Thrift-in-Trifles Decorating

Although the Doctor’s daughter [Lucie Manette] had known nothing of the country of her birth [France], she appeared to have innately derived from it that ability to make much of little means, which is one of its most useful and most agreeable characteristics.  Simple as the furniture was, it was set off by so many little adornments, of no value but for their taste and fancy, that its effect was delightful.  The disposition of everything in the rooms, from the largest object to the least; the arrangement of colours, the elegant variety and contrast obtained by thrift in trifles, by delicate hands, clear eyes, and good sense; were at once so pleasant in themselves, and so expressive of their originator, that, as Mr Lorry stood looking about him, the very chairs and tables seem to ask him, with something of that peculiar expression which he knew so well by this time, whether he approved?
             ~ Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities  

I’ve been in homes that have this pleasant, comfortable, tasteful ambiance.   They are lovely places to live.

I think decorating know-how is a gift, don’t you?  Just like some women can wear rags with panache, some folks can take cast-off furniture and make a cozy home.  It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I can be taught.  My oldest sister and my youngest brother have “an eye” for placing furniture, for hanging pictures, for creating visual balance. 

Where did you learn this stuff?  From catalogs, magazines or television?  From floor models of stores?  Did anyone take interior decorating classes?

I have to see it modeled, usually in a friend’s home, and imitate it. 

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4 thoughts on “Thrift-in-Trifles Decorating

  1. I am NOT a decorator. I have no talent at all in that area. I have a bad feeling that no amount of teaching will help me, either! 😉 But I do love that book, and that passage in that book 🙂

  2. my earliest memories of a “house-proud” person – my grandmother (she will be 98 this year!) – her being and her way of doing things influenced me from a very young age: colours (dark red, gold), smells (freshly baked bread, guava jam), sounds (people, music), textures (velvet, tapestry) – all remained with me. I love browzing through interior books & magazines… i love a house filled with books and paintings (we have the books)…i like a house where you can put your feet on the coffee table

  3. Dana – well-appointed captures it.Mama4joy- there was another similar passage later in the book when Lucie is in Paris while her husband is in prison.  She arranges the house exactly as if her husband were there – his chair and his books close by.Sonja – I love the details of grandmother’s house.  And particularly, I love houses with books.  We have books in (almost) every room.  I love paintings also, but I don’t have much.  I do want to have a house that says, “Welcome, come in, make yourself at home.”

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