Saturday, February 13, 2010

Living a Lovely Life

By Lorna

Romantic homes I read way too many decorating magazines.  I'm absolutely fascinated with the myriad of ways people turn houses into homes.

It wasn't until I was in my late 30s that I decided I was even interested in any kind of decor, and by that time I'd already had two apartments and was living in my second house.  Until I visited a romantic country inn in Stowe, Vermont, that kind of stuff just didn't interest me.  I never cared what I sat on or the dishes I ate off.  It just wasn't something I was aware of.

I had my decorating epiphany at that lovely country inn.  My husband had taken me there as a birthday gift.  (We'd been watching some syndicated show on country inns and thought it might be fun to have the whole B&B experience.)  Suddenly, all the cast-off pieces I'd been living with for so long seemed like ... well, cast-off pieces.

Soon after that birthday trip, Hubby and I bought a contemporary ranch house.  I loved it simply because, like that inn we visited, there were so many potential places to settle and READ (and sip a glass or two of whiskey).

Washstand What attracted my husband to this house (besides living on one level) was the contemporary lines.  What attracted me was the former owner's antiques and handcrafted quilts.  (She had a lovely marble-topped table that I still covet.)  Hubby still likes contemporary style, while I like English (and French) country style.  What we've ended up with is an amalgam -- eclectic style.

It took us eleven years to furnish this place.  It's a big house and tends to ramble.  For instance:  we have five sitting areas (with four full-sized couches, two love seats, and five comfy chairs) and now you see why it took so long to furnish this place.  (Oddly enough, it also took me eleven years to get published in novel-length.  Hmm.  Coincidence?)

Our "best man" and his wife have the ultimate eclectic home, with beautiful antiques, original artwork, and all the modern conveniences, and that's where I first picked up ideas for blending contemporary and country decor.  Seeing their home gave me the confidence to experiment in my own.
Guest room dreser Mind you, a lot of what I have are still a castoffs (I think "antiques" is a nicer term), such as the dark-stained blanket chest that serves as a coffee table, the oak dresser in our guest room (at right) or the chestnut commode that sits in my entryway.  And I have a lot of wonderful things my parents made for me.  My Dad made a lot of my furniture, from a Shaker bench, to "convict" (small, round, drop leaf) side tables (in oak, cherry, pine, poplar and black walnut), a dresser, end tables, as well as built-in bookshelves, and my Mom has made me quilts and many quilted wall hangings.  

Thanks to all these things, we have a lovely, comfortable place to live and many places to READ!!!  My problem:  Who has time to do that?  (Or at least, not enough time to do that.)

What's your decorating style?
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Geekjj The truth?  My life has NEVER revolved around basketball.  I LOATHE sports.  As I confessed in Jennifer's comments the other day, if there's one thing my life DID revolve around in high school it was Star Trek.   Basketball geeks were forgiven in those days (even the girls who  played), but to be branded a Star Trek fan was pure geekdom.

19 comments:

Andrea C. said...

Like you Lorna, my desire to decorate didn't hit until later in my life. Of course the problem with decorating your house is money, money, money! By the time I got all the rooms done, I was ready to re-do the first room I decorated! On the plus side, when I shop for home decor, I never have to worry about feeling bad about getting a bigger size! (also why I love purses!)LOL :)

Lorna Barrett said...

Andrea: yard sales are your friends! I can't tell you how many pieces of furniture, pictures, etc. I've found for darn cheap at yard sales, church sales, and thrift shops. Believe me, my house doesn't look like Flea Market Central, either. But I did spring for a few nice pieces along the way. And with the whole shabby chic movement, a can of paint and a little sweat equity can do wonders with an old piece of furniture.

Dru said...

I have no style but I love my living room because all the furniture except the daybed is made from unfinished natural wood which lightens up the room and my kitchen because the looks is country with the wood flooring and the farmhouse dinette set.

I would love to one day own a house so that I can go to all those home decor shows and decorate to my heart's content.

woo hoo..I got one right, so far, on the quiz.

Jessica said...

I'm just dying to buy my first house so I can decorate it the way i want! Of course...I'm not sure what that is just yet :-) It will depend on the house itself! I love antiques, but my boyfriend is completely into the modern look. Somehow we will have to compromise!

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

"Style" might be too strong a word. Our house is a 1925 Arts and Crafts bungalow, so we tend to gravitate toward that style. Inasmuch as Ikea carries Arts and Crafts decor. :) I love that style, but I'm fundamentally cheap.

Ultimately, we're pretty eclectic, too. I'm in our den right now, which has framed Jim Woodring (the comic book artist) prints on the wall along with a plate rack with plates featuring African animals (giraffes, zebras, etc.). It's all random, but we like it.

Lorna Barrett said...

