Decorating (Un)Diva

Some women lust over designer shoes and handbags, some lust over diamonds and pearls. I lust over farmhouse sinks and pendant lights.

I’m addicted to home improvement—and home improvement shows—much to my husband’s dismay. Used to be, every time I watched one of the HGTV or DIY shows on Netflix, I’d get the urge to start a new house project—ka-ching, ka-ching—or do a little redecorating and rearranging furniture.IMG_0788

I come from a long line of rearranging women. It’s in our genes; I’m a “Miller girl.” My mom and her five Miller sisters all like(d) to rearrange and decorate. Growing up, it seemed every few months Mom would move the furniture, which drove my dad crazy, especially when he came home and tripped over the ottoman like Dick Van Dyke.

The thing is, as much as I love watching those shows, I could never be on one because you have to sign the design decisions over to their designer. Not gonna happen. I have very definite design ideas that I like to implement myself. I know what I like (farmhouse chic and cozy English cottage with lots of books, art, flowers, and touches of whimsy) and what I don’t (modern, minimalist, and sleek.)

Old books and our Bruges Pinocchio
Old books and our Bruges Pinocchio

I’m so not a modern girl. I like pops of color, but trust me, there will never be a pop of chartreuse or orange in my our house.

I love decorating and making things pretty. It’s one of my favorite forms of creative expression. Back in the day when I got to stay home and write books for a sort-of living, every time I finished a book—after weeks of being hunched over the keyboard during deadline crunch—and hit ‘Send’, the first thing I did (after a celebratory lunch) was jump into a new decorating or home-improvement project.

That project almost always begins with cleaning. I can’t stand a dirty house (another Miller-girl trait) but during deadline madness, normal household chores fall by the wayside; it’s all about the book. All my time and energy was devoted to writing, so by the time I finished my latest not-so-magnum opus, the house would be in serious need of a good cleaning. Michael regularly kept up with the basics—cooking, dishes, and laundry—but scrubbing toilets and dusting isn’t really his strong suit.

Once the house was sparkling clean, I’d jump into a new decorating project. Sometimes it was painting a room, sometimes rearranging the living room, sometimes ripping up carpet to expose gorgeous hardwood floors, sometimes repurposing an old piece of furniture, and sometimes it was simply moving a bookcase to another part of the room. (The latter always took the longest since I had to remove every book then re-shelve them. That was very distracting since each book called to me, “Read me, read me!”)

IMG_0778Although I love all those decorating shows (especially Fixer Upper; Chip and Joanna, subway tile, and shiplap, be still my heart) I must confess I see red when the designer displays books with the spines AGAINST THE WALL—hiding the titles and showing the pages facing outward. Sacrilege! Why would you have pictures of the backs of your friends’ heads? Clearly those designers aren’t readers.Cover - Daring Chloe

As I said in my novel Daring Chloe (I don’t usually quote myself, but when I Googled my name to see if my brand-new blog came up, several quotes from my books appeared. Pretty cool. I’m not used to being quoted.) Anyway, as I said in Daring Chloe, “How do you explain to a nonreader that books aren’t just things but treasured friends? Companions

No way will I ever hide my book spines. Nobody puts my babies in the corner. Are you with me?

A Few Things I Love, A Few Things I Hate

A Few Things I Love, A Few Things I Hate

In the musical The King and I*, British governess Anna sings “Getting to Know You” to the children and wives of the King of what was then-called Siam (Thailand.) One way to get to know people is to learn what they love and hate. So, IIMG_5202 thought I’d share some of my love and hates with you. (Heads up: I’m a tad passionate—some would say opinionated. When I love something, I LOVE it! And when I hate something, you’ll know.)

*I had the privilege of seeing the amazing—and still sexy—Yul Brynner onstage in his iconic role in London’s West End, FIFTH ROW CENTER in the ‘70s. Fabulous!

A Few Things I Love “Truly, Madly, Deeply” (in no particular order)

Truly, Madly, Deeply is a romantic and quirky little English film starring the remarkable and much-missed Alan Rickman long before he was Professor Snape.

  1. Books
  2. England
  3. BBC mysteries
  4. Michael Kitchen (My Foyle’s War crush. Says more with a lifted eyebrow than most actors can in an entire monologue.)
  5. Our spaniel-pug mix Mellie and her adorable underbiteIMG_0187

A few things I “Hate, Loathe, Despise, and Abominate”

Judy Garland says the impassioned line, “If there’s anything I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate…” in Meet Me in St. Louis, a delightful movie-musical we watch every Christmas. It’s full of such memorable songs as the “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and the achingly beautiful “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Judy resplendent in red velvet.

  1. Coffee (The taste AND the smell.) Since childhood, I’ve never liked coffee, or anything coffee-flavored, including mocha icing. Yuck. But the worst thing was selecting a piece of yummy-looking candy from a box of chocolates, and biting into it in delicious chocolatey anticipation, only to get a mouthful of mocha. Ick. I’d immediately spit it out and chase it with a chocolate-covered caramel to get rid of the awful coffee after taste. My lifelong coffee aversion was strengthened during my chemo days when the hospital orderly would bring me a breakfast tray with a cup of coffee. The minute he entered the room and I caught a whiff of coffee, I’d start puking. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Noise
  3. Crowds (especially in elevators or on light rail)—I need my personal space.
  4. Brussels sprouts and cooked cabbage
  5. Dirty bathrooms (Eew. Just eew. Ever heard of bleach wipes and pumice stones?)

And in case the above introductory references didn’t give it away, I also love movies (good ones.)

So what about you? What are a few (Top 5) things you love and hate?