Help! My S-I-L is Coming For The Christmas Holiday!

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

Some Christmas holiday! It’s turning out to be a Christmas nightmare!

Please don’t be too harsh with me. I’m a dead woman and it’s not nice to crap all over dead people, ya know.

And, I’m fully aware that it’s only two weeks before Christmas. But my sister-in-law and her two unruly brats my two adorable nephews and my bro are coming to celebrate the holiday with us. Just found this out.

Normally, we go to see them, because their house is at least twice the size of ours, but my younger son is scheduled for some surgery to repair a torn ligament, the day after Christmas and we won’t be able to travel.

So, I thought that we were going to just spend a quiet Christmas holiday, hanging in our humble abode– just the four of us, plus my husband’s brother and wife who are local and his mom.

 

I’m sure that you know what’s coming.

It’s our house. Our 2,500 sq ft builder’s colonial.

Laurel, have to tell you; it’s an absolute shit-show.

We bought it 10 years ago when I was pregnant with our second son. It was a tough time. I was working full-time, plus very busy running after a toddler, making a new baby and of course, getting ready for him. Then, I had son #2 and went back to work… And some how ten years has flown by.

There are some things that I’ve never liked, like the baby blue polyester drapes in the living/dining room. They seem to get shinier by the day.

 

Sadly my mom passed away a few years ago.

 

And no one wanted her dining room set or the wing chairs, so not wanting to give them away, I took them.

 

It’s a little formal for me and as you can see, a big bloody mess. Oh why are they outside? Don’t ask. Please. But I only have six of these side chairs and I need two more chairs for the ends. There are also two leaves that are not in the table.

 

white wing chairs from Chairish- christmas decor help

 

Here are the wing chairs.  I think my son was playing fort with a friend. They’re not normally set up like this. I do think that they have nice lines, but hang on.

Then, my neighbor went through a nasty divorce. Her husband left her for his massage therapist.

eww…

And ya know… I thought that they were the perfect family. Lovely people, always seemed so happy. Just goes to show you something or other.

 

Anyway, she sold me this quite lovely leather sofa from Crate and Barrel.


Well, it was lovely. But the leather has gotten so scratched up that my kids use it as a board game now. Clearly, doesn’t really work with the wing chairs or the dining set.

The rug is old and stained. The lighting is horrible. Geez. The whole place needs painting, but that’s not happening.

This is the first floor layout. As you can see, the living room and dining room flow into each other. It’s not a huge house. There are three bedrooms upstairs and a small study. We use the downstairs study as a den.

 

So WHY am I so freaked out?

Well, my sister-in-law is from a very wealthy family and she has superb taste. Plus her home is immaculate. I mean, you will never see so much as a spoon in the sink. And her furniture is sublime. Fabulous taste.

Laurel, I hate to say it, but I feel so inferior and oh well. And we’re not wealthy, but I could spend maybe 10k. Maybe there’s something to be done?

Thanks much,

Sally Sadowski

 

Oh Sally,

If I thought that you were the biggest idiot, that would make me the biggest hypocrite. Not only do I not think that you’re an idiot, I can relate to EVERYTHING you said and I bet that a lot of other blog readers can too. So, let’s take a deep breath…

 

These are universal issues and by golly Sally, at least you’re going to be with family. And IMO for whatever it’s worth, there’s really nothing else that matters. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom too.

 

Alas… my sad story is that my older son is going to be with his girlfriend at her mom’s in northeastern MA. That leaves me with no one and no plans which might sound hard to believe. But that’s the way things are, at the moment. I’m praying daily that someone will rescue me for Christmas. That’s the only present I’d like.

At least for one day. If not, well, there’s always that closet that needs cleaning out.

 

Buttttttt… Did it ever occur to you dear Sally that your S-I-L is freaking out about seeing YOU???

 

Maybe she’s embarrassed by the way her children act out and fearful that you will judge her parenting skills. Or maybe she’s gained 20 pounds since last Christmas and feels gross and ugly.

She may project an air of confidence and beauty and still feel completely different on the inside. You really don’t know.

I mean you REALLY DO NOT KNOW what goes on with other people. Even people who you live with that you think you know really well!

And no, you are not going to have a perfect home. So what? Not to make light of your feelings, but believe me, as the mom who raised two hellions into adulthood, I doubt that the state of your home will be your sister-in-law’s first concern. Just go and have your hair done. Put on make-up and wear a big, warm smile.

