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Adele Elliott: Designing woman

 

Adele Elliott

 

"Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is." Charles M. Schulz 

 

 

 

This week, my homepage had the nerve to suggest quick fixes for my décor dilemmas. Evidently, they had managed to reverse their nosy little cameras and focus the computer screen into my home. There is really no other way to explain how they got photos that so remarkably resembled my living space. It was all especially unnerving, since my style was labeled as "before" in the images. 

 

One room was described like this: "A jumble of flea market finds clutters the entryway ... " So? What''s wrong with that? I love my eclectic collection of unmatched furniture. Cluttered it may be, but each object was chosen, if not with care, then certainly with passion. I love every piece. 

 

My husband and I landed in Columbus with three pets and little else. In the five years since Katrina we have gathered an assortment of lamps, chairs, vases and ephemera of all sorts that has appeal to us. No, we will never be asked to exhibit our home on one of the tours. But, that''s just fine. Too many visitors traipsing through would probably upset our furry children. 

 

We lost so much in the hurricane. I had begun collecting art and antiques in my mid-20s, and had inherited chairs from my grandmother and a huge, heavy table from my mother. I was never interested in expensive cars or designer clothes. But, art -- now that was something worth spending money on. That storm devastated the collection that had taken a lifetime to assemble. 

 

When we began to furnish the house that we bought in Columbus, everything seemed strange to me. Although we chose many things that were quite old, they were not the things we lost, therefore "new" to us. 

 

It took many months for me to accept these surroundings as our home. I would look at the newly-assembled possessions with the distinct sense that I was house-sitting for someone else. I didn''t know who lived here. I truly thought that this invisible woman had very good taste. But these things just were not mine. 

 

Of course, that feeling of displacement faded. Now, MSN deems to tell me that my colors clash and "lack presence." Maybe it is not normal to choose a palette that reflects a theme of Mardi Gras and doggie chew toys. But, it works for us. 

 

I honestly thought that the designer "after" photos were boring. Neater? Well, OK. But, really, I am no Martha Stewart. Perfection makes me nervous. 

 

These days we have art by locals like Larry Feeney, Katherine Munson and Martha Young. Finds from the Kappa Pi art auctions, on the campus of the W, hang in almost every room. 

 

We have mixed estate-sale tables with "treasures" from Fred''s. Our porch is illuminated with Christmas lights all year. This home in Columbus is a happy one. I imagine most interior designers would be appalled at many of our choices. But, our heart is here now. That "strange" woman who decorated it did a pretty good job. I wonder where she went? 

 

  Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at adeleelliott@bellsouth.net.

 

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.

 

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