It takes years to accumulate the
furniture, accessories, linens, cookware and serving pieces that make home life
convenient and enjoyable. I’ve observed the different levels of efficiency of
my own homes from my days as a new housewife, to new mom, to business woman, to
my current state of working empty nester with the many degenerative changes
that arthritis brings.
Since I entertain quite a bit and host several family holidays
throughout the year, I keep a lot of home related products on hand, both
decorative and functional. My ways of entertaining have been vastly simplified
over the past four years, preferring to set myself up for success, rather than disappointment
that I can no longer stand for long periods of time.
Jeffrey Alan Marks
When you’re first starting
out you of course need a lot of basics: furniture, dinner ware, mixing bowls
and measuring cups, serving platters, a blender, a toaster, towels, sheets, prep
knives, cookware, coffee maker, and canisters. But as time goes on you want
more specialized conveniences like a great espresso machine, a Kitchen Aid
mixer, a heavy roasting pan and rack, a large stock pot, a bread bowl, and a
Cuisinart food processor. I remember years ago receiving a Kitchen Aid for
Mother’s Day from my late husband. I felt I’d arrived. I felt like Donna Reed
or Mrs. Cleaver, although a decidedly more liberated version.
Being an interior designer
and homemaker, and loving to entertain, I’ve often pondered the things a couple
might accumulate over the course of their marriage, to make their house a “well-stocked
These are the things I’ve
been accumulating over my thirty-five years of homemaking. I hope you find it
helpful whether you’re building your own nest, or helping someone in an effort
to build theirs.
The obvious initial
furnishings to be purchased are a dining room table with two to three extension
leaves; six armless side chairs, two larger, coordinating his and hers chairs
with or without arms; a china hutch, buffet or breakfront; a comfortable three
cushioned 90 inch sofa, or if room allows a 100 inch plus sectional; a unique
and classic cocktail table; two 36 inch armchairs and matching ottomans, two
smaller accent chairs, possibly wood framed in coordinating fabrics; one to two
end tables to be placed between chairs, not at the end of the sofa which is
cumbersome and potentially hazardous for people with problems with balance; a queen
or king sized bed, two dressers, and classic, high quality floor and table
The well-stocked home can
also utilize many other items that add beauty, function and comfort to everyday
home life but these are the starters and will take many families five to eight years
Start with the best quality
mattress and box spring you can manage. Sleep is the ultimate luxury, and the
better quality the mattress, the better quality sleep you will get. You won’t
regret it. The basics of bedding are a down comforter (down is preferable
because it’s light weight and has great insulation), a duvet (a protective
cover for your comforter to keep it clean since down comforters are not
washable, two firm polyester pillows (for support for sitting up or reading in
bed), and two down pillows for sleeping. If you have allergies to down, there
are synthetic alternatives available. For aesthetics you can add two down
filled decorative throw pillows. I like the rectangular ones because they not
only look nice, but I can also use them for extra support to my lower back. A
massive amount of pillows on the bed is inconvenient and passé. I never liked
that look anyway. Too frou frou! A cashmere or ultra-soft throw is nice for
throwing along the foot of the bed in case your feet get cold.
I love my electric blanket. I
don’t keep it turned on while I sleep but it’s so, so lovely crawling into a
preheated bed in the winter. Sheets with high thread count (300-400) have the
most sensual comfort. Egyptian cotton is prized for its softness. As well,
natural and even organic fibers are easier to keep stain free. Fiber’s matter
to arthritis sufferers because it’s an auto immune disorder and allergies and
toxins are daily concerns.
I love the look of white
sheets, a white duvet, a pair of white pillow shams and color coordinated
custom designer bed skirt and pillows. All the white has a relaxing, spa like
appeal. I also like matching my bed skirt and armchair slipcover and coordinating
it with my curtains and decorative throw pillows. I keep my bed sheets extra
white with all natural Borax, which you add to your usual detergent every wash.
Again, with arthritis, you definitely want to keep toxins to a minimum so
choose laundry detergents that are less toxic such as Ecco, Seventh Generation
and Mrs. Meyers.
Each person needs a night
stand and individual lamp. I have mine set up with these great dimmers I found at
IKEA. You plug the dimmer into the wall and plug the lamp into the dimmer. Since
my night stands are slipcovered there’s no storage. Instead, I have a big
basket next to the bed that holds my current reading materials, dental floss,
extra prescription glasses, and a box of Kleenex.
I still believe in doing
single beds in the guest room. Guest rooms are so simple and fun. They’re kind
of the room in the house where you feel free to pamper someone, guilt free. You
need a night stand and a lamp and if budget allows it’s nice to provide the
same luxuries you do for yourself such as high quality sheets, one firm pillow
and one down pillow for sleeping per bed, an electric blanket, a down
comforter, and a duvet. I also provide an individual oil heater. If the room
has no ceiling fan an oscillating fan is a nice touch.
For dining and entertaining I
like to keep one dresser or armoire in the house open for items pertaining to
entertaining like tablecloths, napkins, napkin rings, formal silver, place
cards, and an extra supply of candles like votives, pillars, and tapers.
Only put in your kitchen the
items you can easily store. If you don’t have room for a Kitchen Aid, chances
are wherever you store it, it will be too inconvenient to pull it out and it
will go unused. If the laundry room is large enough and close enough to the
kitchen it’s easy to set up a storage space for such lesser used items.
Some superfluous appliances
I’ve accumulated over the years that I’ve really enjoyed are my Cuisinart ice
cream and yogurt maker, my espresso machine, and swoon, my electric can opener.
If you’re still struggling along with a manual can opener, it’s time to “catch
up” on your modern conveniences women with arthritis! I don’t use a ton of
canned foods but organic beans in non-bpa lined cans definitely line my pantry.
If budget allows seriously
consider investing in your library at a young age. It takes a while to build but
I’ve never regretted having my own library of fiction, biographies, business
books, cook books, and design books. And bonus: built-in bookshelves appreciate
the value of your home.
As time goes by, our financial
means hopefully increase. Art, rugs, and high quality antiques (I know many
people are anti antiquity these days but some of us do still invest in them) are
big investment pieces and it’s a good plan to call upon a trusted expert who
specializes in them to help you with details like aesthetics, budget, and
appreciation. With such purchases you want to know they will retain their value
certainly, but mostly, purchase to enjoy and use.
I admittedly have a
ridiculous amount of things in my own home but I treasure and use them all.
Well, I use most of them anyway. So many of the things I have came from a
beloved family member or from my travels with my late husband. Some are quite
valuable. Others are just comfortable old friends. The things that were passed
down to me, I find hardest to part with.
My definition of a well-stocked
home is a home that is evolved. It’s beautiful in a complex, multi-faceted way.
It’s a mixture of era’s and styles and masculine and feminine elements. It has
evolved over a period of twenty or more years. It has scale, unity, function,
and non-function. It’s lots of books, baskets, extra throws and a few
newspapers in the corner. It has a few nicks and maybe a tad too much
furniture. It’s well stocked and lived in. Edited, but seldom minimal.
Live beautifully. Eat beautifully,
And if you want more of arthritis related design and wellness, click here… “Pain Free Design and Wellness” and you’ll get a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day!