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Clyde, Time Was: Do people put their heart into decor anymore?

Time was we liked to decorate. Just after taking down the last Christmas bow, it’s time to redecorate. Our surroundings look sad and shabby, and if your progestin level is low, it’s time to move the furniture. January white sales force you to redo, remodel, add on, make over or tear down.

The French “décorateurs” have always had the upper hand in good taste, long before Salisbury was nicknamed the “Paris of the Piedmont.” During its heyday, you could find anything you needed downtown to make your crib into “Le Petit Trianon.” Give those boys a yard of chintz and they can fix up the whole house.

Linda can create drapes as easy as you can buy swags, jabots, planter hooks, fringe, valances and — as described in an appropriate book — “a damask lambrequin, tassels and gimp over lace curtains.”

In old homes, the front two rooms were kept closed off for the music room, with pianoforte and gramophone, and the drawing room or library with floor-to-ceiling leather-bound books, including the classics. What home now has either?

Home furnishing magazines today don’t even show a place for a Kleenex box, much less a book. You can get that all online. The focal point over the mantelpiece is proudly a flatscreen TV, the bigger the better. Where did all those portraits, candlesticks, antimacassars, garnitures and bough pots go?

Home furnishing magazines of old offered rich detail about the many ways to decorate. Excerpts can be found in “The Tasteful Interlude: American interiors through the camera’s eye, 1860-1917.”

Framed family pictures have gone the way of Facebook and selfies. Lost are the “quantities of little things” one arranged amid chairs, tables and rockers — “shells, teapots, photographs, statuettes — pier mirrors and credenzas, floral carpets which show an increasing interest in the addition of personal touches.”

Decorating the table called for a centerpiece: “Cascading from the lighted gasolier, a birds nest of leaves and fruit meet the centerpiece. Table settings were the grandest of expressions of domestic art.”

Plastic tablecloths take no thought or taste. Real candlelight is hidden under a basket. Flowers are fake.

“Healthy and well-maintained house plants and flowers, besides being organic and thus aesthetically appealing, were the proud symbols of a vigilant housewife,” says “The Tasteful Interlude.” Sadly, very little time is spent now making your surroundings pleasantly attractive, if only to you. Some change things around by the seasons, like your wardrobe. Some hire interior designers to tell them what they like.

The elite ASID crowd members charge for their taste, good or bad. One such member insists on one something red and at least one oriental objet d’art in every room setting. Strangely misunderstood feng shui never had a chance in China Grove. Literally “wind and water,” mirrors bounce incoming energy straight back and set up a disturbance.

Ever notice how bakery decorators kinda look like a cupcake, Abigail? Wedding decorations deserve their own storybook.

A 1970 Good Housekeeping article had this to say about DIY decor: “If you are blessed with natural good taste, you will perhaps be satisfied with letting it operate for you without further concern for the principles that underlie an artistically wise choice. Choose style or period in harmony. A basic color scheme in scale with other furnishings and with room location.”

Look out for trends that look old real fast. Shabby chic has outlasted country cute. The minimalist will not be happy ’til it’s all gone. The over-priced mid-century modern is what we threw out when we could afford better. Out went Danish modern pieces, Nakashima coffee tables, jalousie windows, area rugs, porch gliders (even our own Lyon-Shaw), French provincial, fruit pictures. How can anyone forget macramé or Williamsburg blue?

Remember, always hang your pictures with the middle at eye level, the larger one on top.

So let yourself go, repaint with pretty colors, tear out walls or hang up a simple wreath.

If it’s Valentine’s Day, send one, but be sure you put your heart into it.

Clyde is a Salisbury artist.

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