It began with a text message from a neighbor this past May. “Do your sons need any chairs or a couch? We’re getting new family room furniture.” 

I wanted to say no, thanks, because I knew where it would lead. 

One look at the furniture and my younger son, a college student who’s moving into a house with no furniture this fall, gave my neighbor the thumbs-up. He said the oversize tan-and-white-striped chair and sofa were perfect, as was the huge, dark-leather chair. That added up to three very large pieces of furniture that we wouldn’t be able to store in our garage, because it’s already jammed with odds and ends from my in-laws’ home. I sighed, realizing the only place with room to store the furniture would be our three-season porch. 

My summer plans for enjoying my white-wicker porch vanished faster than a Popsicle on a hot day. I was looking forward to whiling away an afternoon or two cozied up on the wicker couch, reading, listening to the birds, and looking out at my colorful gardens — somewhat like a scene in, well, a home-décor magazine! I’d also hoped to throw a few summer dinner parties there. I slowly resigned myself to the fact that what I had been hoping for — a civilized, summery, tastefully decorated room in which to enjoy my favorite months of the year — wasn’t to be. 

Instead, my furniture would need to be pushed up against the walls to make room for these big pieces, and some of my furniture would need to move to — where? As it turned out, there’s now a wicker settee against one wall in my dining room, and a wicker chair is in my living room, blocking the path from the foyer to the living room. (Truthfully, it’s not just blocking the path; it’s adding to a traffic jam created by blue plastic tubs filled with college gear.)

My little porch and all that big, comfy furniture has become a mecca for my son’s friends. No one seems to care that it’s a room stuffed with chairs butting up against one another or that the couch is just inches from the television. The porch reminds me of the “forts” my boys would build as kids, when they would move chairs and side tables next to each other and throw a blanket over the top. Yes, it’s a college “fort,” all right. The only thing that matters to my son and his friends is that it’s closed off from the rest of the house, it’s comfortable, and it has a television and card table. 

Taking possession of our neighbor’s furniture did motivate us to carve out some time to open the boxes in the garage, however. We sorted through everything and chose to keep those items that we cherish the most, and donated to various charities what we couldn’t use. Ahhhhh, now there’s some room in our garage! We can move bikes in and out easily, get to the recycling bin, and maybe, next summer, have enough room to store our son’s college furniture! 

But then another text came. “Does anyone need a bed?” 

As it turns out, that same son absolutely needed a bed. So the newly cleared area in the garage became the temporary home of a bed frame, box spring, and large mattress. 

My coping method for all this décor chaos? I remind myself, over and over: We are in a transition mode and I’ll have order again come fall. (Of course, if you really map out life’s stages and think about all the stuff we purchase, use, get rid of, inherit, take, give away, store, etc., you’ll find that life is always in a  “transition mode.” And thank you, neighbors, for making this particular transition a great deal less expensive!)

Then there’s my older son, who has a summer internship in the Big Apple. He moved with just a few bags of clothes to a completely furnished apartment (thanks to the company he is working for). It took him literally a pair of New York seconds to move in. His surroundings are anything but the mish-mashed environs of our lives at home. Upon entering that swanky Manhattan apartment, I admit that I immediately craved a slice of his life — all minimalist, practical, and haute hotel-ish in a black-gray-charcoal-and-cream palette. Just give me a month of that, please!

But back to the reality of my daily chaos. At night, when I’m hitting the hay, I hear my son’s friends come sauntering in (their evening is just beginning!), pizza cash and coins for midnight Slurpee runs jingling in their pockets. On the porch, reruns of The Office play on the TV, while a deck of cards is waiting to be shuffled, and chips and salsa are at the ready. The kids will soon slide into those big, cozy seats, and another evening at the “fort” will get underway.

My home may be a designer’s nightmare right now, but all is well.

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