Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A contradiction in style

A lot of the pages I tear out of home décor magazines show shabby chic, heavily French style, dreamy white/pink floral confections and other ornate fancies. What I actually live with is a mix of modern/plain/simple and a bit of French gilt.

A friend who visited my home for the first time many years ago was shocked that my home was not all English/French country cottage style. Her home was, and I used to love going from room to room and taking in the details.

I haven’t made a conscious effort to replicate the rooms I saw and liked. What I did was choose items which spoke to me at the time I needed them. Some are new and some are second-hand. I’ve ended up with ‘my-style’ which is actually quite different to what I thought I liked.

I made a cushion cover once, of quilted cotton cabbage roses in shades of pink, with green leaves. It was a beautiful, expensive chintz-type (bought as a bargain basement remnant of course, I’m a thrifty girl). The back was lined with layers of calico and fastened with small, creamy rose-shaped buttons which were recycled.

That poor cushion always looked out of place, no matter where I put it – on the bed, on a chair, on the sofa. It then went into the linen closet (minus its inner). Perhaps I should gift it to someone whose style suits it.

The colours I have ended up gathering around me are: mushroom, taupe, camel, caramel, white, cream, licorice and black. Lots of cream and white balanced with the neutrals and a small amount of the darker colours.

A colour I would really like to introduce is the burnt orange of a Veuve Clicquot label. I’m not influenced by the French champagne link at all, really.

When I come home I need a place where my eyes (and body) can rest. That's why I'm on the constant path of editing. The home interiors images I am most drawn to these days are ones where there are clear table tops, empty spaces, room to breathe.

I'm certainly not a pointy corner modernist though, I love the worn-in goodness of old stuff, just not too much please, and the right pieces.

I think I am going about home décor the same way I am looking at my wardrobe. Getting rid of items that are not quite right first, and then slowly filling in the spaces.


  1. I'm just like you. I'm very attracted to the shabby chic and country French style but I know I couldn't live with that all the time. Particularly the rooms that are way cluttered. They make me want to sneeze because they have to be full of dust...

  2. hi fiona,

    i'm right there with you baby. i am driven to pare down. that is the only way i can describe it. recently i brought in all my blue and white that i have collected for 30 years. it's been in the house for a little over a month and i'm ready to send it packing. i know exactly what i want, it's just hard sometimes to let go of things that have been around for so long and they are loved. so fall is coming and that's when we are supposed to be piling it on and i'm afraid i'll be doing the opposite. one day i'll get it just right.


  3. I love the all neutral creamy whites and soft colours that evoke relaxation and Zen....but I live in a heritage designated Bungalow that dictates a lot of how I need to decorate within the parameters of what is's really my duty to maintain the theme in honour of the arts and crafts era.

    I do put my own spin on things wherever possible, and I live vicariously through many creative and talented bloggers!

  4. i think our thoughts match perfectly, when it comes to colors and things of beauty i think like you, somethings you want to be outrageously creative and feel happy!!

  5. I think it's a very good way to go about building your style of decorating. I love a lot of white and cream to brighten up the place and my home became much more serene when I painted the walls white and added more white elements. It's very restful. I'm drawn to French things that are a bit worn also and when pared with crisp white, it's exactly my style. I think introducing the burnt orange color would be nice. I've grown to love that color (but of course it has nothing to do with the V.C. label or Hermes box :) It's just a striking color that pares well with neutrals.

  6. It's so much better to have things in your home that are you, despite what the trends are. Like you, I admire a lot of looks but I don't have them in my house as they don't suit our family. I realized recently that I'm at the point in my life where I don't feel the desire to go out and buy things for my home - it's fairly complete now, except for things I see here and there that really speak to me. Your color scheme sounds lovely.

  7. Would love to see a photo of your cushion cover that you made. Can you show us one day?
    It sounds like you would like (or are already a fan of) the Kelly Hoppen genre of interiors; very soothing, relaxing, muted colors etc.
    I think our home space is like any other thing in our life; we suddenly outgrow a theme we always liked, or change to something radically different. But I think that shows we are still evolving beings. When we stop evolving and growing is when we need to really worry.Change is good!

  8. I had to laugh, because G and I were just having this conversation! I said that I loved the French/English country style, but it was a little too much for my own home. I like a more jeweled tone palette with greys. Slowly I'm getting rid of the things that I picked up because they would fit what style I thought we should have, and now can see the pieces that really suit us.

  9. Adrienne, that's exactly it - the thought of all the dust. And I'm too lazy to do that much cleaning. Less things lying about the home - less cleaning. Anne Barone says this in one of her books. Chic French women minimise household tasks to have more time for other things that are more enjoyable.

    Janet, you are the poster-child for elegant and simple style. I know what you mean about your blue and white china. It used to mean something to you and you made the effort and spent the money to gather it. It's hard to part with, even if you sell it.

    Leslie, I agree that what type of house you live in dictates your style somewhat. The pictures I've seen of your home are lovely, don't change a thing.

    Annie, that's what I love about having 'my style' rather than copying a look. When something really speaks to you that you wouldn't think 'goes' with your look, there's the chance to make a real statement. Good call.

    Stephanie, if I could move into your home tomorrow I'd be very happy, from the pictures I've seen. It looks so serene and stylish. I'm glad you're not influenced either by the heritage of the burnt orange colour :). I'd forgotten the Hermes box is a similar shade. Has Miss H been out much lately?

    Cherie, maybe one is a grown-up when one realises one can admire a look without wanting it for themselves? In home and self?

    Vanessa, perhaps I could do a giveaway on the roving cushion cover. It would definitely suit the shabby chic, English country style. I LOVE Kelly Hoppen, well the photos I've seen of hers anyway. They always evoke such serenity.

    Kalee/Marie, I've said it before, but you're just so advanced stylistically for your youth, it always blows me away. It's quite a freeing thought that you can choose what you like, and pretty interiors pictures you can like without wanting in your home.

  10. I've always been drawn to a more English cottage style of decorating, with touches of flowers, pinks and blues with a touch of yellow, and brass. I brought much brass and china home with me over the years from visits to England, particularly my every day blue willow dishes. I live in an old house with lovely wood beams in the living room and the whole thing fits together.

    However recently I've been finding myself looking at things that are a bit more modern and streamlined, and in a more natural toned palette. I'm also now drawn to different colours in clothing. I'm finding it rather disconcerting since it feels like I don't know myself anymore. Perhaps it's the influences of the FC group and some of the blogs I'm reading and my efforts to "find myself".

    I'm thinking that the English country me was the younger me, perhaps trying to recapture my roots and the feeling of "home". Yes ... I think this is something I need to ponder on for a while.

  11. Jackie, I agree that it can feel disconcerting not liking what you used to like. It's quite comforting to go back in time, so updating your home may feel like you're leaving those good times behind maybe?

    In saying that I think your home decor sounds delightful especially living in a cottage. There is a kind of streamlined cottage look. Where people take out all the excess and just have the few things that really illustrate their style. I always love looking at those rooms.

  12. I am now very much a neutral person when it comes to my home. I have in the past tried some loud colors (and I'm glad I did), but I now know that such richness can be found in classic neutrals with pops of color found in accessories. I completely agree with your last comment about paring down, quality over quantity in both decor and wardrobes. Perfectly said. Have a lovely weekend and thanks again for stopping by. :)


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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