My first apartment after college was a one-bedroom with a balcony. I worked evenings then, and spent mornings buying and borrowing items to furnish a livable space. But it wasn’t realistic to hope a plaid sofa (new) and a turquoise chair (borrowed) would meld with gold shag carpet (it was the ‘80s). The combination -- seen in my daylight hours at home before work -- always seemed a little harsh.
Then one night off from work, I cooked a late supper on a portable grill on my balcony. The meat smoked and flared enough to keep me out there next to it, and I remember looking into the apartment through the sliding-glass door to watch TV. The soft lamplight inside not only warmed the beige living-room walls, but also muted the argument between the furnishings’ colors and patterns. As my gaze drifted across the room, I caught myself inexplicably thinking, “I’d like to live there!” It seemed such a different apartment from the balcony at dusk than I’d come to know from the sofa at noon.
Most people, on an evening walk, like to glance through windows into the houses they pass. Next time, try it with your own home that you know so well.