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 lovely...in someone else's home.