A New Way To Discover Your Personal Style
By Lynn Byrne. Personal style. We hear often that our homes are supposed to reflect that.
But how to find your personal style? Some lucky ones just know.
For the rest of us, famed decorator, Carlton Varney, offered this suggestion last week at the What’s New,What’s Next conference: look to the first room that you remember for clues.
It is a fascinating idea. And by the audiences’ reaction, there seemed to be some truth to the concept.
My friend Lisa, owner of the hot new antiques boutique , Reposed NY (it will be featured this fall on HGTV’s Ask Genevieve), happens to be the daughter of a famous photographer. With me at the conference, she immediately remembered her father’s kitchen:
“Vintage 1940′s – he painted the ceiling shiny black. The cabinets were painted white. The counter tops were old white small square tiles. The floor was black and white. There was an alcove hex shaped eating area off the back with a round 1970′s table. There were beautiful plants back there. There were French posters framed all around.”
Lisa says she still loves painted ceilings, even those painted black. She offers these two pictures of rooms that appeal to her because they evoke her earliest memory of a room.
Carolyn, author of one of my favorite blogs, The Buzz, and co-CEO with her twin sister, of Diane James Home (the source for designer faux blooms), also was at the conference and found herself instantly captivated by Carlton’s idea.
She describes the front entry of a châteaux in Belgium (a castle! Wow) where she grew up as the first room she remembers:the front door was “oak with glass panes into a huge hall with a marble floor, soaring ceilings (15 feet), a very large staircase to the right. It was sparsely furnished (a Louis XVI bench with a silk Directoire stripe fabric and a gilded mirror on the left wall) and had large double oak doors in the back of the room leading to the living room.”
Carolyn adds that the reason the room is so well remembered is that the girls made it into their playroom, dragging down their dolls and dollhouses. They even learned to bike and roller skate there.
I found Carlton’s concept so compelling that I decided to reach out to some blogger buddies who weren’t at the conference to pick at their memories.
Kristy and Beth of the wonderful blog, Design Chic, said they had “such a good time reminiscing and, more importantly, gaining some insight as to how those first impressions have influenced their design aesthetics.”
“For Kristy, that first memory is less specific, more of a bright, vibrant room, dominated by an electric yellow, perhaps cultivating a lifelong love of color. Beth had a more specific memory of an ornate French living room with a light marble fireplace, defined by classic French antiques and an elegant gold coffee table. It’s no wonder that her favorite rooms to this day are undeniably French.”
The blogging duo feel that this Beaux Arts Mansion in St. Louis combines their two memories and epitomizes a room that they would love to create and, as is always the result of the best design, love to live in.
When I asked Elizabeth, from Pretty Pink Tulips, what her first memory was, she said she really had to stop and think about it. And then it surprised her.
She said, “The first room that I “remember” was my grandfather’s office at home. He was a surgeon in South Texas and if you wanted to talk with him…this is where you would find him. Though the colors are probably not the same, this office of Stephen Danelian (married to cookbook author and celebrity chef, Lulu Powers) exemplifies what I felt from that room. The worn in leather of the sofa, the stacks of books, the family photographs and the light streaming through the windows. I can almost smell the cigars my grandfather chewed…never smoked. A true man’s cave before there was a term for such.”
According to Tabitha, the following photograph “could easily be our old morning room, it was in this room that blooms clambered over the walls and down the curtains and onto to the sofas and chairs. It was the brightest room in the house in terms of natural light and Colefax and Fowler’s pink and green florals thrived like their real life counterparts outside. It was a comfy room, meant for sprawling, reading the papers and taking early morning tea in…”
Colefax & Fowler
Susan, the “Preppy Princess” offered a snap of the actual room that she remembered. Although not so apparent from the picture she sent over (see below), her memory of the room is very appropriate for the writer of a blog on “preppy style”.
She remembers that the kitchen “had the whole pink 1950s-1960s thing happening, the counters were pink formica, the double oven was pink, even the refrigerator was pink!” She created the little diorama seen in the photo.
I wonder if Kirstie Alley’s kitchen via Hooked on Houses would do it for her.
Perhaps the most enigmatic memory comes from the author of the blog, Style Frizz. Known to me only as “K”, she says her earliest memory is of an empty room. I saw the following photo she sent over and wondered where she was going to go with that.
She describes a certain purity: the room was perfect in composition and detail. Today she says the room defines how she felt when she first met her husband: “He knew me fully and loved me just like I was.” Mmm. Talk about roots.
My earliest memory of a room? It was my first bedroom. The walls were covered in a wallpaper with sprigs of lilac and my bedding was lavender stripes. So when House Beautiful announced last week that purple was the hot new color, they tapped into my brain.
What is the first room that your remember?