A while back I watched a documentary on Netflix about the style icon Iris Apfel. You may have seen her around, with her large rimmed glasses and over-the-top accessories. She and her husband Carl, founded Old World Weavers back in 1950 and were a part of design projects for nine different Presidents. Yes, the actual Presidents of the United States. Nine. Currently at the age of 100 (and counting), she continues to work and be an influence in fashion and design.
In watching this, I was quite fascinated by her life and philosophy. But when she said something, I nearly leapt off the couch, because it was so much of what I had been feeling. She said, “I like individuality. Everything is so homogenized these days,” and I seriously wanted to cry out loud! Hooray! To have this talented woman see life so clear through those big ol’ glasses made me want to do the happy dance and yell this from the roof tops, because I seriously feel we have forgotten this. What happened to rooms that reflect your individuality? Items that you love and desire, not just what is trendy from the latest influencer or home TV star. Do we even know who we are anymore, or are we following the pack, and as Iris said, becoming ‘homogenized’? Oh, the horror!
Vintage has always been the thing, I believe, that shines through in our decor and shows who we really are. Displaying beloved heirlooms, gathered collections, vintage ‘pebbles’ collected along the way as we travel through life, really exposes ourselves in our home decor. It highlights what we love, how we live, and what is important. If we look deep into a room, we may even be able to pinpoint personality traits of who lives there. As I’ve said, home can be a scrapbook of your life, but only if you embrace it and tell YOUR story through your home decor.
Becoming empty nesters and moving to a smaller home helped me focus on what I really wanted to live with, plus it allowed me to gift lots of furniture and goodies to our children who were just starting out. Even after we decided to leave that house and return to a home with a bit more breathing room, we still only purchased a few extra couches, as I always have way too much stuff. When you have more space, it’s easy to get lost in the accumulation of things that aren’t too meaningful, but I was grateful to have had the chance to hone in on what we really used and what I wanted to live with at this point in our lives.
What do you have in your home that brings you happiness? What heirlooms do you possess that remind you of days gone by and surface good memories? Are you living with and USING your collections? What vintage things speak to you? Are there items you can collect that will remind you of happy days on the farm with grandma, or lazy summer days up north growing up?
Now is the time to unearth what you have, begin a new collection or add to an old one, enjoy the thrill of the hunt and add vintage to your decor to make your room one-of-a-kind! We are all individuals, unique and beautiful, whether broken or whole. Like tattered vintage items, we are all worthy of love and acceptance, and can be the one different thing that makes a space beautiful! Dare to be different, strive to be unique, because no one in the world can be like you! To me, when searching for vintage items, the most beautiful ones are not perfect. They are the ones that have lived a life, have blemishes, or may be discolored or worn. It is then that they speak to me.
Follow the words of Iris and go against the grain, do what you love, and express your love for life through unique items displayed in your home. “No rules” make it easy to create the perfect space, for if you always buy what you love or what speaks to you, you will always find beauty in your surroundings. The only guideline I follow is have fun, and USE what you have. Don’t wait for a ‘special’ day to use the china or those cute dishes, EVERYDAY is special!
Adding vintage to your space will add a little extra layer of love, as vintage items have already received some wear and love in their lifetime. Think outside the box and use those treasures in new ways (yes, you can use milk glass in the bathroom). What do you have right now that you are “storing”? Grandma’s quilts, or a collection of transferware picked up at flea markets? Get it out, dust it off, and use it. Buy the weird thing if you love it, and for heavens sake, DO NOT WORRY about where it will go. If you love it, you will find a place for it, and be able to create a space that is uniquely you.