Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Style within domesticity...

In today's Gentle Art of Domesticity book study we begin the chapter on Style and I'll share some titbits from the first few mini-topics.


"Personal, domestic style is...a matter of confidence, of thinking about what you choose and not blindly following media and retail trends...It's a question of developing your own taste, being open to influences and inspirations, and valuing the significance of what is meaningful to you." (page 138)

Lately we've been watching the new season of House Rules on television. If you've never seen this program it's a competition between six couples who do makeovers on each other's homes. The homes are always in a pretty bad state, and each week one pair of home owners goes off while the other five pairs work exhaustingly on their home to make it beautiful. 

This is the fourth year I've watched the program and can honestly say it's been incredibly educational because I've discovered more about decorating style this way than I would have any other...and the best thing is that what I originally thought I'd like suddenly doesn't appeal any more. Over time my husband and I have taken inspiration from various ideas and finishes the teams have made in their allotted rooms and areas, and we've also widened our plans for what we'd like to do in our own home one day. 

What we do in our house may not be on trend, but it will be a melting pot of styles which truly reflect who we are. And I think that's what Jane is talking about...yes, be inspired by trends or someone else's style but don't be a slave to them. Be YOU. Make your own style.


Jane remarks on the joys of watching her children develop their own personal styles.

"The fact that they all came out of the same pea-pod does not automatically mean they are as alike as peas." (page 138)

Her daughter Phoebe decorated and baked the cake below... 

"The day she made it was an object lesson in the diversity of the individual philosophies in our family." (page 138)


"I suppose I am still an old hippy at heart. For one thing I think Bob Dylan is magic...in my study to listen to his brilliant Theme Time Radio Hour...His delivery, the word-pictures, the connections, the very simplicity and ordinariness of his interests, all rework everyday life into something special and memorable." (page 140)

Jane found Bob Dylan's rule breaking and creative approaches to making became her inspiration towards a touch of hippy style within her domestic space. She donned her previously unworn Missoni stripy knee high socks and thought the colours would be perfect for something knitted or crocheted. She also loved the way they matched her Flower Power quilt top...

She did eventually decide to let the hippy stripy colour inspiration into her crochet by making the ripple blanket we saw back in the Colour chapter earlier this year, but then made a second crochet ripple blanket (above) inspired by...


On a visit to Inverness in Scotland Jane fell in love with tartan.

"I amused myself by looking at books about tartan, and for the first time, I realised that a huge number of permutations in tartans all reflected local, natural colours; the reds of rowan berries, the purples of the heathers, the oranges of the autumnal bracken, the blues of the water, the grey-greens of the fir trees and the emerald greens of the deciduous trees. The combinations of subtle and organic colours are so clever and varied that you could never become  bored with designing tartan." (page 140)


"Great style should appear effortless. There should be no signs of hard work, no joins no lapses. It's what you leave out, as much as what you include, and I think this is why so many of us fail to achieve a single, personal style." (page 142)

Reflecting on her favourite style icons from the past - Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly - Jane singles out Cary Grant as being the one in her opinion who had pure style. 

"Whenever I am in need of a masterclass in style I watch a Cary Grant film. (page 142)

Jane lists her favourite Cary Grant movies:

North by Northwest (1959)
That Touch of Mink (1962)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
To Catch a Thief (1955)

I've watched two of these movies in the past, and loved To Catch a Thief - but can I confess it's Mr Grant's comic ability in Arsenic & Old Lace which really made me like him?


"Jam tarts have always appeared to me to be the epitome of cosy domestic style and the stuff of nursery rhymes, stories and teas. They evoke a warm kitchen, good baking smells, wearing aprons and helping mother to roll out the pastry. They are the ultimate in making-do - using offcuts of pastry and leftover jam at the bottom of jars." (page 144)

My Nana would make jam tarts on bread and butter plates and bake them for my afternoon tea. 
This is a memory which I let sit upon my thoughts quite regularly, especially when I'm scooping jam from the bottom of the jar. 

