Growing older has me trading bar carts for tea sets—and I’m perfectly okay with that

I am relishing this new stage of life

Growing older

Illustration by Babeth Lafon

When I turned 40, it didn’t really dawn on me that I was officially transitioning into middle age. Inside, I still felt like my 30-year-old self; outside, I didn’t age much—or so I was told. But recently, it has become woefully clear to me that my days as an ingenue are behind me, and it wasn’t crow’s feet, a middle-age spread, or the drooping effects of gravity that prompted this reckoning. It was my changing style of living.

The first inkling I had that I was entering a new stage of life was when I began to transfer my attention from my bar cart to my tea set. Back in the day, when dinner parties and get-togethers meant imbibing and chit-chatting well into the night, I had a fully stocked bar cart with every spirit and liqueur you could think of. Anyone for Crème de Violette? But late nights and libations no longer agree with me, which has prompted a shift in the way I entertain, from late-night parties to socializing in the early evening or—don’t laugh—late afternoon, which might explain my newfound enthusiasm for afternoon tea. If visions of Miss Marple are popping into your head right now, you’re not alone.

I’m also more focused on creating the right ambience in my bedroom, but not for the reasons you may think. Since I’m no longer hosting those late-night soirees, I now spend more time in bed watching television (you should give those reruns of Columbo and Murder, She Wrote a try) or reading mysteries, which means I’ve become preoccupied with my comfort. Is my bedside lamp bright enough for reading small print? Do my pillows offer enough neck support? And which of my bed jackets is going to keep me toastiest? Comfort and coziness are growing priorities.

“One thing I’ve learned is that with age comes the wisdom to know that trends will come and go, but classic design will never go out of style.”

Even my taste in decorating now marks me as an old-timer, at least according to some millennials. I love Chinese porcelains, traditional French fabrics, wallpaper borders, and antique brown wood furniture, all of which once earned me the worst put-down a certain 20-something could muster: granny. I’ll accept that indictment when it comes to my choice in TV shows but not when it comes to my decorating. One thing I’ve learned is that with age comes the wisdom to know that trends will come and go, but classic design will never go out of style.

I’m not completely over the hill yet. I still prefer my Manolo heels to be high, and I haven’t yet abandoned my habit of wearing my hair pulled back in a ponytail. But as much as I dislike growing older, I also relish it. The upside to maturing is that it gives you the confidence to do, say, and live exactly as you please, even if that means sipping tea in your bed jacket among so-called granny surroundings.

Jennifer Boles is the author of the popular design blog, the Peak of Chic. Her latest book for Vendome is Inspired Design: The 100 Most Important Interior Designers of the Past 100 Years.

This article appears in our Fall 2019 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.