Over the weekend, my husband and I got the guest room ready. We cleared the clutter. All the surfaces needed dusting. We put crisp, clean, sheets on the bed. I considered buying flowers for the bedside table but worried our guest might think that was a bit over the top.
And I wanted to make a favorable impression.
It seems the last time I fussed this much over preparing a room for our house guest was the first time she ever came to visit almost 24 years ago. She stayed nearly 18 years. When she headed off to college on the East Coast, the distance made visits rare. When she came home for summer break we learned that the expensive education we struggled to finance had taught her well. She apparently knew everything. We felt less as if we were hosting a houseguest and more like the clean-up crew of an emotional crash site. She camped out in her old room, immediately making a mess of it and the family dynamic. When her little sister grew up and took over the “teen dream” room in the basement, the older girl was relegated upstairs to the newly designated guest room. That was a turning point. Our relationship changed with the room.
Our daughter expressed a new found appreciation for high thread counts. She liked the luxurious touch of the bath towels. She asked where I bought the duvet cover. It seemed that along with the grownup bedding and curtains came an actual grownup grateful for her parents’ feeble attempts at Martha Stewart-ship.
Even though the shift probably had more to do with maturity and passing time, I like the idea that new décor can set the stage for a whole new act. I like to believe in the transformative power of stuff. Need to reduce stress? A chic recliner is the meditation retreat of furniture. Great bedding is better than a sleeping pill. And a tribal rug is the magic carpet of flooring.
If clothes make the man, what does the right paint, flooring and furniture do?