Never exceed your knowledge when it comes to interior design.
Among the most critical elements to longevity in the publishing industry from an editorial perspective is adaptability.
Often, at the spur of the moment, a writer can be thrust into coverage of subject matter they know absolutely nothing about, charged with the task of producing copy in such an authoritative tone that the reader is convinced the author is knowledgeable.
Over the last four decades, I’ve written about sports, complex transportation issues, state and local government and just about everything in between. I’ve also learned the key to convincing people I’m smarter than I really am is to provide just enough profound input in a conversation to sound convincing, then get out before saying enough to demonstrate otherwise.
One of my oldest and closest friends is convinced I’m a genius because I incorporate that tactic in nearly every social scenario. The exposure to so much information about so many topics that a career in newspapering provides has armed me with just enough knowledge of such a wide variety of subjects that I can enter a conversation, plant my limited kernels of wisdom, then get out — and, this is important, stay out— before being exposed as a fraud.
Even my wife of seven years thinks I’m smarter than I really am.
I tell you this, readers of this venerable publication, because I must to be honest with you. In this month’s issue, I may just push the envelope far enough to blow my cover.
In addition to coverage of this month’s NEFBA Parade of Homes, the theme of the April issue of Realty-Builder is interior decorating trends for 2018. I can write all day long about the merits of a managed lanes project, commuter rail, the development of a town budget, the possible causes of an ocular melanoma cluster (a story I covered in a prior existence) and even a football game with some level of expertise.
However, anyone who has seen anywhere I’ve lived — with the exception of my previous house, a model home we purchased lock, stock and professionally decorated barrel — can attest that interior design is not in my wheelhouse. In one new house I had built, I thought it was a good idea to have a different carpet color in each bedroom.
That should tell you all you need to know.
I’ve learned a lot since then. For example, not to install mauve string cloth on a dining room wall. And not to hang large-print wallpaper in a small powder room. And that giant wooden cable spool I found abandoned in my still-under-construction neighborhood? Yeah, I was going to refinish that and make a cool table out of it.
The termites got to it first.
The best home decorating project I ever executed was in a home office space. I painted the wainscot an off-white, then the walls a deep, rich red. Above the chair rail, I rag rolled (remember that?) a black glaze, then finish-coated the glazed upper wall with varnish.
If you’ve never rolled walls with varnish — and besides me, who has? — I would recommend using breathing apparatus. I could have applied polyurethane to avoid the potent fumes, but I knew the yellowish tone of varnish would render the look of a rich, veiny, red leather chair.
It worked perfectly.
Over the years, I’ve learned to temper my misguided enthusiasm with understated solids and rely on accents to provide punches of color. I’ve also learned that when it comes to décor, I yield to my wife’s tastes in furnishings, wall color and accessories. I don’t make the plan, but I am solid in the execution.
I have deep respect for decorators who possess the vision to put a room together. How often have you walked into a model home or a well-decorated resale, noticed design elements and said, “I never would have thought of that!”?
Most of the decorating ideas I have thought of, I probably shouldn’t have. Many of your clients are the same. When it comes to staging, we know they should keep it neutral, keep it simple, keep it uncluttered and keep it impersonal. That message isn’t always easy to deliver.
Having bought and sold six homes, I’ve learned to always keep resale strategies at the forefront so that when the time comes, wholesale changes won’t be needed.
And that’s pretty much all I know. Time to duck out of this conversation.