Rivenbark: Living the Pottery Barn life … in her mind

November 17, 2012 

Lately I’ve become obsessed with making my living room look like the ones in Pottery Barn. Or rather the HomeGoods, Tuesday Morning, Target version of Pottery Barn because, let’s face it, I ain’t paying $50 for a pillow COVER. You have to buy your own pillow insert in the PB world, which is goofy since you can get the whole thing put together everywhere else on Earth.

I realized things might be getting out of control when I compiled a “look book” of pictures ripped from the roughly 4,067 Pottery Barn catalog that come to me in the course of a fortnight. (OK, I don’t know what that is either, but it sounds like something you’d say if you actually owned a nail-studded velvet sofa from you-know-where.)

I find it oddly comforting to clip pictures of favorite table settings and candle configurations and stash them in my album. Duh Hubby just finds it odd. Correct conversational candle height is all that separates us from the savages, I tell him, but he doesn’t understand.

I find myself irrationally jealous of the PB families whose faces are never shown in the catalog but whose full lives require heavy molding-trimmed blackboard organizers with festively chalked reminders such as “Don’t forget passport!” or “Harvest Ball tonight!” or “Regatta with Leslie & Paul!” They lead such glamorous lives, these imaginary families. Just once I’d like to see a chalkboard in the PB catalog with a barely legible reminder to “DVR ‘The Bachelor’ ” or, better still, a grocery list without “Brie, artichokes, fennel …” but rather “Mushroom soup, tots, lice shampoo.”

Duh, as you’ve probably guessed, has no interest whatsoever in home decorating. True story. We recently visited an old college friend of his who had gotten a divorce. In the living room of his bachelor “pad” were two items: a director’s chair, circa 1982, and the cardboard box his big-screen TV had come in that functioned as dining table, coffee table and ottoman.

“Wow, it’s tough having to buy new stuff when you split up, isn’t it?” I asked college buddy.

He looked at me and shook his head. “What? I’ve been divorced for nine years.”

“At least this house has great bones,” I said, mentally picturing the fabulous weathered wood triptych of a vintage airplane from PB over his new tufted Chesterfield couch, also from PB.

“Huh?” he said.

I get it. Duh also doesn’t understand oversized clock faces that don’t actually tell time or the charming topiary in whimsical pots to flank the mantel and collect really high-quality dust.

One day, Duh arrived home to discover a bowl had been filled with wicker balls of varying sizes and colors.

“What do they do?” he asked, picking one up and eyeing it curiously.

“They don’t DO anything,” I huffed. “They just ARE. And put that down! It took me 45 minutes to get them arranged like the catalog picture.”

Yeah, that’s not crazy.

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