A letter to my children: pick the pretty one!

I always thought that if you got something for a reason (like, to sit on, or cook with, or drink out of), it didn’t matter how it looked.  I mean, it’s a toaster for chrissake! (or a couch, or a table.  Whatever.)

But recently, thanks to The Man, I had an epiphany.  Just because a thing is useful doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty.  Or, as I generally prefer, weird.  Purple toaster? Yes!

Too many people live with plastic and metal, red bricks and Bauhaus.  You don’t have to get your plates in plain white or flowered forgettable from KMart or the discount rack at the op shop – you can make every plate an artistic choice, a unique delight.  You don’t have to paint your walls in beige, so that whoever buys your place in ten years’ time can ‘imagine’ themselves into it……they’re just going to stick with the same beige so that whoever buys the place from THEM can ‘imagine’…and so on.  Turn imagination into reality and colour your surroundings pink, scarlet, aquamarine and gold…or, sure, if your tastes run that way, beige.

Most common household objects come in ‘ordinary’, ‘elegant’ and ‘mysterious’.  I urge you to pick mysterious – that kettle with the dragon handle, that candlestick right out of a Victorian melodrama.  With any luck, if you surround yourself with the right accouttrements, Count Udolfo will turn up.  Or a gaggle of sex-starved vampiras, if you prefer.

Which brings me to civic architecture.  Is anyone going to walk by the local council chambers in 200 years time and say, look at those beautiful archways!  No.  Because we build our municipal buildings, our warehouses and commercial premises, for comfort and cost, not to uplift our souls and rival the Mona Lisa.  But can’t we do both, as they somehow managed back in 15th century Dubrovnik?

Anyhow, gone are my days of choosing sofas simply by sitting on them and then saying ‘this’ll do’ – or buying anything at all from Harvey Norman.  Black leather jackets are timeless badassery, but black leather lounge suites are boring as hell and cold as eternity. Who in their right mind would pick a vinyl identi-couch when they can have the patchwork extravaganza above (care of https://au.pinterest.com/pippaconnolly/creative-upholstery/)?



  1. I think Adam Smith wrote of beauty being a function of an object being fit for use, so the term becomes incredibly wide and open for debate. It seems money or the desire not to spend it has been driving civic architecture and much else for a long time, esp in the Uk.

    1. That’s an interesting thought. So if something is fit for use, it’s beautiful. I can’t say I agree. But I think things that are useful should also be as beautiful as possible, because we humans love and are nourished by beauty. As for civic architecture, couldn’t agree more!

  2. Theres a really beautiful gargantuan castle-esque building next door to me dating probably from the early 1900s with the worst ever extension out the back in the same colour of brick but.. that’s it basically. Looks like a student halls building tagged onto it. Shame! Gold walls do sound interesting. Don’t you need balance and all that for your peace of mind though?

    1. I’m torn between gold walls and a hermit cell look…my man likes lots of interesting things around, everything has to have something hung off it or painted on it – which is lovely, but sometimes I think wistfully of bare walls and a bean bag. And books. Books adorn everything. Castle-esque building sounds great, though – pity about the extension! …I mean, thinking about this more, really it’s about personal taste. Not everyone likes purple velvet, strange though it seems to me.

      1. I’m rocking the hermit cell just now in the room I sleep in. Probably doesnt help with sleep. My living room is nice tho. You can hang on to the purple velvet, cheers.

      2. Bare walls and a beanbag would be more my cup of tea. But I got rid of all the books that didnt REALLY mean much to me so now my little bookcase is slightly bare. But it only has the absolute lifetime belters on it!

  3. Good time for me to read this because we’re going to make some changes to our new townhome in the fall (new to us). The walls are very plain and we want to spruce it up. I want to think outside the box, so your post is well-timed!

    Hope you’re doing well and still getting some writing time in.

    1. Thanks, I am getting some writing time in – sometimes! As you’d know, the demands of partner, job, house etc can make it a bit hard. Re the townhouse, I think people are always telling you to decorate ‘for others’ – like for guests, or for the next buyer, or whatever. But it’s your house – let your own imagination run wild, I say!

    1. I’m attracted to minimalism too – ‘things’ tie your soul down. But they’re also so nice to look at! Someday I’ll revert to bare walls and bookshelves. And something to sit on.

  4. Love this, but why do so many people need permission to be themselves? Those black sofas in every other house bore the h out of me. My own home is decorated in old attic and early garage sale, my fav. I also like child decorating – kids’ art on the walls, kids’ toys on the floor – they are only going to be little for a very short time and when it’s over, it’s lonely.

  5. Eh, I’m not there. I have grown tired of things and our focus on things. I want as few things as possible. I don’t want things to be the center of my existence. I want to be out in the world experiencing things and doing things and meeting people. Things. Nah.

    1. Actually I’m totally with you on that. There is a certain lovely feeling that you get when you walk into a room full of your favourite things, or more (for me) colours. But things also weigh on you. In a way they’re like relationships – without them you can be totally free, but then you have to give up that special bond that comes from love and commitment. I lean towards both ends of the spectrum – no things, no relationships, or lots of things and an intense relationship.

  6. Thinking more about this – when I was married I got very sick of the tyranny of Things. How you had to spend Saturday mornings cleaning them or buying them or whatever, how my ex-husband was always moving them from one spot to another (more cleaning) – the whole thing managed to be both boring and horribly addictive. But now at least all our things come from op shops or second hand in some way – they’re sort of discovered, rather than shopped for.

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