Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Art of Personal Style | Series Part 1





I was telling a friend recently, who suggested I start compiling "mood boards" on Pinterest to prepare for the decor of another house (a home we've yet to even find) that these days I'm feeling slightly burnt out on such things. Not to undermine the handiness of Pinterest - surely there are great things to be said for a site dedicated solely to fluttering the wings of inspiration, but with that I also feel the threat of overdoing it. In part because I think we are currently so inundated with a scripted array of polished homes, staging, and on trend (hip) decor, that the uniform settings of such stylish homes has almost, dare I say, become boring to me.

It's not that these interiors aren't alluring to the eye - they are - utterly, but because so much of the same is what I see commonly praised and adored on social media, it feels generally void of any real or defining character from what I can tell. Rarely do I run across a home that speaks boldly for the person who inhabits it. For instance I think I'm currently following 15 ladies on Instagram with the exact same white country kitchen, bedroom, loft and mud room with the same peg hook littered with the same exact utensils! Where, on the other end, the much expected white walled / Vintage Kilim (insert overt green plants and macrame) makes up the other percentage, fostering it's own wild grasping 70's themed decor cult outside of the quieter, "cuter" country dream house.

All of it has me wondering if we've somehow lost the unique ability to personalize our home spaces with things we actually like, things that make us happy, in exchange for things we know fit a certain aesthetic we're trying so desperately to secure.

I'm victim of it myself. Absolutely. Realizing at certain points of indecisive rearranging / decorating (which I know we are all prone to whenever areas of the house fall in dire need of a little sprucing up) that some of the things I'm going for aren't even really my taste. For instance, the whole wicker and macrame 70's trend that set the Instagram home porn hub ablaze a few years ago - and swept me up for a hot minute too - wasn't something I might have been actually all that fond of had it not been for the million of photos I scrolled through daily telling me I should be. Like so many things, it's something I appreciate in other's homes but it only occurred to recently how much I was fighting my innate love of more plainly handsome, wood pieces with a sleek modern edge that I really crave, because I was trying to lean on trends the majority of people I saw on social media embracing in. So much so that I had a startling epiphany a few months back, struggling to hang a long vined plant from a uncooperative ceiling beam, when the realization hit me. "Do I even like hanging plants in my house?!" What I concluded, in a short sweaty afterthought, was, not really.

The naked hook hanging above the window stands as small evidence of my disgruntled awakening.

In that realization I began to consider more about what it was I like, instead of the onslaught of what social media tell breeds and clings to. I would argue that before, it was almost easier to settle on what we loved before the influx of Pinterest inspired house hunts overshadowed our inner adoration for things based on personal style. For instance, I has always been fond of a few things, no matter the trends of the moment: cozy clutter over sparse corners, natural jute rugs, worn leather seating, old Danish side chairs, eclectic photo wall galleries and scattered (off beat) art, shaker tables, and arts and craft style lighting. With a healthy dose of books piled wherever they seem best suited. Linen bedding, white quilted covets.

Through the years, whenever I've strayed too far from these tried and true basics I find myself caught in a constant state of cycling items in and out of our home space because at some point, they start to irk me. I've learned this lesson too many times with loudly pattered throw pillows the same as I did with my love hate relationship with bold Kilim and Moroccan rugs. Really, I prefer more neutral textiles and had I just accepted that in the beginning, I would have saved myself a whole lot of time and money devoted to pulling them in and out of my house. And as much as I'd love to incorporate that adorable farmhouse trend, I'd never be content if what surrounds me doesn't feel like an authentic extension of who I am. Messy bookshelves, muted bed tones, linen drapes, rugged antique side tables and swanky sixties side chairs. Classic lighting, shaker cabinets. All the same things I was drawn to with out first home. Nearly 12 years ago now.

In juxtaposition to what the most celebrated homes on the web seem to cling to (especially here on the West Coast) spending some time in New York this Fall was a serious eye opener. The lofts and homes I was exposed to felt exceptionally unique and far more daring in their embrace of off kilter decor entirely outside of what I'm use to here in So Cal which has basically become a stunted formula we're all recycling to a certain degree. The fig leaf instead of the ficus. The Turkish pillows instead of the neon stripes. The wool fiber hangings instead of the wild abstract art print. The white subway tile as opposed to the something (anything!) else. So much on repeat that at some point it starts to erode whatever sense of taste we might carry innately ourselves. And is why I feel so oddly attached to certain homes I go into, that convey a deep sense of individualism as opposed to anything else.

