Saturday, 29 August 2015

Personal Style and Home Decor

Does your home decor match or jibe with your personal dress style?  Sometimes people have homes that surprise me given their personal appearance and they psychology of that interests me.  I wonder if one of them is not a true expression of the real person, if the home is reflecting a great disparity amongst the people who live there, and thus much compromise, or if the person has two distinct style preferences.  It could be a budgeting preference as well, with money and effort put into one but not the other.  I have been through times in life when most of my home decor was hand-me-down or good enough second hand purchases and did not express my personal taste terribly accurately.

I am mulling over this while I eat scrambled eggs, drink my first coffee of the day and watch the stormy sky out my window.  My attention tends to turn from home style to personal style with regularity.  I can only focus on one or the other and recently my attention is turning back to my home.   There isn't a budget for any spectacular changes, as much as I loathe my kitchen floor, but I've been dedicating some of my limited energy to cleaning out cupboards and really evaluating what I have and what I need.  It's a bit shocking how extra unneeded or inappropriate stuff can accumulate and I aim to be better at not letting that happen.  I will never have a minimalist home decor aesthetic ( or at least it is highly unlikely) because that feels cold and impersonal to me, but I dislike what feels to me like clutter.  Everyone's definition of clutter is different, as is the concept of what is part of a comfortable and happy life. 

I was raised to be conservative and practical about life.  I was raised by people who held onto many things for that just in case moment.  It's called the Depression Mentality, referring to people who lived through The Great Depression and had to make do and mend, do without, and who saw the value in every scrap piece of string or paper.  Two generations past this Great Depression and I still fight off that mentality.  My ex husband has it even more strongly than I do and the clutter of our shared home affected me deeply.  At the same time, as soon as I left that environment and set up house on my own, I was driven to accumulate all the right items that would make me prepared for anything.  I am now the confused owner of three hand saws. 

During this time of establishing myself as a single woman after so many years as a wife, there were other significant changes going on as well.  My body finally made it clear that this particular body with its chronic auto-immune disease was not cut out for employment, and I let a career that is of the type that tends to define you.  I went from being a wife with a busy family life, semi-custom home in a good neighbourhood, an Elementary school teacher and woman with an illness she tried her best to hide, to a single woman with a grown child, a debilitating illness and no employment.  I lived in a rented apartment and had taken less than my legally alloted 50% of the shared posessions because I was moving into less than 50% of the shared living space.  I accumulated things at a somewhat shameful rate, building a new nest, anchoring myself into it with the weight of possession, experimenting with living according to my tastes and  mine alone.

Eventually, after gaining weight due to ten years of extreme stress and illness and not paying much attention to my clothes, I began to pay attention, to want to dress with some style that expressed who I was at that moment, and I also began to lose the weight.  I lost 30 pounds, in addition to the 180 pounds I shed the day I moved out of the marital home.  I had a new body to dress, but it also felt like my old body.  It was like getting the original me back and I was excited to dress it. But how should I dress it?  I wanted to express my newest self, I had the freedom of being able to wear anything I wanted because there was no dress code in this new life.  I've always had an aesthetic preference for dramatic, artsy, boho, colourful, creative things and I was experimenting with that in my home so it was time to put it on my body.

I wanted very much to shed the more traditional and conservative guise that had covered most of my life. It did not feel like the best fit but something more forced on me, what I had been taught was good taste.  I did not want to be boring, or typical or look like everyone else.  I did not want the pearls and twin-sets wardrobe any more either, although that did not look like everyone else in my environment except my immediate family.  I come from a long line of very tasteful dressers, and I did not want to be tasteful, I wanted to be creative and different.

On this journey I learned a few things and almost came full circle.  Not quite, as my home has a definite bohemian-style spin on traditional but my style of dressing myself has settled into something much less dramatic, colourful and creative than I had originally aimed for.  How and why did that happen?  It turned out that I can admire and appreciate certain aesthetics but not live with them, and particularly not live with them on my body.  While in my home I will never be a minimalist, my style of dressing is heading towards a more minimalist expression that I had expected.  I had not taken into account comfort when I thought about what I liked.  I had only considered appearance.  I learned much about my physical and emotional comfort in my clothing experiments and I confirmed that while I am a creative person I am not a dramatic person, I am not bold and I am not seeking to stand out.  I am seeking to feel authentically me, to look good but for people to see me and not the clothes.  If they do not see me at all because my style does not stand out, I am quite comfortable with that. 