Not enough?

Fine. I understand.

But, let’s try to think positively and then see what’s possible before the Christmas holiday descends upon us.

Don’t blink!

First, you’ll need to act fast. I mean REALLY FAST. And I can’t promise that you’ll be able to get everything on the list in time, but a lot of it, yes, it’s possible.

Next, you’ll need to clear out all of the crap. Just get some big garbage bags and if it’s worth saving, put it in the Goodwill bin or wherever. The rest, dump.

 

DO NOT ASK YOUR BOYS IF IT’S OKAY IF YOU DUMP THEIR BROKEN TRANSFORMERS THAT THEY HAVEN’T PLAYED WITH IN FIVE YEARS! OR 25 YEARS!

 

Sorry to shout. Just don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did. Of course it’s okay to dump broken toys, no longer played with! If they should happen to come out of their Nintendo hangover and remember that they once had a cool transformer and want to know where it is… this is what you say.

“I don’t know sweetie. When did you last play with it?”

The truth is that you don’t know where it is, because after you dumped it, it could’ve ended up in some China landfill for all you know.

Wait. Is that a little smile I see?

Good. See??? Life’s not all that bad.

Next.

I have taken the liberty to put some things together for you.

 

In fact, a few things are from this week’s HOT SALES. Please check it out because there’s some awesome stuff on sale this week.

But let’s begin with some cosmetic fixes. Below is a little widget of items to restore wood finishes and others to restore your leather. I’ve not used any of them, but have heard good things about them all.

 

 

The chalk paint will probably not happen due to lack of time. But if you do have time you could paint your existing chairs as an option and then reupholster them.

 

I found these wonderful host chairs on Chairish. I think that they would look awesome with your side chairs. They are a little on the expensive side, but you could probably talk them down. The fabric is quite expensive. You can find it by clicking on the link below. That’s a very good retail price.

 

Plaisirs de La Chine by F Schumacher

 

It is easy to reupholster slip seats with a staple gun. I’m sure that you can find a tutorial on youtube.

Do not try to match the repeat. Just let it fall wherever it lands. It’s more modern. For the six chairs, You can get two seats per width and you’ll need about two feet of fabric to be able to tuck it under from front to back. Therefore, you’ll need two yards to do the six slip seats. An upholsterer might ask for more, but two yards should be fine as long as you don’t make any mistakes.

If not painting, I put an alternative fabric in the widget coming up. You use the Restor A Finish. It comes in numerous colors, so get the one that’s best for your finish.

 

Next, the rugs.

 

I found a wonderful 9 x 12 sea grass rug on One King’s Lane for only $325!!! You can do two of those. And you’ll need a non-skid rug pad for each of them.

 

custom giltwood mirror on Chairish

For over the buffet in the dining room, I found the most smashing giltwood mirror on Chairish.

BTW, I also found the mirror on First Dibs.

 

uh huh… crazy, right?

 

Do they think that we’re stupid or something? These online places, if selling the same items should really be selling it for the same price no matter who the online vendor is. But that is not always the case, I have found. I do try to find the lowest prices for y’all.

 

Below is the widget with lots of other accents to liven up your living and dining room. There’s more info in the captions and if you click on the images, you can go directly to the source.

 

 

 

OH! and if you haven’t decorated your tree and want one that coordinates, please look at the holiday shop in the tree decorating section and particularly the aqua and celadon tree I put together.

Also, if anyone needs curated gift ideas, please check out the holiday shop, the hot sales page (items are all on sale) and the hot clothes on sale (for women) pages. Some very beautiful things from super casual to pretty party dresses.

Well, that’s pretty much it. But, in case some of you don’t realize, Sally Sadowsky is a fictious character. But I believe that there’s a Sally lurking in pretty much every one of us.

xo,

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Donna B Oliphint - December 19, 2017 - 10:16 AM

    Oh! I forgot the one thing I REALLY wanted to say. We only have one child and lived a long way from family for 18 years. Celebrations of 3 people were, at best, anemic. One Easter I realized that there were others I knew who had small families and no relatives near, so I invited them to Easter lunch after church. I ended up with 40 people the first time and a new tradition! Even though we moved and have been closer to family for the last 17 years, I continue to have my “orphan” Easter (on a much smaller scale) and have expanded it to include Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. What a blessing to have a house full of people celebrating special days! And now that my daughter is married (and never learned “the only child holiday rule” of being with your parents on holidays) it keeps me from feeling deprived the in-laws get the kids.ReplyCancel

