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Home Is Not Just Where I Hang My Hat

Updated on July 26, 2014
Sallie Mullinger profile image

Sallie is a retired mother and grandmother who has written short stories for most of her life. Her stories are from her heart to yours.

The old barometer. Note the broken needle
The old barometer. Note the broken needle
This was one of my most prized possessions and sadly succumbed to several moves and eventually I had to throw it away :(
This was one of my most prized possessions and sadly succumbed to several moves and eventually I had to throw it away :(
1976. One of my attempts to fill a huge wall above the sofa.
1976. One of my attempts to fill a huge wall above the sofa.

Some would call my home "cluttered". I call it ME!

Ive always loved to decorate. Even when I was young, I hated empty walls and would line the walls of my room with magazine pictures of the Beatles and anyone else who was popular back then.

This, of course, did not sit well with my mother since my walls were wall papered and Scotch tape and wallpaper just didnt jive.

When I got my first apartment, which was shared with another friend, I decided that the one, big blank wall in my bedroom, just would not do. So I created a wall to wall, top to bottom, collage of black and white photographs from different magazines. This collage consisted of anyone who was famous and obviously magazine worthy. There were no spaces between the pictures, so the end result was pretty stunning.

Considering that this was in my bedroom, not many people got to see it unless I dragged them in there to show it off, which of course I did!

I regret not having a photograph of those photographs to show.

What I realized, as I grew older, is that you dont have to have a lot of money to create something interesting and even beautiful. I certainly had little money as a young newlywed struggling to just pay the rent, let alone buy artwork for my walls. So I improvised. I scoured thrift stores and rummage sales and often found things that might not have been of any value, but something about it caught my eye.

I also created things to complete my "look". Back in the 70s when decoupage was very popular, I took a class and learned how to do it. I went on a mad decoupage rampage and began gluing and shellacking anything I felt was worthy of being displayed.

I decoupaged my wedding invitation and old photographs. I found scraps of wood that I chose mostly because of odd shapes and sizes. I did this with the thought in mind that I didnt like a uniform effect as much as I liked a wall grouping which challenged the eye.

The apartment my husband and I lived in, back then, had plaster walls which were heavily textured. To me, that just meant that the entire collage I was planning, would have more impact and more effect. It also meant hanging things was a challenge.

But I persevered and the end result was a completely home designed wall collage which cost next to nothing and told a story about us and our young lives.

Later, when we had moved to a condo, I had yet another challenge. I had obtained a beautiful, very large poster drawing of the Cincinnati skyline. It was done in black and white and appealed to me because of its size as well as the clean lines it had and the fact that it was of our hometown. It was way too large for me (and my budget) to even consider having framed. So again, the mother of invention being necessity, At first I put simple, black tape around it, but I wasnt thrilled with that look so I bought black, decorative chain and hung it around the poster. It looked great, got that poster up on the wall where it belonged and filled in a dreaded empty wall space that had been staring at me forever!

In that same condo, I created yet another collage above the living room sofa. By this time, there were 2 children, so I went around taking snapshots of them and buying cheap frames and hung them, again in different sizes and shapes for visual effect.

Buying frames, even back then, could be a dauntingly expensive task. But I believe that if you have an eye for something that looks expensive, but isnt, you can overcome the obstacle of expense when it comes to buying frames.

I got very good at haunting thrift shops in those days. You know the old adage: One man's trash is another man's treasure. I loved that I was able to find some absolutely beautiful wall decor and frames, for a mere pittance of what they might have originally cost to buy.

On this particular wall collage, I combined not only family photographs, but unusual candle sconces, again secured at thrift stores or garage sales and anything unusual, small (ish) in scale and eye catching. One of those items, which I still have today, was an old barometer.

I have no idea where it came from but the moment I saw it, It appealed to me for its size and shape and the fact that it was unusual. One of the needles is broken off and lies at the bottom of the barometer, enclosed forever in glass protecting it. I like that. I like that its not perfect. There is something about that needle lying there, suspended in time, that makes me sure I will never have it fixed.

Over the years, there have been many more homes and many more walls full of what others would call "clutter". I understand that my look is not everyone's look. However, what you see on my walls and shelves and my nooks and crannies, is my life and a reflection of who I am and the things and people who matter to me.

I am surrounded by photographs and keepsakes which remind me of other times and where my life was at those times. They bring me comfort and a feeling of knowing that Ive come a long distance on this journey called life. These things call me back to other times and connect me to people who have long gone, but are still remembered.

At night, when I go around the living room turning off lights before bed, my gaze often rests on certain pictures of family members and odd though this may sound, seeing those faces always gives me a good feeling. A feeling that at least for that moment, all is right with the world.

There are so few places where most of us feel safe and comforted. Where we can escape the day to day grind and hustle and bustle and just take some time to unwind and renew.

My home is just such a place.


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