It didn’t begin that way; it started with a penchant (and much practice) as a space organizer, helping clients fall in love with their personal space — or rekindle their first love of that space. It ended up in the much more lucrative, real-estate-boom-driven business of de-personalizing spaces.
I felt so bad about ending up in this racket of creating the illusion of space in places that were lacking just that, of creating that all-important blank canvas for potential home-buyers, that I spent a little too much time apologizing to the selling clients for stripping away their funky décor touches, their kids’ art from the fridge, their family photos from the mantle. “It’s not personal,” I would say, stating the bleeding obvious.
In the same way that amassing generically chic décor accessories for a living killed any possibility of retail therapy, my work as a home stager has resulted in a general loathing of overly designed, matchy-matchy interiors. And that extends to the urban outdoors, where the street furniture (an actual planner’s term) is typically so devoid of personal touch that this could be anywhere and nowhere at the same time.
So when I come across some signs of life and locality in a municipality, I feel a small sense of relief. Finally, something not found in the developer’s “artistic rendering”, something not officially sanctioned.
The Capitol Hill area of Seattle provides signs of hope, like bright fireweed in a clearcut. Rainbow-coloured tape winds around a signpost. Hydro poles reveal a history of stapled bills. Bits of detritus from the immediate vicinity are embedded in the concrete in a found mosaic. Art is life.