There’s a guy I know named Ted, and he has a very stressful job. He’s one of those “gotta get it done yesterday” kind of guys who still carries a phone on his hip. Ted’s always busy. I once said to him, “Teddy Boy (I call him Teddy Boy), you’re probably going to be too busy to even go to your own funeral!” We all had a great laugh about that, but I think it struck a chord with Ted. Later that night, he came up to me and said, “Say, Denny, what you said back there. You have a point.” “Look, bro,” I said to him (sometimes I call him “bro”), “it was just a joke. But yeah, you really are busy. Maybe a little too busy. I mean, have you ever heard of relaxing?” “Hey, you’re right, Denny. You’re right. Something needs to change.”
That exchange with Ted happened about a decade ago, and I can honestly say that he is a changed man now. Sure, he still has a stressful job and everything, but I really think he knows how to relax now. The last time I was at his house, he took me into his study. He pointed to a reclining chaise lounge in the corner and said, “See that? That’s the key to my relaxation right there.” “The chaise?” I asked. “It’s not just a chaise,” he said. “It reclines.” I took a seat and reclined back, and you know what? I think Ted’s on to something.
Every once in a while, I have an experience with a piece of furniture that creates a lasting memory. Once it was an ottoman that I was stranded on for two hours playing a game of “the floor is lava” with an extremely committed and persistent four-year-old. Another time, it was a green corduroy chair where I sat in a girlfriend’s grandparents’ basement for three hours while they spoke only in French. One time, I had a particularly peculiar experience with a tilted coffee table that gave me the unique opportunity to buy an acquaintance a new living room rug.
Three years ago, I was visiting a friend in Montana, a place I hadn’t been before and have since frequented. It’s a beautiful place, and if you haven’t been, I highly suggest going. And I know how much you weigh my recommendations. Anyway, I was walking through the home of a friend of a friend when my left ankle gave way. I don’t know how it happened, but I think I know why it happened. The host offered me his hand and told me to take a seat while he grabbed some ice. The nearest seat was a reclining chaise, and while I hadn’t ever sat in one before, it had a familiar comfort that eased my nerves. I spent the next two hours sitting on there until we left, and honestly, I don’t think I was ready to go. I was so relaxed, so comfortable. To this day, every time my ankle gives out, I always think of that old reclining chaise. I probably always will.
It’s likely that you put a lot of time and thought into purchasing your mattress. You probably went to a few stores, looked online, and talked to some friends before deciding which mattress you wanted to spend your nights lying on for the next several years. This is common. Most of us put a lot of effort into picking the right mattress because we want to make sure we feel as comfortable as possible while we sleep. But while we put so much focus and research into finding the right mattress, most of us only spend a fraction of that time picking out bedding. We might pick a particular comforter because it fits in well with the bedroom’s décor, or we might choose a sheet set based on price alone. When we do this, we deprive ourselves of enjoying the full comfort potential of our sleep sets.
A friend of mine owns and operates a bed and breakfast in Vermont. It’s a real quaint and cozy place. I remember him telling me once about a few couples who complained about the comfort of the mattress in their room. He couldn’t believe it because he had spent a lot of money on that mattress, but when I asked him about the bedding he chose, it all made sense. He bought bargain sheets that were gritty and uncomfortable. No wonder his guests complained! I told him to find higher quality bedding, like a set of Stearns & Foster sheets, so that his guests could experience the full comfort of the mattresses he spent so much time and money on. He told me that he’s seen a marked improvement in satisfaction since he replaced his sheets, and that his guests frequently comment on their comfort. If you ask me, that’s a perfect example of the power of comfortable bedding. Sometimes, a little bit of money goes a long way!
As a furniture enthusiast, I love walking into a newly decorated room. I usually fall in love with one aspect of the design or another. Maybe it’s a clock on the wall that has an old charm and low, percussive ticking and tocking. Maybe it’s an armoire that stands high above the other pieces in the room like a protective mother. Maybe it’s the chair that sits in the corner, thoughtfully tucked between a floor plant and an end table. When I find the aspect of the room I like most, I feel like I gain a better understanding of its place among the other items in a particular décor.
Last week, I went to visit an old friend who I haven’t seen since our days in school. He has always had a keen eye for fashion and usually makes impeccable décor decisions. I was excited to see his home and it certainly didn’t disappoint. My favorite piece in his living room was a clean and charming looking corduroy sofa. He told me it was the Broyhill Maddie Sofa, which didn’t surprise me. I’ve always enjoyed Broyhill’s designs, and this sofa had all of the hallmarks of their quality and craftsmanship. Anyway, the sofa grounded the ensemble with a natural and easy disposition and, along with my host, created a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. I try to remember times like these when I’m decorating rooms in my own home, and I always enjoy the satisfaction of finding that one piece that makes the biggest impact on my design.
Everyone knows that something special happens when you gather around a table with friends and family. Sharing a meal brings people together in a way that not many other activities do, and it often has little to do with the food that’s being served. I’ve always judged the quality of a dinner based on the experience, rather than the food. It’s the toast, not the drink, right? Spending time around a table encourages dialog and facilitates conversation, so it doesn’t surprise me that some of the best conversations I’ve ever had have happened while sitting around a kitchen table, long after the dinner has been served and the plates have been cleared. As important as friends and family are to the experiences we create around the kitchen table, the furniture we sit on also plays a big part. If you don’t have comfortable and attractive seating, you and your friends and family will be less inclined to sit around sharing coffee, drinks, and laughs.
I’ve always been particularly fond of kitchen chairs with arms. Especially those that can twist and turn and rock back and forth. There’s just something about rocking back and forth in a comfortable chair that really helps me take in the atmosphere. Also, you can really make a point when you’re sitting in a chair like that. You can kind of pound the arms for emphasis, or you can sort of run your hands along them as you contemplate the corniness of your Uncle Chuck’s last joke.
Really, if you ask me, with the right chairs in your kitchen, the possibilities are endless.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of my friends get married and settle into their first homes. I always enjoy the first visit to a couple’s new home. In fact, if they’re especially close friends of mine, I like to visit during various stages of completion. Whether they’re building a new house, reconstructing a fixer-upper, or settling into a new apartment, I always find it interesting to watch two people blend their styles into one look. Sometimes, one person’s tastes dominate, and other times, couples compromise and combine each design sensibility into a new cohesive whole. One question I frequently hear my friends ask is, “What kind of look should we go for?” When I hear this, I can’t help but offer my opinion, and I usually say, “Your own.”
Sure, there are design styles and philosophies that set trends we all follow, but I think a home’s décor should be a reflection of each partner’s personality and preferences. I have two friends whose home perfectly demonstrates this union. Tom is a pretty regular guy with a preference for traditional design, and his wife, Tish, has a passion for the sleek and clean aesthetic of a contemporary décor. Their home is filled with pieces reflecting each look, and it really works well as a complete whole. Tom loves their Largo Furniture wood kitchen table, and Tish is particularly fond of the clean minimalism of their white cabinets. On paper, these two design senses might clash, but when put into practice, they can create a captivating décor. So, if you’re wondering what look you and your partner should create in your home, I think the best choice is your own.