Duties of the Young Wife #2: Home Decorating

This is for: Young wives, and girls who wish to become young wives.

We looked earlier at some of the Duties of the Young Wife — what a wife does immediately after her wedding day. We will set aside, for now, duties of Matrons, or mothers of older children and young adults. We began with basic housekeeping. This is rudimentary; but, many women fail at this, even those of considerable ability who may have graduated from top universities. When looking at the Duties of a Wife, we are, on the one hand, describing things that all wives should do; and which all wives are capable of doing. We have to set out fundamental things that even women who are well below average can do. Women who are well above average should know that, in addition to these basic things, they can do many other things, as suits their temperament and ability. I laid out some of those things in my hierarchy of the Good Wife. To say that the Duties of a Young Wife include cooking and cleaning, does not mean that she must fill the entirety of her days with cooking and cleaning. But, it does mean that she should not neglect it, either.

These errors seems to be related to expectations for employment at a job. When you work at a job, you are expected to act busy for eight hours a day, whether your have eight hours or work to do, or two. But, a stay-at-home wife without children is called a Woman of Leisure because all this housekeeping stuff certainly does not take all day, so she has a lot of time left over.

Now we move beyond basic housekeeping and maintenance to decoration of the home. There is some difference of opinion as to whether this is the responsibility of a husband, or a wife. The Japanese custom seems to be that decorating is the responsibility of the husband, and falls within the sphere of the house itself: the husband “builds” the house, perhaps with his own hands, or more commonly, has it built by others, purchases it, or rents it. This “building” is imagined to include the decorating: choosing and placing furniture, for example. The American custom is that the husband “builds” the house, but it is the wife’s responsibility to decorate it, within the context of her husband’s wishes.

Either way, someone has to do it. At a basic level, this involves things like painting or wallpaper, window treatments such as curtains, rugs, furniture, and lamps and lighting. This is a sphere of considerable creativity and expertise, and you can spend a lot of time and money at it. Some people hire interior decorators. We will assume that the wife will do most of the work here. However, this must be done in context of the husband’s wishes. He should say, to his wife: Please decorate the house. (Or, he could take it upon himself, if he has an interest in the details of the process.) It should be done in a manner that pleases him, even if, as for women’s clothing or makeup for example, he does not understand very well how that effect is created. It must be done within the budget established by the husband (with the wife’s consultation), both in terms of money, and also, in terms of time and energy. Sometimes wives spend way too much time on home decoration, and neglect other duties. Major changes, such as the purchase of a new sofa for example, should get his approval. However, a wife can be proactive and suggest things that should be done: “Honey, I think we should get another bookshelf, or a desk for Johnny where he can study.” He will then say: “How much will this cost? OK, then, go right ahead and find something good.”

You can spend gigantic amounts of money on home decorating; but, you can also spend very little. Many, many things can be done for less than $100. For less than $100, you can get a can of paint, or a fine set of curtains, or a ceiling light fixture, or a table lamp, or a minor piece of furniture like a coffee table or end table, or a wall decoration like a picture, or a small rug, or an excellent set of dishware or glasses. Look always to the used market, on Craigslist or EBay, or at local antique stores or estate and yard sales. For less than $200, I have seen 12-person sets of fine china that was probably someone’s wedding present. Look at the used/vintage/antique market for furniture and furnishings of all sorts. Even large items like dining tables, beds, bookshelves and desks, of high quality, can often be had for less than $200. In general, it is worthwhile to stick to high quality items, of solid hardwood instead of particleboard for example. Many vintage/antique things are of high quality, in part because cheapie stuff doesn’t last, and ends up in a landfill rather than an antique store. You can buy a good antique dining set of table and chairs, which is already 70 years old, let’s say for $500, and then sell it again twenty years later for $700. If you spent $500 on a new set from Ikea, after twenty years you would sell it for $100, or possibly give it away to Goodwill.

You may have to redecorate whenever you change residences. A table that “fit” one space may not work for another. Get used to buying and selling furniture as needed.

I once was lolling about a store that sold high-end handmade rugs, typically costing $2000-$5000, and up to $30,000 or more, for the 8×12 size I was interested in. Often, the customers of this store had old rugs that they wanted to replace, so the store owner would not only sell and deliver the new rug, but also pick up the old rug much like a new car dealer takes a trade-in on an old car. So, he had a lot of old rugs, which were worn but of high quality and still usable. Among these old rugs (costing $400-$1200), he had one rug that had become moth-eaten, and a large part of one corner was completely eaten away. But, the other 95% of the rug was in pretty good shape, and of high quality and a beautiful design — the kind of rug that may cost $3000+ new. I got it for $100, and have received many compliments on it.

All the time, people are dying, or downsizing, or getting divorced, and whole house-fulls of beautiful things are sold on the used market, for whatever price they can fetch.

If even $100 is too much, you can often get things for free. Many people have furniture or other home furnishings that they do not use, but which are too much bother to sell, and which are too valuable and usable to simply throw away. They would be happy to give it to you if you ask. I have received whole sofa sets, ten years old but in good shape, from friends who replaced their sofas and were keeping their old ones in the garage. Once I paid $50 for a washer and dryer set, that was 15 years old but perfectly functional. I used it for eight more years and never had any trouble with it. Eventually I too gave it away, by that time rather dingy but still running strong.

When you consider that you can decorate a home very well for not very much money, there is really no excuse to have anything but a well-decorated home. It is simple indolence. Nevertheless, many people fail at this. One reason for failure is that a husband does not particularly want a well decorated home. Probably, when he was single and living alone, he did not want to spend any time or energy at home decoration, in part because he had other things he was interested in. This is a failure of young, single men: young, single men should also take an interest in properly decorating and maintaining their residences. Young, single men should develop a minimum of taste and understanding to purchase a good desk or set of dresser drawers for their own use, similar to the way that a young man should develop a minimum of taste and understanding to buy a good suit or pair of shoes. But, it is excusable in the sense that a man wants to live simply and not spend a lot of time fussing over womanish decorating tasks. He would rather ride his Harley on the weekends than shop for sofas or paint the walls funny colors.

There is even, among some young, single men, a sense that a home should not be well decorated, not simply because he would rather put his attention elsewhere, but as a sort of principle, or self-image. This is, ultimately, a form of slovenliness that must be abandoned. Young men should aspire to live well, in a well-decorated home.

After marriage, a man may continue to think that home decorating is not worth his time, money or energy. This is a mistake: it does not cost much money — much less than the Harley, or other guy-hobbies that he is involved in — and now, since he has a wife, he can tell her to do it. So, the first step, for a young wife, is to excite her husband’s interest in a home that is decorated at a standard above an army barracks, and to get him to understand that this does not cost much money, and that she will take care of 90% of the work, so that he can still ride his Harley on the weekends. This is what stay-at-home wives are for. Put that bitch to work.

Published by proprietor

Happily married, with children.

One thought on “Duties of the Young Wife #2: Home Decorating

  1. Put that bitch to work? Are you referring to your wife or someone else’s wife? What the he’ll is the matter with you?


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