A favorite quote by elsie de wolfe:
It’s not the homes I love, but the life that’s lived there.
4 things I love to have in my home
home is the scrapbook of your life
No one would dispute that Pinterest has changed the face of how we decorate. How could it not? Aren’t we all busy pinning those perfectly styled rooms, that follow after the latest trend, making us all crazy that we can’t have that immediately? My answer is, I hope not. Before you freak out, let me explain. As much as I love the latest HGTV look (I’m a sucker for anything Sarah Richardson) and as beautiful as these rooms are, most are designed to just look beautiful and not necessarily infuse the life and story of the homeowner. If a home is only designed to LOOK good, where is the evidence of a life well lived if the room was put together in a weekend? What hints are there that trips have been taken, life has happened, and things have been tailored to accommodate the next family get together when it all looks too perfect and staged?
Trust me, I’m not knocking Pinterest, as I am equally as obsessed. However, if I may suggest, rooms need your personal history to come alive. I have always professed that “home is the scrapbook of your life” and there is nothing I mean more in my work than that. For me, unless your home is on the market to sell (which in that case it should be stripped of obvious personal items so the potential buyer can picture themselves there) it needs your stuff, your story, your memories. And in my opinion, it also needs a little imperfection, and a bit of something weird.
As an example, let’s take a tour of the little living room in our old house (two houses ago) that became our first ’empty nest’ house. I don’t profess that this room was perfectly decorated, but when I looked around, I could see an evidence of the history of our lives and it warmed my heart. It felt like home. In the corner, sat a vintage table that my dad put together back in the late 60s. It was four legs from one table, and a top from another, that he married together to create an interesting look. On top of it sat some architectural salvage pieces I picked up over the decades, with a few small oil paintings hanging above that I found in an antique shop maybe 25 years ago. The scenes are of ships on the water, and for some reason, they reminded me of Boston (one of my favorite cities).
The curtains that hung in this room and throughout the house (and followed us to our next two houses) were made by my BFF Lisa. She is a seamstress extraordinaire and every morning when opening these in this room, I thought of her, how talented she is and how grateful I am that she is in my life. There was a pedestal with a marble top that was from my parents house (which survived the 1971 earthquake in L.A.), with a bust of David sitting atop it that was a present acquired at a white elephant Christmas party over two decades ago (it started out terracotta and looked like a giant Chia Pet, but I painted it to look a little more mainstream but quirky, this is my something “weird”). The bookshelves held my library of decorating books, collections of boxes, photo memories, and a collection of R’s (my husband asked once, “what’s with all the R’s?” Really? Our last name starts with that letter). Furniture consisted of a few nice upholstered pieces (totally non-matching at this point), too many pillows, two chairs that I bought at an estate sale for $5 each and reupholstered, and an ottoman that needed to be redone but had a cowhide currently covering it (more imperfection). In the corner was the buffet we got from my husband’s grandmother when she died, with art work from my father’s collection. The artist is Duvill, from the 60s, and we call it “the old man” even though I’m pretty sure it’s a portrait of a rabbi. Behind the couch was a table we bought at Ethan Allen back in 1984 (oops, I sold that a few years ago), with a wood box (which started my collection) that has the words “Cape Cod Sea Chest” stamped on the top, and Cape Cod happens to be my favorite place in the whole world.
When I looked around this room, I saw all these tokens of our life well lived. We were comfortable in this room, and although my husband stared at the television mounted above the fireplace most of the time, my eyes wandered off to see evidences of estate sales and flea markets visited, unique items from trips we have taken. I get inspired remembering where each item was found, pondering their history, or looking at the beautiful faces of our children in photos. I have done a lot in my life, but nothing as grand as loving these three blessings that have now become wonderful adults, spouses, and parents. I laugh at myself because once my middle daughter asked me, “why are you so obsessed with us?” and I was like, “how can I NOT be?” Yes, I am more of an obsessive personality (hence all the collections and slight hoarding) but they are my greatest joy and accomplishment and if she thinks I’m obsessed then I feel like I’ve properly done my job. We share a lot of love, and I guess I saw all of that in this room, and it makes me love this room even more. Of course, before we sold this house, I had switched up the sofa to a tufted blue velvet (sold that with the last house) and changed the pillows a million times but when we left that house I cried like a baby. We only moved like 3 blocks away but that house got my heart and soul. Man, I miss this house!
It’s easy to buy ‘things’, but I appreciate when those items can have meaning, symbolize something, bring forth memories of good times, and be a cozy backdrop to the life we still love each day. Stop and think, what are your greatest possessions? Do you have them out to enjoy or are they hidden away? I know also that there are different phases of life we go through, where we can have less breakables out when our children are busy toddling around, but a balance can be found. My children were shown (at a young age) that some things needed to be looked at with our eyes, not our hands. Not every room could be decorated like that, they need to have a space where their little lives can be lived also, but whatever stage you are in, you can find a way to have your rooms ooze meaning. Rooms need layers (more about that later), and we all have stuff, but hopefully I can share with you a way that you can create a space that is mostly YOU and not just a copy of a Pinterest board. And sometimes, along the way, through more artful decorating, you might just discover a little bit more about yourself. At least that has been my journey, but if we allow ourselves to buy what we love, what truly speaks to you, you will find a common thread after awhile and a bit of self discovery. Your story will come alive in your rooms, and you will see how home becomes the scrapbook of your life.