At the ridiculously young age of 24, I purchased my first home when rates finally fell to 13.5%. My loan was for 15 years with 20% down! At this time, I had worked in a retail furniture store (now the largest in the US) for over a year.
While I had studied business and psychology in school, I had taken all of my electives in art history. I studied ancient civilizations and how art was expressed throughout the ages, and even took an art class in which we were instructed to draw with our eyes shut while listening to everything from Mozart to ACDC to see which emotions were transformed into the blindfolded “art.” I sure wish I had saved some- I bet that they would be priceless now. I might have become a Jackson Pollock or a Robert Motherwell. I mean seriously, who decides what is brilliant in the world of art?
For all of my right brain/left brain tendencies, I had a God-given talent for design. My confessions regarding my first home are dating myself, but I’m actually proud that I am young at heart, in spirit and with my style.
So, my ex and I embarked upon house hunting, and found an adorable 2500-square-foot colonial style home in Jamestown, NC. The framing was underway, so I was able to make some changes here and there, select color schemes, etc.
(FYI: This is the only home in which I have made money and I only lived there for 18 months).
Needless to say, we were on a very strict budget (non-existent actually), and I ordered and installed (with the help of a friend) those ghastly plastic mini blinds for privacy. Unfortunately, to save money I neglected to hang any on the windows in the closets on the back the house, which cost me dearly when I discovered that the sun had bleached out all of the sleeves exposed to the light. I lost every piece of clothing made of natural fabric fibers that I owned. Lesson learned!
With every dime I could scrape together through work, and being a bar maid/hostess at the High Point Furniture Market for extra money, I saved up enough money to wallpaper my entrance, the stairwell, and upstairs hallway in - WAIT FOR IT - Laura Ashley paper as shown. The fireplace wall of the family room had a burgundy, navy, and camel stripe wallpaper and my upstairs master bedroom was done in grey and mauve. I was about two years ahead of my time with my color scheme, as I have continued to be my entire life.
I absolutely HAD to have those Dorothy's Originals for my breakfast room and kitchen. Oh, how I feel when I think of all those ruffles trimmed in a Williamsburg blue and tied back, looking like petticoats from Gone with the Wind.
I didn’t have one, but a bay of three windows with these curtains. And of course, another over the kitchen sink window.
I designed, and then and had my father-in-law build, an entertainment center, a bar, etc. that were nonexistent at the time. (Another missed opportunity for fame and fortune). The people who purchased the house loved my décor and furniture and I was able to leave all that horrible stuff with the house! My daughter, however, to this day is still using the unfinished pine furniture I purchased and had pickled (yes, you did read correctly… pickled). It has been painted numerous times from lime green to black and is still in excellent shape.
Unfortunately, I have recently parted ways with the gorgeous parson’s table by Drexel, finished in a tortoise finish that is back in style again (midcentury fans be careful what you throw out). I have just given it to my dear friend and professional drapery producer, and I’m already saddened by the loss. I held on to that gorgeous piece from that house until last year and, low and behold, the same design has now been pulled from the archives of Drexel and is now reproduced for Thomas and Gray, a division of Hancock and Moore and produced in the Councill Craftsman factory.
A few lessons to learn from my first homeownership experience:
1. You can refinish good wood pieces easily.
2. Don’t argue over drapes when selling a house.
3. Some styles from the past should never be repeated!
4. Put blinds or better yet, plantation shutters on closet windows!
5. Hire an experienced designer to assist you from making major mistakes.