A Beiger Shade of Beige

Over the summer, Husband said I had to stop reading porn. He said it was unhealthy for our relationship, it created unrealistic expectations and stimulated desire at inappropriate times. He thought I should be happy with what I’ve got, instead of feverishly pouring (or is it pawing?) through this porn, seeking the unattainable.

He was right of course. I hate it when he’s right (but that’s a whole other blog post). And so, last month I put all my pornography in the recycling bin. Every last magazine: Home Beautiful, Vogue Living, 25 Beautiful Homes…I kept Better Homes & Gardens on the grounds that one day we might get a pet and I may need Dr Harry’s sound advice.

I am ashamed to admit that until recently, I suffered from what could only be described as a First World malady that is self-caused and can be self-cured. It’s called Beige-itis (in psychiatric journals it is also referred to as Immuno-Style Deficiency or I Wish I Could Afford Your Interior Decorator-itis). All around me, I am surrounded by stylish women who live in stylish houses. These houses have the over-sized glass candleholders, the faux-Victorian birdcages and the thigh-high vases with artistically-placed twiggy things in it.

The thing is, I know that:

  • Newborn would impale himself on the over-sized candle holder whilst eating the over-priced organic soy candle it contained;
  • Tercero would use the birdcage to catch lizards; and
  • Secundo would use the twiggy things to toast marshmallows over our cooker.

I know all this, and yet, when I read these magazines, there is something so soothing and seductive about the creamy, antique white, hogs bristley, mocha, latte, beigeness of it all (see pages 5 and 6 of the Dulux colour chart). The walls match the floors which match the sofas which match the curtains which match the cushions which match the rugs which match the abstract art which match the candleholder, birdcage and twiggy things.

I have never been able to match anything with anything. My mother dressed me until I was 18 and after that, my cousins took on the difficult responsibility of choosing my clothes and accessories. If I can’t do clothes, can you imagine me trying to do decor?

Recently our neighbour (an interior decorator who lives in a completely beige house), staged an intervention. She said it was time we stopped “styling” like university students and started styling like adults. She used the inverted commas, not me. She didn’t think that my original Millenium Falcon should have its own display cabinet and she thought we should cover up our bookshelves as they made our living room look like a library.

I have always wanted to live in a library (or the Millenium Falcon).

She also said that your interior decorating has to tell a story – about you. And then I started listening to her and I learnt a tremendous amount from her. You see, I like to tell stories.

My great-grandfather was one of the first people in his small village in Sri Lanka to live in a house made of stone. If we’d stayed in Sri Lanka, we’d be living in a Red Cross tent. Today, our children are not even aware that much of the world still does not live in stone houses.  Or any house. I should remember that.

We are keeping the bookshelves and the Millenium Falcon, we rearranged the furniture instead of buying more and now, when I visit my neighbours, I don’t long for the beige, I see beyond it to the beautiful stories their homes tell me about their lives.

Last night when I bathed Prima (8), Secundo (6), Tercero (3) and Newborn (almost 2), I noticed the different colours of their soft skin – mocha, latte, milk chocolate and beige – my very own Dulux Colour Chart. I didn’t design them, but I co-created them – they are beautiful, they are safely housed and they match.

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About Shankari Chandran

Six years ago we returned home from London to Sydney with our four young children and life has been chaos and comfort chocolate ever since.
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15 Responses to A Beiger Shade of Beige

  1. Kirsty says:

    I too suffer from this. And funnily enough, in our house we call it ‘wife porn’. We are going to renovate our house soon and I have a huge collection of pages ripped from magazines. My husband says over and over again that no one really lives like the pictures in those magazines. And I agree, as I know it’s the promise of a better life that I admire, rather than the gorgeous, styled interior. And our life is pretty good the way it is. But I still can’t stop buying my wife porn.

    I love your blog.

    • duckformationfamily says:

      Thank you Kirsty. My husband says exactly the same thing – no one really lives like that. Where are all the toys, the papers, the mess of life? But still so seductive! Thank you for reading my blog. I have not written for a while (just been tired, busy and then I fall out of the habit, lose a bit of my confidence etc), so it was nice to write again, and lovely to be read by some one other than my husband! x

  2. Jody says:

    Love it! I also wonder about that other life as I wade around in our messy family life – now to be known as our “mess of life” as it sounds so much more lovely. I especially like the end of your story – it reminds me how happy I really am with my own (paler) shades of beige.

  3. Reema says:

    The warmth you have managed to create in your house with your lovely smile and amazing personality is what makes your house….. HOME!!!!

  4. I can really relate to this one! I suffered from the same malady right up until we actually bought a beige leather lounge suite and my 3 year old drew all over it. We tried every natural and/or toxic cleaning substance available and nothing worked. We resorted to rearranging the furniture and a few strategic throw rugs. We have vowed that no beige will cross the threshold until our youngest moves out (and I’m in no real hurry for that day). I quite like the university-student-meets-tornado-family aesthetic anyway, for the exact reason that it does tell our story, rather than the stories in the porn mags 🙂

    • duckformationfamily says:

      I hear your pain. When we moved into this house we bought a 3 seater white leather sofa. Yep, white. Then one morning I woke up and my 3 year old had taken a blue biro to the sofa. I can’t tell you what we used to get the biro off – I think we may have violated our maintenance instructions. We won’t be buying the matching 2 seater. Thank you so much for reading. xxx

  5. Alix says:

    So true. Having just moved into a new home at the beginning of Jan and my first child born on Australia Day, I imagine my life will never be full of beige furniture, or stylish birdcages without birds, or twiggy things. In the meantime, my home is decorated with a clotheshorse full of baby clothes, a pram, a baby bouncer, and any number of other baby-related things. Guess that just tells everyone where I am in my life story!

    • duckformationfamily says:

      Ours is like an obstacle course of children’s toys too! Many congratulations on the baby, I hope all is going well and you are getting some rest, and thank you for reading this despite the endless cycles of feeding, sleeping and so on! xxx

  6. Sandy says:

    Love your writing. Not sure you are aware of Gerard Durrell but reminds meow his style. No offense in comparisons I assure you!!!

    • duckformationfamily says:

      I am flattered! We studied Gerald Durrell in 7th grade (my long term memory being so much better than my short term one), and I loved him. Thank you Sandy.

  7. Trish Blair says:

    I just found you through Mamamia, your writing is just lovely. I look forward to reading more. Our Millenium Falcon is Grey! 🙂

  8. Kate says:

    Oh no! I read this having a chuckle to myself because I thought – oh those wives with too much money and too much time, I’m never even in my house enough to fuss with that stuff (and when I am in my house I’m spread-eagled asleep or zonked out staring at the tv).

    But then the examples came along – hogs bristle… hang on that sounds familiar, hmm our walls are hogbristle. The bird cage… hmmm have one of those hanging in the corner and there are twiggy things in the dining room/ oh dear me I have become one of THEM!

    If it’s any consolation I don’t believe I have a creative bone in my body, my decorative pieces come from the reject shop. The very fact that I could tick off the stereotypes you describe made me realise I am the ikea of home decorating – no originality – no style in that!

    • duckformationfamily says:

      Ah, there’s no shame in that. ikea had you and me in mind when they crafted the expedit and svaldjorg! x

  9. Pingback: On wearing white: just say no | This Charming Mum

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