Certainly there are people out there who have a real knack for styling and making things they love work out beautifully, easily even, but more than that I think it takes a little gut. To follow your inner decor interests. And while I'm not claiming to hold any special powers in that particular skill, I just hope in my next home, given the chance at another major renovation, I'll be a little better about tuning our the endless means of "inspiration" being tossed in front of me constantly and put more time and money more where my heart is. Both with, and without the polished Gods of Pinterest there to guide me.




* photo of Dian Keaton's spectacular home, a favorite of mine since it landed on my mother's doorstep via an Architectural Digest subscription a decade ago, now routinely cycled on the home decor sites but clearly, refreshingly all "Keaton" felt and styled.



Consider:
Design Sponge on The White Wall Controversy  for more on the topic.




34 comments:

  1. AMEN! dear lord if I see one more picture of white/kilim/plants/subway tile/white farmhouse with wood minimalism/etc...I will lose. my. mind.

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    1. I mean, I think it's safe to say it's had it's fair run?

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  2. Yesssssss! This really speaks to me. Thank you for writing such a brave post. It's a good reminder to be nothing but our authentic self.

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    1. I'm glad Lyndsey! I just came back here, second guessing it so it's a relief to read it resonates. Sometimes I worry about my tone and how my intended message is perceived :/

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    2. The Instagram/fb/social media world is so beautiful in many ways, and it's also created a monster of comparison. I catch myself comparing or feeling less than. I look around at my eclectic/funky and often messy backyard and then see someone's perfectly manicured space and start in with the self judgment. It's total bullshit. I love my shitty old Volvo wagon, and I've a surrendered to the fact that my white sheets getting dirty the second I put them on the bed bc I have a dog and a cat, and a husband who likes to get his hands dirty. I love what Elizabeth said to me a couple months ago, "comparison is the thief of joy." It's true. Maybe you'll ruffle someone's feather and they'll stop for a moment and think about what really turns them on. It's worth it.

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    3. I hope so. If anything, it helps as a lasting lesson to myself. Not be ok with what I like, even when it may not be "photo worthy."

      Also, Elizabeth is full of good quotes.

      And, my white sheets are filthy always. And I thought I was the only one!

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  3. I think until the end of time many people will set trends and many people will follow them for far too long. Social media just exposes you to trend cycles and makes it obvious. But people have always tried to live in a way that makes them feel good, and lots of people don't really have the knack/the desire to create "new" or fresh styles, so they copy things they see make others feel good... human nature! And if you're discovering your personal style right now, your next home is bound to be more personally satisfying for you. So yay!

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    1. I totally agree. Social media is merely expanding the ease of which trends can be regenerated - which is not altogether a bad thing. And you're right, it is human nature. I was meaning more to focus commentary on the downside to doubting personal style though, in light of trying to stay "on trend." Which I admit to being victim of even though I think I've always had a sense of what I like or find "stylish" - I've had a harder time in recent years leaning on it because social media is now so inundated.

      Also, I don't mean to disregard anyone in particular who falls in the category of the above mentioned - off the top of my head I can think of two women Audrey Bodisco and Amanda Watters on Instagram who both do an amazing job at making these trends all their own. And by all means, whatever makes one feel good in their home is good by me. I love my white subway tile! Just seeking to point out some of the pitfalls of maybe "too much" inspiration sucking up some of our innate tastes. That, and basically my growing desire for something a little messy or unexpected :D

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  4. Oh goodness thank you for this, it's as though you've entered my mind. These "trendy" spaces can be beautiful for sure, but definitely a bit mind-numbing, and can feel a tad soulless especially on social media when there are pages upon pages of it to absently scroll through.

    That said, I do admire your style/aesthetic, and your boys always give me a good laugh!!!

    Christina

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    1. awww, thanks Christina. I appreciate that.
      xo

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  5. I agree with the above comment that following trends and sifting what's popular from what's 'you' has always been a thing... people used to look at magazines and catalogues and tv and movies... now (to a much smaller audience) it's instagram and Pinterest. It's funny because as someone who has always had a clear sense of what I like and what reflects my personality in home decor, I feel this way with fashion. I have much less of a sense of who I am with clothing, so I'm like... 'Ace and Jig, I guess that's what I'm supposed to like. But do I really?'...

