Compromise in Design & Marriage (The Saga of the Ski Lift in Our Back Yard)

For those of us in love with design, it may come as a shock that there are those who don’t live and breathe interiors. However, there are many, many people out there who have never picked up a copy of House Beautiful in their lives. Even so, some come to the realization that they want a more comfortable and character-filled home and seek out a decorator’s advice and direction — but they may have no earthly idea of their family’s personal “style,” or even how to find it out.

ski lift

Helping clients to find their style is exciting and rewarding to me. They tell me about their family members and their needs and lifestyles, and I’ll give them images and fabrics, etc. for them to tell me the colors and patterns to which they gravitate. Then we move forward with more concrete plans.

Through all this, clients gain more confidence in their preferences. It can be process of self-realization in many ways.

And sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back, and then out in a new direction.

No Man (or Woman) Is an Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
-John Donne

This type of situation happened with a client of mine recently. We had reviewed images and inspiration, etc. (they wanted freshened-up preppy and comfortable) and I headed out in a direction to design a room with an inherited rug as the inspiration launchpad.


I came back with a plan that included a lighter wall color than the client anticipated.Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 3.05.38 PM

There were various factors I took into account when making my recommendation — darkness of the rug and other inherited elements, lowness of the ceilings, expanse of the room, etc. I knew the color would push them a bit out of their comfort zone, but I felt I was doing my job in trying to give them my best recommendations for a room that would eventually give them the ambience they sought based upon the rug, as directed.

(I did also give some backups that coordinated with a darker room color they originally desired.)

My clients went back to think on it. In the end, they decided that they agreed with me that they could not go with the dark wall color and the dark rug and still get the overall room they wanted — but they determined that the darker wall color was more important to them than the rug!!

So they got a new rug with a lighter ground that they LOVED…

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 2.28.31 PM

…and we ended up with this plan — one they, also, now LOVE.

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 3.04.58 PM

The wife said something to me during our first presentation (the one with the wall color they didn’t like as much) something along the lines of, “You must be so disappointed when you’re limited by your clients’ tastes!”

Not at all.

My Handsome Husband and the Ski Lift in Our Back Yard

That’s life — that’s limits and cooperation leading to creativity. I dare you to show me the person who operates in a vacuum, without limits.

Even when designers decorate for themselves, unless they are independently wealthy (many in the magazines are), they operate within the confines of their own budgets and their own families’ desires. For example, my foyer from last year’s ORC:


I dearly love it. BUT, had I had the budget, I would have chosen the mirror below and something a little less “country” for the console table.

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 2.10.26 PM

Fleur Mirror by Made Goods

But my Wisteria mirror was on sale for under $200, my Craigslist console was $75, and I preferred to spend money on the art, the lighting, and the 100% wool stair runner. You don’t always get to have — or have to get — your first choice.

Art is another area of compromise for my Handsome Husband and me. The HH is very fond of art, so what we put up on the walls matters to him deeply. I can’t just put something up because it is pretty and goes with my color scheme — it has to be profoundly personal to our family as well.

I feel that this had led me to make more original and better art choices for our home. (It just takes a hell of a lot longer to find them … within our budget. Auctions, baby.)

Some of our recent additions:

"A Peaceful Moment" by Brian Keith Stephens
“A Peaceful Moment” by Brian Keith Stephens
"Woman in an Autumn Landscape" by John Winship
“Woman in an Autumn Landscape” by John Winship

And then there’s the ski lift in our back field. Or, to be more accurate, the chair lift swing.

The Ski Lift Chair Swing in Our Back Field
The Ski Lift Chair Swing in Our Back Field


To understand the saga, you need a little insight into our family. Thing 1, our oldest, is a math and numbers kid. When we take him skiing, he certainly loves the mountains, but what he tends to fixate on more are the maps of the various trails, the locations of the lifts, the number of chairs and towers, etc.

Last year, when our local ski hill decided to replace its oldest lift — a double, aka two-seater — with a triple, it decided to sell off the chairs. Thing 1 loved the old lift the most because it was the longest on the mountain, had the most chairs, and was the first ever put in. My husband thought this would be a very special treat for Thing 1 to have a piece of this in our home.

Now, we live in central/northern New Hampshire. Houses, yards, and farms are far from perfectly coifed around here. All the same, having a tubular steel blue & black swing overlooking our field did not exactly fit my notion of picturesque bucolic beauty.

So NOT my bucolic back field, but one can dream.
So NOT my bucolic back field, but one can dream.


Nevertheless, it is a field and a family home, not a show place. I acquiesced, and my handsome husband got to work.IMG_3686

Derelict swing on the ground.


Chris, our local welder, put the frame together. Quite the artist, he surprised us with the maple leaf motif in the corner! Then we spray painted it green.


Lots and lots of Quikrete.


My husband and his father lifting it into place, but it was too heavy, even though they’re both in excellent shape!


Our neighbor also joined in.


Hand prints and initials and the date.

IMG_3866 IMG_3867

I don’t know why this picture is so small, but you can still see how happy these boys and their daddy are.

And every time I sit on that swing while my boys are playing or riding their bikes through the field, or while the HH and I are sipping a glass of wine while the sun is beginning to set, I think about how much I love this swing. It is unique and uniquely our family. Compromise can lead to some of the most creative things ever.

Any design compromises you’ve had to make? Either for budget or loved ones’ tastes? Tell me truly, how did they turn out????


I’ll be off next Saturday to spend some time with the Husband and kiddos. I know it’s been a while since I’ve had new projects to post (design can be a stretched out process — especially when happy clients want to continue working with you beyond the initial scope of work!) — but I’ll be back in two weeks with a very dramatic BEFORE & AFTER REVEAL!

I also have some very exciting news!

See you in two weeks!




3 thoughts on “Compromise in Design & Marriage (The Saga of the Ski Lift in Our Back Yard)”

  1. Paula Moreshead

    I love this post and that you went with the swing your son wanted. I’ve impressed with how creative and good looking the frame is. As much as we want things to be beautiful and aesthetically pleasing to our eyes, it really is about the ones we love and make a home for. I’m looking forward to your next post and the new before and after reveal!

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Paula! Yes, home is ALL about being together with our loved ones, for sure. We looked at a lot of inspiration for the swing online first, but our welder was so excited to give us something decorative! (I don’t think he gets to do that sort of thing very often. 😉 )

  2. Such a sweet post. I love the picture of the two boys gazing at their daddy. And great design lesson too!

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