Sometime during the childbearing years, I gave up on fancy guest towels.

If there was a towel in any bathroom, it was used. Embroidered towels

We didn’t have the luxury of using towels as art when I was growing up; we were a family of eight, with a single bathroom.

We often shared towels, hoping that there was an almost-dry one on the rack when it was our turn.

When I had my own place, it was fun to coordinate the shower curtain, bath rugs, towels and accessories with themes, color schemes, etc.

It was especially nice when we had that extra bath or powder room that was for guests.


Wine Rack

We just returned from a visit where we had our own bedroom and attached bathroom.

There were more than a dozen towels that decorated that well- designed interior space.

There were embroidered patterns, lace trim, embossed panels.

There were carefully folded and pressed fingertip, hand and bath towels.

The unspoken message: “Don’t use these”.

We were directed to the less worthy, but more functional ones that were stored in a cabinet under the sink.

They were plain, white, fluffy, perfect.


Leaning Ladder

Once used, they were to go onto some unadorned hooks on the back of the door. This way, they would not interrupt the symmetry of the towel racks and matching shower curtain.

We had a quick conversation about some of this on the 5 hour drive home.

We also talked about the use of abundant throw-pillows on the bed.

In colors that matched or contrasted with the bed linens, they were lovely to witness, hard to dismiss.

It would be fine if there were a place to put them; maybe an extra chair, clear space on a dresser, even a designated basket.

Ours just ended up on the carpet.

The use of decorative bed pillows was another luxury that my birth family could not afford.

My husband seemed to be thankful for that.

There doesn’t need to be that much effort to get to the pillow that is meant for a tired head.

It is good to be home.




This entry was posted in Art, Family, home, Random Thoughts, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to Towels

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    Practical an be pretty too… don’t see why there needs to be too much done for show. I’d rather my guests were comfortable enough to ignore the importunities of the over-friendly small dog and her eternal tennis balls 🙂

  2. megdekorne says:

    Hi Van ….functional art is the most beautiful to me …I’m sure your bed pillows are beautiful , sweet dreams my friend , I love your writing ….love , megxxx

  3. We can’t have anything like that. My kids would insist that those towels should remain on the floor. 🙂

  4. Smiling. Home is where it’s at.

  5. So glad you are back! Well, with 9 kids it is practical all the way! I try to buy pretty towels that are reasonably priced. My mom has purchased really fancy towels for me through the years, I keep them for when she comes hahaha.

  6. Erika Kind says:

    It is really beautiful to have the opportunity for such lovely decorations. But same over here…. this luxury is not happening.

  7. Ritu says:

    Yup ditto here…. pretty versus practical… you know what wins every time!!!

  8. roweeee says:

    That whole presentation thing sounds hilarious. I have two kids so fancy towels aren’t a thing here. I’m just grateful when the towels are hanging up and not left rotting on the bathroom floor or in their bedrooms.
    Perhaps, I have set my sights too low and if I bought myself a set of fancy towels and went birko every time they were caked in toothpaste, mud, grease and now that our daughter is getting older…makeup. that they might just start to treat the place with some respect.
    Ha! who am I kidding?!!
    Hope you’re having a great weekend!
    xx Rowena

  9. A few years ago I switched to buying plain white towels for all the bathrooms — there are only 2 1/2! That way they can be moved around to another bath if needed, bleached, whatever.

  10. AmyRose🌹 says:

    The only thing that matters in this house is that the towels I do have hanging are clean. Function over fancy. 🙂 LOL

  11. I have hung fancy handtowels over functional ones. Your choice!

  12. George says:

    That’s a lot of towels for show just to impress family. I have to believe it makes her happy in some way. I guess we all spend money on stuff that other people may view as frivolous. But I’m with you. A dozen towels and a bed full of pillows is just crazy, except to the people enjoy them..:)

  13. Such a fun post, Van. Welcome back. It always feels good to get home after traveling. We don’t bother with fancy either, though I have to admit my towels match (while being functional). And those bed pillows. I have a few…they sit permanently in the wicker basket by my dresser 🙂

    • Thanks, Diana. I had a few fancy ones in a mostly unused half-bath, but I replaced them with a basket of folded paper towels. I have a sofa in my bedroom that could hold those throw pillows…but I still don’t want them. Easier access. ☺

  14. They are nice to look at, but for now I use functional towels. I see no point is putting up fancy-pancy towels and we just look at them without using them. Anyways, my children won’t even leave them alone if that is the case. The idea of too many pillows has never caught on with me. That’s extra work taking them off to sleep and putting them back again. I have enough work on my hands already.

  15. When I was little, we had to use “pit towels”, thin and scratchy towels manufactured for use by miners at the end of a dirty day’s work. School swimming lessons led to much derision. “Laura has a pit towel!” crowed loudly in the locker room meant I associated those towels with shame. This has led me to, as an adult, buy towels that are thick and large and warm and comfy, but conversely I refuse to do the whole “show towel” thing, have towels that scream luxury, because I refuse to allow something as humdrum as a towel be a demarcator of income or success or worth.

