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The Architect and his Vomit of Chintz

paris, france, travel

For those of you who are fairly new around these parts, my husband MTM is an architect. This means a girl has to live with a lot of quirks the uninitiated may not understand. For instance, I can’t just go out and buy stuff to decorate our house. The architect has an opinion about every minute detail, things normal people don’t even notice.

Like whether the tip of the hook that I want to hang on the back of the door is appropriately sleek or too bulbous. (It is going on the BACK OF THE DOOR. I am going to hang stuff on it, rendering this whole issue irrelevant – unless one is an architect. Just knowing an out-of-proportion thing-a-ma-jig is anywhere in the house causes him to lose sleep. And fidget. And draw too much.)

Or, how about this one? I wanted to buy some scrapbook albums to store useless crap, I mean MEMORIES, from trips we’ve taken. Cards from restaurants. Programs from tours. You get the idea. I bought a cheap one at Target and shuttled it home. “I think the outer cover is too fat. The proportions are off. Can you take it back and exchange it for something else?” (This thing was going on a bottom shelf, stuffed in a cranny behind – yes, I KNOW, DEAR – overstuffed, not-architecturally-approved chairs that I retained from my single days. He started twitching when I suggested that, really, it’s just a dumb scrapbook and he will forget all about it in a few hours. I lost that one, dragging the thing back to Target for a more, ahem, appropriate model.)

These preposterous rules, I mean DESIGN STANDARDS, follow us wherever we go. When we travel, MTM has to stay in sleek, mod design hotels. They are uncluttered, a haven of happy where he sleeps like a babe.

Only, a lot of places are too podunk, I mean SMALL, to have a refuge for the hip-and-cool set, leaving poor MTM scrounging around online for something – anything – that will not assault his tender design sensibilities. This weekend, he is SOL. We are going to meet our guide son for the first time. He lives in a small town in the Hudson River Valley, a gorgeous place that contains nothing for accommodation but bed-and-breakfasts. You know those, right? Filled with Victorian antiques. And floral wallpaper. And chintz curtains that are so pouffy they’re called ‘window treatments.’ (Sort of how my house was decorated before I married an architect.)

MTM’s eyes will probably roll back in his head to keep from having to look at the place. I can see him now, sitting out in the garden, facing away from the building, cradling his sleek Moleskine computer bag and doodling alternative weekend universes on a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom while I try to fall asleep alone amidst an upchuck of flowers, a setting that is how my life used to be. Every night of every week of every month of every lonely year.

I’ll trade those floral apparitions for my well-designed architect man. Anytime.

Too Much is Just Enough: My Architect

38 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh Yes!! Life is about accommodations to one another’s quirks. The Yin and Yang of the architect’s mind is maybe a little strange to the rest of the world, but, we do need their weird minds to help us navigate the world. Otherwise, we would be building houses and furniture that were actually comfortable. OOOPS, my bad, that just sorta slipped out.

    Just have him slip into his Ninja outfit for the weekend and that will make it possible for him to slink from room to room and bring blackness to poufiness, thus rendering those offensive objects inert to your enjoyment.

    It’s just a good thing that Queen A has no quirks and is able to adjust marvelously to these difficult situations. That’s right, the Queen has no quirks!! wink, wink, smirk, smirk.

    August 19, 2011
    • Clearly, this blog is evidence of the fact that I am one great big walking talking quirk, Lou. As for MTM in a ninja outfit, oh the delicious blog post that will be. I will have to use my overactive imaginative powers on that one, because it will never happen in real life.

      I am glad we agree that architect-approved furniture is not comfortable.

      August 19, 2011
  2. MTM’s head would explode in our house. Not only do Nancy and my’s style lean to the more Victorian, though I try for Arts & Craft style, but we are the crown couple of clutter! Part of that is due to having too many people and pets in too small a space, but mostly it is just due to … us.

    The only time I have seriously objected to any furniture or house decoration was one carpet we got. It had a small grid pattern of dots in it – and it drove me nuts. The dots were exactly the same as the grid program in the computer software I use for development – they are there for making sure everything is lined up correctly. Well with those dots on the carpet all the furniture had to be lined up correctly! And had to be realigned if something got moved. It drove me nuts trying to keep everything straight on the dotted lines.

    Lucky for me the carpet had a flaw in its construction and started to fall apart within a few weeks. The company replaced it free of charge – and we got one without the dotted pattern. Asylum averted. For now.

    August 19, 2011
    • Please do not let this modernist-minimalist thing fool anyone. MTM loves him some clutter, too.

      I love the rug story. Can totally see how that could happen.

