Wandering Minds Want to Know

As I push furniture and measure windows, I am thinking about what I want. What I want, which is something entirely different from what readers want or what is best or what is on-trend. As I think it over, or over think it, my mind’s eye is drawn to a couple of things. One, was Thomas Jayne’s new year resolution at Elle Decor, “I resolve to listen to my design instincts. At this point in my experience and education, my first reactions are often the best ones.”

The second was in Albert Hadley’s advice to those who are starting out on Architectural Digest’s web page, “The best rooms have history and meaning: photographs that remind you of someone, furniture that has a story. Whatever you put in your house should be interesting. I may not like it, but that doesn’t make any difference. And decorating is not about dollars and cents; it’s an emotional thing, it’s passion.”

I don’t have Jayne’s education and experience, of course, but I think his resolution and Hadley’s observation go hand in hand. I’m making my home. Mine.

And all this ruminating led me back to the books, as usual. This Los Angeles home in Hancock Park was built in 1938. Almost ’40’s, the decade whose aesthetic seems to be wired into my hard drive. The grounds, the patio, the wrought iron awning, all delightful.

But the dining room ceiling, a modification of the owner, is an update that enchanted me. It’s dramatic and subtle at the same time, reminiscent of plaster ceilings of the past while being clearly modern.
Further, the collage panels in the powder room contain butterflies, the heads of which are photos of family friends. And what struck me, was that these details are so completely personal. Nine people out of ten, perhaps anyone whose picture was not included, would walk by that wall without a second glance. But for the owners it is a treasure trove of sentiment.

Hadley, again, “Decorating has never been superficial. It has always represented the best of times. Now I’m talking about the rich, who have always furnished their houses elaborately. But even a cottage is a castle to the person who lives in it.”

Image, top, from Thomas Jayne; next, a Hadley design via Arch Digest for an on-line interview; the profile in the magazine was by Mitch Owens; all remaining images, Classic Homes of Los Angeles, which I received as a review copy, by Douglas Wells; photography by Melba Levick.

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31 thoughts on “Wandering Minds Want to Know

  1. You may very well have one of the most exciting homes in Kansas when all is said in done, Patricia!!

    Art by Karena

  2. I am a new reader of yours, but I know it was fate for me to begin with this post. For some unexplained, random reason, I have been fretting over my "flat spaces" {bookcases, shelves, etc.} in my home for a couple of weeks. Maybe it's the snow that has kept me prisoner at home. Who knows – I have even considered asking a friend for help in arranging, etc. But this post gives me a peace about what I've done. What I have used are things that do have history and meaning to me. It felt right, but it's always nice to hear it from an expert. Thank you! xoxo

  3. What sage advice and creative thoughts.That powder room is fabulous! I have no doubt that you will find enchanting and unique ways to make your new house your own.

  4. Hey Patricia!
    Just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Stylish Blog Award! I love reading your posts. You blog is truly fantastic. Thought you might like to check out my post.

  5. Spot on. As my MIL would always say: educate your eye but listen to your heart and tell your own story. The rooms—and people—I am drawn to have a richness of history dings, scratches, warts and all. They're complicated, a bit unpredictable, humor always lurking, but always authentic and honest.

  6. great post. I always believe if you buy what you love it will eventually come together. I've gone from one house style extreme to the other and transplanted all my "worldly" possessions in these. Things that you love have an ease about them and I believe make a comfortable home that people like to be in. best of luck in whatever you're new scheme is.

  7. Bravo for following your instincts. I think we so quickly fall into that need for acceptance that we often do what we think others would like rather than what makes us feel good. I had a flood in my home several years ago, and as I was putting it back together, I decided that as an artist, I wanted my home to reflect my artistic nature. I took some risks and even went a little overboard, but it was fun and reflected who I was at the time.
    Can't wait to see your home as a true reflection of who you are.

