Monday, September 8, 2014

Tiptoeing Through the Decades: Authentic Home Style

I've been wanting to show you all my new home for quite a while now. Like me, like my taste in clothes, my home is "vintage." It was built with love by its owner in 1949. Like me, with my bruised and mosquito-bit legs, it has a few bumps and scratches, but I do love it so.

There is so much wonderful to show you about my home, that this is only a beginning. Since I was wearing a black and white ensemble on the day we took these photos, I took a black and white focus in choosing what to show you.

Dress: Reitman's; Shoes: Ecco; Earrings; Jessica; Headband: Stylize; Boucher brooch: vintage
The first thing I noticed when I walked into this house was the wonderful arches in the living room doorways. The ceiling is gently rounded too so the whole room feels soft and cozy and inviting. The bathroom has an alcove with an arch for the bathtub. How cool is that?

I also noted the hardwood floors with their original inlay. They're not in the best of shape but, if we ever have money and either buy the house (renting being the only way to go even for the middle classes in my city's real estate market) or decide to put some money into it, that floor can be polished right up to its full glory.

I've lived back east -- Toronto, Montreal, and New York city, among other places -- and know that hardwood floors are no big deal there. Here, they are extremely hard to find and are therefore coveted. All my western friends comment on it (and on those archways). I love their warmth and creaking and age.

Our doorbell is also a big hit, especially with children who have to be reminded -- often -- that they're not allowed to play with the chimes. I suppose the yellowed plastic at the top is a bit tacky but isn't the whole thing fun? You'll see the doorbell itself later in this post.

Our kitchen blew me away and it had received full treatment in a blog post before we'd even moved in. All the little "old fashioned" details draw the eyes of everyone who visits.

And we've added our own little touches everywhere, of course. Beau is a huge fan of spaceships and moon landings so I set up his moon globe on top of the fridge under the UFO/air vent.

I've been looking at a lot of photos of vintage fashion on Pinterest and am most taken by photos of real, flawed people, in real, flawed poses, outside of their real, flawed homes. Picture perfect poses and locations seldom capture personalities or even the appeal of a home.

Authenticity is more appealing, isn't it?

Like life, photos from the past were never perfect. There has never been a perfect time to live, to dress, or to take photographs.

Real people never looked or photographed like movie stars. Don't you just love them for that? 

So I've started a fun Pinterest page called Vintage Fashion in Real Life. I was hoping that the photos in this blog post would look like they'd be at home on that board. I hope I succeeded. 

I adore the two women above: the young woman, dressed up in the latest 1940s fashion, awkward and uncomfortable, and still too thin to really properly fill out the dress as it was meant to be filled; and the older woman, with her bandaids on her leg, huggably plump and charming, far more relaxed and comfortable than the younger gal.

The older woman reminds me of me, actually. 

Life is more fun when we worry less about perfection and just get on with having a good time. Aren't these 40s gals great? Look how teeny tiny the littlest one is!

And it's clear that this sweet young teen from the 20s, in her imperfect yard, is utterly transfixed by her new, very stylish dress, perhaps the first grown-up one she's ever owned. If she really had the class she's trying to have, she wouldn't fuss so with it.

Nor would I, in my imperfect carport with that dreadful stucco so ubiquitous in my part of the world. Aw class schmasz! Let reality prevail!

So with this praise of authenticity and imperfection, let us return to our black and white tour of my home.

The landlords did several "improvements" to the house, most of which clash aesthetically with the home itself, but I think they did a great job with this faucet. It reminds me a lot of my grandparents' summer home which was unchanged since the 1930s.

We're doing our best to make our own touches be in keeping with the home. Living in Little Italy, I've used these stovetop espresso makers forever. And the cherry red tea kettle matches the bright colours we're bringing into our kitchen.

Look how nicely the pattern in this old screen door matches my dress, or, to put it differently, look how I suit this home and it suits me.

As with most older homes, it holds bits and pieces from various decades. 

This was the case with my outfit too.

It was a little bit 60s ... 

... and a little bit 50s ...

... and a little 40s ...

Cape: a gift from a friend; Hat: boutique; Square ring and dress clip: vintage; Right hand ring: Birks; Bespoke engagement ring: Britton Diamonds; Fairy ring: a boutique a million years ago
... and a little bit 30s.

