A good friend of mine is a gifted interior designer who has such a sterling sense of style that everyone who crosses her path raises an eyebrow in envy. My father used to use a little phrase when describing my mother’s cooking by saying that she could “make soup out of rocks.” In the same spirit my friend, Designer Lady, could make a showplace out of a cave, which is basically rocks anyway, right? And that brings to mind a question. Who was the first cave dweller to even care what the joint looked like? Why? In my own clearly unoccupied brain, this is how the script would unfold as the very first interior designer presents her aesthetic genius to a client, whom I shall call Uba.
DL: Nice space! Single family right? Not much natural light, but we can let the area near the opening be the visual focal piece and utilize the rear area for sleeping.
DL: So what are your interests? We want to reflect who you are.
Uba: Well, I like to rub sticks together to create heat…
DL: Oh, fabulous! Yes! Yes! Where exactly is the fireplace?
Uba: The what?
DL: The fireplace. These old places always have them.
Uba: I am not sure what you…….
DL: You know. The fireplace. The hole in the wall where you put the all sticks after they make the heat.
Uba: Oh, I usually just make a pile in the middle of the room.
DL: Oh no! That won’t do at all. It places too much light in the center of the room. Plus, it isn’t safe. We want to break the space into a couple of different seating areas, so a center light source won’t do. Hmmmm. Why are all those big rocks shoved together over in one corner?
Uba: Uh. We all sit there together on cold nights. Plus, right in front of the rocks is where I usually put the pile of sticks. See, from there it is a straight shot to the opening, and I have to take the pile of ashes out myself, so if I make the pile there…….the thing is I can never get Thor to do anything useful around the cave. He just wants to hunt and fish all the time. He is such a Neanderthal.
DL: I understand. Well, we need to spread those big rocks out around the cave. There is too much wasted space in here. What do you usually put on the walls?
Uba: What do you mean?
DL: Patiently. On the walls. You know. Artwork? Textiles? Photos?
Uba: Uh, I sometimes draw on them.
DL: Oh! You are an artist! I am sorry. I should have known from your dress.
DL: Your dress! I love the one shoulder look. The fabric absolutely shimmers! What is it?
DL: Pointing to the dress. What-is- this- material? I have never seen anything like it. What is it?
Uba: Oh! Oh! Sorry, now I get it. Yes, this is vintage dinosaur skin. I got it from my grandmother Sarah. It was handed down. It isn’t very politically correct these days, but the stuff lasts forever.
DL: I should have known. Anyway….oh! What is that? She heads for the rear of the cave and touches a huge slate of stone.
Uba: It is just some old tablet that Thor found and dragged in….of course. I was going to throw it out but he won’t let me.
DL: No! Leave it just as it is. We can clean it up a little with some scrubbing sand and make it a real conversation piece.
Uba: Seriously? You like that thing? I was planning to get rid of it but it is so heavy I can’t drag it back out by myself.
DL: No, you should keep it and hang it somewhere. It looks old. You know what I mean? It has history and there is faint writing on it. Look, it has some sort of writing etched into it right here, but I can barely read it. What does this say? What is this word? The? That? Thou? Thou! Definitely thou…thou something. I can’t make out the rest.
Uba: Thou? It probably says Thor! He has been scribbling his name all over everything again. He never could spell. Why does his name have to be carved into everything he drags into this place???? It drives me crazy! We still have every club he has ever owned and they all have his name scribbled on them. Scattered all over the cave! Uhhhhh! I am fed up with it. I am going to get rid of that stone tablet and he can just deal with it. She starts to sniffle as she stifles a weeping meltdown.
DL: Calming her. Oh don’t do that. We can use it, it will look nice and he will be thrilled. And maybe we could find a nice carcass or something to use as a container for his clubs. If you are going to have them around anyway, we might as well make them look intentional. Believe me, I have seen a lot of caves in my day and this one has potential. We will use what you already have plus some new stuff that we will put together from boulders and animal hides. Before you know it, Cave Beautiful will be doing a feature story on it.
Uba: Really? Sniffle, sniffle. You think so? You could make it that pretty??? The sniffling settles into a gentle smile.
DL: Sure. I think I could
And to be honest, dear readers, I think she could too.