  • Donna B Oliphint - December 19, 2017 - 10:04 AM

    Oh, wow! What a fun blog today! I inherited that exact same dining table and 4 chairs. Then I bought 2 more of the chairs ti make a bench for a bedroom (which I haven’t made). I spraypainted them black and used a gold Rub ‘n Buff (Hobby Lobby) on the rose carving to match them a bit to 2 black Regency style arm chairs. You do have to sand for the spraypaint, although I think there’s a new line that requires no sanding and will cover anything. And the new chalk paints and mud paints don’t require sanding! The painting itself didn’t take long at all. Then I put a cute diamond patterned fabric on the seats. I spent a lot of money having the table refinished, only to have the sun destroy one of the “dropped” sides. I think it will end up painted one day, too. Such a fun floorplan and problem to think about solving!ReplyCancel

  • Kiera - December 16, 2017 - 3:50 PM

    This is one of my favorite posts, because for so, so long we had only hand-me-down furniture in a variety of finishes from “cat scratched” to “toddler forked” to “let’s jump on the couch with our muddy shoes and see if mom has a heart attack.” We have slowly replaced and repaired but it’s a long process. I will say that Restor-a-Finish works wonders, as do those Minwax furniture markers. But I think the best advice I have ever given myself over the years is to remember the many, many times I have been to other people’s houses and never noticed other people’s level of mess or decorating skill or anything like that (unless I happen to be in a space that is particularly beautiful). All I care about it being with people I enjoy spending time with.

    I can’t imagine you’ll end up finding yourself without an invite to Christmas (you seem like someone who would be an especially fun and sought-after holiday guest), but if you ever did, you’d always be welcome to come to our house in Brooklyn! 😉ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 16, 2017 - 11:55 PM

      Thanks so much Kiera for the lovely comment and kind invitation!ReplyCancel

  • Shelby Whitfield - December 15, 2017 - 4:23 PM

    Thank you for such a relatable (and timely) post! My new in-laws are showing up for the holidays, and we’ve not done a thing to our new house. I definitely ran to the paint store as soon as I found out they were coming (Monday!!) and repainted the guest room and ordered shades, at least.

    You’ve got another invitation to Texas 😉
    But hopefully you’ll be able to video chat or something sweet with your son! Hope your Christmas is absolutely wonderful and you receive a little bit of the cheer you always bring your readers!ReplyCancel

  • Sue - December 13, 2017 - 7:38 AM

    Oh Laurel, I know you’ll get a great offer for Christmas! I was single for a number of years and although I would get multiple invitations for Christmas Day, I ended up spending every Christmas Eve (my favorite Christmas holiday) alone. I hated being alone Christmas Eve, but was determined to make the most of it. I used to start with a pre sunset walk through my quaint New England town ending on the green where a local church choir sang carols and residents lined their sidewalks with luminarias. Dinner was something special like king crab legs accompanied by a nice bottle of wine. Some music, lots of twinkly lights, it worked out OK. I would have chucked it all for an invitation somewhere though…lol.ReplyCancel

  • Phyllis MCGalliard - December 12, 2017 - 3:16 PM

    You are hilariously informative! I love each and every one of your post and couldn’t agree more, there is a Sally inside of all of us! Sometimes Sally is BIG and LOUD and other times she’s a little quieter thank goodness😅. And yes, I am the Sally that would totally run to the paint store, grab the paint, call the electrician with a stat request, and start ordering rugs, etc… online:)

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and good style and taste with us all!
    Merry Christmas to you!

    (Maybe just maybe it might be kinda nice to have some alone, quiet time🤫:))ReplyCancel

  • Eleanor - December 11, 2017 - 7:21 PM

    Laurel,
    If I were having Christmas at my house and I lived anywhere near you, I would love to have you!! As another comment stated, you would be the life of the party! I am praying that you get an amazing invitation from someone who appreciates the loveliness that is Laurel. As it is, this tired mama of little ones is blessed to have parents on both sides hosting:)
    And yes, I agree with you. There is a Sally in all of us, regardless of income level or natural sense of style. Great, heartfelt post!ReplyCancel