Nana would roll out the pastry for apple pie and leave just enough to spread across a small china plate. Then she'd spread the pastry with jam and after rolling the final scraps of pastry into long narrow strips she would criss cross them over the top of the jam like lattice before popping in the hot oven for ten minutes to bake. 

I'd wait so patiently, licking my lips, for the hot jam to cool so that I could go sit on the lush grass under our clothesline and break away chunks from the plate, every jammy morsel a treat beyond compare. 

As a mum I made the same tarts for my children and they loved them just as much as I...though I may have been more generous with the jam and not waited till the jar was almost empty.


*Kitsch means tawdry, cheesy, tacky, without taste.*

"I think the key to kitsch is a certain knowingness and irony. I am too much of a realist to be straightforward in my enjoyment of cake stands and crinoline lady tablecloths. I know that you know that I know this is all quite amusing and frivolous. But underneath it all, I am interested in what made these objects tasteful at some point....But what's not to like about a kitsch cake stand?" (page 146)

Her husband loved it, her twins barely noticed it, and her youngest daughter loved it.

Their house painter Tim "hated it and reckoned that anything I'd paid for it was too much. And yet he didn't turn up his nose at the fondant fancies and was quite happy to eat them when I'd finished my photography." (page 146) 

Our next reading will be pages 148 - 155 and I'll share that book study post on June 25th.

Well, we had a number of varied topics to consider in this week's book study so I'll ask you to ponder a few different questions this week.

* Which topic spoke out to you? Why?

* Who would you consider a style icon and what do you admire about them?

*  Do you gain inspiration from trends or are you confident in your own style?

* Do you collect anything kitschy? Tell us about it. I'm sure many would consider my collection of vintage linens as kitsch.

Leave your comments below because I would love to hear your thoughts and I know there are many others who would love to read them as well. 

I've had a rotten tummy bug for a few days so haven't ventured far but bless me, the worst is over and I'm on the mend. 

Mr E watches me like a hawk when I'm under the weather and as we have real hawks who circle in the sky above our house I was beginning to wonder if he had them in his employ to keep an eye on my doings while he was at work.

Now, if you've been waiting for the first two blocks of Phyllis May's Kitchen to make it into my Etsy Shop you're in luck - it's there today along with a few more pattern additions.

I haven't forgotten about that recipe for my Cinnamon Scrolls, it's just been a hectic couple of weeks since Blossom's birthday and I'm only just now beginning to see things slowing down.
In my next post I'll have that recipe for you and a cute little freebie as well.


This month's giveaway winner is Bezaz!
Congratulations, I have emailed you and once I have your address I can post off the fabrics and threads. 

May our precious Jesus be your guiding light, purest love and eternal hope every day in every situation, bringing peace and joy to your heart and home.



Beth said...

I'd have to say my style is rather eclectic - I have a mix of Ikea, Op Shop and Handmade Furniture; my shelves are loaded with books, my tea pot collection, tiny cottages and jars of beads and buttons, plus a plethora of scrapbooking supplies. The walls are not just covered in framed photos and prints - I also have butterflies cut out of saucers and my own artwork (and that of others) gracing the walls. Lighthouses pop up here and there. Everything has a memory attached - something I purchased while on a trip (most of which are not your usual touristy souvenirs), gifts from family and friends, and items that remind me of family who are no longer with us.
I'm a huge Cary Grant fan. I've watched all four of those films plus a whole lot more; in fact I have all of those on my DVD shelves. One of my favourites of his movies is 'I Was A Male War Bride'.

Rhonda said...

Good morning, I’m a fairly new reader of your blog and I’m enjoying it so much!
My home is what I call “pretty comfortable”
I’m also a Cary Grant fan. He’s not really suave in Father Goose but it is so good and funny. We also like The Pink Submarine and Penny Serenade.

Kaye said...

My favorite style is vintage. I especially love the 40's and 50's style. I think some people would feel my collection of antiques might be kitschy. I love Gary Grant. I especially loved him in Arsenic and Old Lace. If I had to pick a style icon it would have to be an aunt of mine. She was so classy to me. Everything about her was classy. The way she dressed and her decorating style. She was my role model and I have always tried to dress and decorate as she did. I think about her often when I am getting dressed or when I choose something for my home.
Jam tarts-I never had jam tarts but it made me think about watching my mom make homemade coconut cake and it made me think about sitting at my child size table and chairs having a sandwich and chips that my mom made for me for lunch. Thinking of being a child at home with my parents makes me feel the freedom and innocence of that time.
I really don't get into trends much. I prefer to do my own thing.

TerriSue said...

Alfred Hitchcock loved Cary Grant. He used him and Jimmy Stewart over and over. Jimmy Stewart he could identify with. Cary Grant he longed to be like. Cary grant was able to go into any store and buy a suit right off the rack and it would look like a thousand bucks on him. I think I am only missing five of his movies at this point. It is fun to start at the beginning of his career and watch as he matured into the Cary Grant we all usually think of. Jim and I have always watched Arsenic and Old Lace on Halloween as it is supposed to take place then. His eyes in the movie are so fun to watch as he has to talk through them being gagged a lot of the time. Jim and I have never payed for TV. Instead we have a large movie closet that is mostly black and whites. I do miss my movie partner.

wendy said...

I haven't watched very many Cary Grant movies but I do like Jimmy Stewart and love to watch It's a Wonderful Life with hubby at Christmas time. Love that old house! My style is a mixture of vintage shabby victorian. I have a lot of old furniture handed down through our families that I love and hope my kids don't throw it out after I'm gone. I enjoy collecting vintage linens and recently made a quilt which I had sewn all my moms doilies on. I also enjoy collecting various old toys and childrens metal tea sets, antique sewing tools, and hand blown glass balls. My gram used to make almond tarts that were wonderful. My sisters and I would walk to her house on Sunday afternoon and have tea with her. Miss those days.....

Farm Quilter said...

My style...farmhouse?? I love antique furniture and have several pieces from my grandmother, mixed in with traditional pieces and my DH's new leather sofa and 2 reclining chairs (he bought them when I wasn't home, with the help of his youngest daughter...I despise everything about them). Every time I have gone to help family out of town, he seems to get to go shopping with his youngest daughter and buys something new (and to me, horrendous) for the house. I just decided that if he wants to decorate the house, I'll just let him do what he wants...I may dislike everything about it, but I'm not willing to argue about it any more. I'll just stay in my quilting room!!

Karen said...

Loved the fun of todays post! Style!!

Tammy said...

I do not follow styles and trends. I like what I like. Mainly plain simple furnishings for my home and jeans and t shirts for me. I do not like to dress up. I just like to be home and be comfortable or in my cotton t shirts and shorts . I didn't have much TV growing up . All we really watched was the evening news and Little house on the prairie or a few other family type shows. And I am really not much of a tv watching person now...I keep my hands busy stitching or reading . Congratulations to Bezaz for winning the giveaway..I do not collect anything at all. Guess I am just a boring person.

Tandi said...

Tammy, I don't think you are a boring person at all! Collecting life experiences and memories are a wonderful way of "collecting" too, never forget that!! :)

Tandi said...

Jenny, this is my first time commenting but I've been reading your blog for a while now and just love everything about it! Thanks for blogging and sharing your thoughts with us.
I used to collect a lot of things but mostly now it is more functional things like sewing patterns, fabric etc. I'm a vintage person at heart and love the 1930s and 1940s eras the most and so my style would fall in there somewhere. Our house growing up wasn't a very peaceful one, so now all I want my home to be is one of peace and tranquility, however that translates to decorating style.