I was searching for coinage while waiting at the bus stop the other day, rummaging around my big ol’ million-pocket ‘organizer’ purse jammed with rolled-up cloth shopping bag and rain hat, doggy treats, Chapstick, empty Ziplocs and an ancient fuel bar I will only eat if desperate.
I’m not sure exactly when I morphed into my grandmother, but there was a time when I sported a sexy little clutch containing little more than lip gloss, a credit card and apartment keys. I might as well face the fact that I’m never going back to the lean purse, just like I’ll never sport a mega-shoulder-padded ’80s blazer or Metallica perm (again).
Funny how at some point in our maturity we start to reject trends — especially the retro trends we’ve already lived through once — in our pursuit of comfort and familiarity.
However, there’s a fine line between comfy and frumpy, a point I was reminded of as I took a long look at my oh-so-practical middle-age-lady purse.
Frumpy accessories do not make the woman, just like frumpy households are not necessarily a reflection of those who live within. More likely everybody just started to overlook the dried-floral swag in the dining room, the dusty-rose wallpaper border (or any wallpaper border) in the bathroom. Sometimes it takes a set of fresh eyes to know where to begin stripping off the frump layer and pump up the basics that remain.
I’m often called in to homes that are suffering from frumpiness — not exactly a crime, but a hard sell if that home is up for sale and the realtor’s coming by to take photos next week.
Emptying out the place and bringing in a whole new decor is fine if money’s no object but the quick-fix alternative is removing the stuffy, tired layer: balloon valances, floral matchy-matchy furniture, old pastel stripes and floral mix-and-match cushions that were hot in 1987 and so not today.
Some tips for de-frumping:
• Invest in sold-toned pre-washed custom slip-covers for sofas and armchairs to extend the use of otherwise comfortable seating.
• Switch out ruffled, patterned or pastel cushions with sharp-edged solids in a bold new colour, like chartreuse, tangerine or copper. Replace fussy window coverings with reed or wood slatted blinds and/or tailored panels
• Throw something surprising in the mix like a shag carpet, large glass top coffee table or modern colour blocks of artwork.