This is a completely unnecessary post–a first world problems post. I have a roof over my head and homemade French onion soup currently in my belly and a very cute baby who gets oatmeal stuck to the carpet and a very good husband who painstakingly cleans up after him. So my basic needs and more have been met and there’s nothing really legitimate to complain about. But for a little fluff post–let’s talk about style.
My sister and her husband bought a house not too long ago and she’ll ask for second opinions about door knockers and bedside tables and whatnot. This has led to a lot of conversations about style. What is her style? What is my style? What is the significance of styling one’s home in the first place? And the more I think about it, the more I think about how social media, particularly pinterest and instagram, have either shaped my style or perhaps imprinted a false style over my true style.
I think in one way, visual social media has helped me hone in what I really like. Without pinterest or instagram, I wouldn’t have discovered and fallen in love with designers such as Ulyana Sergeenko or Stephanie Fishwick who have made me rethink the possibilities of things like fashion and calligraphy.
But at the same time, the thought of “what my style should be” increasingly creeps into my head. When I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed and picture after picture of perfectly unstyled-styled homes with exposed natural wood furniture and white walls and thrifted trinkets and treasures and bonnet capped children (okay, that I can totally get on board with), I start feeling like I have too much visual noise in my home (not to mention too much very plastic tupperware), or like I’m at the mercy of a home full of things that have unconsciously been thrown together and don’t really make aesthetic sense. And then all of a sudden this “simple living” that these bloggers and influencers espouse, feels more stressful and expensive than simple.
Some of it is a work in progress. I would prefer pretty weck jars to the tupperware. But some of it is just a difference in style. And sometimes I just need to remind myself to follow my own stylistic impulses rather than go where are the legions of followers are. So what is and is not my style?
I adore Joanna Gaines but I don’t want wide open spaces and the bright whites from top to bottom in my home. I actually weirdly prefer colorful closed off rooms which I think has something to do with my feeling that rooms should be designated spaces for particular activities.
I think I might die of happiness if someone banished me to isolation in an English cottage but I wouldn’t say I’m all that into the shabby chic, vintage, and distressed look.
If we ever bought a house with a subway tiled kitchen, I would never ever ever breathe a word of complaint, but I’m more into this sort of thing.
I love spode and wedgewood and milk glass and jadite and brass but l love it all mismatched together. I like velvet, tufted furniture but in vibrant colors. I like patterned rugs, floral wall paper, black and white checkerboard floors, and whimsical touches like this.
So I guess my style is eclectic, whimsical, vibrant, elegant, a little bit happily chaotic?
But styling a home goes so much deeper than choosing and arranging things in it. (I guess this is going to get a little less fluffy than I originally planned.) When I think about the house and home I truly want, I think about homes I’ve been in that were made beautiful by my experiences in them. I remember falling asleep on the couch one advent evening in the glow of our Christmas tree. I remember exploring the prickly hill my grandma’s sunshine filled house sat on in Arizona. I remember crowding into my stara mama’s kitchen playing board games or eating bread and butter or just being together.
And then I think about films or stories that feature warm and loving homes. Mr. and Mrs. Badger’s home in Narnia, George and Mary’s drafty old house in It’s a Wonderful Life, the Bennet home in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, Mole End in The Wind in the Willows, both the houses in Nanny McPhee 1 and 2 and so on.
And while many of the things in all those homes have usually been chosen with a sensibility for style and beauty, it’s the living, breathing community that talks and plays and laughs and reads and prays and sometimes weeps or is silent together that imbues the physical objects in a home with their power to evoke emotion and memory.
So, I do think, depending on the community (or the disunity) within, the most photogenic and home tour worthy home might, in reality, be a cold and tense place to live. And the more mismatched and rumpled home might be the most desirable place on earth. And vice versa.
I suppose my conclusions are more questions. What do you think the relationship between fostering community and styling a home is? Can you focus too much on one at the expense of the other? Has social media helped or hindered you from discovering your true style? Do you even think there’s such a thing as a true style? And how much does discovering your true home style or clothing style or whatnot really matter in living your life well?
Image above: William Morris wallpaper–always a good idea in my opinion.