My wife has told me on several occasions that I have ruined her. Before me, she would have been happy to live in a nice large, new, builder home with furniture straight out of the Pottery Barn catalog. Now, after spending 21 glorious years together, I have made her painfully aware of the terrible, the unplanned, the haphazard … I have shown her crazy roof lines, fake shutters, and all the perils of asymmetrical hierarchy when in the hands of an untrained professional. Unfortunately, I know shopping for houses, furniture, dishes … whatever, is a complete beating for her because I have a strong opinion about everything.
In my office, the design direction on most of our residential projects is driven by the women with the men relegated to creating one or two “man” rooms (typically a study, media room, or garage). For the most part, the men are grateful to not participate in the design meetings when fixture packages, color schemes, furniture arrangements, kitchen layouts, etc. (I could keep going for a while) are discussed. I can’t really guess as to why this is, it just is.
In the Borson household, my poor wife can’t make a move without getting unsolicited input from yours truly. You can’t really blame me – I’m an architect … this is what I do! I spend an exorbitant amount of time thinking about these things compared to the average person (you know … because it’s my job). For all I know, I am judged by every
Tom, Dick and Harry Jill, Sue and Mary who comes over to my home (not that there are lots of women coming over to my house, let’s focus here people!). I can’t help but think that all the design concessions my wife and I extend to one another in the “spirit of compromise” dilute the design vision of our house. We have spent hours talking about cabinet pulls, butt hinges, concrete pads, even plants, but since we don’t have a single leader, everything decision goes through a selection process.
Another crippling blow that I routinely strike comes when it times to buying furniture. If I can’t afford to buy exactly what I want, I would rather not spend anything. As a result, and after 18 years of marriage, we still have rooms that contain furniture that has been cobbled together over the years from a myriad of questionable sources. I want an Eames lounger AND ottoman but I can’t buy them yet, so be prepared to sit on someone’s lap if you come over.
This process is insane and I know I don’t handle it well. I’m used to people coming to me as the expert and paying to hear me tell them what to do in all matters of design. Only since moving into our current home have some of these things have started to change. 4 years ago we moved from our house of approximately 3,000 square feet to our current house of 2,000 square feet … we had to get rid of a lot of stuff. That process of reduction has empowered us to buy nicer things for the simple reason there was less to buy. A perfect example is door hardware. Our previous four homes all had door hardware from Home Depot or Lowe’s – but this house, since there are only 7 doors, we were able to purchase some really nice stuff, almost extravagant. This was a luxury we never considered possible before.
Lately, my wife and I have been spending more and more time talking about how we can add an addition onto our house. We don’t need the additional space from a square footage standpoint, it has more to do with the programming associated with the rooms we have – we need a second living space (aka – “a playroom”). I am a big advocate of having two living rooms in a house, especially if you have children. The house I grew up in had two living rooms and this allowed my parents to be in one room and my friends and I in the other. I didn’t ever think this through when I was a kid but now that I am a grownup with a kid of my own, I want her to have a space where she can have her friends over to hang out and play.
As much as I want this playroom, my wife REALLY wants this room. In fact, a few moments ago she said that we should have a design competition between she, my daughter and me (the professional, highly skilled, and licensed super-architect) to design this new space. C’mon man! I’m not just some guy in the next cubicle, this is what I do!! She might have tossed this comment into the room just to get me off the computer and to actually start sketch something up, but I’m not entirely sure that’s the case.
Truth is, my wife is way smarter than I am (despite the fact that she married me) and she probably knows that it’s really difficult for architects to work on their own house -and this is simply her way of helping me move things along.
So I suppose I should start working on some designs to create a playroom …
… or maybe a pool?
Wish me luck, my wife is going to need it.