Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Art of Shoe-String Interiors

Since I've been so distracted with organizing my trip overseas this year, I haven't posted as regularly as I once did. I hope all of you can forgive this. I promise things will improve once I'm settled.

But packing up all of my possessions - those that I can't bear to be without - had me imagining them in my new place. I don't even know what my new place will be, but I know what I'd like. I have always been crazy for interior design, since I was a child. It would have been a fine career path for me, but there were other things that called.

Designing the perfect interior is obviously art. The final product - we see them on the covers of all the glossy home magazines - is as beautiful as any painting. The people who create such loveliness are artists. I think it must be a wonderful job, especially if price is no object, and it's someone else's money.

But the interiors I love best are the ones done on a shoe string. There's an added excitement of seeing the wonderful vintage things that are used, some of them literally scooped up from the sidewalk, where they'd been left for the garbage truck, taken home and revamped into some charming piece. I've always been prone to discards and my own home contains many such things. In fact, they mean more to me than the items I paid for.

Of the furniture I'm shipping (and it's not much, because I'll only have to ship them back again at some point - I am a butterfly, after all), there are four items that were either on the street, being tossed out by a friend, or left behind in a house I'd bought because no one wanted them. They've become my most precious possessions. It took lots of elbow grease to bring them back to their true glory. A couple of them have considerable value as antiques - a Nineteenth Century English lady's desk, for instance. When I found it, it was covered with Gestetner ink. It had been used for decades as a place to copy documents on that noisy machine from the past. It had only one drawer pull, and a piece of veneer was lifting dramatically from the side. When I'd finished with it, it revealed its incredible color and patina, although I'm still not sure what the wood is...cherry, I think.

It still has its original green leather top. Don't you love it?

Originally intended for a grander city house than I'll ever have (or want), it still suits my style, eclectically mixed with all my other bits.  And so I present to you with what I think is the most charming of all. True, homespun, rough-around-the-edges, shabby, well-loved, vintage-feel interiors. A Beach Cottage. Even my lady's desk would look pretty here.

I found this link, and fell in love. Young Sarah and her family moved from England to Australia some years ago, could afford only the most modest house, wanted to be near the beach, and ended up with a fixer-upper cottage north of Sydney.

Her blog about how she transformed their home into a wonderful, magical place has become hugely popular. It seems all of us long for this experience and this house. Read as many of her postings as you can. You won't be sorry. In fact, you'll be hooked, as I am.

Which leads me to my other artist site for the day, Hooked on Houses. I was particularly intrigued by the section Julie had on houses featured in top movies, and excitedly found my favorite - the house - particularly the kitchen - in Practical Magic. You must have a favorite of your own. Go check it out, and have a good look at her other postings, which include homes of the famous. This is a wonderful site, better than chocolate. Really.

Is Julie an artist? You betcha!

I won't say "see you next week" because I'm never sure where my head is these days. It could be next month...but I do think about you in the meantime.