June has been the last month where I get to live in my own place (well, until I make new arrangements in either Delhi or Chennai. It’s complicated.) As a result, I have been making the most of it by inviting as many people over as possible and socialising like there’s no tomorrow (this will actually be true sometime between Sunday and Tuesday).
This means that over the past couple of weeks, many, many ladies have complimented me on how I have such a nice flat for a boy, and how it’s significantly superior to the usual bachelor pad. Success!
This success, I feel, has two contributing factors. The first is my stellar bai, Viji-amma; and the second is how my furniture has calibrated visitors’ expectations.
Right now I have beds with mattresses (and bed linen!), closets (these came with the flat and I didn’t buy them), a basic dining table with basic chairs (and a tablecloth!), and a speaker system propped up on a packing box. This means that my flat is significantly nicer than a bachelor pad where everything is kept on the floor. At the same time, there isn’t enough furniture that people start thinking of it as a family house that is either ill maintained or lacking in soul. That’s quite a sweet spot.
Had I remained in Chennai and continued to furnish the flat one major purchase at a time, this would have meant that at some point I would surely have entered a sour spot where it would be furnished just enough to raise visitors’ expectations to “family home” instead of “bachelor pad” and they would have gone away clucking in disapproval and wishing they had booked a hotel or met up in a restaurant instead. Oh Amma! After that, I would have to struggle for a long, long period; spending more and more time on cleaning and more and more money on furniture, linen, and decor before these new expectations could be exceeded. But then life is stern and life is earnest.
The important question, of course, is – at what point do expectations jump from “bachelor pad” to “family home”? One guest suggested that it is when the first sofa comes in. This seems very likely, but surely there are other things that could cause the expectation jump.
I think a more general solution is provided by the Cushion Rant from Coupling. My (arbit of course) hypothesis is that the minute you have anything that can be covered with cushions – be it a king sized bed, a sofa, or an ottoman; the expectations change.
If this is true, then the solution is to buy furniture in a sequence where the things that can be covered with cushions come last. So you first get single or queen sized beds so you can sleep, then a dining table so you can eat, and then a study/ work desk. Finally you get the sofa, and cushions along with it. I fear, however, that the cushions are necessary but not sufficient. Much more research needs to be conducted in this.