19 April 2015

plain to pretty.




"Say, now, this is great!" reiterated the young owner of the place, sinking into the nearest chair and looking about him with admiration. "Who would ever have imagined you could make a barn look like this? Why, you're a genius, Miss Hollister. You're a real artist."

Grace Livingston Hill * * * The Enchanted Barn





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as far back as my memory allows, i've known my mother to be an amazing decorator. taking castoffs from thrift stores, up-cycling that which she already owned, or even found in dumpsters, her ability at transformation was something to behold. she has taken cold, expressionless empty spaces and made them a place of warm and welcoming refuge. from plain to pretty.. 

very recently she began plans to move into a smaller home in southern california with opportunity for new friendships and a new space with which to put her design fingerprint. her colors in this new home will be light blue and soft white, some glass elements, and a bit of wicker. that simple description will foray into a beautiful space she will be pleased with, i'm sure. looking forward to seeing the results of her handiwork.

such handiwork was created in my childhood home which was sweetly placed in a tiny northern illinois town near the lake michigan shoreline .. town businesses on main street (too short really to consider a full street.) boasted don's drug store, box food store, and betty's bit'o'beauty where betty gave me a pixie haircut - i was madder than a hornet.. a story for another time. for sure! the post office wasn't much bigger than a closet .. or so it seems in my mind's eye. we had a doctor who made house calls, a man driving the dry cleaner's truck who strongly resembled jimmy durante and on whose truck myself and a couple neighborhood kids (one time) jumped up on the back and hung on to the end of the street, and milk delivered to our door step. my sister shirley and i played 7up against the house, a bouncing ball game that surely drove my mother to her last nerve. i was merely ten years old when we moved two thousand miles away to the furthest reaches of the world (or so it was presumed) .. southern california.

our harbor home floor plan included a living room, kitchen, dinette area, two small bedrooms, and one bathroom. this was a typical size home of the era, before big box McMansions became the fad. my parents slept on a roll-a-way bed in the living room - brought out in the evening, slept in, then folded and placed in a bedroom for the day. their four daughters, of which i'm the youngest, shared the bedrooms - two to a room. 

when i was about six or seven years old, my father, with the help of his buddies, built an addition to our home: a master bedroom and half bath, and an extension to the dinette area so we could put the table longways and an area beyond that to put a couch, desk, and chair (little family room). i helped with one nail - ill done i might add - and i'm positive my father had to redo my little girl attempt of helping "build a house." 

once the addition was complete, my mother began her "magic." she put up white, flouncy, priscilla curtains in the two big windows, a pretty vintage couch (i remember it well when i had mumps!), a little chair, and her small roll top desk (which i now own). there may have been a coffee table and rug but i'm not for sure.. anyway, i remember red, brown, and white as the predominant colors. i have vague recollection of wall paper. i'll check with her soon to see if my memories are accurate. i'm sure there are pictures in her albums  -  i'm hoping to find one or two to share soon.

in the new and improved dining area was the crawl space hatch, a place we descended into when the town's tornado siren blared from the local fire station. one such time my older sisters were just bringing homemade bread out of the oven when the siren sounded loud. one sister scrambled to crack open a few windows and that hot fresh bread and real butter came with us into our little place of safety. yUm. i don't so much remember the fear of a tornado as much as i remember the taste of the bread and butter.

the kitchen housed not only necessary kitchen appliances and counter space, it also housed the washer and dryer. those were the days of sprinkling linens and rolling them up for a time, before ironing each piece. such an intensive process compared to what we're used to these days, hm?

the living room was simple and classic in design. seems like back then not as much was "required" to complete a room, making it both livable and beautiful. tweed couch, two comfortable chairs, bookcase/desk, rectangle wicker plant stand with fern plants in front of the "picture window."  it was a pretty room.. 

everything mom touched seemed pretty

thanks for reading my thoughts today ..

sherry.


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23 comments:

  1. I loved hearing about your childhood. And you mother's 'magic' was passed on to you, dear friend. I can't wait to hear more about her plans for her new-to-her home. It will be lovely, I know.
    ~Adrienne~

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    1. i have but a thimble of her 'magic.' many decorating ideas came from her though we have decidedly different styles... she offered a bit of wisdom: "find a painting or print you love and use that to draw colors and meaning." i've never forgotten..

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  2. "The House That Built Me" Your memories are written straight from the heart, I can tell. A beautiful read this morning!!!! So many things you described are SO VERY similar to my own memories growing up.

