Be Our Guest

I had many jobs this last week but two in particular brought me so much pleasure…two different customers were having weekend guests, so in addition to my “regular” work they wanted to make things even more special for their visiting friends…mind you, both homes are magnificent, modern, masterpieces with views of the bay that are priceless. A friend of mine opened a new florist in our area this season so my first stop was there to put together arrangements for the bedrooms.  I felt oddly excited, perhaps because as a woman who loves pretty things, I was sort of giddy with the task of choosing flowers and decorative stems and greens to design modern arrangements for vases, as if they were for me!!!

Because our season here at the shore is just about over and all the annuals I planted for Memorial Day are looking pretty shabby, I also bought a variety of late-blooming flowers and fall plants to fill in all the planters I have tended all season.  I mixed gothic looking dramatic black pepper plants with hearty red hibiscus bushes, I mixed purple angelonia, which blooms into October, with mini white mums and was so happy, of course being dirty and playing in  soil always makes me happy, (I’m sure it comes from all my weekends making mud pies in my playhouse as a child) but when I finished all the planters at both properties the satisfaction was almost as glorious as if I had freshened up all my own pots in my own yard!

I arranged the fresh flowers into vases at both houses and put them in the bedrooms, I refolded towels and made sure there was nothing missing, that they would not have to go looking for anything, much like if these weekend guests were staying at a fine hotel.  I plumped pillows, and I smoothed out duvet covers and all the time I was working I realized it didn’t feel much like work at all.  I felt oddly like I was nesting, as if it was my home in which they’d be staying, as if they were my friends who I wanted to feel comfortable and relaxed.

The man I love sometimes laughs at me when we make the bed together; the way I go from side to side to even out the blanket and smooth out the sheet and make sure the matelasse’ coverlet is even on both ends and pound and plump the pillows so there are no lumps, and he often says with a grin and perhaps an exhaustive sigh, “babe who is going to see it?”  …and I realized this week, in all the preparation for beach guests that were not mine, that part of my joy in this house, my dream house, is that I like the idea of making a space feel like the most perfect space…clean, tidy, organized, loved, tended to, maintained…cared for. During the hurricane we had here in October, at one point I had nine people, two dogs, and an iguana staying here.  A friend who really wanted a shower, and was so excited that my generator made this house livable, when he opened my linen cupboard his first word was “wow” and then he laughed and walked out to me in the hallway and said, “you have all white towels and they are folded perfect, I’m afraid to touch them, it’s like a fancy hotel”…and we all got a good laugh, I got teased for my ways, but I sure felt happy, that a guy would notice and that I really do care that my towels are folded perfectly…I treat the homes of my customers the exact same way I treat mine, like a treasure.

My house is very small by comparison to most other houses, certainly compared to all of the homes I work in and on.  I have no room for guests here, literally or figuratively.  When I was walking through the house in the fall of 2009 with the building inspector and the tax assessor, with fingers crossed that a Certificate of Occupancy was going to be issued at the end of our grand tour, they both asked me what on earth made me build a one bedroom house?  My answer seemed so obvious…I’m single, I live alone, who needs rooms that never get used??!!  I will most likely never have the opportunity to prepare for weekend guests like my customers do.  I doubt I will ever have the means to add on to this house if the need arises, so the chance to make a space welcoming to friends for an extended stay will probably never come to me…so I will simply always jump at the chance to do it for my customers, and will continue to do it in my own way for myself…making this space that I so love, that I designed and planned, and drew, and built, feel like the most wonderful place to visit, and count my blessings, unlike the friends of my customers who will stay through this afternoon and then go back to the cities from which they came,  that I don’t ever have to leave.

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