Have you ever had an experience that changes your life, either in whole or in part, forever? Yes, certainly there are life events such as marriage, children, first homes, divorce and death (to name just a few) which irrevocably alter your trajectory and change the landscape in which you exist. Huge milestones such as that are undeniable.
What I am thinking of, though, is much more subtle: the reading of a book that alters your perception of the world; a song that opens you to a new emotion, or brings greater understanding to emotions you're already experiencing; allowing the perfect sky on a perfect day to clarify your purpose on the planet for that minute/ hour/ day. It's on this level that I was introduced to a little something special called Farrow & Ball wallpaper, and my life will never be the same.
Now I know what you're thinking: Seriously? Isn't this a little over the top for wallpaper?
Ordinarily, I would say yes. Yes it is. But what needs to be realized, accepted and wholeheartedly embraced here is that Farrow & Ball papers are no ordinary papers. If I could adequately describe their timeless beauty, their gorgeous color and detail or their fine craftsmanship, I most certainly would. I only wish I was poetic enough to do it justice.
What I can tell you, though, is that not only has my recent introduction to their collection struck an emotional chord and converted me to a rabid F&B advocate, it has also completely turned all my plans for our master bedroom project upside down and on their head. Once again my Multiple Design Personality (MDP) has reared its ugly head and is mucking around with my best laid plans, but is it reasonable - or advisable - to change the design plan of an entire room all on account of a single strip of wallpaper?
On Thursday of last week I along with my friend and colleague Alison was privileged to attend a premiere presentation of the new Farrow & Ball Baroque collection. It was an intimate gathering of 15-odd folks ~ attendees ranged from independent design consultants to long-standing, loyal clients. We were treated to glasses of chilled sparkling wine and fresh, crisp canapes and while doing so, were introduced to the traditional methods of paper creation that Farrow & Ball employs. All of their papers are hand-dyed to create bases in nearly 100 shades. Each order is entirely bespoke and is created at the Farrow & Ball head office in the UK. Designs are applied to the paper bases by roller or by press, depending on the size of the overall pattern, and the application of the paint to the paper base creates a stippled effect called "sea weeding". It's this sea weeding that creates unique patterns within the larger design, and makes each and every inch of paper unique. You and four of your friends might have the same pattern, but no two Farrow & Ball papers are entirely alike.
In my case, I fell in love with the Orangerie design in the new Baroque collection, and I fell hard. In the existing plan, our master bedroom is supposed to be slate gray: walls, ceiling, trim. The idea is to create the look and feel of gray flannel, to create a cocoon. In the centre of the room we have purchased a huge crystal chandelier with a black organza shade, for a touch of glamour in an otherwise very spare room. Our bed is low to the floor, with two round, mismatched bedside tables and arced floor lamps on each side which act as reading lamps. There is an over-sized mirror already in place leaning against one wall, and assorted books and artwork placed casually on the floor to create what we hope is a comfortable, bohemian sort of feel. With my new love of the Orangerie wallpaper, I've realized, my entire vision is in jeopardy, but does it change my life?
The answer is a resounding yes. The knowledge that altered my universe a little bit on its axis on Thursday (that "rocked my world", if you will) is a matter of solidification and clarity: quality makes a difference, and exceptional quality makes an exceptional difference. Even now with only the slimmest understanding of the intricacies and complexities of traditional paper-making, it's clear to me that products created with this type of care and excellence make a difference in how we perceive our spaces, our homes and ourselves. The paper itself is a product among millions - billions? - of others, but sometimes it IS a product that defines who we are and, more importantly, who we aspire to be. Exceptional quality demands a level of appreciation and respect that is reflected on those who appreciate and respect it, and while I am most definitely not an advocate for blatant consumerism and don't believe in buying things simply for the sake of having things, it is an undeniable fact that some things, like nearly all people, are special. What I realized on Thursday is that if our homes are a reflection of ourselves, sometimes feeling special means first surrounding yourself with products that are special.
So now only these very concrete questions remain: How do I reconcile such a complex, rich and detailed pattern into our simple design plan? How do I align the purchases we've already made - the chandelier, the side tables, the reading lamps and the bed - with a new design direction that represents the complete opposite of our aesthetic aim? And if I do throw our master bedroom design train into reverse, will I be run over by my own enthusiasm in the process ... ??