Don’t Hide Behind What’s “In”

One size does not fit all.  If you have a brand new home in a look-alike neighborhood, then go ahead with what’s “in”.  But if you have an old and beleaguered house, with crooked walls and battered  baseboard heater covers, with weird angles and misplaced windows, you need to form a cohesive whole.  One that goes.

Goes?  Yes, goes.  One that goes with the house, the setting, and one that suits you, even if no one else gets it at all, even if it couldn’t possibly be less “in”.

A brief history of decorating:

Our house had darkly stained (almost black) wood trim, unpainted.  The walls were a dark diarrhea color, and the crowning touch was the mauve Formica countertops to match the pink-ish stain on the cabinets.  My budget was for paint.  Not new trim or countertops or cabinets.  Paint.

After much searching I finally hit on a golden apricot for the walls and a trim color called “Blackberry” which was deep purple most of the time (I took the doors off the upper cabinets and display dishes rather than pink-ness).

But there was that time of the day when the purple trim was just garish as heck against the white areas of the kitchen, and not all that complementary with those  lovely mauve countertops.  The countertops were the sticking point – the mauve against the apricot, which also at some times of the day was just plain orangey papaya, began to be a thorn in my side.

I griped in my head every time I looked at it.  If I could just get new countertops.  I spent a couple of years on this “if” but to no avail.  Fine.  One fine day I would have new countertops.  In the meantime I would go to what always works for me.  Paint.

Don’t want to repaint the whole thing.  How about just the kitchen including the wall that is also the window wall of the dining room?  What color then?  Finally I found it.  A lovely and very pale green/yellow (depending on the light, but more green than yellow).

The mauve countertops against the green look fantastic.  The ugly old now appears lovely vintage.  I am so very pleased with this outcome of my efforts.  However, there was one thing.  The corner.

With a bit of uncertainty I had stopped in the dining room corner, where each color refused to cooperate with or give way to the other.

And so.  Something to tie it all together.  Perhaps a border that went all the way around the dining room.  I found the border.  A year later I thought (border still in drawer) of stripes on the lower part of the wall, beneath the border.  Another year later I did it, and you see the results above.

I leave it to your imagination to  envision how awful this room looked before I painted, but let me assure you that when that trim was stained walnut, and later when those walls were painted in shades of body excrement, those things were “in”.

Again, what’s “in” should be what works for you.  My house is high in the Rockies and it’s often chilly.  I want warm colors.  My house is also a 70’s monstrosity of vaulted ceilings and weird angles, and the argument could certainly be made that “granny” decor doesn’t fit.  But the final word on it all is “mine”.  This is house is mine, and so what’s “in” is irrelevant.

No design police are coming, no magazine photographer either.  What’s “in” about this house are the people who LIVE “in” this house (continual compliments from my beloveds on this new creative endeavor).

I encourage you.  Go browsing and digging around thrift shops, estate sales, antique stores, kitchen stores and consignment shops, and your own “stuff” for something that absolutely delights you.  Let your imagination go.

Just remember this:  “In” is based on someone else’s imagination, or lack thereof.  Again, this house is your house!

Happy Real Decorating!

P.S.  Somewhere in all this – about a year ago, I think, I painted the trim white, a lovely brilliant white with the very teeniest hint of rose (in certain light).

The Enchanted Home is Authentic, Artistic, and Sometimes Even Boasts the Best-Ever Molasses Cookies

orange door

We forgive people who decorate in colors we abhor, with “style” we can’t fathom, using cat-clawed and dog-scratched furniture, if their homes are authentic.  If we have to hide a smile at some of the wild colors, particularly those in hues of sunshine, we will overlook what we consider a decided lack of taste and sophistication.

Conversely, walls of flawless beige, trimmed in pristine white, surrounding us and brand new-looking sofas set just so before “modern” décor atop ice-cold coffee tables make us wonder, “Is this a home or a statement?”

