I think my love of decorating really started for me in high school when my sweet, patient mother gave me full control of all the design choices for my bedroom. I'm not saying they were good design choices, but they were mine nonetheless. Together we selected a beautiful shade of pale green for my walls, blue and white bedding, and a lovely four-poster bed that belonged to my great grandparents. I then proceeded to "wallpaper" over that paint with magazine cutouts (Got Milk ads, Vogue spreads, George Clooney, Carson Daly, Spice Girls posters, etc). My ceiling was covered with Abercrombie and Fitch bags. I had a rainbow mobile from an art museum, a lava lamp, dried flowers from dances, photos of my friends, year-round Christmas lights and my prized NYC poster framed (at least this was done professionally) hanging above my bed. Like I said, it wasn't exactly beautiful to anyone outside of myself, but I loved my room. It felt like me, and it made me blissfully happy to be in there.
Looking back on it I don't know how my mom mustered up the selflessness to let me do this to my room in her beautiful home. Did I mention she was an interior decorator?!? Bless her heart! I'm sure she cringed a little every time she walked by, but she never let me see it. It was this experience, my mother's gift, that opened my mind and heart to the power of design. I learned that what you surround yourself with is an expression of who you are and how you want to be seen. Your living spaces are a reflection of the life you live.
Thankfully my self-expression has refined and grown over the years. You'll be glad to know that I no longer hang photos of George Clooney or the Spice Girls. I do, however, take great joy in the art that hangs on our walls-each with its own backstory. My decorative objects have been collected from our travels, or from days spent scouring through flea markets with my husband. I have a side table that belonged to "Crazy Uncle Doc" and is well over 100 years old. On my bookshelves you will find antique books, my beloved House Beautiful magazines and our family bible. All of these pieces come together to tell the story of where we're from, who our people were, who we were and who we are now. I get that same feeling when I walk into my house that I had when I walked into my high school room all those years ago. It feels like home. It's not perfect, but it's real.
I hope I can be as generous as my mom was and allow my children the freedom of expression in their own spaces. Although, it's already harder than I expected. My daughter, Charlotte, recently mentioned that she wants to hang a Taylor Swift poster in her room...her beautiful, newly wallpapered room. There was also mention of a lava lamp...I'll try to remember to hide my cringes and allow her the freedom to create a space that makes her feel at home.
"Decorating is not about making stage sets. It's not about making pretty pictures for the magazines; it's really about creating a quality of life, a beauty that nourishes the soul." -Robert Hadley