  • Emilie - December 11, 2017 - 2:25 PM

    I have to say, these are my favourite posts. They teach me so much about design solutions and serve as huge amounts of inspiration for my own decor. You’ve helped refine my taste towards more traditional, classic, and timeless design that I will love for years to come. Without you I so easily could have succumbed to kitch, I wouldn’t have known any better! I wouldn’t have known how awesome my husband’s inherited chinoiserie chest was. Or that time that I attended an estate sale 2 weeks after it’s opening and no one had bought that amazing chinoiserie painting that looks like Gracie wallpaper, I got it for pennies! But you are making homes more beautiful everywhere in the world, one blog post at a time! Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 12, 2017 - 1:57 AM

      Hi Emilie,

      Thank you so much for this sweetness! It warms my heart! And great score on the Chinoiserie painting. ReplyCancel

  • Sarah McGee - December 11, 2017 - 2:01 PM

    If we weren’t going to be leaving the day after Christmas, I’d be gently persuading (read: pestering/forcing) you to come back to Indy, stay here, and I wouldn’t ask you one single decorating question the whole time.

    Well. Maybe one or two. But that’s IT. xoReplyCancel

  • Glynis Steel - December 10, 2017 - 8:36 PM

    Grinning because I just knew it was you! Love your voice, love your advice, keep it coming please! Happy holidays and all the best to you in the New Year.ReplyCancel

  • Monique - December 10, 2017 - 7:10 PM

    Please tell me you hate that Pantone color of the year!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 7:24 PM

      Hi Monique,

      It’s the worst ever.

      I’m finally catching on that they purposely choose something gross so that they’ll get a lot of publicity from bloggers writing about how much they despise it.

      Not wasting my time.ReplyCancel

  • Karyn - December 10, 2017 - 5:22 PM

    Laurel, I’ve been loving your blog – humor, education, ideas, and inspiration (and love of culture – dance! music!) – for some time and this is my first comment… You had me in tears with this one! I’m in the thick of raising hellions (7, 5, & 3), we moved into our first owned home a YEAR ago and it’s been a slow slow process of trying to make it moderately lovely. Lots of piecemeal furniture, a very similar dining set to the one in this post (but lovingly restored thanks to my MIL), some rooms repainted and no window treatments. But you’re so right. Some times we just need to slap on some lipstick, a halfway-decent updo and a smile and do whatever we can do (quick, go get a decent staple gun and reupholster those chairs! …I’m talking to myself here, fabric and foam are already cut…). It doesn’t have to be perfect and we don’t have to live up to what might be our imagined level of perfection. I’m having Christmas Eve at my home before running off to a midnight Mass, and whatever will be done will be done! (Chairs, I’m looking at you.) And beyond that, tasty food and warmth and family is all that really counts. And if YOU want to join us, we’d absolutely love to have you in our sort-of-decorated-but-trying home! Want to fly out to Chicago?
    P.S. Absolutely coveting that Schumacher fabric…ReplyCancel

  • Barbar Kemp - December 10, 2017 - 5:09 PM

    My mother-in-law gave me a couple great tips years ago when expecting overnight guest. 1. Clean the bathrooms! Yes, scrub everything from top to bottom. Even if the room looks like it has been used and abused, go at it. You might get some new towels too and put out the essentials for your guests. 2. The bedrooms, of course, clean fresh linens and extra blankets if your house is freezing like we keep ours at night. I stayed with someone once and her home was 60 degrees all the time and no extra bedding in sight. 3. A night light so your guests don’t injure themselves when getting up in the night. 4. Tidy up the rest of the house but do your real cleaning after your guests leave. Yes, I said it, after they leave. Quoting my mother-in-law here. After all, no one will really notice the details. There will be too much excitement, conversation, children and whatever else fills the day or days when everyone is under foot. Oh, and keep the lights low! Just kidding!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 7:18 PM

      Low lights is not a bad idea as long as there lamps and it’s not just a single overhead light in a room large than an entry or hall.ReplyCancel

      • Mary - December 12, 2017 - 12:36 PM

        Reminds me of a woman I knew who held an annual open house on Christmas night. Candles were the only lighting. It made for a magical oasis after the hectic holiday. She never worried about cleaning, worn rugs, frayed furniture. The place was enchanting.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - December 10, 2017 - 4:46 PM

    Oh I can hear it now, because I have I heard it before: “You PAINTED Mother’s (crappy) whatever?!?!? Even though they didn’t want it, I was expected to have the museum.

