Faking it.

The irony of following a post titled “Living with Authenticity” with one titled “Faking it” is not lost on me.  I suppose authenticity can include fakeness.

Most of the original row houses in our neighborhood were inhabited by the “working class” population of South Philadelphia.  I had always assumed that our house never had ornate moldings seen in some of the stately homes in South Philly.  That is until I sneaked a peek inside our neighbors house.  The house adjacent to ours, like many adjacent row homes , appears to be identical to ours.  The main difference is that it retains all of its old world charm.  Our neighbor’s first floor is bisected by a long corridor leading through the entire house. We already knew that the previous owners had removed the long hallway in our house, so that was no surprise.   However, I was surprised to discover that our neighbor’s house was abundantly adorned with beautiful and intricate moldings on all the windows, doors and ceilings.  Despite being covered with layers of paint the beautiful designs of the moldings were still evident.  Once I got over the shock, envy washed over me.  Why would someone have removed all of that from our house!

Other than renovating our home to expose its original beauty we’ve never felt compelled to add any Victorian details.  However, after peeping into our neighbors house I embarked on a frenzied search of moldings and ceiling medallions.  I gave up on vintage realizing that it would be too much work to install and instead decided to buy a polyurethane medallion. After much online searching I discovered Architectural Depot which has an extensive selection of period medallions and moldings.

After much hemming and hawing I forked over $25 for a medallion.  When it arrived it looked all wrong and well…fake.  I figured that it would look better once I painted it but it didn’t.  I decided to mix paint and primer to blur the sharp lines a little.  The goal was to make it look like it had been on the ceiling since 1890! I kept painting it until it almost looked like an old plaster medallion.  After we installed it, it still looked fake!  So I spent several days caulking the seams and painting it over and over again.  I  painted and caulked late at night and early in the mornings so that I could really focus without Kiran and Jai wanting a turn.  After a week of constantly looking up to paint and caulk I ended up with a stiff neck and arm pain but the medallion still looked new-ish.  After another week of painting and caulking it is now looking a lot better. This little medallion makes the living room look much grander.

livingroomceilingmedalian

I have since learned that most of the row homes built around the time as ours  had plaster ceiling medallions which protected the ceiling from the flame of candles.  I think that I will be faking it and adding several more ceiling medallions.

I am not a huge fan of overhead lighting and since this house didn’t have an overhead light in the living room we decided to not add a ceiling fixture.  It would have been an unnecessary expense.  The disco ball, a gift from our neighbors, works great here.

Living With Authenticity.

Living with authenticity is living in a home which reflects and accepts your true life. Similar to the joy you experience when you are your true self; a home that caters to your life can bring you peace and joy.

livingroomupdate

The living room is our movie room, play room, reading room, hang-out room, music room, and dance room.

I often have people (mostly my friends or neighbors) ask me to help them with their homes.  Most of the time, as they hopelessly wrangle their hands in despair at the state of their home, I realize that they are trying to live up to certain ideals of what they think a home should be.  Often when someone tells me that they need to move (often to the suburbs); or they want more space; or they need a bigger yard; or they need a bigger kitchen;  I realize their discontent stems from them living in a way that doesn’t embrace their authentic life.

jairoom

Jai’s room is our play room, hang out spot, music room and art room.

Living in an inauthentic home is similar to being around an inauthentic person.  They both make your uncomfortable.  Countless times I’ve had people say they dislike coming home or they feel restless at home. The solution to living in an authentic home is not simple because you have to be introspective .  Most people shy away from this.  With our constant distractions by our phones, computer, TV etc. we seek to escape the present instead of revelling in it.  However, if we can honestly evaluate our homes (and our lives because one does lead to the other) and make our homes work for us the transformation is quite magical.  Most importantly this isn’t expensive and doesn’t require moving, expanding or spending a lot of money.  A minimal budget is often sufficient.

The most common issue I’ve realized is uncomfortable furniture.  Please throw out those overly stuffed sofas, or the too modern sofa with very little space to sit on.  Buy a comfortable, slender couch.  There are so many options!

Living in row homes in Philly there is generally no space for a “play room”.  I hear people with children incessantly lamenting the lack of space for a play room.  I say if you simply can’t designate a room as a “play room” accept it and move on.  We don’t have a designated room as a play room and I really don’t understand the need for a play room.  Children should be welcome into all the rooms in our homes. I think it is a common misperception of parents that children need toys to play.  Children can help cook dinner and play in the kitchen with water, bowls and spoons.  They can draw and paint in the dining room.  They can read in the living the room…the list is endless.  What we need to do is provide them with a home that they can enjoy.  I suggest dining tables that can be wiped down, floors like wood or tile that can be easily cleaned and furniture that isn’t too precious .  I am not suggesting clearing away all beautiful objects or breakable objects.  Children appreciate beauty just as much and most times more than adults. Whenever I buy fresh flowers Kiran and Jai always make a small flower arrangement for their rooms.  They haven’t dropped or broken any of their vases.

flowers

Fresh flowers, plants, and foliage bring nature into our house.

Another common issue I see is unused space.  People often have a guest room that lays empty unless they have guests visiting or formal living rooms they never use.   Meanwhile more and more people seem to be finishing their basements and living entirely in their basements! Basements have become living rooms, play rooms, office rooms, and TV rooms.  Meanwhile the living room or guest room above ground, often filled with great light and beautiful proportions remains under utilized.  I’m biased towards basements:  I don’t like to live in them. They are musty and damp and there is nothing that can be done about it.  Whether they are new construction homes, or updated basements in old row homes you just can’t get around the fact that they are below grade and have very little light.  We can use our guest rooms as office rooms, and living rooms can also be TV rooms  or office rooms.  I like the small separate rooms in row houses because they are cozy and offer privacy.  By keeping the separate rooms we can use each room for various things.

bathroom

The bathroom is the kids play-in-the-tub-forever room, spa room and dressing room

Your home, whether it is grand or small, whether you rent or own, is where you spend your private time.  It should envelope you with comfort and joy.  Take the time to assess your home and then start your path to living in your authentic home.  Dispel any rules that are floating around in your head telling you how you should live.  Instead take the time to see and understand what you really need.