      August 19, 2011
  3. Aguess #

    Take those “design standards” and multply them by two and you’ve got my two architect household. Because they aren’t the same standards for every architect. We can’t purchase much of anything without a design discussion!

    August 19, 2011
    • I think you should just let Cayleigh decide. Look how awesome your purple birthday party turned out.

      August 19, 2011
  4. Have a great visit! If he starts going to crazy send him to Dia: Beacon. It does not get much more sleek and modern that that!

    August 19, 2011
    • Ask me how many times he has already mentioned that place. Ask. Me. (she says, twitching as she types.)

      I will wave to you from upriver. Please feel free to critique any river photo I may use in a post, though I don’t think I will have the nerve.

      August 19, 2011
  5. I was sitting here thinking about how weird it must be for MTM to wander into non architecturally pleasing environments. Weird for him and weird for the poor person who would probably feel uncomfortable knowing that MTM did not approve of this or that. (Like how Katy and I would feel when he would walk into our house probably)

    Then I remembered how I am about computer environments. On more than one occasion I have raised an eyebrow with regards to how people have sixteen zillion icons on their desktop OR the monitor is so smudged, dusty and filthy it is a wonder anyone could see any of those icons. I probably mentioned to the poor person that if they expected me to work on their computer they had better produce some Windex and a paper towel or I would become vapor and never be seen again.

    Then there are those customers (male) that have disgusting porn pictures as the background and find nothing wrong with it remaining on the screen while you try to focus on the task at hand. No, I am not talking about the typical porn that most folks would consider as such. I am talking about twisted sick crap that makes your stomach instantly churn and you wished you had not put your eyeballs upon it. Your first thought is, did you REALLY think that I WANTED to look at that? Yes, I walked out of that person’s office and advised them to change it or they could find someone else to clean up the computer mess. I really did not care how much money he was paying me at that point. Ok, so, MTM is not so weird now that I think of that. LOL

    August 19, 2011
    • MTM does not walk into the homes of others and judge them. This is totally about things that involve his domain and temporary personal space. We all see the world from the perspective of what we know.

      August 19, 2011
  6. If the architect approved furniture was comfy and affordable, we’d all have it. I grew up with old furniture, that for the most part was comfy. Not until I married Bill did my Victorian sofa get replaced with the “rockin’ reclining comfy ‘couch’-actually a love seat”. That was relegated to the “media room” until we returned to Little Oak and the media room became my office.

    Last night on This New House, they displayed sleek, multi-functional architect approved furniture that I’d love to have here…it would match the feeling of the open volume of this place. Resource Furniture. Look at their video demo of their fruniture. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAa6bOWB8qY&feature=player_embedded#! It had me dreaming of transforming my office so I can have a bed in there and then have guests. With 2 of our 3 BR being offices, we don’t have overnight accommodations for our family or friends. I love the one with the 7′ desk that pushes up and out of the way allowing a single bed to fold down.

    August 19, 2011
    • I will watch the video when I am off this tiny screen. I agree with you, though. A convertible something in your office could work so well in there.

      Having personally experienced your rocking recliners, I can pronounce them grand. It is funny how love changes our tastes, isn’t it?

      August 19, 2011
  7. Have you also noticed that Architects are perfectionists? Am I generalizing? If so, I apologize. My Daddy is an Architect and he is a perfectionist. I mow my parents lawn in Idaho (they are building – from the ground up, by themselves – a three-story cabin in Montana, hence they’ve been there for quite a few years). It is a little over three quarters of an acre….BUT…I mow it to his specifications which are – we go up and back one week, sideways the next week…oh, and did I mention our lines must be straight? Yeah. Too funny. I’ve even seen him go out there and if there is a stray grass he will get the clippers. He has always told me, “If you are going to do something, do it right.” I must admit the lawn looks fabulous when it is done. Ha. Almost all my friends say I should get a riding lawn mower but it’s hard to take pride in a job well done with a riding lawn mower as it doesn’t look as good. Yes, I’m my Daddy’s daughter…a little bit of that perfectionist has trinkled down. :)

    August 19, 2011
    • Yes. Architects are perfectionists. It gets drilled into them in architecture school, where they put them in straight jackets and leave them in a white padded cell called “studio” for multiple years in a row. They can’t leave until everything is perfect. Only, this level of perfection is never possible, so they graduate and are unleashed to hold the rest of creation, who has not endured this trauma, to their standards.

      I love architects. I really do. I have learned so much from the multiple people in my life who do that for a living.

