Years ago, there seemed to be a lot more restrictions on
“what goes with what”.
Everyone had a choice of only several design styles.
In the 50’s there was ” Modern”,
now referred to as Mid- Century Modern.
We all know what that looks like.
Another style was “Colonial” or “Early American”
bringing memories of oval braided rugs,, high backed sofas
and unattractive maple dining sets.
Dark colors, plaids, Herculon fabrics and old floral patterns
paired with the requisite standing ash tray.
There wasn’t much to choose from with regard to accessories.
I remember the whole “Colonial thing” being dark and depressing.
There was also a “Traditional” style of design
consisting of Chippendale, Queen Anne or Georgian pieces
for those with some money but not much imagination.
This style was always accessorized with lenox china and silver pieces.
In the late 60’s- “Spanish” became the “rage”-
large, unsightly carved furniture-
paintings of matadors and bulls and
garish gold or red velvet chairs and sofas with fringe.
It was the design equivalent of a bordello.
Fortunately, it didn’t last long.
( unlike the bordello)
I didn’t like any of these styles-
they were either boring or horrifying .
I like a Chinese take- out menu when it comes to design-
I’ll take a couple things from Column A, a couple from Column B
and add some of my own pieces to it to make what I want.
Those “popular styles”were too boring, limiting and not personal
Everyone has to start somewhere to develop their own personal style.
I started by knowing what I didn’t like and went from there.
I shouldn’t cast stones because in 1970-
my first apartment featured a black/white check sofa,
a wicker peacock chair, a glass and steel coffee table,
a black leather swivel chair, a nylon filament hanging light,
bookcases painted white and shelves featuring black and white contact paper!
Yes, contact paper.
I am still ashamed!
My living room was Black, White and had Yellow accents!
I don’t even like Black, White or Yellow!
There was also a little den filled with large faux animal skin pillows thrown on a wall to wall shag rug.
Hanging beads filled the little doorway to the den.
I then purchased an outdoor wrought iron dining set for my dining room.
So, that’s how I started.
I thought it was divine!
It didn’t work- it was a hot mess.
But then again- what did I know then?
Now, almost 50 years later, I look back at that apartment in horror.
But I can see the beginning of my love for re-purposing items and putting unexpected pieces together..
In the early 70’s in my first home, which was a little more grown-up,I took an old oak pedestal table,
with carved lions’ head and feathers and paired it with Antique Queen Anne dining chairs,
I had stripped and painted .
I went to the Junk Store ( an early relative of the antique store),
found an old iron bed and a cupboard.
I wallpapered the dining room with an old Schumacher design called Firebird Tree-
a really large, dramatic pattern which I also used in fabric on the living room chairs.
The dining room had very casual furniture, but a lovely, more formal wallpaper.
.My guest room was painted lime green, with white trim, a big old white iron bed and a blue and white patchwork quilt.
People who walked in the guest room were either completely horrified or entranced by it.
I believe a house speaks to you about what it wants and how it should look.
But after a while, I stopped listening to that voice and began to decorate for me- not the house.
I’ve been through A Romantic period, A Global period, A Minimalist Primitive Antique and Linen Sofa period- I’ve been through my French/European phase, my Mountain Cabin phase-
but ultimately you have to call my style:
It’s a melange of styles (as I am a melange of personalities!)
There are some French antique tables, mixed with African Sculpture, stone walls, Buddhas, Asian touches,traditional Ralph Lauren pieces, lots of books, accessories from every where
a collection of antique and homemade walking sticks
Pottery Barn- style sofas in brown and cream herringbone,
bottle green antique velvet chairs,
a large map of Paris, Old Parisian Engravings, A large painting of The Buddha,
rugs hanging as wall art, lots of paisley,
great pillows, patterned throws, plants,
an antique cupboard from a Philadelphia Farm and
an old nail board table from the Ile de France.
It’s all about Comfort, Texture and Color.
It’s me, it’s what I love and and it’s my sanctuary.
It’s visual testimony to the veracity of the quote:
If You Love It- It Works!
Only buy what you LOVE.
Don’t “settle” for some piece just to fill a space.
Buy things that make you happy just looking at them.
Don’t worry about anything but making your home
a place of retreat,
reflective of your interests, your preferences, your loves, your hobbies.
Make it comfortable, welcoming and surround yourself
with colors and objects that make you happy.
It’s your Cocoon.
And if you only choose things you love,
IT WILL WORK!