Last Christmas, I married my soul mate and best friend. A year later, we are still trying to figure out how to fit our two very full and busy lives into one house. Before we met, my townhouse was perfect for me and his house was perfect for him. We tried living at his house for a while. Thankfully, I was his decorator before I became his wife so the things that had been done recently, I liked. However... the vestiges of bachelordom were hard to eradicate. When I painted our bedroom walls in a serene shade of pale blue -Ben Moore's glass slipper ( because I couldn't stand the unsexy, cave-like dark tan and black color scheme for one second longer!), Stu nearly had a heart attack. He claimed that the new color was "agitating to his spirit and he wouldn't be able to rest in the room"! I calmly pointed out that he needn't worry because his eyes would be closed most of the time. That didn't go over too well. Then I put on my best professional decorator voice and assured him that if he didn't like it after he lived with it a few days, I would bring the painters back lickety split and change it to something more soothing to his spirit. A day later he said the color wasn't that bad. He was able to sleep in a blue bedroom after all. Two days later, he said he kind of liked it. A week later, he loved it. The glass slipper experience taught me something very important about my new husband. His first reaction to a change in the decor of our home will be extreme aversion. But given some time to get used to the change, he will love everything I do! Things were working. I painted a room here and there, slowly started replacing the horse racing posters on the walls (and photos of the Steelers) with my antique french prints and mirrors. I replaced some rather ghastly light fixtures (chosen pre-me) and brought in pillows, rugs, flowers and even (gasp!) linen curtain panels hung on simple metal rods. Stu moved out of his beautiful book lined library to make way for my baby grand piano. We enclosed a porch and he graciously relocated his office there. Did I mention that he is an Anglican priest? And that he has thousands of volumes of books that he references as he prepares his messages each week? Moving to the new sun porch/office was an act of pure, selfless love on his part that melted my heart. The winter months passed blissfully, candle lit dinners every night, evenings of piano playing and reading by the fire... then came summer and with it the return of two of my college going daughters! Well, this changed things a bit. You see Stu had not had the pleasure of living with a house full of extroverted emotive verbal women before. He has two smart, slightly introverted, grown sons who live in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Thankfully he loves kids (and they love him) and he got on with the girls immediately. But I think finding himself living with a teenager and a 20 year old (and females on top of it!) was a bit of a shock. So loud! So much talking! So much togetherness! We did our best to create a comfortable space for them upstairs in the bonus room. He even bought a huge smart tv that enabled them to binge watch Gray's Anatomy and the Bachelor when they came home after finals. But we couldn't solve the problem of the clothing... no closets! And we really needed another bedroom which we discovered when his sons came to visit while the girls were there. Having my movers switch out the desk in my office (yes, I work from home!) for a bed when our household expanded to 5, proved difficult in the middle of a big project. But, in our newlywed state, we made it work and didn't throw anything at each other.
Recently, we decided that my townhouse (which hadn't sold) would work better for our family because it has more bedrooms and a lot more storage space. So, now we have to solve the riddle of where our offices will go. And there are the books. So many books. And not enough shelf space. The floorpan doesn't lend itself to an obvious solution so creativity is needed. We have an open floor plan with a living/dining room at the front, kitchen in the middle, and family room and small sunroom in the back. The master bedroom is also on the first floor. Upstairs are 3 bedrooms and a loft family room. Outside is a detached one car garage. Does Stu take the master bedroom for his office so his books, desk and files can be all in one place? But that would mean moving upstairs and invading the girl sanctuary. Hhhhmmmm. Awkward. I don't think so. Or do we convert the garage into an office? The designer in me loves that idea- stained concrete floors, open to the rafters, shiplap on the walls- pop in a few skylights and roll up the garage door to the view of emerald green lawn beyond the pea gravel drive- sounds like heaven! But then Stu pointed out that his books wouldn't survive the low country humidity and the fact that there is no bathroom out there would be a real inconvenience. So, we go back and forth. At the townhouse in the plantation when the kids are here and at his house 2 minutes away when they aren't. It is getting old though. The other day I got out of the shower and had 15 minutes to get ready to go to a meeting and opened the vanity drawer to pull out my dryer and... it wasn't there! It was at the other house! When you have curly hair like mine, this is a major disaster if you are going for the professional look. So, we can't remain where we are. We have to solve this riddle. We have to figure out how to fit the life of a decorator/pianist/wife and mother and the life of a minister/artist/husband and father into one space- one home.