    The main home decor bit that bothers me is the disposablility of it all. Watching the (fake) Eames chairs get shuffled out and the (fake) Shaker chairs get shuffled in... without any thought to the context those designs were created in or craftsmanship that's supposed to accompany them.. and I just picture all this broken cheap furniture taking up space somewhere. But then I also realize... who cares?! ;)

    Interesting to read! Oh and I have to say, while it's definitely over celebrated at the moment, subway tile will never go out of style. It's popular with good cause, classic and cheap. Like a great white t-shirt or something :)

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    1. First off, I think the fashion aspect of this topic deserves it's own post don't you? Another area we (most) all relate.

      The disposability is gross to me too. I regret not adding that to the above text but am thankful you brought it up.

      lastly, I fully agree with what you say about white subway tile. It's a classic for sure. We put ours in years ago and it's one thing I've yet to tire of. Mike loves it probably more than me so it's also another (rare) feature we both easily agree on. Mostly my examples here are just the most obvious things that come to mind. I'm not saying they aren't great choices or look beautiful in the context of various homes, I was more meaning to highlight the possibility of being stifled by them. Like if you secretly love navy tile but choose the subway because it's all you see most celebrated online.

      Jute rugs can be overplayed too, but I know personally I'll never stop searching for the perfect one.

      Thanks for your input Lilly. I've always found your decor inspiring because you do seem to follow your own tastes confidently. I noticed that way back when I first found you :)

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    2. I'm always on point with clothes, and always so very tasteless at home :D It's pretty tragic haha I wish I could afford really big solid wood armoires in corners and huge rugs, instead it's all side tables and runners over here!! Someday my at-home style will have as much personality and earth as my street style.

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  6. I am so guilty of following the trends, but feel like with age and a clearer sense of my own style it has become easier knowing what I really love. I can't imagine what my house might look like if I had been able, financially, to follow all of my interior whims, and it seems, as you say, you always come back to the same basics that feel comforting and true to your own style. I remember one of my very favorite houses was a woman who had very little money, but a very clear sense of her own style. She had a little girl named Apple and her bedroom was one of the best I've ever been in, she followed no rules, but it all worked beautifully. I love this post, thanks for sharing.

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    1. you raise a good point, Jess. Money, for all I'm concerned, has very little to do with great style. Some of my favorite stylist online are thrift enthusiasts and have created home spaces I find inspiring because they come from long collected items (things they truly love) and are paired with timeless, and some daring combinations so they end up feeling "lived in" rather than "styled" - if that makes sense?

      Anyway, I'm so curious as to who this online lady with the baby named Apple is. I think I like her already.

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    2. Yes, I feel like some of my favorite homes are the ones with family hand me downs, side of the road finds and gifted art. As for Apple's mama, this was long ago pre social media, we were in a small town and Emmerson and Apple were around the same age, but we have lost touch through the years. She was awesome though, definitely gave me confidence and a different eye.

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  7. Thank god someone said it. This whole Insta-Pinterest-buy-it-now interiors culture is plain gross. Whatever happened to buying things that you love as you come upon them over time? Now folks click a button and furnish a whole room! Real style is not really stylish at all I think

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    1. all I know is how rare and refreshing it is to walk into a home and feel the essence of their being in the corners they inhabit. I know a handful of people who (no matter what's IN) have always managed to create a warm, unique home vibe that serves as a reflection of them as a whole. Which I am drawn to most, even when it's way outside of my own tastes.

      These days it's become so easy for us all to be safe, and the same.

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  8. We were just discussing this on our girls weekend. You and I see eye to eye on this stuff. I sometimes feel like I have come to the end of the internet bc I see the same things over and over again.

    With that said I will say that I still love my kilim pillows (even though my husband and sister call them scratchy pillows and have put the kibosh on me using them on anything in the house), and white surfaces. I mostly love white because I tend towards the eclectic and a sparse background is a great place for me to start.

    I enjoy watching trends. It's at once nostalgic and entertaining. I can't wait for powder blue, dusty rose, beech wood and geese.

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    1. Totally agree with on white (love it for good I think?) and I have a few kilims I am fond of too, even though my kids hate them for being "itchy" and uncomfortable. It's just when I start overdoing things I know are "on trend' that in my heart of hearts doesn't suit me, I get irritated with myself. Like, shouldn't you know better at this age?

