The Birds and The Bees in Interior Design – Make that – Just The Bees

Ok Peeps. It’s time to have ‘that talk’ that makes clients hands sweat and tongue ties most designers. It’s time for another one of those ‘client designer’ heart-to-heart talks I think you’re now old enough for us to have. It’s time for us to talk openly, honestly and without embarrassment about the ‘ins and outs’ (no pun intended – this is a G-rated blog) regarding a key truth about interior design. We need to talk about – the ‘downside’ of design. Because baby cakes – I’m sorry to tell you – there is one.

So contrary to my blog title above, we don’t even need the ‘birds’ part for our talk. Frankly, I stuck the ‘birds’ part in my article heading just just to get your attention and evidently – it worked. 🙂 Nope. This talk has no birds in it: it’s all about the ‘bees’ – the downside. You see – in design – as in Life – sometimes – you just have to live with the bees.

Here’s what I mean.

Last week, the sun shone perfectly and the temperature warmed just a tad unseasonably. This afforded me the great pleasure of sitting outside under our scent-filled and literally bloom exploding wisteria. It is a mind boggling show, our wisteria, when at its height. The vines cover a pergola that stands on one side of our deck. For about two and a half glorious weeks each spring, our wisteria becomes the 9th wonder of the world. Each April, we get a massive and mighty show: not only the most heady scent you could imagine coming from this jaw dropping cloud of purple blossoms, but the blooms themselves, which are grape-cluster-like flowers, just tumble over one another in a most exuberant spill. It is truly a sight. However – there’s a down side: I’m not the only one that loves to be amidst our wisteria this time of year. The bees love it too. Big, chubby, loud, buzzing, scary looking bees. (As a pacifist, I respect them and their rights – I just don’t like being around them.) Did I mention how hairy these bees look?? And how loudly they can buzz?? And sometimes, they even loudly crash into each other?? But never me, thank heavens? Buzz. Crash. Buzz. Buzz. Crash.

So – the other day, I sat out there taking a coffee break to rest my eyes from a rendering project. I sat and I sipped. I inhaled deeply my purple wisteria perfume. I looked lovingly at my purple wisteria cloud of flowers. And I listened to what some might call – the unnerving buzzing cacophony of these fat, hairy, and potentially scary bees.

But – not to this girl. In truth, I was not upset – not even one nerve was out of place. As bug-a-phobic as I can be, I knew the bees were far more interested in the succulent wisteria nectar than in me. Yet, that same argument didn’t calm a pal who recently stopped by one day and couldn’t get herself to sit with me under my wisteria. “How do you stand it? These bees?,” she asked in disbelief? I told her that the bees were the price I had to pay in exchange for the magnificent gift of all that beauty, all that perfume, all that purple shade, and all that wonder. “Sometimes,” I said, ” you just have to live with the bees.”

Design is like that too, my peeps. Clients don’t want to hear it, but it’s true. Sometimes in design – just as in Life – you have to live with the bees. Here are a few examples from my recent and distant design past:

1) To reupholster a cherished sofa from her living room, my client had to live with the mixed bag of emotions that came from opting for the change she so desperately craved – yet a choice that also made her feel melancholy for what was about to be forever lost, namely the way these pieces had looked in her parents’ home. Sometimes, you just have to live with the bees.

2) To redecorate a family room that drove 1 client crazy, we came up with a particularly beautiful plan – a plan that she not only loved, but one that spoke deeply to what she loved most in interiors – from texture, to color, to line, to form and certainly style. She loved that plan and so did her husband. But so great was her anxiety about change in general that I finally suggested that she instead do nothing – live with the old family room longer because it clearly gave her something – some real comfort. “But I hate this old family room the way it is” she responded. But I knew – she just wasn’t ready to live with the bees – not yet. We never did move ahead on that project – which I think – was a perfect and great move for this client.

3) To beautifully update one area of the house with new furnishings and window treatments for one client suddenly cast in a frustrating and far less attractive light some of her home’s ‘untouched, but in need of touching up areas.’ Her feelings were not uncommon. All in good time, I assured her. But for now – and sometimes – you just have to live with the bees.

4) For some clients, (certainly not all, but for some), there can be an emotional sting to the price one pays in exchange for the services of an interior designer. One makes the decision to hire a designer for her guidance because she is the one who, by training and by talent, can physically articulate into ‘design form’ what you are craving. Something you recognize that you are simply not able to make manifest yourself – no matter how hard you try or how many hours of HGTV you watch. Yes, it does cost very real budget dollars to hire a designer; there is a cost for service that is performed on your behalf. For some clients – that service and guidance is truly, deeply and sometimes even desperately desired, yet at the same time the budgetary cost in paying for that coveted service comes with a sting for them. “To bee – or not to bee,” this is the question. To work on your own and get more of the same, or to work with a designer and get what you want: Sometimes, you just have to live with the bees. (There are bees in either one of those choices, no!?!)

5) To follow your heart and design in the new color scheme you’ve grown into and now crave may mean re-purposing, refinishing, or relocating a formerly cherished piece. This hurts. But to get to your new vision, sometimes, you have to live with the bees.

6) Let’s not even discuss what moving to a new home can do to the insides of a sensitive! I’ve been down that path with clients too! Even if the move is desired, there is the sting of letting go of a former nest. Sometimes, to get what you want or where you’re supposed to go, you have to live with the bees.

These are only a few examples of living with the bees – I have loads more.

I believe it was Buddha who said that there is suffering inherent in all of Life – that technically, there is loss inherent in all of Life. The bud is forever lost in order for the rose bloom to come forth. That’s a loss. The baby is lost as the toddler takes her first steps. The child is lost as the young adult steps onto the college campus. The single self is lost as the bride takes her vows. In all gain then – there is always some sacrifice made, some cost, some ‘thing’ lost – no matter how big or small. Yes – even one step forward can mean leaving some ‘thing’ behind. Life ‘costs’ us – something. Always.

I see my clients wrestle with real struggles and stirrings – these design driven dilemmas that to me, are really tiny-shadows of the larger ‘bee forms’ we all experience in Life.

But in design – as in Life – if you can find or feel the value in what lay ahead; the value to you that will come by creating your new vision; the value there will be to you in the treasure of living in the new experience – well then – you may just be able to put one foot in front of the other and find your way. Just as I felt and understood the profound value in resting under my wisteria, even if it meant living a little closer than I’d prefer to her parade of fuzzy-buzzy-bees. Look for the meaning – and meaningful value – and benefit to you in all choices. Live this truth, and then you’ll find that it’s not so bad. . . .living with the bees.