Edgy Mama: Shabby chic

Since having kids, I’ve embraced the shabby chic décor movement — heavy on shabby, light on chic.

In my mind’s eye, my home is filled with over-stuffed, beautifully upholstered furniture, wrought-iron fixtures and burnished wood. In reality, the sofa stuffing is exploding out of the stained fabric, the cheap metal fixtures are chipping, and puppy tooth imprints decorate the wood surfaces.

After we had our first baby, I realized I had to let go of my high standards for home cleanliness. Then I let go some more. Local blogger Ashvegas calls my living room couch the “snot sofa.” To which I say, “Hey guy, you try to control the nasal output of two kids with chronic upper respiratory infections.”

At least now I have a dog to clean up after them.

When I visit the homes of my child and pet-free friends, I’m amazed at their gently used furniture, straight curtains, clean carpets and scuffless hardwood floors. Yet, their homes seem a bit sterile to me. And much less exciting than mine. After all, they don’t run down the stairs in the middle of the night to let out the dog, step on a Lego and spend the next five minutes whispering invectives so as not to wake the kids.

I have, however, learned a few tricks over the years for sprucing up the chic and minimizing some of the shabby. To wit:

1. Get a dog. They double as vacuum cleaners. Even better, find a Dorkie Poo (daschund/yorkie/poodle mix) like our Biscuit. That little bit of poodle in the mutt keeps him from shedding.

2. Damn the expense and buy oriental rugs. They don’t show dirt. They don’t show stains. They don’t show puppy pee rings.

3. Always upholster your furniture in patterned fabrics (see number 2). The girls down at Yesterday’s Tree tell me it’s muy chic to mix florals and multi-patterned fabrics. Furniture doesn’t have to match anymore. Hurrah!

4. Invest in a bottle (or case) of Anti-Icky Poo or some type of enzyme stain and odor remover. While the oriental rugs and patterned furniture won’t show stains, odors are harder to disguise. I have no clue what’s in Anti-Icky Poo, but I do know that it’s the only product I’ve found that deletes the scents of both cat pee and baby barf.

5. Let the kids tape their artwork to the walls. It hides the dirt and peeling paint. And it counts as primitive art, right?

6. Manage toys by storing them in rustic-looking baskets. Baskets can hold mail, magazines, toilet paper, produce, crayons, drugs — you name it. The bonus is that, before a party or having friends over, you can de-clutter quickly by hiding all the overflowing baskets in the basement, closets or oven. Just don’t forget to check the oven before you turn it on.

7. Duct tape is not just for guys. Use the silvery stuff to hem curtains, keep those wine glasses you never use from toppling off the display shelf and repair fabric splits in upholstery. My favorite use for duct tape — make small circles of the tape with the sticky side facing out, stick on the back of photos and art hanging on your walls, level the art and push so tape sticks to the wall. No more crooked photos from the earthquake-like effects of kidlings running through the house.

I’ve actually considered duct taping the entire sofa instead of reupholstering it. That would make it even easier to for the dog to clean off the snot.

— Anne Fitten Glenn is a freelance writer based in Asheville. She covers a number of topics (including parenting) on her blog, EdgyMama.com.


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5 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Shabby chic

  1. ash

    i’ve only encountered that crusty couch one or twice, but lemme tell ya, when i sat down on it, i felt it come alive.

    that’s not just the snot sofa – that’s the devil davenport, the beatie daybed, the fiendish futon, the leviatan lounger.

    back, back….arghhhh!

  2. ash

    yeah, sorry for the typos. i was so scared thinking about that damn thing that i couldn’t see straight!

  3. Weaverville Woman

    hey, EM! did you know that wal-mart sells colored duct tape? it’s my answer to everything ripped or broken.

  4. Rio

    Our couch too has stuffing busting out like June. My solution is an inexpensive slip cover from Target that I wash on a regular basis. And dogs are great vacuum cleaners!

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