    And you don’t have match the repeat when recovering chairs?? That could save a bucket of money. I do love those Louis XV chairs.

    One of my best Christmas Day’s was at home alone, I got delicious shrimp and walnut “Chinese” takeout dish the day before (see, I still remember). Had prosecco and fruitcake for breakfast, went for a long walk and had my takeout and a glass of wine and a good book for dinner. I love my family, but honestly, that was a very nice day.
    I do hope you have a lovely day and Merry Christmas.ReplyCancel

    • Mary - December 12, 2017 - 1:26 PM

      Laughed ruefully at your “museum” reference. When my mother had to give up her lovely home, I offered to keep her cherished furnishings at my house (guilt?) where they remained until her passing ten years later. I, too, came to feel like the curator of a museum.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - December 12, 2017 - 10:54 PM

        That was very kind of you Mary. I would never have taken my mom’s furniture. She moved twice since she gave up her house but her dementia is so bad, she doesn’t remember a thing. Sorry for your loss.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 7:17 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      No, you definitely do not have to match the repeat, if it’s a large repeat. Otherwise, you’ll only see a tiny portion of the fabric and will have a ton of waste. ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Dietz - December 10, 2017 - 12:55 PM

    Laurel, thank you so much for the opener of this post. What a helpful reminder to me that my sister in law is a human being and is totally devoted to my brother and niece. Families are hard! All the best to you this holiday season. MelissaReplyCancel

  • Elle - December 10, 2017 - 12:25 PM

    Love your post Laurel and you’re suggestion for hostess chairs is really pretty. And the cheetah print pillow is darling!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 3:31 PM

      Hi L C!

      I’ve been kind of obsessed with animal prints ever since I was in Venice a year and a half ago and got to see the Bevilacqua atelier where they produce the fabric that’s hand-loomed like they did it 200 years ago. I forgot the exact number, but I think it takes an entire day just to loom 12 inches! There’s a lower cost version that looks the same to me which is also very expensive. I’m not sure what the difference is, except maybe part of the process is more automated and the effect would be different.

      Here, you can see what I’m talking about plus a very short film I took.

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2016/05/07/three-unexpected-things-discovered-italy-vacation/ReplyCancel

  • Johanna - December 10, 2017 - 11:52 AM

    Some fabulous ideas and thanks for the advice about the chairs.

    If you’d like to spend the holidays in rural Alberta on a farm away from it all, with another Ben Pentreath devotee, we’d love to have you here : ) . It’s a bit chaotic here (still finishing up the new house we’re building ourselves) so the current house is in the midst of decluttering for the move and gathering things for the new house (including some new-to-me old chairs). As far as the weather goes, who knows about Christmas and New Year’s but this weekend it’s warmer and less snow than NYC — something to think about!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 3:21 PM

      Thank you so much for the kind offer Johanna, especially since it sounds like you have your hands quite full! But a farm in Alberta sounds AMAZING!ReplyCancel

  • Maryanne - December 10, 2017 - 10:53 AM

    Great post, Laurel. I thought it was real and consequently loved your approach to the response. Seemed like Sally could have been any of us, and the “response” directions were very approachable.
    I have a nearly identical dining set in my garage waiting to be chalk painted. For furniture, do not use the crafters paints: spend the money and use Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint. Find a stockist who is trained with the product (which is crazy easy to use, btw) and they can give you endless advice on using it, interesting techniques, how to fix errors (usually, just paint over!) I have been painting furniture for about seven years now and it is my go-to for dealing with old, inherited, thrifted, vintage, worn, etc. furniture and accessories. It paints over everything (just did some baskets and a metal beverage tub) and the clean-up is ridiculously quick and easy. Amazing color palette that coordinates, and mixing colors gives you endless variety. So easy (and no VOCs or odor!) that I paint in my dining room. Laurel, you should give it a try if you haven’t already, and do a post! Good luck to all the “Sallys” out there. Laurel, you’re welcome to join us in NJ for Christmas.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 3:12 PM

      Hi Maryanne,

      Annie Sloan is definitely good stuff! And thank you for the kind offer!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Oliphant Wagner - December 10, 2017 - 10:28 AM

    You truly provide the most wonderful guidance, advice and tools. You make our lives infinitely easier. I just bought all of the wood finishing tools including the guide book. All three were just what I need to fix up my grandmother’s dining room table and help me down the road with other heirlooms and finds. Thank you for taking the guesswork out the search.ReplyCancel

