A look back at 2018: Home sweet home lessons learned, part 1

Every year at this time, I review the 50 some columns I have
shared with you over the past 12 months, which is a bit like
watching a Charlie Chaplin silent film backward. I ferret out one
bit of wisdom per month, a lesson learned, often the hard way, and
wrap those missives up for you, six-pack style. Here are my top
takeaways from the first half of 2018:

the factory still makes its historic patterns, Royal Delft has come
out with more contemporary patterns, like these dishes, to appeal
to a new generation. (Photo courtesy of Royal Delft.) 

In January,
I spotted a trend.
 Those hand-painted blue-and-white pottery
and porcelain pieces – ginger jars and vases – that my mom’s
generation collected were cropping up in home stores and catalogs.
Hmmmm. Then, while interviewing a trend expert about the New
Traditionalist movement, bringing traditional looks back into the
home in unexpected ways, she gave this example: “It’s putting
Delftware in an all-white modern Miami apartment.” I then started
seeing more interpretations of this style on fabrics and

Indeed, the quaint blue-and-white Royal Delft pottery, named for
the town in The Netherlands where artisans have been making it
since 1653, has been coming across the pond in a big, updated

Lesson: History repeats itself in home décor, too, often in
surprising, appealing ways.

In February, four months after DC and I moved
into our new house, a friend, who’s on the board of our city’s
Philharmonic Orchestra, texted me: “This is rather forward of me,
but I’m wondering if you guys would be interested in
hosting a ‘Connect with the Phil’ event
in your new home
…  next month … for 50 to 60 people …?” So began a
panicked flurry. Torn between What am I crazy? And, Of course, I
love a party, I ran the proposal by DC, who asked the obvious
question: “What all would we need to do?”

“I’m fine hosting an event that would support the arts and
our community,” he said. “Plus, we’ll find out if we do have
a ‘great entertainment house’ like the real estate ad

So the party was on. And we do.

Lesson: When in doubt, have the party.

In March, I discovered the
power of the porch
. As mama used to say, “Take it outside.”
When the kids are screaming, the dogs are scuffling, the television
is blaring, your spouse is cranky, and your workaday world has
frazzled your last nerve, the best medicine is — the porch. A
magical space that lets you both get away and be home, a porch is
life’s decompression chamber. While flipping through “On the
Porch,” a book featuring porches across America, I projected
myself onto these carefree places where folks do the best kind of
nothing: rock, knit, whittle, visit, court, cut the kids’ hair,
shell peas and watch the world go by.

Lesson: “There aren’t many homes that wouldn’t benefit
from a porch,” said the author, architect James Crisp. “A porch
can change the way you live.”

In April, I was expecting my first grand house.
My daughter and her long-term boyfriend, both age 25, were buying
their first house in Texas, where both were starting doctoral
programs. (Read smart and poor.) They were cobbling together their
savings and meager incomes to qualify. They found a house they
loved, made an offer, and got outbid.

“I thought we had it,” my daughter said, crestfallen.
“I’d already drawn up a furniture plan and chosen paint

“So had I,” I said. I’d been on diaper pins and knitting
needles, wringing my hands, eager to start molding my next,  err,
I mean, my daughter’s dream house.

“We’ll never get a house,” she said.

House heartbreak is the worst.

Then, realizing I was the adult here, I struggled to find some
calm, reasoned perspective, which I found in the back of my closet
behind the hamper.
Then I shared some hard-won advice.

Lesson: When buying a home, always be ready to walk away.
Emotions kill deals and lead to horrible investments. If you lose
the house, another will come along.

In May,
a chorus of elders gently put me in my place
. I’d written a
column about how to put the “you” in your home, but not too
much of you. I’d written: “I’m picturing those homes where
the sentimental owners smother every doily-covered surface with
memorabilia … and where oodles of family photos spread across
tables like the tattoo plague. Sometimes, less of ‘You’ is

That prompted a 90-year-old woman to write to tell me that I had
made her feel bad for her desire to keep the things she loved
around her. Oh, boy.

When I referred to “those homes,” I did so with a “slight
sneer,” she said, and felt called out. “In my home, which I
have been in for 52 years, I am surrounded by objects that have
behind them stories, living memories. I live in what some might
call a museum of a life well lived. … You made me feel guilty for
not being more philosophical and for being downright unmotivated to
spend the years I have left getting rid of stuff.”

I was knee deep now. I shared our email exchange with readers,
who, in turn sympathetically weighed in.

Lesson: Listen to your elders. And when dealing with their
belongings, tread softly.

In June, inspired by my porch findings and the
news that nine family members were coming to stay for a week,

I created an outdoor getaway
. The five adults, three youngsters
and a baby would stay upstairs. Holy Legos and diaper pails. It
promised to be exactly the kind of madness DC and I hoped for when
we bought the Happier Yellow House. As I surveyed the upstairs, my
eyes fell on the unfurnished terrace off the landing. The
19-by-9-foot covered outdoor area overlooks the backyard and green
space. If I’m living up here with three kids and a baby, I know
where I’d be.

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I had five weeks to turn the empty slab into an inviting escape. I
drew a plan, then ordered a bank of upper and lower marine-grade
polymer cabinets from WeatherStrong, which would come in 10 days,
and a mini fridge for one wall. Then I ordered some resort-level
outdoor furniture – two large-scale rattan chairs with ottomans,
and an area rug — from Blue Oak Outdoors, and, poof, the space
went from wasteland to oasis.

I actually shared the entire experience in five parts:

Part 1, Designing an outdoor getaway

Part 2, Outfitting the outdoor kitchen

Part 3, How to choose outdoor furniture
4, Hiring a pro for home improvement projects makes for good

Part 4, Hiring a pro for home improvement projects makes for good

Part 5, Master plan to create a retreat for guests goes wrong, but
oh so right

Lesson: The secret to a successful family staycation comes down
to two words: Breathing room.

See you next week when I’ll dig up the lessons learned from
the second half of 2018.

Syndicated columnist Marni Jameson is the author of four home
and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Family Home –
What to Save, What to Let Go”. She can be reached
at www.marnijameson.com.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
A look back at 2018: Home sweet home lessons learned, part 1