Does your house scream your lack of identity, thereby stealing your guests’ senses of identity as well, or does your house say “I’m OK, You’re OK. I didn’t invite you here to impress you, I invited you here because I value you enough to open my home, and therefore my heart.”

An authentic home has heart—it’s owner’s. An unauthentic home hides its heart behind its façade. It’s sad enough that we sometimes feel we must wear the façade in public, but at home we must take off the mask.

blog pic for bev - bed in castle

Does that mustard yellow throw your grandma made embarrass you? That’s a good reason to put it on the couch, front and center. Do you have a secret love for that hideous orange ottoman from the 50’s, and does it match absolutely nothing else in your living room? Go with it and add a bouquet of flowers with a bit of that same orange. You’ve shown yourself and your guests just a little bit of your heart. And you’ve given them art.

blog pic for bev - orange couch

But what will your guests think, especially the world travelers with such cool stuff? They’re on their way. You look around, asking yourself What does this look like to other people.

Dirty for starters. You can wash those awful smears off the patio doors, or make molasses cookies and put on a bright and crazy shirt. You guessed it. If this guest is a mom, she’ll either feel greatly relieved that other people have nasty doors, too, or she’ll feel superior because hers are clean. Let her feel superior. Authentic people make those kinds of sacrifices. Just be sure your cookies are better than hers. Just kidding. Sort of.

How to make great molasses cookies? Use the recipe on the molasses jar, only double (I did say double) the molasses and the spices and the salt. Also use real butter and/or coconut oil instead of shortening. Then make them awesome with lots of raisins and walnuts. For even better results (and healthier cookies) use half whole grain flour and half unbleached white flour, instead of the standard bleached white flour, and last of all, use a non-GMO organic sweetener. I like organic light brown sugar by Wholesome. Also, even when the recipe doesn’t call for it, I like a little vanilla flavoring in my molasses cookies. But I think it’s safe to say they’re wonderful without vanilla.

cookies

P.S.  These aren’t actually my cookies.  I’ll post them when I make them – closer to Christmas!

yellow castle picP.P.S.  This isn’t actually my house, but I’ll definitely post it if I get it for Christmas!

Authenticity at Home

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What is an authentic home?  In looking at the definition of authentic below (see the end of the post), we can deduce that, in a word, an authentic home is real.  Does your home feel authentic to you?  Are you comfortable in it, and does it offer comfort to others?

I am reminded of a purchase I made yesterday.  In a shabby chic sort of store, I searched for something to catch my eye, something to speak to my heart.  I wanted something that would slightly alter and enhance my home.

Mostly I saw things that wouldn’t stand alone.  They were attractive in their settings, but not something I really wanted at home (well, there was that framed picture that said, “Eat Cake for Breakfast” but I don’t care for art that tells me what to do). And then I saw it:  a red vintage umbrella.  The handle was wooden, it worked beautifully, it was red, and it was raining outside.  Yay! I had almost bought an umbrella a few weeks ago, but it was . . . well, let’s just say it was not Made in America (it broke when I opened it).  It was “cheaper” than the red umbrella in every way, and had I bought it, way more expensive.

I chose the authentic umbrella, just as I choose an authentic home.  Any time I can substitute wood for plastic, fresh for canned, a walk in the woods for floor exercises, my child singing in the shower for radio music, denim for polyester, shoe laces for Velcro, viewing the currently running Jan Brett art exhibit in Fort Collins vs. an intelligence-insulting matinee, lounging in a home-crocheted afghan on a second-hand leather couch rather than wrapping up in, and sitting on, new micro-fiber monstrosities, cotton diapers to replace paper/plastic sweat wrappers, homemade biscuits dripping with butter instead of Styrofoam with a stingy (thank God) bit of margarine . . .

You’re thinking this all sounds like too much work, and too time consuming?  What are you doing that’s more important, more satisfying, than authenticating your home, your life, your soul?