Jessica, blending modern and antiques can be done well. As long as you introduce things you love, you'll make it work.

Wendy, I love Arts and Crafts homes! Our dining room is mission style--with a lot of eclectic stuff tossed in. (If you read Chapter & Hearse later this summer, there's a description of a dining room in the home of one of the new characters. You got it! I was writing the scene in my dining room and just described it! My, that character has good taste!)

Most of the original paintings (okay ALL of them) hanging on my walls were done by my husband. He's soooo talented! He did one for me based on and old fruit crate label. (Bartlett pears. Hmm. Wonder why he chose that?)

Shel said...

I guess my decorating style is "comfortable" I like earth tones, comfortable seating, and I like things to match.

I'm not hugely picky about decorating, but I like a room to have some personality. I can't stand it watching HGTV's Dream Home, because I feel like if I ever won that, I'd be afraid to move anything.

Lorna Barrett said...

When they come in and spruce up a home on HGTV (like Spice Up My Kitchen or Divine Design) and put in lots of "accent pieces," I often wonder if those are just for show, or if the homeowners get to keep them (or had to buy them). A lot of the stuff might look nice, but I wouldn't want to live with it. I'd rather have my own personal stuff.

signlady217 said...

I'm not sure what to call my style. Probably contemporary. And my husband is definitely traditional. Actually it hasn't been too hard to blend the two. Our living room, dining room, and kitchen are all kind of connected, and they're done in an Asian theme in blues and greys (not reds!!). Our master bedroom/bath is jungle with the big cats (not any of the other animals, and not death masks, fertility statues, etc.). The guest room/hall bath is eggplant and sage (deep purple and green) with irises (love them!) and my sewing room/office, well, the name kind of speaks for itself!

We've lived in the house a bit over seven years, and it took most of that to get it right. Living room pictures ended up taking a year and a half to find (yeah, I'm really picky!), other things not so long. But now it's done and I love it! Moving would be tough!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's weekend! Live long and prosper! (Yeah, I'm a Trek fan, too.)

Lover of Books said...

Our style is comfortable. Our living room furniture is 2X4's. Also the cushions just got recovered in denim. I am loving this stuff. We do have our unity candles displayed on the wall as well. :)

Heather Webber said...

I love, love, love Stowe. We hope to retire there some day.

I love French country, but really don't have a style of my own. Yet. Maybe I need to go back to Stowe...

Lindy said...

If the HGTV folks came to decorate my home they would throw out all my stuff--I can't let that happen, it's my life! So, that's my style, and I'm sticking to it. What do you call my style? LIFE HAPPENS!

Sherri said...

Lorna my style is a mixture of antiques,victorian,country,romantic and heirlooms. I try to surround myself with things I love rather than go for the latest fad.

Deborah M said...

Just found your site - I saw where you joined ACFW. I'm really excited. I love cozies and I have a cozy WIP.
Deborah M.
debbiejeanm[at]gmail[dot]com
deborahsbutterflyjourney.blogspot.com

Katie said...

decorating? what's that?? maybe I'll think about it when the kids are older.

Sheery said...

I'm not sure what to call our decorating style. My husband and I both like comfortable furniture but we are minimalists in regard to what we need and fill our home with. We aren't knick-knack people but we both have our collections; I collect books and he collects vinyl records. Oh, and our art is mostly comprised of our children's artwork and family photos. Stuff we love and think is adorable but most roll their eyes about. :)

Maggie Sefton said...

After my divorce in 1998, I said goodbye to those big houses and settled quite comfortably into my 4BR, 2ba, tri-level here in Fort Collins. In an older subdivision with loads of great neighbors who are actually friends. Fenced backyard for dogs w/lots of trees and bushes, sunny patio and shady spots. Of course, the floor plan is less spacious than those big houses so I kept the family antique furniture in the living room and put my 1919 Chickering baby grand piano downstairs in family room, so it wouldn't dwarf liv room--and leave no where to sit. But there was plenty of wall space for me to hang my favorite art pieces, collected over a lifetime---oil paintings, watercolors, carved mahogany face from Jamaica, carved stone, tomb rubbings, silks, and others. Of course, I use the three plant stands to stash other art pieces amongst the green plants. And my Aunt Ann's homemade quilts are hanging all over the house. Gotta have the art around. It nourishes me. I don't think it matters what you choose to decorate with as long as it's special to you and brings you pleasure.

Lorna Barrett said...

Wow--wish Colorado wasn't so far away. I'd love to see your house, Maggie! Sounds wonderful.

Deanna said...

I would love to start over with this house, but it has most of my old favorites in it and I don't want to lose them, so we will just get a couple of new to us coffee tables or end tables and lamps, both standing and table. I really do not like those in the stores, so will scout second hand and antique stores.