When we first took possession of this house ten years ago, I brought a friend over to see it one sunny January afternoon. We sat in the empty house, on an upholstered window seat, eating sandwiches and looking out into the tree-lined backyard that would soon hold my kids and discarded hula hoops and a barbeque grill.
“Of course the first thing I’m doing when we move in is taking out the kitchen island,” I told Jill, referring to the tall, bulky cube in the middle of the room that also served as the dining table. “I want a big farmhouse table with benches instead. And the fabric on this windowseat has got to go. Blech.” Dark brown and grey with accents of mustard ugly, the cushion and matching pillows were at odds with the blue, yellow, and white color scheme I envisioned.
Jill, who had moved into a new house herself a few years earlier, one that contains a gargantuan rough-hewn marble pillar smack dab in the middle of foyer, just smiled and said, “You’ll be surprised what you can learn to live with.”
On the tenth anniversary of our home ownership, you can feel free to swing on by for a glass of celebratory champagne at the big bulky kitchen island, or recline with your beverage on the grey/black/ugly window seat bench. Your choice.
I don’t know what happened.
Or actually, I do. We got a dog and realized that a lower, farmhouse table would just invite him to rest his chin on the dinner plate of his choice and tuck in for a meal. We’re all safer when our plates are three and a half feet off the ground.
The bench, however, would have been a fairly easy fix. Had we not had the following projects to work through first: A new foundation. Drainage problems. Double-paned windows. Earthquake retrofitting. And now, renovation work on the downstairs bathroom so that our guests don’t have to shower in a trickle of water that makes Chinese water torture look like Niagara Falls. There is always some home improvement project with higher precedence than getting that bench recovered, and I fully expect to my head to rest on a pillow that is a sick-making pattern of dark earth colors when they tuck me into the casket.
In some ways it’s a relief to know how low a priority it is to have the bench match the rest of the kitchen. Spill a drink there? Whatever, it might actually improve the aesthetics. Have everyone throw their briefcase/backpack/ballet bag and current reading materials atop it? On any other piece of furniture I’d nag about clutter, but in this case the bench actually benefits from the camouflage.
There’s one other thing. That bench is so comfortable, and gives a tree-top view of the oaks in the backyard which are constantly traversed by blue jays, squirrels, robins, and the occasional owl. When I do manage to kick the crap off of it and lie down with my book and a cup of coffee, I never look down at the fabric, because I’m too busy looking out the window. If it were covered in a nicer fabric maybe there would be some competition for my attention, but as it is I am entirely free to ignore what I’m sitting on.
At least that’s what I plan to tell the people who eventually buy this house from us and say, “That bench fabric is the first thing to go.”