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Syllabification: au·then·tic

Pronunciation: /ôˈTHen(t)ik/

(abbreviation: auth.)

Definition of authentic in English:

adjective

1Of undisputed origin; genuine: the letter is now accepted as an authentic documentauthentic 14th-century furniture

More example sentences

  • He is in no doubt that the document is an authentic copy of the original.
  • In recent years, Disney’s park designers have filled the place with what look like real antiques, genuine artifacts, authentic junk.
  • A letter should have been sent to confirm that the references were genuine and authentic,’ he said.

Synonyms

1.1Made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original: the restaurant serves authentic Italian mealsevery detail of the movie was totally authentic

More example sentences

  • These hotels and restaurants did all they could to recreate all that is authentic in traditional Kerala cuisine.
  • The restaurant ensures that Mangalorean cuisine is made and served in its traditional and authentic form.
  • The crowd then made their way back to the High Cross Inn where they celebrated St Patrick s Day with traditional music including authentic bag pipe playing.

1.2Based on facts; accurate or reliable: an authentic depiction of the situation

More example sentences

  • The written word persuasively conveys the authentic ring of reliable authority in a way the recollected spoken word does not.
  • It’s based upon an authentic story that happened in the ’20s and ’30s.
  • Earlier an unnamed assistant editor had emphasised ‘the need for publishing absolutely accurate and authentic information’.

Synonyms

1.3(In existentialist philosophy) relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life.

Example sentences

  • Hence, he argues that the appropriate mode for authentic human existence is the personal.
  • For Heidegger, authentic existence begins from self-understanding.
  • As such, for Heidegger, an authentic existence requires as its precondition a radical and not received experience of the past.

2 Music (Of a church mode) comprising the notes lying between the principal note or final and the note an octave higher. Compare with plagal.

Origin

Late Middle English: via Old French from late Latin authenticus, from Greek authentikos ‘principal, genuine’.

Beware the Beige Blahs

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Do you try and try to brighten and cheer your house, but never seem to get that ah-hah! you’re hoping for?  Perhaps the problem is nothing more than that showroom floor look – the one with the fear of color, fear of originality, and celebration of nonentity.

People actually believe their houses will sell faster if the walls are beige (or worse, still sporting the dugout look – dirt in color).  And if they happen to buy a house whose walls (probably beige) need a new coat of paint, they re-paint them beige, “in case we decide to sell.”

What?  You are living here right now.  Today.  Make it yours!  Make it beautiful!

Then there are those “experts” who advise painting everything white (looks like primer, now ready for real paint) and add “splashes” of color.  Not soothing, not relaxing, not your idea.

Of course, if this is what you truly like, and you get a brilliant white and the splashes are authentic (maybe framed children’s artwork, or your own) you are on to something.  Namely, a home that is, you guessed it, authentic. 

We all like to see other people’s houses, and hope to get a glimpse of who they really are.  But when we see beige, and everything looks as though we’re in a decorating magazine (and not one of the good ones) or on a showroom floor, it’s as if they’re hiding something – themselves!

When we moved into our house the walls were the color of diaper contents when the baby has acute diarrhea, and the trim was stained dark, dark brown.  I painted the walls a golden apricot which actually glows like the sun in the evenings and mornings.  I then began the search for trim color.  After much ado, I settled on blackberry, which is a deep, dark purple.  This color combination went perfectly with this house, and with me, where I was at that time.

Now that I’m considering repainting I may put a bright cream on the trim, or perhaps a brilliant white, and leave the apricot.  Or paint the walls a light-infused pale yellow-green with the brilliant white trim.  Maybe I’ll paint my cabinets a deep moss green and the walls white and the trim whatever seems right.

Whatever I do will horrify a few people, and please most people.  Best of all, it will be MY choice, unhindered by the Made-in-CheapoLand décor offerings in the decorating aisles at the superstores, and uninfluenced by what’s “in” right now.

Your house is your house, my house is my house.  Amen (so let it be so).