Junk yard finds, diamonds in the rough

I am a big fan of seeking out flea markets and thrift shops.  People are either creeped out by my second hand scavenging or, they get it!.  My office is furnished with an American Art Deco dining room suite.  When I came upon this set at a flea market, it was tucked away in a corner…and not surprisingly, set up as a dining set.  I exclaimed that it would be perfect for office furniture or a bar. The proprietor was pleased that I could find a use for all of the pieces, as was I….maybe he was just happy to get rid of it, who knows:)?..being agreeable has its advantages when it comes to sales.

I store computer paper, and a million electrical/computer cords, that I have no idea what to do with!  Looks good to do that job:)

The chairs I recovered myself(I am patting myself  on the back;)…even though I was personally ridiculed by a Toronto designer who said that “animal prints are out”!  Oh really, ask Diane von Furstenburg, Ralph Lauren, …or me!  …o’k I am not an expert, but I do love animal prints; they are a classic to me.  However,  it is just like a person wearing the latest trend that does not match their personality, you can tell!  Be surrounded by what speaks to YOU, not what someone else thinks you should have.  Every view that your eyes fall upon in your home is its own Still Life.

Be the artist of your own life, interiors and otherwise. 

not yo’ mamma’s ferns:an ode to Dee Dee

Sundays are a special day.  It has always included some sort of bacon breakfast, plenty of coffee and a long read of the newspaper.  Pat and I save the Saturday Toronto Globe and Mail for a good read on Sunday.  I go through pretty much the whole paper, but the fun is in The Style section…o’k and Tabatha Southey.   My husband and I routinely discuss/banter and always laugh at Russell Smiths piece.  I enjoy Dee Dee Taylor Eustace’s column as she is a well-regarded interior designer and architect:  two professions that I would have loved to have done, if I had been told there was more to choose from than teaching and nursing…neither of which  I would be good at….O’k, maybe I would have required to study harder too.  Anyway..

I developed a migraine today when Dee Dee(we are on a first name basis, though she doesn’t know that), slammed my beloved ferns!  Crushed my deep love for plants big and small!  Threw out to the millions reading her column that, …wait….I am hyperventilating….paper bag….breath…o’k….”the houseplant as decor is a dated idea.” !!!!! It gets worse!  ” As for ferns, keep them in the garden.” GASP!  Oh mon dieu!  I will allow that Dee Dee never grew up with Dr.Joseph Aloysius Kearns as her grandfather, but if she had, she would know that plants not only beautify a home, but clean the air too.  Literally, plants breathe life into a room by taking out the carbon dioxide, and replacing it with oxygen! Just a little old fashioned advice dedicated to my Grandpa:)  Saying that ferns have no place in your home, is like saying that parsley has no place in the kitchen!..how to make gremolata? how to finish most European dishes? ..and I don’t mean with a sprig.   How to make tabbouleh?  Parsley and ferns…. provide a pop of fresh colour, improves your health and is beautiful in a humble and classical way.

I am having a flash-back to just over a year after the explosion and we had moved back into the house; I invited a well known interior decorator from Toronto to help me put the house back together.  I was struggling with scale, colour, and lacked focus…among other things, effects that the blast had on my brain.

When I had the decorator come into our home to help put this humpty back together, I certainly wasn’t anticipating yet another crack up side the head.  Cruella, (my pet name for her) came in, scanned the entry and open space before her, dropped her coat on the hall chair, then pronounced : “No Plants!  Plants are passee.  Fresh flowers yes, plants no.”  Admittedly, she was looking at my trio of “snake plants” or  ” mother-in-laws tongue”, and I later agreed.  Not because the plants were not appealing, but because even symbolically I didn’t want a sharp mother-in-laws tongue in my house;)  Bad feng shui!
She then decried : ” animal prints are out, furs are out, and PLEASE change that china cabinet!…or at the very least cover the glass. ”  Well, as you can see, I did not heed her advice, nor take kindly to her brutal criticism of my home; my fragile nest.  What I thought I needed was guidance to make our house a home again.  The underlying lesson was that no one could do that, except me and my family.  Sometimes life delivers you the lessons that only you can learn.  We needed to step up to the plate and not look for someone else to fix things.
We all know people whose homes you walk into and there seems to be no scent of the inhabitants.  Sterile or messy it doesn’t matter, they evoke the same impression:  who are the people that live here?  I wanted, craved to have our home reflect our lives….not the lives or views of someone else.  If I want to put zebra on my chairs, I will!  If I want to put a fur (yes, real) throw on my bed or chair, I will.  If I want to put china in my china cabinet…say it’s not so!….oh yes,.I will!  Each gesture pointing to philosophy and interests.  If the antlers on the wall are from the previous years hunt by my husband, then not only will that happen, but you can bet that we will be gushing with pride as we serve you beautiful, luscious venison on our wedding china!
I don’t want to join our local Mennonites in their colony, but I do want to support them and enjoy their offerings.  I don’t want to be a vegan, but I do support a thoughtful approach to eating.  I really don’t want to be a decorator, but sure want to support the good ones.  Not all decorators are condescending, controlling people.  In fact, there are fabulous, thoughtful, intuitive designers out there that can guide and challenge you to find your own vision.—then help you execute it.  Great designers are a blessing; they skillfully and sometimes dramatically help you to reflect in your home, external manifestations of your self.  This is spiritual undertaking fit for those ready to exhume and dispatch of the old and unnecessary, and then seek out and embrace your present, conscious realization.
This I wish for you.  Living in a home that reflects your family is transformative and energizing.  Just as you should surround yourself with people that bring beauty, authenticity and support to your life, so should you surround your self with ” the things”  in your life, that honour, support and uplift you.