Functionality vs beauty: where I stand

You know how on TV and in movies, the default compliment to any wife/mother character is always “You have such a beautiful home”?

I can pretty safely assert that nobody is ever going to say that to me.

I have very little patience for things that serve no practical purpose.

Example: flowers. (Unfortunately, they are the default gift for female acquaintances, it seems; I got two lots at my engagement party/housewarming. That or wine, which I also detest.) There will be no flowers at my wedding. They also harbour pollen and require disposal before long.

Example: food garnishes. Why oh why would I ever want to augment a perfectly good dish with a full chili just for decoration, which nobody is going to eat? With a sprig of parsley, which I would immediately ditch? If I’m going to have to pick it off straight away, it has no place there in the first place.

Look, I’m all about form over function. While I admire beautiful shoes (which, for women, are almost always perched on killer heels) and Young House Love-worthy interiors, it’s always from a perspective of “that’s AMAZING – but not for me”. It’s genuine admiration without the desire to imitate, without jealousy, without inspiration. I get that having beautiful surroundings matter to most people, but I actually get kind of antsy looking at lovely spreads of homes decked out with all manner of ornaments, prints and other accessories. I ooh and ahh over friends’ crafty projects (or friends’ magazines that are full of crafty projects), but I’d never think of doing them myself (shudder).

It’s hypocritical on my part, since my house is filled with crap. We’re not tidy. We sprawl. Our stuff spreads out of control over the week. When things come in, they never leave – so I try to not let things in in the first place.

I’m working on it. Trying not to bring home freebies that I won’t use, for example. Lemon boat juicer, in. Umbrella, in. Junky PR trinkets, out. Makeup and skincare – pared back, and extras that I’ll never use given away.

But I’m ashamed to admit the pile of stuff that I meant to give away when we first moved into this house has been sitting in a corner of our bedroom ever since. It’s been well over a year.

13 thoughts on “Functionality vs beauty: where I stand

  • Reply Leslie February 8, 2013 at 07:29

    yay! someone else who doesn’t like flowers!

  • Reply Savvy Working Gal February 8, 2013 at 07:30

    I once wrote a blog post titled, “Are flowers a waste of money?” when someone I know sent her daughter flowers for her 20th birthday. She was living in a dorm at the time and her birthday falls right around Valentine’s day. Thinking back the last thing I would have wanted for my birthday – from my mother- at 20 would have been flowers. I might even have tossed them in the garbage our of embarrassment. The feedback I received was mixed before I took it down over guilt.

    My house is all about function over beauty. We purchased my husband’s Aunt and Uncle’s home when they downsized. Every wall, shelf, closet etc. had been crammed with some type of knick knack or material item- that they no longer had room for and I wasn’t allowed to get rid of. After 15 years they are both deceased and I still don’t think we’ve cleaned out all their crap. All that unnecessary stuff really made me think before I went out and bought more.

    I keep a box in the spare bedroom where I throw things in I no longer need throughout the year, then in December I donate it all to charity.

  • Reply SavvyFinancialLatina February 8, 2013 at 08:20

    I’m in between. I love the interiors of houses on pinterest. However, I would never have all the stuff (decorations). I do not like anything extra I have to dust. Many women do however, lime my mom, mother in law, and sister in law.

  • Reply MissAmanda February 8, 2013 at 08:44

    I’ll take your pile of stuff in the corner of your bedroom and raise you a WHOLE STORAGE UNIT full. Yes, my “stuff to get rid of” pile that has also been accumulating for over a year since I moved, will now require either a truck or 2-3 car loads to bring to good will.

    I at least have the excuse that my stuff is all hidden away by a locked door, so it’s easy to forget it’s there. 🙂

  • Reply Cassie February 8, 2013 at 09:29

    Believe it or not, that sprig of parsley does actually serve a functional purpose. Parsley is a natural breath freshener, so if you chew on it at the end of the meal it takes the edge off of whatever you ate. Just be careful not to get it stuck in your teeth 😉

  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies February 8, 2013 at 12:18

    We’re totally function over form. Some people look at our house and wonder where all the crap that normally goes on the walls is… we have pretty much nothing on the walls. Just a few things that we truly enjoy. No extra crap.

  • Reply Mackenzie February 8, 2013 at 13:51

    I am not a fan of food garnishes either! They are annoying and I never know what to do with them! My food needs to look good and taste good; it doesn’t need to be pretty 😉

  • Reply Manda February 9, 2013 at 02:24

    I love flowers! I think they are beautiful, and my mom is super into flower bouquets so I grew up with them around the house. I hear you on food garnishes, though. I rarely garnish food I make, even if I’m serving it to people. It just seems like a lot of effort that most people shove to the side of the plate anyway (myself included).

  • Reply Budget & the Beach February 9, 2013 at 05:11

    This reminds me of something I experienced from the other day. I had to go to a client’s house in Beverly Hills and we are talking about a MASSIVE, sprawling estate. The family is worth millions. Was it beautiful? Yes, but kind of in a museum kind of way. The kitchen was literally the size of my entire apartment. Would anyone say my place is beautiful either. No, not by a long shot. But what I do get when people come over is, “your place is so cozy and peaceful.” And I take that as a huge compliment because that’s what I want my home to be above all else. Good post!

  • Reply Financial Black Sheep February 9, 2013 at 05:23

    I think I am somewhere in-between finally. I was all about functionality since I grew up helping my father in his house-building business. I always saw the most beautiful homes and then saw them painted and destroyed with tons of things. I also saw one side of my family collect strange meaningless items and hang onto them forever. I learned to let things go, but to not have a sterile house like I thought I needed. Once I purchased my home, I only put things up I loved and if I no longer love it Mr. FBS takes it on a trip that week to be donated. I never liked flowers either, maybe a plant that will last forever, that’s cool.

  • Reply Linda February 9, 2013 at 14:44

    Eh, I don’t get interior design and home decorating. I have to ask friends to tell me which colors look good together, and advice on how to arrange the furniture in my living room. I am “crafty” in some ways because I love to knit, but I see knitting as functional since I live in a climate where wool sweaters and socks are needed for at least half the year. On the other hand, I do love flowers. 😉

  • Reply The Asian Pear February 9, 2013 at 14:46

    I like pretty but I LOVE functional.

    On a plate, every component should have a function or bring something extra. If not, it shouldn’t be there. Same thing with everything else in life. To me something can’t just look good because eventually I’ll have to live with it and use it.

  • Reply Updates: Feb 3 – Feb 9 | The Outlier Model January 18, 2014 at 08:39

    […] Do you like things to have function, or to look nice? NZ Muse explains where she comes down in the functionality vs. beauty debate. […]

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