    • Wow…I never heard of a pit towel, Laura, but your basking in luxury, comfy towels makes so much sense now. The things we experienced. I like the term “show towel” as well. Thanks. 💕

      • I think experiencing poverty makes us both appreciate the things we have now but also not place so much stock in material possessions. I hadn’t really thought about my attitude towards towels representing that until reading your post. You often makes me realize things about myself. Your writing is quite thought provoking.

      • We share so many of those truths based on life experience, Laura. Glad you can find some relevance here. I’m flattered. Thanks. 💕

  16. I don’t know how functional it is, but I’m a firm believer in “use the fancy!” My mom used to say “Put the store bought potato salad in the cut glass bowl!” Use it, enjoy it! If it breaks, well, I guess someone won’t inherit it! I’m also totally opposed to “please take your shoes off when you come in my house.” It says, “My carpets are more important to me than my guests…” I think it’s all about how you make your guests comfortable. The greatest compliment is for someone to help themselves in my fridge!

    • I like that…Use the fancy, “life is too short to not burn the rose-scented candle in the crystal jar.” I’m paraphrasing from humorist Erma Bombeck. ☺ Thanks. Agree on the open fridge policy. Sweet.

  17. Val Boyko says:

    When looks take over function I tend to rebel. Like beautifully wrapped presents with thought-less gifts insight. Or a pretty blog with little content or poor writing. Thankfully I found you Van!

  18. C.E.Robinson says:

    Van, fun post about fancy towels & pillows! Got me thinking about my functional bathroom towels, color coordinated though. Now about those bed pillows. I’m guilty! Love colorful pillows and have a few! Makes up for the plain dog proof bed cover. Same on the living room sofa. Dog proof mats but colorful pillows! Don’t think decorative pillows were part of my childhood though. Everything was functional! Happy Saturday! 💛 Elizabeth

  19. nancyruth says:

    Welcome back. In my fantasy house I would have a bathroom with matching coordinated everything. But practical wins out over everything. I never knew what to do with the paper guest towels people put out on the sink. As for pillows on the bed, it is decorative but I like the idea of having a basket or hamper for them to go in. We don’t even like too many pillows on the sofa except one each for our backs now. Lovely essay. I enjoy your writing.

    • One reason I used that pic with the dark towels on the wine rack is that storage basket underneath. That would work for pillows too, I think. ☺ Thanks so much for the comment and compliment, Nancy. 💝

  20. My Godmother’s living room was roped off like a museum and the furniture had plastic on it. No one ever used that room. They sat on comfy furniture in the den haha. It is always good to go home, isn’t it Van? ❤
    Diana xo

  21. TanGental says:

    There was a time when the Vet insisted on decorating every bed with some of her Beenie baby collection. Drove dad mad when he woke in the middle of the night to find some corduroy chipmunk rammed where the sun don’t shine. Needless to say he blamed his son not his granddaughter.

  22. lbeth1950 says:

    I admire those overachievers who know how to pillow and towel properly. Maybe in my next life. I actually found an excellent use for my bed shams. We use them to play fight with the dog every morning when we make the bed. He fetches us for bed-making and pillow fighting after we finish our coffee every morning.

  23. lbeth1950 says:

    It’s a good idea to check out the way the look on the bathroom floor before purchasing.

  24. Sadie's Nest says:

    Do people still used fancy towels? lol. Never tried it.

  25. joey says:

    I could write a RATHER impolite post about my hatred for fancy guest towels. SPECIFICALLY (Sorry, I’ll try not to yell.) about exactly WHICH ******** guests are entitled to use the ************* fancy guest towels. ORRRRR, why some people feel the need to have one dishtowel for hands and another for dishes!!! AREN’T WE DRYING CLEAN THINGS?!? *achem* If they’re both identically plaid with apples on them, how can we possibly know? I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I wrote it here. To each her ******* own.
    It’s one thing to have a bathroom where one has special untouchable towels and another clearly indicated for use, but without the latter, well, IMMA USE THE SPECIAL NO-NO TOWELS!
    Our main bathroom is spacious and pretty, but in an average-could-be-any-bathroom-from-the-last-100 years way. We have hooks for towels. Whether or not people are capable of hanging their towels up varies from day to day, and may result in additional chores. All of the bath towels and washcloths are the same, because my mother was right, white is practical and classic.
    There is always a clean hand towel next to the sink, because I rotate it. A few of them are fancy, embroidered, lacy, floral, trimmed. No one cares. If they do, no one has said so.
    There’s nothing in my house that is not to be used. If I invite someone into my home, I think they’re special enough to use stuff. Guests should feel WELCOME.
    We have a tiny powder room off the master, and aside from a crisis, no one else uses it.
    I am so glad we no longer have three bathrooms.

    Bed pillows are important. I make a nice bed. But there are no pretty pillows just for show on it. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    Thank you for this opportunity to be impolite and judgmental.

  26. nimi naren says:

    Just loved the way those towels are stacked but not being able to use them…that’s difficult. I agree though, there’s no place like home…and one’s own pillow

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