When my mother and her husband moved to their condo in Fort Lauderdale, she bought a set of living room furniture–a sofa, loveseat, and wing chair–covered in the kind of tropical print you’d only find somewhere like Florida or Palm Springs: large, graceful tangerine- and persimmon-colored birds with yellow beaks perched among stalks of green bamboo. The rest of their apartment was starkly white. It worked.
Of course it worked. Mom had been an apprentice interior decorator in Manhattan. Her in-laws had an upholstery business on the upper east side. Some of my earliest memories are trawling the Garment District with my mother and grandmother. She knew how to transform things with fabric. How to cover and recover.
When her husband died she moved the furniture to Texas, then Oklahoma, then back to Texas. She made it work there too. For thirty years. So when it came time to re-create her homeworld in a little room of a memory care residence, I loaded the wing chair into the pickup truck first. She doesn’t sit in it anymore, but it still works.