Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bleh! or, What do I really like?

I've just skimmed a bunch of home style/design blogs, and I have to say, I do not like the VAST majority of what I see.

  • I don't like edgy contemporary. Never, ever have. Anything surreal, stark, abstract - not for me.
  • I don't care for "chic," shabby or otherwise. Shabby looks rundown and abandoned. Things that should be rotting in the barn don't belong in the living room. Non-shabby is very aware of how cute it is.
  • I like old-fashioned stuff that doesn't look old. Keep your tea-dyeing to yourself!
  • I don't think I like anything "Parisian"... hard to quantify, but this is just a preference. Combination of stuffy luxurious colors and textures with cold wrought iron and trendy "contemporary" stuff. Maybe it's supposed to be sophisticated, but it's not me.
  • I don't like too much obviously decorative stuff. I don't mind collections or themes. I mind lots of useless junk creeping out from every corner, shelf, and countertop, clearly chosen just because it fits the color combination of the moment. It's stifling.
  • I don't like minimalism. It's cold and unwelcoming, and just as pretentious.
  • I don't like overhead lighting. The shadows are unnatural in a building, and it tends to be harsh. When it's not harsh, it's too staged, like a set.
  • Bare floors are cold, hard, and unforgiving. I'm a grown-up rugrat who lives with bare feet and likes sprawling on the floor. Carpet is good.
  • There is nothing lovely to me in a neutral palette. It's bland and has no interest. One chair in an obnoxious color does not redeem it, either.
  • I don't like over-coordination. Not everything has to be perfect.
  • I don't like the trainwreck of colors, styles, and patterns that passes for eclectic.
  • I don't like most "Victorian" interiors, either. Too much lace, frills, and stifling luxury.

After that boat-load of negativity, what DO I like?

Typing up what I don't like really clarified things. Particularly when I noticed how a number of my dislikes are paired. I don't like either minimalism or maximalism. I don't like all neutrals, and I don't like all clashing color.

Here's the one picture I pinned, that I totally love. From the Antique Style blog.

Yes, VERY antique.  But it doesn't have to be very antique for me to like it, I assure you of that.  If I did, why don't I like more modern decorating schemes?  Antique influence is HUGE, and to be found everywhere except in the strictest contemporary/abstract schemes.

I think my requirements are that:
(1) It be pleasing to my tastes, which do incline to the traditional and classical
(2) It be welcoming and pleasant
(3) It be genuine.

That last begs some explanation.
  • "Chic" style isn't genuine, or real, to me. Furnishings and decor are deliberately aged, or bought because of how aged they are, and often put in places they never would have been originally, or where they would never have gotten their current worn look. And then often cutifying them with ribbons, lace, and doilies. Personally, I can't get past the artificiality and proclaiming that this is Shabby Chic Style.  This is by no means a criticism of choosing antiques and vintage items for their intrinsic identity or utility. Aging is natural.  I want a certain style of vanity table that to my knowledge has never been reproduced. When I find one, I know it won't be perfect, and that's fine with me.  The thing is, I'm not choosing it solely because it's imperfect.
  • In that vein, I like old things, or reproduction things, that don't look old. I love discovering how things looked way back then, when they were new and colorful and sturdy. I love antiques, but I won't fill up my home with them, because they're not always comfortable for me, and definitely not always for guests. I want them to enjoy my home.
  • I both dislike and don't mind decor/clutter. (Decor becomes clutter when it covers nearly every surface.)  It depends on what the clutter is. If it's "decorator stuff," yuck!  Open the windows and get me some space!  But if it's your own stuff, pictures, collections, your own dishes, I'm okay with it.  It's yours, you live with it, you genuinely like it. You didn't just get a load of random stuff that fit the decor colors, and which you'll unload in a year or two when you get sick of it.
  • I both dislike and don't mind clean, open spaces.  I dislike it when the effect is Minimal! See How With the Trend This Space Is!  I like welcoming spaces, and minimalism is very rarely welcoming.  However, I also like clear white walls with space on them, clean color schemes like blue and white, and a distinct lack of frills. Maybe it's my Regency/Federal/Classical side. To me, the color and decor, even if simple, are welcoming and soothing if it feels personal enough.

*   I like a balance of coordination.  I definitely prefer for there to be unifying schemes; it's relaxing. But it's stifling when EVERYTHING matches, and the space crosses the line into Decorator Set Piece. Too much contrast is hard to handle, though. The eye is jumping from one thing to another. My ideal is a coordinated space that yet has enough personal preferences and whims that don't really fit in to make it lived-in and real.

*  I don't like "Victorian" style because of the aforementioned overload of lace, ruffles, flowers, and cuteness.  I do like (most, not all) genuine Victorian interiors, though. "Victorian" style cherry picks the floral, the lace, the velvet, and the pink, but misses in other places: dark, solid wood; other jewel tones; Oriental rugs in strong, abstract patterns; portraits and landscapes instead of pretty girls; books instead of teacups; etc.  True Victorian style spans 80 years and there's a huge variety within it, but the modern re-interpretation is stuffy and articifical to me.

* I love almost all true antique interiors, with a particular love for Federal and early Victorian.  I like the spectrum of clean lines and light colors with classical elements, all the way to more intricate heavier furniture that's still not drowned in overly ornate interiors.

So a big theme in Balance. Not too much this, not too much that. Decided leaning toward the classical.  And over all, welcoming and comfortable.

Am I totally out in left field out here? What do YOU value the most in decorating?


  1. Reading this, I made an immediate mental leap to what I believe is a William Morris quote: "Have nothing in your house that you do not believe to be beautiful or know to be useful."

    1. I love that! It perfectly expresses the conclusion that I've spent years trying to reach. Thank you!