Mix and match. Tiptoe through the decades.

Always add a little Art Deco here ... 

... and there.

Enjoy the homey touches. Never mind the bags under your eyes. They're emblems of survival, yes?

Enjoy the Formica table. Never mind that it's duct taped together at the bottom. 

We actually use this milk jug for milk. Since I now live with two growing boys, we get four litre jugs of milk which are far too heavy for this disabled gal to lift, let alone pour, so Beau and the boys periodically refill this old farm jug for me. Isn't is sweet? 

And, oh my God, how wonderful are these original, crystal doorknobs?! They're on most of the doors inside. I adore them.

This is my study/rest my back room. I got this 1930s mirror ages ago but it's the first time I've hung it.

This room is still a bit of a work in progress. I was going for a sort of French Provincial look but I find it a bit too white and pink so we'll see where I go from here. But do check out the bird theme on the opposite wall and the way the pink flowers of the lamp echo the flowers etched into the mirror. 

I'm letting my inner kitsch and tchotchke flag fly, good Yiddish words both.

A gal afflicted with chronic back pain needs a day bed. This is mine. I use it often. Such is my life in pain.

Both my cats love my day bed, and my heating pads too, and the fact that I'm frequently available for a snuggle. I think cats and the bed-ridden are a good match, yes?

But I digress. Back to the decor itself. 

I don't own any lamps with paper shades. Glass shades do it for me. How about you?

I had fun making these photos mostly black and white, or sepia. Life was never actually lived in black and white but seeing myself and my own world in black and white helps me feel more akin to the people of the past. I'm the same as they were. They were the same as I am.

Aside from a brief, teenage infatuation with the 60s, I've never wanted to live in the past, no matter how often people tell me I was born in the wrong decade. But I do like to place myself within history, scuffs and hard times and all. I read a lot and know a lot about history. My clothes and decor reflect my sense that I am a part of that past, or the past is a part of me, and that, soon enough, my life will be a part of history too. What you and I know of life now will be history before we know it. I'm fine with that.

I like to see repeating patterns -- good and bad -- in history, art, literature, architecture, design, social movements, fashion, and more. 

Flawed, chipped, and beautiful, all this is life itself ...


... in every time, and place -- and in every home.

(I'm linking all this home and sartorial style with Visible Mondays at Not Dead Yet.)


  1. Wonderful post! Our home is very similar in many ways - arches, hardwood floors, and even the bell. I so agree about imperfections and authenticity. Why we are so scared of it while it's actually THE POINT of it all, just being who we are today the way we are today?

    Thank you for this post! You look lovely in this black and white outfit, and I love the mix of decades. xxx

    1. Imperfection must be embraced if we're to have even a chance of something like happiness.

  2. Looovely home! I feel the lack of history in my 80's brick home. But one day it will be treasured. We have a home from the 60's in New Zealand which has some historical touches like fully opening wood windows swung like doors. And a beautiful wood floor. Also, tiiiny closets :-( Not so useful but oh so cute!
    Yes, I agree, cats and the bedridden go together so nicely. I often have my cat's company and comfort on my bed days. So glad you have found a place that suits you so well. Xo JJ

    1. My dream is that we'll some day be able to buy this house. We rent and I know developers want to buy it and the house next to us, tear them down, and build... oh yuck, "multifamily dwellings." Real estate here is insane. This place, as a tear down only, would sell for $1,000,000!!!

  3. I'm so lucky to live in such a nice home. I'm even luckier to share it with such a pretty gal :) - Beau

  4. Thanks for the home tour! It looks like a happy place.

  5. What a wonderful, cozy and loving home you have made! Love the door bell. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday, xox.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing the details of your home. So enjoyed the retro images. I too collect glass or crystal lampshades.

    Popped by from VM.

  7. Clearly the perfect house for you! Wonderful for all of you. And you look so period perfect. But you're right, there was no perfect era. Seems to me, though, that movie stars used to look a lot more like the average person in the photos ... not the same intensity of photo manipulation (old fashioned burning and dodging, and photo painting was done, of course) as well as a different standard for what was a beautiful figure. I see the appeal!

    1. And far less plastic surgery. It existed but it was not, I think, expected.

  8. Thanks for sharing those wonderful vintage pix!

    1. Aren't they fun? I was hoping to look like the photos of me and the place are vintage too.