  8. Mrs. B — that advice is right on — sometimes it takes some people longer than others to realize this — after 2 homes, we finally realized it with Linderhof which is extremely personal and almost everything has a story (some more interesting than others!)

  9. This post today is why I am loving this blog more and more. Mrs. B you are so grounded and yet so hip. You are someone I aspire to be like, both in humor and confidence.

  10. Go for it! Take your time! Your readers are "along for the ride" and wishing you success pleased to be a voyeur watching your progress.

    Please, for this reader, read the Aesthete's Lament post entitled.
    "Get Inspired: Madame de Pompedor" and read todays post also. The subject of the post yesterday and the comments are refreshingly on target with what I glean through your words, what you seek in the decorative design of YOUR home….ie beauty, quality and time honored character.

  11. it's great advice and exactly what a lot of people need to hear (myself included)

    btw, I love Hancock Park because it reminds me so much of KC. An observation that people here respond to with disbelief. Believe it, and you can have it for about a 10th of the cost.

  12. You have a great eye, great taste….you have all the tools. I know you'll make it special for you, your husband and your boys. And that's really all that matters.

    Enjoy the process!! And, thanks for taking us along for the ride!

    ~ Elizabeth

  13. I love everything Thomas Jayne and Albert Hadley do, so you can hardly go wrong following their philosophy. And that dining room plaster ceiling is fantastic with the branches and leaves breaking away from the plane. It is all very inspirational.

  14. Patricia, you have a wonderful talent to sum it all up!
    Make your home your own!
    This is my motto too!
    I can't wait to see your house taking shape!

  15. Love the pictures and love Albert Hadley's advice on creating a home…so well said! Looks like you have the taste level to create a fabulous home. I am new to blogging and really enjoyed discovering your blog through another (wish I could remember who) but I started one myself about 13 days ago all about the building of our new home and my passion for good decor and design. Please check it out if you have a minute….

  16. Love the sentiments…they apply to one's personal design aesthetic and to our individual life paths in general! Thank you for your inspiring words.

    Now, I am seeing a lot of color (which I, too, love—not that it matters) in your photos. Do you think you can really go all white with your walls???

    Can't wait to see how you align yourself to color in your new home. Best of life to you!

  17. There! You've found your dining room inspiration…now go to it, plastering a ceiling with vines and flowers can't be all that difficult. If you can 'paint a rug' – you can plaster a fancy ceiling!
    xo J~

  18. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I noticed that amazing ceiling immediately! I was so busy trying to place the house; I didn't mention it!

    Are those panels with the butterflies in the powder room?

    with heads of their friends? really? I cannot wait to see this book. I LOVE the personal (I had all the animals who live around our house painted in the murals in our powder room………but the heads of our friends attached to butterflies…….?? Can't wait to see!

    I totally agree with the philosophy. If it isn't personal….it doesn't belong in your house. If you don't LOVE it; it doesn't belong. I couldn't have said it so well……but I have "Lived"it. There is a story behind every single thing in my house…….and, as you know……..there are a lot of "things" in my house! (Lord have mercy!!!)

    Wonderful and educational post! Bravo! Mrs Blandings!


  19. I love love love the idea of those collaged panels in the powder room. It is always so much more layered looking to decorate with things that have personal meaning. And this house is obviously no exception.

  20. I can't wait to see what you do.

    That powder room is amazing! Up to now, my favourite had been in my former in-law's summer cottage; it was all papered with "The New Yorker" covers from the 30's, 40's and 50's.

  21. I just discovered your great blog & loved it. I'm just new into blogging & have just finished off my own blog on fashion & interior design.
    I had a lot of fun putting it together. I would love your feedback on it if you've got a spare minute.

  22. I also spy a wonderful side table (in the photo showing the butterfly mural) to the left of the blue couch.

    It looks to be petrified wood with curved bronze/metal legs.

    I live in Indonesia with petrified wood sold on the bike ride to my daughter's school. The picture is lovely inspiration……..I am going to have a sidetable made with a slice of petrified wood and those darling legs.

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