  • Jon - December 10, 2017 - 9:02 AM

    Nothing like having people over to help get motivated to redo things. I took time off from work to repaint the dining room before Thanksgiving and the chairs from my living room are still out being reupholstered. Hopefully they are back soon. If not people will be sitting on the floor. I will just distract them with food and drink and everything will be fine. If you are looking for Christmas fun you can always join us in Delaware. A trip to Winterthur and tax free shopping are good for getting into the Christmas spirit. Thanks for another great post.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 10:13 AM

      Hi Jon,
      It’s the truth which is why I need to have people over on a regular basis! haha. And thank you for the kind offer! Sounds great!ReplyCancel

  • Christine Murray - December 10, 2017 - 8:37 AM

    Hi Laurel – This post is spot on. I inherited a dining set identical to the one shown from my in-laws. We refinished the table professionally as it is solid mahogany , and over the years I must have recovered the chair seats four times, and painted the chairs twice. Recovering the seats is really simple- you just cut the fabric to size, wrap it like a present tightly around the seat, and use a staple gun to keep it in place. Our set is now in storage because we don’t have room for it in our new city home, and my husband thinks my daughter will want it one day. Hope springs eternal!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 10:12 AM

      Hi Christine,

      While my posts are fiction, they are based on real-life circumstances. Over the years, I’ve had more clients than I can count who inherited furniture and some of it is gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Linda - December 10, 2017 - 7:51 AM

    I do enjoy your weekly sales flyer but, as with the mirror you mentioned above, I always google around with the name, description, or image of the item to see who is selling it for what. The edme bowl you posted is another example. I got one for a really good price with free shipping on ebay.

    It’s just marketing and I’m guessing the 1st Dibs buyer will tend to pay more than the Chairish buyer who is probably more of a deal seeker.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 10:11 AM

      Hi Linda,

      Well, I’ve worked with some wealthy clients and/or known some exceedingly well-heeled people. And most of them are deal seakers. I don’t google everything, so if you or anyone finds the same thing for less somewhere, please let me know. I can also link to items on ebay and etsy who sometimes sell the same thing for less. The only way to know for sure however, if it’s the same vendor.ReplyCancel

  • Michele - December 10, 2017 - 4:37 AM

    Good morning from Norway, Laurel! As usual, your post is spot-on. We finally moved into our new farm house a few weeks ago. For the last few years we first lived in the totally run-down old house on the farm, and then in a small trailer while the new house was being built.
    Most of our belongings were divided between two storage containers, a stable room, and a very damp and mouse-ridden barn.

    My father-in-law died in the beginning of this year and now my mother-in-law is coming for Christmas. It’s great that she wants to come, but oh – the pressure! Why do we always make it so difficult for ourself? Our ego playing tricks? I don’t think it’s just that. It’s also part of caring about, and for, other people. After a difficult year I would like to welcome my M-I-L in a nice, cosy and warm room. She is getting on in years, so it should be comfortable and practical, too.
    One so much WANTS to make things nice for the people around.

    Yesterday we unearthed at least 20 boxes with Christmas stuff from the barn. No idea what has survived the stay there… We also had help to take in about 50 boxes of books and office papers. VERY heavy. I worked till late at night making a dent in unpacking those, because now the whole house is clogged with boxes. Up early – take a cup of coffee with a painkiller – and back to the boxes.

    It’s not the work of decorating a house as such that is tiresome.
    It’s the work of putting a house in order on top of normal life that breaks the camels back – and mine! Kids still have to be ferried to and from school and activities (even more activities these weeks), shopping to be done, meals to be cooked. Oh, and I have a little something called a job, too. And an age where it gets harder to bounce through these periods.

    But, enough complaining! As you write, we should be grateful for all we have. A healthy family. A very nice new house. For the first time in years I can do laundry without having to put on shoes and a jacket and carry everything in and out of the house! (We first had our laundry in a filthy, damp and dark cellar – and then rigged up in a storage container.)
    I can actually vacuum clean without blowing the fuses!
    I can even make coffee and boil tea water at the same time without blowing a fuse!
    All my clothes have found a place – the choice is overwhelming – I didn’t know I had so many nice things!
    My books are finally coming home – it’s like finding old friends in every new box I open!
    I even found somebody to help wash the windows!

