Sorry, Martha, but I don’t decorate

Categories: Making Time, The Juggle, Working? Living?


I feel like I should make the effort to festoon the house with ghouls and goblins — or at least pumpkins and bales of hay. Most of the houses in my sleepy little New England town slipped into full fall regalia the instant the leaves started changing; people around here hang out cute little flags with various icons celebrating various holidays at various times of year. Mailbox poles are twined with fake foliage, small orange pumpkins and warty-looking gourds sit atop stone walls, autumn-themed banners are hung by front doors.

Not at my house. Oh sure, as we get closer to Halloween, I’ll scoop the brains out of a pumpkin or two, carve eye holes and a crooked mouth, and set a tealight inside and call it good, and there will be plenty of candy for little trick-or-treaters, but don’t count on any splendid decorations, because, truth be told, I don’t have the time. But, also, I don’t have the inclination. Forgive me, Martha Stewart, for I have sinned: I don’t decorate.

That’s not quite true: I happily hang ornaments on a spruce tree for Christmas, and I set single (electric) candles at each of the windows post Thanksgiving and hang stockings for each child by the fireplace on Christmas Eve, but that’s more for the sake of tradition than anything else. In general, I don’t decorate. I don’t have an eye for it, or the patience, or, frankly, the budget to hire someone else to do it for me.

This goes beyond changing the look of the house with the seasons. Picking paint colors paralyzes me; I would be quite happy to paint every room in the house some shade of white and then hang art everywhere, except that I don’t end up hanging art anywhere. I’m serious; we moved into our current home in 2001 and I only got around to repainting the kids’ bedrooms last year and haven’t hung a thing on the master bedroom walls. Luckily for us (and for our neighbors), my can-do-anything husband picked up some mad styling skilz somewhere along the road; it is thanks to him that there are big puffs of mums on the front porch and pictures hanging in the living room and a centerpiece on the table at Thanksgiving.

I see shows on TV and read articles in family- or women-oriented magazines about decorating on a dime and cool color schemes and fantastic holiday knick-knacks, and I understand that I’m supposed to love to decorate. I’m supposed to get tired of the same-old look and long for something new, something trendy; I’m supposed to wonder how to make my family room pretty yet practical. I know people who routinely repaint walls or move furniture or even, shockingly, redesign entire rooms on a whim — you walk into their homes and it never looks the same way twice.

I don’t really understand this.

So, when the topic turns to redoing one’s living room because August has morphed into September, or searching for special china for a single meal, or decorating one’s mailbox for each holiday? I┬áREALLY don’t understand this.

Someone explain it to me… do you redecorate with the seasons? Why or why not?

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8 comments so far...

  • haha i WANT to redecorate but i only do a little here and there. i have ’spring/summer’ fake flowers for my one vase that get replaced with a bowl and candle for fall/winter.

    woohoo! Redecorated!

    Other than that we do the pumpkin thing for halloween and might even put out a string of eyeball lights (perhaps the day of). For christmas we do a tree and many knicknacks because i LOOOOVE it and i think it kind of makes up for the lack of sunlight and makes me smile :) however, in the 7 years we have lived here and i have asked for outside lights they have yet to appear.

    that said, the idea of having everything change and be perfect is lovely. The act of DOING all that changing and perfecting makes my head want to explode.

    i just enjoy looking at the catalogs for now :)

    kate  |  October 5th, 2008 at 10:42 pm

  • Yeah, Martha Stewart I’m not. We “decorated” the house when we moved in and that’s the way it’s stayed. I have neither the time nor the inclination to do the cutesy stuff. (I also rarely bake from scratch. Cake mixes are fine with me, and I’m always happy to buy something from a bakery.) To be honest, when I see that stuff it just makes me think, “Ugh. What a chore.” For those with that gift, more power to them. It’s just not me.

    Robyn  |  October 6th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

  • I do a teensy bit: for Halloween and Christmas. I think it’s partly because it looks pretty and partly because I’m from New Zealand where people don’t do seasonal decorating … well, they didn’t when I was growing up … and they just don’t really have any fun seasonal holidays as you Americans do. Your calendar is just so much more fun!

    Diane  |  October 6th, 2008 at 2:49 pm

  • I USED to decorate. Then I had kids…

    Angella  |  October 7th, 2008 at 12:38 am

  • What Angella said. I am with her.

    vera babayeva  |  October 7th, 2008 at 9:33 am

  • I have decorating things. I just don’t have time anymore to put them up. When I stayed home with my little kids, I did things like that because I needed something more grown-up than “You be Han Solo.”

    I’ve been saying for six weeks now “We have got to pick apples.” There’s an orchard in the next town! Maybe this weekend. But it’s already getting full…

    Brighid  |  October 9th, 2008 at 12:23 am

  • I totally relate! Especially with the picking paint colors is paralyzing part. We just completed a major house remodel and it was torture for me to pick out materials and colors. We had to take all the pictures off the walls and I’m afraid they will never go back up. (My husband is equally challenged in this area). I think it’s really tiresome to change with the seasons but I do usually manage to put a different wreath on my front door for each of the 4 seasons.

    Dawn  |  October 10th, 2008 at 10:23 am

  • I don’t decorate. It is a waste of my time and money. There is no benefit to me decorating. I see little purpose in spending much time and energy in unpacking and placing useless trinkets around the house, on furniture, on the walls, etc. only to take them down and put them away a month later. Then I have to waste precious storage space for the other 11 months. No decorations for me, thank you.

    Ernest  |  December 5th, 2008 at 9:24 pm