the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The Study

There is a program in the LDS religion known as “home teaching” (for men) and “visiting teaching” (for women). Basically you and a companion are assigned families to visit or check up on once a month. It keeps the community strong, enables everyone to help everyone else, and is an absolute pain in the ass.

OOPS! Sorry, Mormons. BUTT. Pain in the butt.

True story: I was on a full tuition scholarship at BYU, and in order to maintain that scholarship I had to keep my grade point average above 3.9. And I was working thirty hours a week. So I fell behind on my visiting teaching duties. You know, because I was barely treading water. This was apparently the worst sin I could have committed, other than maybe drinking a can of Coke out in the open on campus. And loving it.

So my bishop pulled me into his office, wagged his finger in my face and put me on academic probation. Told me he would not sign my ecclesiastical endorsement (you have to be religiously worthy to continue attending BYU) unless I cleaned up my act.

You have no idea how badly I would love to sit across from that man now and describe in intimate detail all the positions of sex I engaged in before I got married. While sipping a Coke and wiping my mouth on my bikini top.

All of this to tell you that in Utah many houses are built with a room specifically designated as the home teaching room. It’s usually right to the side of the front door so that the visit may be a quick one. Most of the Mormons I know accompany the words “home teacher” and “is coming over this afternoon” with a giant, displeased groan. It’s the same groan I make whenever I hear “Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann” and “opened her mouth.”

Sorry, Tea Partiers. I’ve been holding that one in A LONG TIME. I feel better now.

We have one of the home teaching rooms in our new house. And per convention it’s right off to the side of the front door. Since we don’t have home teachers visiting us any longer, we decided to use this room as a study slash sitting room slash mail room. And by mail I mean the constant stream of packages that come to our mailbox, mail that used to sit on the kitchen table that Tyrant used as a desk. Now they have a home of their own! CUTE LITTLE PACKAGES THAT I TUCK INTO BED AT NIGHT! (bed meaning a giant closet) (they are gay packages) (sorry, bad joke) (Dad, are you still reading this?)

I decided that this needed to be the next room to design because anyone who comes over sees this room immediately, and it was collecting boxes and papers at such a ridiculous pace that I feared Marlo may get lost underneath the pile indefinitely. Which would have given us a little breather, but might be this side of frightening for her. Or thrilling, given her mood.

The whole decor of the room started with two adorable poufs I found at Homegoods, a store that happens to be right next door to the salon of the woman who waxes my eyebrows (anyone in town need a good waxer or all around aesthetician? Heather is your woman. And I have made her sign a release that prevents her from telling you anything about my bikini line.)

I hadn’t ever been inside a Homegoods until Heather moved her salon from her house to her new place, and I thought I’d just pop in after an appointment to see if anything caught my eye. BAD DAY FOR THE CHECKBOOK.

The poufs and the lamp are from Homegoods, but I actually spray-painted the lamp pink. The chair is from a local furniture shop, the pillow from Target, the bamboo side table from a consignment shop called Now & Again, and the crazy plant was left here by the crazy previous owner. Luckily there was no mythical bobcat hiding behind a leaf.

I bought a lovely porcelain tea set from an Etsy shop called High Street Market, and a couple of books on style and etiquette by Kate Spade from One Kings Lane.

The biggest splurge in the room was the fireplace whose surround used to be an awful pattern of ceramic tiles the color of baby poop. We picked out the marble at a local stone dealer, and I am in love with how it turned out. I want to dress in this marble, although Lady Gaga has probably already done that.

The painting is from Homegoods, the owls from West Elm, and the miniature globes and glass coral bowl are from One Kings Lane.

This is where I sit down to write thank you notes. Originally I wanted to put the desk up against the wall, but one of the best views in the house is out through this window. The desk is from West Elm, the chair is from Brocade Home.

I wanted a bookcase in the room to stash my collection of decor magazines, and I think the rules say that you can’t call a room a study if it doesn’t have at least a few books lying around. The bookcase and children’s chair are both from Now & Again.

This is a handmade doll from Loobylu.

The vintage deer antlers are from High Street Market, and the vases are all from Ikea. The rose was part of a giant bouquet Jon gave to me for Valentine’s day.

Originally there were no moldings or paint on the walls, so we hired a handyman to come install this design in both this room and the playroom. I’ve always wanted to paint a room gray, and this color is an Olympic paint called Flagstone.

As for the carpet… we wanted to keep this room on as tight a budget as possible, so replacing it would have been cost prohibitive. It’s also the only room in the entire house that has carpet, and Leta loves to drag Marlo to this room — what she calls The Soft Room — when they want to tumble and flip around.

You may now commence with WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! comments.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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