      And, I can totally relate to the story of your parents’ cabin. Is their house unfinished also? :)

      August 19, 2011
      • No. It is the house that I’ve grown up in so he’s had a lot of time to “tweek” things and replace things and remodel things… My parents “cabin” (for lack of a better word) is being built by the two of them (mostly my Daddy as my Mom doesn’t do things as “pefect” as Daddy), although they hired three people at $30 an hour and then ended up redoing what these three men did. Lesson learned – They’ve got the outside finished and now are diligently working on the inside of the house. I also appreciate my Daddy’s work ethic…I’ve learned quite a lot at his feet. :) Although now that I think of it – the house (that I grew up in) is always in a state of “work in progress” as he’s always changing things. Hah!

        August 19, 2011
      • I know what you mean. The home of an architect is never done. Ever.

        I would love to see pictures of their cabin. I bet it is interesting.

        August 19, 2011
  8. Angela #

    I love this blog. I don’t have an architect for a husband, but I do have a mechanical engineer and I can’t hang a picture without him pulling out a level, checking diameter, or whatever else it is he does. When I hang a picture I stand back from the wall I am hanging it on and then go forward and pick a spot that i think looks centered. He nearly has a stroke watching me do this and then changes it when I am not around.

    And I totally relate to Lori O’leary in that I can’t even begin to the cut the grass because he has a system it needs to be cut by. I on the other hand just start cuting and sometimes I go up and down, but then that gets boring so I divide the yard in boxes, and when I tire of that…I just start going in circles. I don’t think cutting grass needs to be so complicated….have fun with it is my motto.

    Our taste in furniture is complete opposite. I like modern contemporary and would order everything from Europe if I could afford to. I love the sleek lines and style of wrought iron and sharp edges. My husband prefers wood and more wood. Our home would like an old episode of “Little House on the Prairie” if he had his way.

    It is trying at times, but I remind him of the old saying…”happy wife, happy life”.

    August 19, 2011
    • I totally understand the engineer thing. Totally. I laughed out loud at your description of yard mowing, because I am sure your husband goes into anaphylactic shock when he sees you going in circles. So funny.

      August 19, 2011
  9. mtm #

    Muse or Masochist? Doesn’t matter to me, as long as I can continue to inspire your literary worlds….like the image of me shunning the chintz and scribbling on the only thing I can find that is simple and clean and white ….the toilet paper. If only I could sketch out architectural worlds on that toilet paper that were as evocative.

    August 19, 2011
    • Aw. I suck. And, I adore you. And, I probably shouldn’t type those things in the same comment……….

      August 19, 2011
  10. Robin Dodson #

    Apparently I have missed something…what is a guide son?

    August 19, 2011
    • Robin, it is the name Cooper’s parents came up with for the role they asked us to play in his life. They want us to act as guides for him. Specifically, they want us to encourage him to experience life.

      August 19, 2011
    • Thank you for that information! I will be able to sleep tonight. By the way, I so enjoy your posts. It is comforting to know that the same busy-ness that goes on in my head goes on in the heads of others.

      August 19, 2011
      • Ha! Pleasant dreams!

        Thanks for reading my bloggity busy-ness. It probably keeps me sane, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Have a good weekend!

        August 19, 2011
  11. Honestly, I’m a little jealous. First of all, my dude doesn’t use fabulous words like “bulbous”. Mostly, his idea of chic is a mosaic of framed duck artwork, plaid bedding, and a general appreciation for the hunting lodge look :(

    August 19, 2011
    • My dude really doesn’t say ‘bulbous,’ either. It was my effort to condense his postulations on design into a sound byte that people would actually read.

      The most eligible bachelors at my college were KA’s. I totally understand the duck-and-plaid thing. I don’t really even notice it. And, if you accidentally-on-purpose substitute something similar but not, he won’t notice. You can work him away gradually that way. :)

      August 19, 2011
  12. Amanda Shuler #

    I absolutely love this! I laughed because I am the same way as Michael!

    August 19, 2011
    • Amanda, I know few architects who like floral prints. I am trying to figure out whether I know any…….nope………

      August 19, 2011
  13. Emily Guess #

    Well, since I am Alice’s mother, I know exactly how you feel. Alice grew up in our house but she does not approve of the way we decorate it. We just don’t pay her much attention. I am only allowed to buy stuff for Cayleigh’s room. I do not know what she will do with our things when she inherits. I guess she will have a bonfire. Michael can come to that.

    August 19, 2011
    • It is the nature of children to try to be their own people. Some of the very things she likes least now will remind her most of you. I cannot see her having a bonfire.

      August 19, 2011
  14. Interesting knowing what it’s like living with an Architect. But I must say, I laughed the whole time reading this story—a builder of humorous blogs and a builder of wood. AHA! What a great combination. Thanks for sharing this great story and your talent. 😄

    February 23, 2013

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