      Anyway, in five years we'll all be eating up powder blue living rooms and geese on the mantle I'm sure :D

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    2. Billy Jack Brawner IIIMarch 23, 2017 at 9:46 AM

      Love this post. Reading through comments and laughed at this one—as I currently have a dusty rose front door, powder blue living room, and a goose on the shelf. :) Funny.

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  9. Holy shit. Can I say halle-fuckin-lujah? Because, I tell you I've been thinking the same.exact.thing. That all of these pretty curated spaces are looking the same to me...like the same house, just arranged differently. I surely have too much Ikea, but it's the scandanavian design we can afford and that which makes sense with two kids ruling the roost and yet sometimes I have to tell myself...THAT'S OK! I have my kids artwork and my artwork and that of friends hanging on my walls...a cliche silk woven rag rug hanging behind the couch. It was my first purchase after I ended an 8 year relationship and lived on my own for the first time in my life. It may not be hip or 'on-trend' and definitely not Pinterest worthy, but that rug marks the first day of the rest of my life damnit! Anyways, I rant. Bottom line, thanks for the thoughtful post and the healthy reminder! xx

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    1. I couldn't live without Ikea - they are the best (most affordable fill ins) and they are up and up on current trends so it makes it easy to mix in.

      And I adore the bit about your woven rug hanging. It tells a story and means something special to you. I want more of that in my next space.

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  10. " I'm use to here in So Cal which has basically become a stunted formula we're all recycling to a certain degree." As a NY-er in LA, agreed! Be unique, be stylishly daring!

    - Greta
    www.mintyfrosting.com

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    1. NY was so inspiring because every house / loft / apt I visited felt SO daring and different from what I'm accustomed to. My best friend for God's sake, has what she calls a "Liberace Room" which is basically a hunter green dining space with fabulous art, bold gold frames, brass and bar carts. It's SO her, and I love it.

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  11. I went through my IG feed on a wine fuelled rampage recently and u followed everyone who posted repeated pictures of their peg hooks. if I were to do the same with those that only have white walls I wouldn't have anyone to look at anymore. My walls are orange. I'm a devout clutteralist and I really am not a fan of black and white photography. Needless to say, I only have like 100 followers. I'm totally down with that. I see how many times some of these popular accounts have to switch things up or buy new trends, and I feel exhausted

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    1. as soon as I read this, and logged onto IG - I saw the most stunning orange / red wall pop up on my feed and thought of you. And this comment.

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  12. I agree! It's so hard to remember what you actually like when you are constantly bombarded with beautiful images via apartment therapy/ Pinterest/ instagram. There is also the factor of not buying your forever home and wanting anything major you do to be appealing to the next buyers. One thing that has always stuck around in my head is that "constraints make us more creative" so I like to try and constantly be working with what I have before hopping on a new trend and buying something new, and as always sticking to my thrifting roots.

    I always love coming here to read the things you write ❤

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    1. Thank you Augusta. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      xo

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  14. I was totally going to comment on remember when dusty rose, country blue and wooden figures were the bomb dot com? Imagine seeing that on your instagram feed non stop! Maybe that's why the white/bold accent/fig tree trend caught on so dramatically? Because it photographs so well and isn't typically visually overwhelming on our scroll through social media. Of course now it feels overdone and over saturated and our eyes are tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. I will admit to having a few current trends in my home but one thing I find helpful when planning bigger or more permanent changes is how will this appear 5-10 years from now? Will it immediately look like a built in 201? or can I achieve a more timeless look?

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  15. Yes yes yes my GOD yes!! I've had thoughts about Pinterest and Instagram that are similar to this. Ive often wondered why I get sick and tired of the colors and patterns I chose for my home. Reading your post made me fully understand that I'm picking someone else's style, not my own. That's why there is no staying power. Thank you a million times.

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  16. I've been following you on instagram since you were pregnant with Hayes, and funnily enough just recently 'discovered' your blog and started reading your posts. Actually what I like most about your instagram feed is that - with the aesthetic, well-taken photos and the beautiful family you have - it still has a rawness (realness if you will) about it that always comforted me. Your life feels 'in grasp' (not sure if this is the right expression, I'm Dutch). And I think it conveys this feeling cause you (at least try to) stay true to yourself in your taste and thoughts. Really refreshing, in a world of pictures where we often only see glimpses of an overstyled life that just doesn't feel 'real'.

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