Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Origins of Style
Part I

The other day I was thinking about what it is that truly inspires us in regard to our decorating choices. Of course, most of us seek and receive many inspiring ideas from blogs, books and decorating magazines.

A selection of some of my favorite books and magazines

Some of my favorite magazine sources are, Flea Market Style, Victoria, Romantic Homes, Romantic Country, Elle Decor, and the now defunct Domino. My collection of books and magazines is one of my most prized possessions because it continually sparks new ideas, which in turn, become fresh updates for my home.

But then I started thinking a little deeper. What is it that defines our sense of taste? Why do we purchase the books and magazines that we buy, while passing up others? What is it that causes certain styles to pull at the heart strings?

I think our sense of style is cultivated though our life experiences; from both from having, and not having, and from being exposed to various sights, sounds, and stimuli. For instance, I always tend to incorporate some elements of neo-classical design in my rooms. I believe this has its root in the fact that as a sixth grader, I devoured

Vestal Virgin from Roman Mythology

our class studies on Greek and Roman mythology. As a result, I sought out books and movies with mythological themes, and found myself day dreaming in scenes from Pompeian villas and classical architecture.

I also have a strong penchant for roses, old china and linens, and “girly” décor. Why is this so? I’ve had to think about that one, as my mother’s taste was completely opposite this style, and the houses that I grew up in were mostly done in a transitional decor, heavy on colonial style

Roses and Hats, and some of the vintage items I love

reproductions and interpretations. My mother’s color schemes were typically comprised of the popular color choices of the ‘70’s….avocado green, gold, and rust. When she did deviate to brighter colors, yellows, oranges, and lime greens were her picks.
Where did I develop my taste for pale pinks, blues, and greens? Perhaps this stems back to some of my earliest childhood memories at my Grandmother Mull’s home in South Carolina. Grandma Mull lived in the country and dressed in

Me circa 1978 in our 1970's living room

styles more suited to the first half of the twentieth century than the second. She was a talented seamstress who made quilts, aprons, and bonnets in some of the most beautiful old fabrics. She allowed me to play dress-up in her old clothes and flowered hats, which certainly represented an era long passed.
Her dishes were flowered and mostly chipped, but ever so pretty. To many adults in the family, these items seemed terribly dated and, if they’d had their way, would have wound up in a trash heap. But Grandma had a strong sense of

Grandma Mull

the past, and this was not her way. To a tiny girl these items were a vast treasure chest!
I can remember many times as a teen and pre-teen, hiking downtown to peruse the dusty antique shops there.
My purchases were usually limited to an old postcard or a chipped floral tea cup…all that my meager allowance would permit, but these treasures are still a part of my life and home.

Another thing that I loved about visiting Grandma Mull was that she always had lots of animals around.
I loved playing with her dogs and cats, and on occasion, she also had chickens and ducks for me to enjoy. But the dogs were her favorites and mine.
As a tiny tot, I remember riding her dog, Rusty like a pony. Rusty had endless patience and loved me dearly as I did him. Unfortunately he passed while we were away, and while he still has a very important

Rusty and Me

spot in my heart and memory, Grandma acquired other dogs who also became quite special to me. One was Judy, Grandma’s
German Shepherd Dog. Judy took me under her protection and was probably the world’s best babysitter. She’d position herself between others and me, and no one dared to cross her line -- especially when I was in

Judy and Me

my little plastic swimming pool! And then there was Penny, who appeared to be an Irish setter mix. From morning ‘til night, she was a constant companion; and of course, little Pete, whom we rescued from the roadside on one of my visits to Grandma. In looking back at old photos I notice that my current dog, Lucy, bears a remarkable resemblance to him.

Of course, being a dog lover, Grandma had lots of little dog figurines that I found fascinating. I can remember sitting on her sofa and playing with them for hours! I still have the ones I was fortunate enough to acquire when she passed on, and have added to the collection through the years, so, I’ll
have to conclude that my love of dogs, humble little dog figurines, old hats, chippy
rose-covered china, vintage linens, and most things old fashioned was cultivated by pleasant childhood memories of visits to Grandma. But there’s also an edgy side to me. Where did that come from? And how does all this come together?

To be continued….

Until next time,

Addendum: Click here for part two.


  1. This is rather nice, Sheilla. Just a note to let you know I visited. Funny I have a blogspot to. I rarely use it. In fact haven't even visited it for quite a while. As well as my Xanga site. Nobody comes. Enough of my depressing rant. See ya.

  2. John, Thank you for visiting. I know it can be depressing when it seems no one is reading, but you know what they say, "build it and they'll come"... Send me a link to your sites and I'll pay a visit.

  3. Great blog. If your love of all things old, flowers, and dogs came from your Grandma Mull, I can't wait to see where your edgy side comes from.

  4. Thank you Debbie! That post is publishing tomorrow! :)


Your comments make my day!


Related Posts with Thumbnails