Tuesday, November 8, 2011
AN INSIGHT WHILE PAINTING THE BANNISTER
~ Charles Baudelaire~
Purchasing a house is like finding your spouse; you just know when it is the one. Our little cottage was by no stretch of the imagination anyone's dream home, the fact that it was on the market for several years is testimony to that. But the second I stepped inside, I knew it was the place for me. It was the odd little angled nooks, the rough old horsehair plastered walls, the little open landing on the second floor, even the sturdy old-fashioned clothesline that sold me.
Lately I've been thinking about what attracts one person to something and another person finds it ugly. You have a lot of time to think when you are painting lots of bumpy surfaces! Whether it's the clothes we choose to wear, the way we decorate our homes, or even the people we are attracted to, it all harkens back to our childhoods. At least I know it is true in my case, and it is true in most of the people I know.
For instance, I have always wanted to paint the bannister red. Why red? If you asked me to name my favorite color, red would not be counted among my favorites. Why have I always wanted a little open hallway? Then it occurred to me, that when I was a very little girl, my grandparents had such a bannister in their farmhouse. My grandfather died before I started kindergarten and my grandmother sold the farm soon afterward, so I have few recollections of the old place. Couldn't even tell you what any of the interior looks like, except that upstairs in their hallway, my grandmother kept her hope chest, filled with dolls and sock monkeys that she had made. And that is where my sisters and I spent many happy hours.
I've always felt most comfortable in small dark spaces. I call it cozy, but I'm sure that to those that love the open beachy or the all-white shabby chic rooms, would call it something else. LOL! Conversely, while I can see the beauty in those rooms, after a while I feel cold and uncomfortable in them. Why do I love small dark little rabbit warrens of rooms? Because as a child, I spent many enjoyable afternoons camped out in the den closet. My mother stored the blankets and extra bed pillows in there. It was the perfect place to wile away a rainy afternoon, trying to imagine myself into the cottages illustrated in the Little Golden Books, like Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White. For me, small and dark, signifies happiness, safety and love. I was always attracted to the cottages, not the palaces in my storybooks. Guess I was thrifty even as a child! By the way, that is why I have that rather gaudy wallpaper that you see on the walls. It looks very much like the stenciled walls in Elizabeth Orton Jone's illustrations in Little Red Riding Hood. That, plus the fact that I bought the Brunschwig and Fils wallpaper for fifty cents at a thrift store. (Another story for another day!)
Once a year, I go shopping with my sister. Recreational shopping is certainly not a thrifty thing to do! She always asks my opinion about what purse, dress , teapot, etc. that I prefer, then always picks the opposite! Although we grew up in the same home, our tastes are completely different. We have different experiences. If it has sequins, beads or something shiny, she loves it; I love tweeds, dressmaker's details, and somber colors. Reminds me of that old proverb, "In matters of taste, there is no dispute.". I used to come away with things I knew I would never use, after a day of shopping with her. She can be very persuasive! But after I learned what makes me tick, it was a lot easier to say "no" when she tried to talk me into the Barbie pink sweater or the Kathy Van Zeeland handbag. Pretty, just not me. Knowing who you are and why is one of the easiest ways to stay within your budget. Once you get that figured out, you won't be so influenced by fads, thus you won't have to cringe when looking back at old pictures and exclaim "What was I thinking?!".
What do you think? Has your childhood influenced your tastes in decor, fashion, and relationships?