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2012 Interview with Emily from her Alma Mater, Lawrence University


My nine year-old, Jane, brings a bag of art home from Oceanna’s fantastic art camp and I sit at the dining table struggling to decide which two pieces will take the car ride over to Justin’s Framing.  Jane’s art is all over our house, mingled in with the collection of Taos/LA grown-ups.  I like that it is there, secretly bringing down the median age of the artists by 40 years.

We let the kids be kids all over the house. Scattered toys used to really bother me but now, strangely, they kind of make me feel good. Make no mistake about it: I can crack the whip, insisting they pick up some of the wreckage before I’ll turn on the T.V. Quietly, though, I admit that I like seeing Leo’s army men piled on the Odegard in the sitting room. They add grit and a good story to that sophisticated, way-too-fancy-for-our-house rug. What are we doing with that thing in here, anyway? It felt so good that day I marched into Gary’s elegant shop and impulsively threw down that wad of cash. Now I spend time fretting over it, sending it down to Albuquerque to get it cleaned, holding my breath when the kids stumble across it with sodas in their hands…

Let go and let God, as some say. Our home has seen growth and change. This house has become part of us and we a part of it. I spent the first two and a half years in this old, worn out adobe picking out it’s defects and wishing it had, say, a walk-in closet or, even better, a double oven.  I painted and repainted our sitting room, unable to get the color right. “Too loud”, the house would say. “Bad paint job”, it would grumble.

At some point, last fall, I think, this house and I came up with an arrangement that worked. I (almost) stopped complaining about it and in return, it helped me find a color.  Our sitting room is now the color of mist. Blue? Green? Grey? Hard to say: it changes with it’s mood. The art looks great on it and my crazy, second-hand, reupholstered no-client-would-ever-let-me-do-it-for-them sofa loves it, too. The Odegard came back last week from it’s yearly cleaning, all sparkly and silky. The house feels cozy and clean and I am ready for another school year, another winter by the fire, finally happy to be home.

Emily Mingenbach-Henry is an Interior Designer in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She lives on the East Side with her husband, children and their part time dog, Soda-Pop.

Click Here for Interview with Barbara King for House Beautiful - December 2008

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