Friday, June 29, 2012

My Style Mentors

Alexandra Stoddard is probably my number one style mentor.  She talks about lifestyle and philosophy as much as decor these days.  She's the one who taught me to do things like put a single rose in old perfume bottles, like so, in the dining room:

 Her 1988 book Living a Beautiful Life is genius, as far as I'm concerned.  I'm such a sucker for all those existential, seize-the-moment tips.  That's why I also like Martha Stewart, sad to say.  I have many of her books and magazines and now I'm hooked on her radio network on Sirius.

Martha's talent is in convincing women they can live a life that she would have you believe she lives.  You know--an attractive, smart, talented, loving, gracious woman who entertains, cooks, sews, garden and LIVES in such an easy, breezy, elegant manner.

Well, we ALL could do that if we had her money.  And her staff.  And her marketing ability.  I, on the other hand, can never juggle it all.  When I entertain I concentrate on one thing at which to excel--my garden, housekeeping, food or personal appearance.  I can't do it all.

I love reading design/decorating/house/garden/lifestyle blogs as well.  I appreciate all the problem-solving tips and information about products I glean from these writers.  I just have to remember how intricately staged most of them are, however.  They're not real life, for the most part.  But that's how most people usually entertain, right?  At least for certain people.  I don't mind showing my family and close friends my garbage and filth.  But I have a dear friend whom I would never invite over unless everything's just so.  Our mutual friend felt the same way.  You just can't let her see your messes, because she has none.  I don't even think she'd judge us for it, but there's just no comfort level to let her in to the mess.

But I show my messes to you (here and the horrifying mess here), maybe because I don't know most of you.  I like to be real.  I know my house will never make the cover of a magazine; I just want it to function for my lifestyle.

My design style has gone through various combinations of fads, such as colonial, Victorian, cottage, Shabby Chic and now basically traditional with a tad of modern.  So another style mentor is Rachel Ashwell, of Shabby Chic fame.  She's skinny, pretty, and has a slightly snooty British accent.  She makes life look easy, too, by finding raggedy things at flea markets and making them pretty.  Well, last time I went to Brimfield everything was way too expensive.  All that's left of that phase is a white slipcovered, Pottery Barn sofa.  Her items, except those in Target, are extremely expensive.

By the way, you can only keep a white slipcover clean by covering it, like Lucy is demonstrating, above.

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