m not shopping for lamps. I already have lamps. I don’t need another lamp. I try ignoring it. Still this lamp whispers to me.  It’s insistent.  Take me home with you.  Take me home.

So I take one more long hard look and I figure, ‘kay then. You and I are meant to be together. I really like you and I will put you by the reading chair in the corner. I’m digging out my VISA card when I stop. I think, hmmm, the reading chair in the corner has seen better days. Its upholstery is faded and worn; the cushion sags. One day, I need to replace this chair. Maybe one day should be now! Why not? Why shouldn’t I just say, carpe diem?  Seize the chair! Why shouldn’t I should go for it?

Well, there are a few good reasons, actually. Tuition bills, for one.


So I figure I’ll take a look at what’s out there in the world of chairs now, not necessarily to buy anything, you know, just to gather inspiration. That will be fun because I do love chairs. Chairs have such strong personalities. I want something comfy and a little bit on the modern side to offset the fusty green vinyl wing chair I can’t talk my husband into rid off. I find a cool chair on Wisteria’s website. Thankfully, Wisteria doesn’t ship to Canada so I can’t buy it. It will take me months to find something like that here and by then I will have saved a few dollars (and also probably changed my mind.)  The Wisteria chair looks so California, I’m sure Justina Blakeney would approve. That California vibe isn’t quite echoed in our rug though. Our rug is a too dark, too traditional and a little too small for our living room. We need a new rug.

And that is how it goes.

All because I wanted a couple of persimmon pillows, first Plan A sprouted and bloomed. Here is Plan A, which started with a fuchsia (rather than a persimmon) pillow and my beloved lamp:

West Elm, Wisteria, Etsy

Plan A

Then Plan B promptly sprouted and bloomed because when I started looking at rugs, I found another chair, every bit as nice as Wisteria’s inaccessible beauty. Here, the persimmon pillows have morphed into a persimmon chair which seemed to need other colourful elements to balance it. These yellow babies from LampsPlus would pick up the yellow in the sofa and the Peter Dunham pillow and CB2 blue table (on sale!!) look lovely with the West Elm striped rug.

collage ii magpie

Plan B

So now I have two completely different living room refresh plans and I don’t know which I prefer.

I’m dithering. The magpie in me wants BOTH.  The tightwad in me wants NEITHER.

Which do you like better? A or B?

Vote now! Not that I’ll necessarily buy anything based solely on your vote, you understand, but I’m certainly interested in your opinions and comments.

I’m going to keep dithering for a while before making any commitment. While I’m dithering, I’ll keep shopping and, more importantly, I’ll take the time to contemplate my potential purchases:

  • does this make me feel one-night stand kind of lust or is more a case of true love, always and forever?  Whether contemplating a guy or a chair, I want comfy, dependable and low maintenance.  Pretty gets big bonus points, but it’s not enough all by itself.
  • will this help my home function better to enhance daily life? I have a rule against buying anything for strictly decorative reasons. I have a rule against buying anything that makes my home feel crowded and cluttered.
  • is this affordable within my budget and is it good value? I translate the cost of anything into time spent working to earn that money. Will I feel happy trading six months of my work life to pay for  a chair? No. I will come to resent that chair because it sucked too much out of my life. I also will worry about spilling coffee on it and will avoid sitting in it. I won’t be happy if I’m worrying about debt.  I have nightmares about ending up a little old lady living in a grungy room peeling linoleum floor and boxes of stuff, stacked to the ceiling and I’m eating cat food off chipped dishes. That is not my idea of having it all. I want to be a wildly eccentric grand old girl whose adventures scare the kids. I will need reasonable savings to do that so there is not much money to waste being a whimsical magpie.  I have to be a mindful magpie.
  • can I get the same effect or functionality if if I repaint, recover or repurpose things we already have rather than buying new? I get Brownie points for doing so: i) it making me feel like a morally superior person who is environmentally friendly and creative rather than mindless consumer sucked in by what’s trendy; ii) I like things with history and things that hold meaning for us, like Greg’s Aunt Hazel’s sofa; iii) I am not adding clutter to my home.

Dithering seems to be an important step for me to making decisions that feel right for us and our home now and for a while.  Dithering lets me use scarce and finite resources like energy, money, time and space wisely rather than whimsically. When I was twenty-five, I thought there would always be more time, more money, more things to buy. From a midlife perspective, none of those things seems so endless anymore. I don’t want to waste them, I want to use them to squeeze every last juicy drop of enjoyment out of life. The tightwad side of me has developed to keep the magpie side in check and let me do exactly that.  Either left alone would defeat the idea of having it all.  Together they make it possible.

I’ll let you know when I stop dithering and buy some persimmon pillows and find a place for the lamp.

One response to “A Mindful Magpie Decorates her Living Room….Maybe

  1. Plan B
    Not only do I personally prefer B, it is a sign as I was down in Liberty Village yesterday drooling at the thought of going into West Elm. That said, my last visit there wasn’t too wise; came home with a very very light fabric-covered sectional.
    Very aesthetically pleasing until 2 boys, 2 cats, and a dog entered the room.

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