    "seems like back then not as much was 'required' to complete a room." (a home) I agree.

    I'm sure your mother's new space will be transformed into something very special, and you will walk in and once again it will feel like home. Mama's have a way of doing that!!!!! ;-)

    This was lovely today, but then again, my visits here always are!

    xoxo

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    1. you're sweet .. thank you for coming by.
      if we were neighbors i'd offer you a cup of liquid life..

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  3. I loved reading this 'memoir.' I grew up in the South Bay area of Southern California. Wouldn't that be funny if we were 'neighbors?'

    I'd love to see photos of your house growing up and of your mothers new place. She passed her skills on to you for sure!

    Deanna

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    1. we lived in the high desert area the inland empire.. where **shake & bake** wasn't a boxed food, but a reality in daily life. for those that don't know what **shake & bake** is, you **shake** during an earthquake and **bake** during summer. different memories for a different post.

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  4. Oh Sherry, as a young girl I made a holiday visit to family in Illinois and even my family there were designers of family hand-me-downs and what you salvaged to create a wonderful cozy farmhouse of whites and natural dark woods.
    With the other half of the family in Southern Ca. We tended to move about, my mother much like yours would find furniture pieces left curb or roadside, thrift shops yard sales and friends who no longer wanted pieces, she would take and paint everything, and back then it was all about antiquing the pieces and what ever colour paint you painted from reds to avacado greens you finished it off with speckles of antique stain splatters done with running your thumb over the dipped bristle of a stiff toothbrush.
    Everyone who visited our home though my mom had purchased new from our local furniture store. We too lived in a 2 bedroom house at the time, it was the economy at the time when Boeing in Washington state was crashing. We had themilk delivered to our door step and on a special occation we would see a 1/2 gallon of chocolate milk where my mom stretched it by mixing in regular milk to each glass.

    Then times shifted and it brought us to Northern Ca. Los Gatos area, Monteray Bay, and some family in Gilroy when My mom had remarried. Each home I look back and am reminded of Miranda Lambert country singer as to the "House that built me" and indeed it was the foot print to the blue print of life now!

    I. Read that you lived on the High Desert, this is exactly now where I live! It's grown tremendously and I sure has change from the days you remember unless you still have family here, and if so I most likely may know them. I have been working along side some of our largest developers leaving Northern Ca to southern taking my Design degree to a level of custom home designs elevation plans to the interior designs.

    Your, Recyling your mother did sounds so much like mia mom, and guess what the era of the PIXIE cut, I also was given this cut and in my young grade school picture days after my new hair cut you can see in my face how disappointed I was with that new Doo!
    Was so happy when it started to grow out into the popular shag style :)

    Love the sketch of the barn turned victorian farmhouse style, what memories of homes we lived in once apon a time.
    See you soon.
    Loved this memorie lane post.

    Xx
    Blessed we are

    Dore

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    1. back in the day, most families did what they could with what they had. for sure.
      pixie cut .. sigh. aahhh but the foofy perm my mother did on my short hair? even worse.

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    2. I ended up with the perm as well, are you sure our mothers were not related :) lol !

      Xx
      Dore

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  5. I loved that. Brought back memories. You are beautiful and talented just like your mom.

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    1. i'll be sharing some real knee slappers (well, i think they're funny) soon. wink.

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  6. What a wonderful story! Love the old days...the simplicity and humility. Thanks so much for sharing your trip down memory lane. <3

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    1. becky .. i hope you're feeling better, though your sickie jammies were adorable. :)

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  7. the apple doesn't fall far from the tree ;)

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    1. did someone say apple?! i'm hungry. wink.

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  8. Sooo sweet to read your thoughts!! I love a peak into your childhood. How kind that your parents let ya'll have the bedrooms <3!! Mercy, i was given a little dutch boy haircut when i was something like 10!! I hated it!!!!!! Why oh why did they think that was a good idea??? Anywho, so look forward to more of your writin!! ~tammy

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    1. we had a graduated dutch boy hairdo for a time. dutch boy cut then pin curls. wink. we were high style. ;)

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  9. Enjoyed your post so much!!!

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    1. thank you deanna .. it was fun reliving the memories. :)

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  10. i think we grew up in the same hometown. . .different states maybe. . .but same street?. . .. <3

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    1. kindred spirits always live next door to one another .. if only in our creative minds. ;)

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pearls of wisdom . . .