Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What's on your walls?

I had been married for nearly ten years before an unpleasant truth was borne home to me.

I had no style.

Specifically, I had no flair for co-ordinated home decorations. Nothing I owned matched or co-ordinated, and in fact, every single item hanging on my wall had been a gift from someone else. As I recall, there were some matched mirrors with designs etched on them, some kind of hand-crafted floral picture (in pink), and a truly hideous plaster bas relief sculpture thing with toadstools and frogs, hand painted and filled with nooks and crannies that were perfect for catching dust.

I had chosen none of it, but it hung on my wall, contributing to the atmosphere of my home. Only it wasn't "me." I didn't really hate all of it, but none of it reflected my taste or preferences. When we came to Poland, I left all of that behind, and decided that I would no longer put anything on my walls or in my home except what I truly liked.

And that was when I discovered that unpleasant truth. I had no style. I didn't know what I liked. I did, however, have some fairly strong opinions about what I didn't like.

Country: Dusty blue and pink, gingham ruffles, hearts, and ducks? No. Definitely a no.

Techno-modern: Lots of black and chrome with sharp corners and funky lighting? I don't think so.

Style-in-a-box: Pick a pattern and buy the matching curtains, wall paper, pictures, carpets, light fixtures, cushions, seat-covers, afghans, and welcome mats? No way (even if I could afford to do that).

Victorian: Frills, fans, frothy lace, ribbons, bows, angels, gilt, and more frills? Not in this lifetime.

Knowing "what not to buy" was a step in the right direction, but it doesn't actually get the house decorated. Sometimes I would stare at the shelves full of what-not in a store and try to pick out just ONE THING that I would actually like to have in my home.

Gradually, I began to discover a pattern, a common theme in the things I liked. At first glance, one might say that the things I liked were "ugly," but they were not. They were rough, somewhat unfinished-looking, but they were lovely in form. Many times they were made of clay or incorporated designs from nature. I still didn't have a "name" for the style that I liked, but finally I decided to call it "primitive." In furniture, I do prefer clean lines and contemporary shapes (but with curves, not sharp corners--the arts and crafts look). I like a touch of art-nouveau with a modern twist. I like things made of wood, metal, and clay. I like designs that come from nature, with a little bit of the unkempt still clinging to them.

Fortunately, my husband is willing to put up with this, although his tastes lean towards the black-and-chrome. I wrote all this out, because I have an idea that one of the things I'm going to add to this blog are pictures of some of the things in my house that I really like. I was in the states for a year, and I was in many, many different homes. Some of them were beautifully decorated...I do remember that.

But when I got to my house from the airport, I sat in my living room chatting with friends, and I was utterly struck by how much I liked all the things in the room. Everything was pleasing to me, and it does all fit together in a harmonious sort of way, although nothing was bought "to match." It took me an awfully long time to figure it out, but I really do have style.


Note to readers: My rejection of certain styles should not be considered anything except a reflection of my taste. I do not think my style is inherently better than those styles, just because I prefer it. I have seen tasteful country or Victorian decor that I thought looked quite someone else's home.


At 10:55 PM , Blogger Elinor Dashwood said...

Your style sounds somewhat similar to my mother's. My mom always calls hers a "Shaker" style - clean lines, rough-hewn furniture, whitewashed walls and bright open windows. It sounds unappealing at first, but when you live in a house like that it makes you feel clean, light, and airy.

At 12:43 PM , Blogger Phyllis said...

I guess I don't have any style either. So far, we've only lived in apartments decorated by our landlords. I wonder what I would do, if I had a chance to decorate? All I know is that I hate a cluttered look. (Unfortunately that's what our currect landlord and my husband love.) Your style sounds neat!

At 12:50 PM , Blogger Phyllis said...

Oh, I thought of something I know I like: plain wallpaper! Does Poland have the same plague of big, loud, ugly wallpaper patterns that Russia enjoys?

At 3:00 PM , Blogger Krakovianka said...

Phyllis, I hate a cluttered look, too. It's difficult to store lots of books without having a cluttered appearance, but I try.

Communist-era walls in Poland were white--plain white. What was (and is) popular is textured wallpaper. It's all bumpy, and I don't like it. I wouldn't say there are a lot of garish wallpapers around, although I have seen a few here and there--I think that's more Russian. ;-)

People are moving away from the white walls, now--colored paint is very popular!


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