Well, I did it again. I forgot to take a picture. We’re sprucing up the kitchen a bit – stripping wallpaper, painting, changing hardware. While I was telling a friend about our latest project, she asked: “Did you take a ‘before’ picture?” Gulp.
“You DIDN’T take a ‘before’ picture? You should ALWAYS take a ‘before’ picture,” she scolded.
No, we did not take a “before” picture. Forget that we have a half-dozen cameras of different sorts in the house – some so simple the dog could use them. Forget that the people at the 2013 Decorators’ Show House managed to take “before” photos of more than 50 spaces before the East Aurora estate was transformed for the public (open through May 19, by the way).
No, I couldn’t even hold up my cellphone to take a few lousy photos of our kitchen. Too late now.
Sure, the old kitchen can be seen in photographs taken in recent years. But there are people in those photos. Smiling people. Scowling people. People with their eyes shut or their mouths full of birthday cake.
And they’re all blocking the wallpaper.
I’ve lived in more than a dozen places in my life, including college dorm rooms, and I have only a few photographs to show for it.
I must admit it would be fun to look back now at those living quarters. I can barely recall the sofa bed and mauve pillows in one rental apartment. The – yikes! – painted paneling in another.
I’m not talking about systematically photographing one’s possessions for insurance purposes (although your insurance company likely has guidelines for doing this). I’m talking about home decor memories.
Your childhood room. Your first apartment. Your child’s first room.
And even some images to capture from the garden. For years – years! – I have wanted to photograph a gorgeous Sargent Crabapple in our yard – once each season. I keep forgetting to do it. It’s not as if I’ve been too busy taking pictures of our kitchen.
There’s a practical side to all of this as well, especially in this digital age. Let’s say come Sunday, you find that your Mother’s Day brunch table looks stunning – if you say so yourself – set with your grandmother’s china and napkins folded just so. So why not take a picture so you can refer back to it another time? Same with your Memorial Day picnic table or your summer porch setup?
You can even do this with short-term projects such as unloading a bookcase before you paint a room. If you like the way you had previously arranged its contents, take a picture so you can reload it in similar fashion.
When you’re done, you can always delete the picture. Just like the image of our old kitchen will someday be deleted from my mind.