    Gratitude should be the word, yes ma’am.
    Whenever I forget that, I remind myself to read about Syrian refugees and other people in need. That will put the gratitude right back in my heart! Our troubles are small and luxurious, indeed.

    Thank you, too, for not being another one of those bloggers pretending that life is fabulous and only that. Life is life, and it has ups and downs for all of us. Period.
    If my M-I-L wasn’t coming, you would be welcome to our guestroom ;)! Just would have to warn you that the regular Christmas meal here is dried and salted sheep, with boiled potatoes and a kind of turnip mash…. hahaha!
    Have a great week!

    Ooh, a question! How long should one wait before starting to hang pictures? We have put in the furniture in the rooms, but since we just moved in I’m not sure yet that that will be the definite placing. Or am I fussing too much??! Should I just hang the damn things??!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 13, 2017 - 5:24 PM

      Hi Michele,

      I don’t know how I missed your comment! So sorry. Dried and salted sheep, huh? I gather that it tastes a lot better than it sounds. lol Can’t say about the art, but it probably is best if your furniture has a more or less permanent location, particularly pieces against the walls.ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - December 10, 2017 - 3:11 AM

    Laurel,

    This is a wonderful posting. I don’t know if the Sally is working full time, probably, but I can attest to using Restore a finish with fabulous results. Buy a little sander to use on the flat sides of the chairs. You can use chalk paint without sanding. Doing the seats is a breeze just make sure you stay on the grain of the fabric. Don’t use HGTV tips, they do them wrong.

    Laurel, what do you think of painting the table a shade of blue to bring down its formality? But chalk paint is a must for that and make sure to get a good one. Anyone can make chalk paint, but for a dining table I’d go top of the line.

    On line fabric stores are now plentiful and it you don’t love what you get, they can be changed again.

    Focus almost totally on living and dining room, making them as much of a surprise as possible.

    Come back and ask for advice here. If Laurel will give us a heads up, we can come up with more help.

    Good luck and drop back to update us and ask for more advice.

    The best way to enjoy Christmas is with love and fun. And Laurel, I surely know what it is like to be alone or nearly alone. Make alone traditions for yourself and get extra rest.

    Sandy, maybe you will have lots of help taking care of your son and cooking, etc.

    I like kidney pillows on chairs.

    I have a wonderful rug pad place I would have to look up.

    First impressions will go a long way.

    Jump on it.

    Formal furniture can always be brought down a notch with creative ideas.

    Fabulous taste does not depend on money. I’ve always made my stuff look good with elbow grease and sewing.

    Don’t buy it unless you really, really like it or better yet love it and thank goodness there is room on the patio to work on that table and chairs.

    I prefer the second fabric choice in the tone on tone and love those Chinoiserie pillows.

    Laurel, those etageres won’t fit beside the fireplace unless they block the windows but they may fit along the back wall.

    Do a simple tree and have them help decorate it if they arrive in time.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 10:08 AM

      Hi Ramona,

      Painting the table can work. Just depends what else is going on.

      And forgive me. The image with the etageres is for the skinny lamps which I failed to mention. I can go in and fix it, however. That’s the beauty of the widget. If I go in the back end and change something, it shows up in the blog! Really cool!ReplyCancel

  • Ruth - December 10, 2017 - 2:34 AM

    Omg I adore you Laurel! How can you spend Christmas alone in any possible universe, you’d be the star of the evening with your banter and humour… I’d transport you in an instant to New Zealand to liven up our Christmas…. all the sisters in law are apparently taking over kitchen of mother in law but none of the sons have had the courage to tell her yet! Yeah I think we need you for this pending disaster!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 10, 2017 - 10:05 AM

      That would be wonderful all the way around including kitchen take over! Mine that is. But good luck on your kitchen front!ReplyCancel

  • Tamara Papazian - December 10, 2017 - 1:27 AM

    Well, you really pulled me in in this one! I am silently cussing you out “Laurel, have you lost your mind! It’s 2 weeks till Christmas and you want her to paint furniture??? What are you thinking over there, wherever you are?” Man, I was really stunned, until the last line!! Joke is on me, and yes, see I do read all that you write!!
    Happy Holidays and if you lived in California I would come and get you and bring you home for the holidays!! You could help me paint some furniture😆😆
    Tammy PapazianReplyCancel