Of course, advertisers don’t want to remind you of the reality of the situation. They want you to think that this is a great opportunity for self-expression, that you are buying into an image, a lifestyle. The very word lifestyle has shifted in meaning from the style in which you live your life to the style of the surfaces upon which you live your life. A new language of magnificent hyperbole has grown up around this.
And it is so very seductive; here we are, patching up rented accomodation on somebody else's budget and even we are thinking, "Are these carpet tiles really us?"
My absolute favourite is the paint colours. In one colour chart this week (pretty sure it was Crown paint) I found a colour called Utopia. I’d like you to take a minute and consider what colour you think Utopia might have been. What do you reckon?
Beige. Really. The colour of farmyard mud that's dried on the chassis of a tractor.
But they do have this tremendous problem as, as I say, most people live in ordinary homes. For a lot of people, neutral colours are the most safe and practical option. Yet the illusion of choice is a seller, so you have to give them lots of shades of much of a muchness; Barley White, Magnolia, Buttermilk, Ivory. My sister once had to buy a tin of paint to patch up the wall of her rented house. She went to the DIY shop and asked for a tin of County Cream. The assistant looked this up on the database and insisted that there was no such colour. Then she pointed out that there was an O in County.
I like to go through the colour charts and make up my own names, especially for those colours which, though not unpleasant (not sure a colour can be unpleasant by itself), would certainly have an unpleasant effect if you had entirely rooms painted in that colour. She says, writing from a room painted in Ferrari Red (actually, there's a tin in the loft and it is Summer Pudding, but to me it is Ferrari Red, or possibly Scarlet Lake going off the corresponding Karisma pencil colour). But the red is quite liveable now we have furniture in here. Honest.
Anyway, my favourite example of decorating hyperbole this week though is not a paint colour, but a little sentence in an otherwise innocent, entirely sensible article. They’re not even trying to sell anything, it is just that this sort of language has become natural in discussing such things. I was looking to buy a lampshade frame, and on my search found some fairly wacky ideas of how to make your own lampshade. Then this, entirely sensible one. It begins
Nothing makes a more dramatic design statement than a pleated lampshade crafted from leftover wallpaper or border.Nothing? I don't know. I could be mistaken, but I reckon I could think of one or two things which might make an everso slightly more dramatic design statement than a pleated lampshade crafted from leftover wallpaper. In any case, what statement, in a sentence, does a pleated lampshade crafted from leftover wallpaper make?
Anyway, on my on-line meanderings, I did come across one really appealing objet. The Obelisk. Which is an, um, obelisk, which turns into a table and four chairs.
If I had several grand to throw away, I would certain consider purchasing such an item.