An Insider's View


Modern design should reflect 'lived in' look

July 15, 2014
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My mother was 93 before she recently passed away. It was difficult to see her suffer a slow decline in hospice care for 18 months, but it also gives you time to think.

When I caught polio in 1950, my mother went with me to hospitals in Richmond and Warm Springs, Ga., for various surgeries and therapies. Dad continued to work on the railroad and, with help from relatives and neighbors, took care of my older sister, Nancy.

In my small, one-stoplight hometown, we lived what was a very normal lifestyle for the time. Dad worked and Mom stayed at home with the kids, took care of the house and cooked. She was a great cook as you can tell by looking at me.

I have been thinking about our lives when we were together and began to wonder if the lifestyles we enjoyed as normal have permanently affected my thoughts — and my generation’s thoughts — about how home life should be.

Our modest three-bedroom home was furnished functionally, with a seldom-used dining room and living room. We spent all our days in the den, where the black and white television and our party-line telephone stayed, or in the kitchen. Bedrooms were used only for sleeping, studying or listening to 45s by my sister and me.

The home my mother kept was dust-free, and clothes were ironed, folded and put carefully into drawers, including underwear. Dishes were washed immediately after every meal. Everything had a place and was put away after every use.

All of the floors were vacuumed, beds were made and everything was dusted, scrubbed or whatever was necessary. Few things were new, but everything was well taken care of by my mother. My father worked and my mother was home taking care of her domain.

This was how I was brought up and it remains somehow in the back of my brain as how things should be. But with more single-person households and more two-income families, how can this be expected? Who has the time or the energy?

My peers with perfect homes fall into two categories: Either they have no children or they have outside paid help. All others’ homes have that “lived in” look that we need to recognize when we design and make our furniture for today’s consumer.

I would love to see a new consumer survey to find out what they want in their furniture, not what we think they should have.