I marveled at the opulence around every corner on my visit to an historic estate and gardens located in Washington DC. The lovely volunteer guide knew the smallest details of the magnificent home. She lovingly described 18th century Russian paintings, ornate furnishings, even the origins of the stainless steel counters in the kitchen.
Later, I wondered what a docent might say about my condo and all my precious belongings. What would visitors enjoy learning about my space? Here’s a sample tour, guided by a highly trained volunteer who loves each and every broken piece of china as much as I do:
“Please join me just inside the front door. Here we have a simple wooden bookcase made in the early seventies by a former boyfriend who was a carpenter, and still used by the family today for books and knickknacks.
As we step into the parlor, you can begin to see how the family has integrated modern technology and antiques. You may be surprised to see a stackable washer and dryer, right here next to a baby grand piano, circa 1904. Yes, this room serves both as a music room and a laundry room! Such a daring but very contemporary arrangement! And why not? The piano bench serves as an impromptu folding space for clothes pulled right from the dryer.
Underneath the piano you will see an antique Persian rug, at least that’s what the couple was told, and why they were willing to spend three times more than they had budgeted. Please do not step on the fringe which is already missing half the threads.
In the master bedroom, note the lovely mismatched vintage pillow cases purchased on a trip to Albuquerque and tossed with a devil may care attitude onto the bed. You’ll note if you look carefully there is a tiny rip in the hem of the coverlet, a nod to the owner’s Scotch-Irish utilitarian sensibility and her commitment to always putting the best forward, never mind the underpinnings.
Let’s move to the combination kitchen-dining room-living room. The dining table and chairs were purchased at a discount furniture warehouse. It’s interesting to note that the couple returned to the warehouse after vowing years earlier never to go back, due to abominable customer service. Sometimes with home décor, as with life, principles must be compromised.
The ample closet space has facilitated the couple’s adjustment to condo living. As you can see, this hallway closet is half coat closet, half pantry, thanks to inexpensive shelving. This is one of three closets in the condo wherein objects miraculously disappear, only to reappear unexpectedly when one is looking for something else. Very quaint.
I see that you have spotted the bicycle in the guest bathroom. Note that the two wheels allow for easy relocation to another room in the event of an actual overnight guest or what passes for a dinner party.
Moving on to the combination office and guest room, you will see the large jade plant that has been in the family for over 25 years. Yes, it is gangly and creates a hazard when guests are on the sleeper sofa, but the owner can’t bear to part with it since it is, technically, still alive.
And finally, we have the owner’s desk. Here is where she e-mails friends and family, spends hours at the computer trying unsuccessfully to align columns and tables for a client presentation, and yes, writes humorous essays, and an occasional poem. If you click on the excel spreadsheet labeled submissions, you will note the frequent use of the phrase “encouraging rejection letter.”
This concludes our tour. If you have purchased the supplemental excursion to the storage locker, please follow me. Each of you will be able to select and open one miss-labeled box. Who knows what you may find – a hand-knit baby sweater, old love letters, or copies of lifetime warranties for obsolete mobile devices.