Rarely a day passes during which I don’t learn something “enlightening” from one of my children. Lucky for me, they are so “angelic” that they generally try to present my lessons in the most honest of formats… as only my offspring can do. And by “honest”, I actually mean….. BRUTAL! For any of my readers who are Moms, you KNOW what I’m talking about. Who else in the world, besides your own kids, would dare to say to you, “Mom, is your arm supposed to jiggle like that when you wave?”, or “Why is your hair a different color by your head than it is on the ends?”, or one of my personal favorites, “Did you forget to put your makeup on today?”. Nice, right? In general, these types of esteem-building questions almost always originate from the mouths of one of my two youngest children. However, on one particular day a few weeks ago, my teenager son, George, managed to trump the candor of his younger siblings by a country mile! 

Videa gamesIt all began, when I noticed that George had become particularly engrossed in a new video game he had purchased with his allowance the day before. After several attempts to communicate with him, with responses including “huh”, “uh huh” and “yep”, I decided that it was time to take a gander at that which was so monopolizing of his attention. Having learned from past experience that “approach is everything” when it comes to teenagers, I decided that a “casual” inquiry on my part was my best bet for a positive interaction…..  with those odds only equaling about 5{9dbe64f12e67b95f1564b1886bad9acc259666289def44dc3c73b1f15eec0bed} on a really good day! With a feeble attempt to appear completely disinterested in what he was doing, I practiced my most laid-back saunter across the room (because everyone knows I am soooooooo laid-back!), and I asked, “Cool new game?”. Without even looking up, George answered, “Yep”. FAIL! Again attempting to bridge the gap into my teenager’s world, I followed up with an awkward, “Ummmm…. Well, maybe I could try playing it with you?.” At this point, someone observing the confused and slightly frightened look on his face might have assumed that I had grown a horn in my head – or a third eye, perhaps! Once he finally recovered from his shock, which was then followed by a few giggles, my son kindly replied, “Mom, no offense, but you are just too old to play. You and video games just don’t go together”. Uh, yea, sure…. How could I possibly be offended by that, right? 🙂 

Now, as you might imagine, there is obviously more to this story, but first, I just cannot help but draw the correlation between this generational issue and that of the design challenge of blending the old with the new.  Up until recent years, it was generally accepted that the “best” form of interior design involved “matching” all of the elements in a particular space to ensure a cohesive style. With the exception of incorporating Grandma’s old dresser or a prized antique into one’s newly furnished home, meshing together elements from different eras was not particularly encouraged. However, as many have now begun to discover, combining the weathered splendor of old pieces with the rich perfection of young design elements can produce a beautiful marriage of ages. To make this union easier to achieve, two of my most critical guidelines are as follows: 

eclectic living room

Each element of this room sparkles - the old, the new, and the reconditioned - yet, all of the pieces blend together into one beautiful design palette (Photo from Flickr).

1. Let each element sparkle! Rather than trying to force everything to be “the same”, embrace the differences. Don’t be afraid to place a new loveseat you ordered next to an antique chest your aunt gave you, which might also have a beautiful flea market vase sitting upon it. If properly showcased, the uniqueness of the individual pieces will only serve to honor one another. The contrast of different ages tends to add an element of welcomed surprise to the overall look of a space. 

2. Find unifying elements! Although it is interesting – and wonderful! – to combine diverse design elements together in one space, there must still be a thread of continuity that adheres the union in place. Without this common bond, the look will simply appear to be a giant hodge podge of furniture and accessories tossed into a room together. One of the most important unifying elements includes proper scale. For instance, one would not want to place a petite antique sofa next to Dad’s giant leather recliner.

nicely scaled room

The scale of this cottage-style room is such that all of the elements, although diverse, mesh together beautifully. (Photo from an online home staging website)

Rather than complementing one another, they would find themselves in a constant, confusing battle for the spotlight (DEFINITELY NO DIFFERENCE THERE BETWEEN TEENAGERS AND THEIR PARENTS!). 

Okay, so back to my George story! Once I finally gathered my wounded wits about me, I threw back my shoulders, clicked my pink heels all the way over to my son, and snatched the remote control from his hand. Refusing to accept his assistance at this point, I somehow managed to reach the help screen of the video game by pressing random buttons, and suddenly, the game commenced. As I threw by entire body into using the remote control to maneuver the car down the winding road on the screen, I began to feel quite impressed with myself. I actually squealed with delight when the game ended…. I had not crashed even once! NOT ONE TIME! WOW! With a sense of self-satisfaction which I had rarely ever experienced, I wheeled around to face my teenager. Fully expecting a complete apology and total acknowledgement of my super-advanced video game skills, instead, I found him staring back at me with his mouth slightly ajar. Somehow, that wasn’t the look of utter amazement I had been expecting?! Nonetheless, I pressed on with my gloating by adding, “Well, what do you think? You have to admit that was pretty incredible for my first time playing”.  


By the time he finally stopped crying in bent over hysterics, I had slowly pieced together (between his howls and snorts of laughter!) that I had actually NOT been driving the car on the screen at all. In actuality, I had “playing” the automated tutorial on the help screen. Wow! Cool points for Mom on that one, right? 

Ok, so despite the fact that I shall NEVER hear the end of this most humiliating “blond moment” from George, we did find some common ground that day…. a “unifying element”, which further bridges the generation gap between us. Just as we continue to look for those unifying elements each day, we also do our best to allow our differences to “sparkle”.  Very similar to blending a design space of old and new, it is important to honor the similarities between us, while also appreciating the uniqueness of our differences. 


Share This: