Inspiration is everywhere, especially now in today’s social media world. However, “back in the olden days”, we had no internet. That seems weird to think about. How did we ever get along? But starting off in the early 80s, as a young married couple, there were a few experiences that began to shape my style. For it definitely was the EXPERIENCE of discovery that piqued my interest and got me daydreaming of what my style would be.
When I was 14, I got my first piece of milk glass from my maternal grandmother. Mind you, this was a BIG DEAL as this woman didn’t save anything, but how I ended up with it escapes me now. There are only a few items that I have from my mother’s mother Stella, and this was the start. The piece is a hobnail perfume decanter and once I held it’s perfectly white loveliness in my hands, I was hooked. I began shopping for vintage items, and this was back when NO ONE was doing that, but there was a little shop that had popped up in the valley outside Los Angeles where I grew up and I made it my weekly haunt as soon as I got my license. The year was 1980. (Side note: I did not set out to start a collection over the years to just look at. We use our milk glass dishes everyday, and did actively while the kids were growing up. I am totally against plastic cups and banished them once the kids were no longer toddlers. They never once broke a glass, as they were always very careful, I think it made them feel grown up. If one had broke, there would have been another to find on the next hunt.)
Ironically enough, I was in search of a hope chest and that led me back to my grandmother, who had one in her garage she was willing to part with. It was old and dusty and she couldn’t even believe I wanted “that old thing”. While digging it out amongst the dust, my eye caught sight of an old looking ‘metal bucket’. I picked it up and inquired if I might take that too? Her response, “oh that old thing, sure. I was going to throw that out. Maybe you could put a plant in it.” It appeared she had, as the bottom was caked with dirt, but as I took it home and cleaned it up I discovered it was a sterling silver ice bucket! Between the old hope chest as my first refinishing project, and the find of the silver ice bucket, I was pretty much hooked. Vintage was where it was at!
My dad was (is) an avid reader, and I spent many hours watching him read, playing at his feet and reading my own pages. The library was always a place we visited, and although most of my stops involved some sort of research for a school project (once again, NO internet) I began to notice decorating magazines. I would read as much as I could, and come home and daydream about houses and redecorating them in my mind. Occasionally the home section of the LA Times would feature chic homes in Hollywood or some up and coming designer, and I devoured each word. My parents were NOT travelers, so my escape furthered in the pages of our family WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIAS. Seriously, I wasn’t too much of a book nerd (even though it sounds like it) but I spent a lot of time reading about far off places. Good thing the Lord sent me a wonderful man to marry that likes to travel, cause I was ready to go!
The Life That Was Lived There
The home I grew up in, I would say, was generally a happy place. I don’t know if everyone there was happy, but being the baby in the house, I was most of the time. This was the era of creative play, making mud pies in the yard, performing impromptu variety shows for my family (The Jill Show was super cool LOL), riding bikes through the neighborhood, and hanging out with your friends. My parents were a beautiful couple, who occasionally stepped outside their daily life and surprised me by doing something chic.
In the 60s they had dinner parties, where mostly I was banished to the upstairs, but would sneak down and end up under the dining room table listening to their conversation and staring at the painting I loved on the wall. (Side note: in the earthquake of ’71, I remember running down the stairs and heading for the dining room where our emergency plan was to hide under the sturdy table, when as I slid into place, I looked up to notice that my mother’s gorgeous crystal chandelier was swinging from side to side as the earth quaked and touched each side of the ceiling.) I also remember one year that they threw an anniversary party for their closest friends that were in the music industry. The house was filled with hollywood celebrities and chic looking people, but I was simply mesmerized at my dad’s ingenuity in creating an archway dome lined with lights over our front walkway that now seems like the perfect ‘red carpet’ moment. The creativity gene runs deep.
My early inspiration came from living and having experiences. After I was married and began to travel, I would draw and take notice, snap pictures, and keep mental notes. I remember reading in a decorating book by Charlotte Moss (love her!) that her father taught her to observe! Always observe, as it was free for the taking, and that is what I did. I was influenced by the life around me, the one I wanted to create, not just a picture of a perfectly staged room. But that leads me to my most important lesson learned and that was to CREATE the life I wanted to have. I was not stuck in my circumstances, or a victim of a past, but had the freedom to choose and create a beautiful life for myself and my family. Today I see so many young people busy on their phones, while the world goes on around them, and I certainly have been guilty of that myself. But moments are fleeting and you feel this more as you age (and frankly, I’m not that old because 50s are definitely the new 30s right?) but you’ve got to open your eyes, look around you, get inspired, and create the best version of you! Travel, experience, and window shop. You can create the home that you want, no matter your limitations, you’ve got to first open yourself up and live your life out loud! Who has inspired you? What life experiences are beginning to shape you? If nothing earth shattering comes to mind yet, get out there and chase your dreams! Do something outside of your usual routine, and discover the world around you. It’s there for the taking, to become the life you live.