My artistic expression is very colourful and bold and that seems to be enough for me.  I paint the style that I cannot wear and  I live in a home that also expresses a style I cannot wear.  I use the word 'cannot' as an emotional thing.  I cannot feel relaxed and comfortable in a dramatic outfit.  It exhausts me to have to perform a role that my clothing dictates and that is not what personal style should be about at all.  I did not want to look boring because I am certain that I am not a boring person.  You may think differently if you have actually read to this point in my essay!  I thought that in order to not seem boring I must not appear boring or dull or simple.  I have changed my mind.  If you meet me, I do not want you to remember what I wore, but who I am, how I made you feel, what I said, how we laughed together.  If you do not care to meet me because I do not look interesting, well that's just fine with me.  I don't have the energy for a lot of people in my life.  I prefer to give my best to a limited number just as I prefer to pour my creative expression into my art and to my home.  You might wonder at the three, home, self, art, not seeming to match up.  Or you might not.  You might not be an excessive thinker like I am.

The storm that was approaching when I began to write this is now raging.  I sit here feeling very much at east in a pair of jeans and a favourite white tee shirt.  It's a minimalist outfit in line with any you might find in a book or on a website illustrating minimalist chic, but with my own twist.  I am adorned with my typical selection of intricate silver earrings and finger rings.  My toenails are a deep rose-pink colour.  It is simple, personal and feels like home.  I am surrounded by colourful things I love, books are stacked around me, objects collected, purchased and found, paintings, plants and cat fur.  My scrambled eggs were delicious (I always add a little bit of herbed soft goat cheese.)  and I am ready for a second cup of coffee.  In the spare bedroom is an intimidating pile of clothing, housewares and other items that need to be boxed up and sent off to charity.  It took five years post marital separation, but I finally know who I am and it feels good.

25 comments:

  1. Beautiful essay, Shawna! We have to be true to ourselves, even if others do not understand what we are doing, why, and how - if you feel content and true with your many expressions, then it is right for you, and it's nobody else's business how you or your home look like, and what your arts is. And then, everything moves and changes too. In five years, we very well can be yet somewhere else in our journey.

    It is getting very windy here. I'm welcoming Fall. I happen to be in the mood for everything - personal style (Fall always inspires me), home reorganization, purging my closet, writing - I want it all! Fall is always a new promising beginning after the craziness of Summer.

    Sending my love and hugs!

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    1. I too find Fall to be a feeling of fresh starts. I thought that was because I've spent most of my life in the school system. After all, there is spring where nature renews and most cultures have a calendar New Year, but fall has always been when I do big cleanings and purgings and feel I am starting fresh.
      We've had two storms or a storm that rested and then continued. I rather like it. Love and hugs back at you! xoxo

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  2. Good for you, I so glad you're feeling comfortable with yourself ... thats the most important thing of all in life.
    I think I dress and decorate in the same way ... I keep it simple ... if I love it, it comes home with me :0)
    xx

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    1. I love too many things for that approach! LOL.

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  3. Feeling comfortable is the only thing that matters, in the end. And the key word here is FEELING, as in not analysing, thinking, intellectualising... And it seems that you're getting there. Maybe there's a minimalist in you, after all...
    As for me, no, my home does not reflect my inner self. I live out of a suitcase, have been doing that since I was 9. I've moved about 30 times in my life, and I tend to think of a flat / house / home as something temporary, so why bother with decorating. Of course, I've lived in my current flat for about 13 years (which is a lot longer than I've ever lived in any one place, including in my childhood...) but I still think it's temporary... It's in my head, this 'living-out-of-a-suitcase' mentality. And I would be perfectly happy if I could fit all my possessions in one suitcase...

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    1. Comfort matters hugely! I am not sure if there is a minimalist in me but I definitely crave simplicity and am on a journey to find out what that means for me. And I have learned that I don't want to think about my clothes much. I don't think I would be happy moving a lot and living out of a suitcase but on the other hand I know I can find happiness in most situations. Just not my previous marriage.

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  4. Interesting.
    I am currently working through this as well.
    My style and house decorating are both becoming more minimalist...not hard!
    I feel the need for large simple shapes in dressing and quieter colours in decorating. However that is harder to achieve.
    So glad you found some peace! Xo Jazzy Jack

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    1. Would life be any fun if we had the same taste from birth? I'm not sure, though in many ways I've come full circle. You look great in jewel tones, but maybe using them more monochromatically or using cooler tones most would feel more calming and quiet. Of course it's a very personal thing. The large simple shapes seem suited to you and are perhaps a different kind of dramatic than a riot of colour and fabric. xoxo

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  5. Nice essay, buddy. Honest and lucid. You're right -- we don't need a hundred friends, just a few really good ones.

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    1. Thanks, and I am fortunate to have a beautiful mermaid as a friend! xoxo

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  6. Hey Shawna, So glad you are at peace ... that is the most important part!

    Three handsaws? That really got me giggling!

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  7. seems your style teenage years are over :-)
    i lived my whole (adult) life with hand me downs, street and fleamarket finds - furniture and clothes. still do. but what i owned it always was/is my own, personal style. and i style my home and my body only to please myself. furniture and dec and clothes have to meet my very own definition of esthetic and comfort - and comfort is very important for me!
    so stylistic i was never young ;-)

    don´t forget to donate 2 of your 3 saws.....
    xxxxxxx

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    1. I was more stylish as a teenager so I guess I had to go through the process eventually and I just delayed it-lol. I am sure I will donate a saw or two as I go through my purging process. I donate to the local Women's Shelter so if they don't need any saws they can sell them for the cash! xoxo

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  8. So well written Shawna. I'm glad, despite the time it has taken, that you are comfortable with who you are. I'm afraid I'm not good at home decor, I just tend to live in mess and clutter! I'm definitely more stylish than my.home! Perhaps if I.buy my own house, it might change.x

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    1. Thank you, Kezzie. I don't think being good at home decor is a needed or even important thing if it does not interest you, but in my own experience owning my own place has often contributed to more interest in it than if it is a rented home. You are certainly very stylish but I might expect to find you living in a Tardis. xoxo

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  9. Such a beautiful thoughtful post. I very much relate to so many things that you have expressed here. Isn't it interesting that as our life gets a bit smaller it also gets much richer?

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    1. Good point, Connie! I am quite happy to take small and rich, like a nice slice of cheescake! xoxo

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  10. Such open and honest candor. If I could get a new body for you Id ship it despite the cost. You mind is so active compared to what your body will allow. Seems to me that instead of losing a husband and a house and a job (career) you gained self knowledge which is priceless. I too can't reconcile why I would want to dress like a Kim Kardashsian, Barbie doll female. They look so artificial.All of that female sexual objectification is not necessary to find a mate if that is the objective. Decorating my home has just evolved. I bought furniture 15 years ago when I moved into a new home and it is still there and I still like it. Maybe my look is dated but I really don't care. I'm like you fewer friends but truer friends. Hope you keep posting really like your ideas.

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    1. Thanks, Adrienne, you make some good points. I'd probably have difficulty choosing a new body-lol-with all the options for colour and shape. I might not get it right and then I'd have to write more essays.

      I'm glad you still like your furniture 15 years later. I think we eventually stop caring if things look dated if we are sure of what we like. Some people are as swayed by trends in home decor as they are in clothing, but having said that trends sometimes dictate all that is available in the shops at the time too. My ex- mother in law very happily updated her seventies home decor to a distinct eighties look. She did this in the 2000s and is perfectly happy still. :-)

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  11. Like Kezzie, I am useless at home decor and all my interest and effort goes into what I wear. It's so much easier, and doesn't get compromised or messed up by anyone else!
    I'm glad you have reached a place where you are content with yourself, Shawna. Clothes, home, they express us, yes, but they don't define us. Our words and thoughts and beliefs go further in doing that, and I am always pleased to read yours! xxx

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    1. I wonder if your home has just naturally evolved a distinct style though. If I would perhaps walk in and say 'oh yes, Curtise lives here!' Thank you for this very lovely comment. I might almost accuse you of being sweet but I know you'd have an allergic reaction! xoxo

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  12. When I wore a uniform for 120-plus hours a week my home was the only place I could express myself. I changed the colour scheme god knows how many times and complete strangers would knock the door and ask to look recound as the outside looked as mad as the inside did.
    Nowadays the way I dress and my home are the same, a mix of vintage, inherited, tat picked up in markets around the world or found at car boot sales and, as visitors tell me, an accurate reflection of the two people who live there.
    This post bursts with positivity and hope and it makes me happy to read it! xxx

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    1. From what I see of what your home and your dressing style express it's no wonder people knock on the door. It's so fun, lively, and personal. I don't think my home is at all boring, but I was worried that my personal style was. Now I don't give a feck if anyone else thinks it's boring, I know what is right for me. In a garden there might be dinner plate dahlias as well as pale purple bellflowers. Both are beautiful.
      Thanks for you lovely comment, dear Vix. xoxoxo

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  13. I popped over earlier to read your post, but was called awsy. I'm glad I was able to return. I felt as if I was hearing the opening narrative to a sweeping motion picture. I wanted to know what would happen next. I was so happy to read your final statement - that is the best possible ending and beginning...to know thyself.

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