From the time I was young, I was always into decorating my surroundings, whether it was my apartment during law school, or my "space" in the one bedroom that I shared with my two sisters. With 3 of us sharing a room, every inch of private space counted and the lines were established early on. I remember when we first moved to the U.S., my mother couldn't afford new furniture for the house and she would venture to garage sales and thrift stores in search of furnishings. One time, she found an old sewing machine table that had a door and storage underneath, a headboard for my twin bed, and a small chest of drawers. I was 13 at the time and determined to make those, well, ugly things, look good. So I found a can of bright red paint (I'm talking lipstick red paint), that had been left over from one of my father's projects (maybe to paint a fire hydrant, it was that red). I painted all three pieces in bright red and then I took some gold paint (which my mother had for I don't know what) and with a rag, applied a thing coat over the furniture. I felt I had royally messed up because now the gold over powered the red. So I took that same rag, wet it, and rubbed it all over the furniture to take away the gold. What was left was a beautiful color which I cannot describe. It was a subdued red with hits of gold in all the right places. Well, I can only tell you that those pieces of furniture went with me every where -- through highschool, to my dorm in college, my apartment in law school, and then to my stepdaughter's bedroom (who was then a little girl about the age I was when I first got them). Unfortunately, Katrina did away with those pieces of relics and I wish I had taken photos of them to show you. But I tell you, sometimes it is what we do with a piece of furniture that gives it its value and one of a kind look.
As for the part that makes a house "inviting" as they say, it's really not in the furniture itself, but in the little things that you do with what you have that give it that feel of warmth and comfort. Open up those china cabinets and let the air in! Use those gorgeous silver trays and china platters you have stacked up and hidden away from view. And don't forget to bring nature inside. There are plenty of decorating ideas just outside your door. You may walk right past it and not even notice.
I'm fond of leaving books open on desks or side tables, especially in guest rooms that seem so stale and unlived at times. Tokens of open books or cups and saucers give the impression that someone was just there and you just missed them! There is a shop here in New Orleans that leaves open bottles of wine on side tables with a little wine in a glass next to it. Every time I go there, I get the feeling that I just missed the party! Where did everyone go????????
To me, the beauty of a half empty bottle left on a coffee table or shells tossed on a table top conjures up memories of things we have experienced in the past and like to rekindle. You see a handful of seashells on a book and you recall that time on the beach when you and your kids walked up and down the shore looking for hermit crabs and ended up with a bag full of shells instead. You see a pen on top of an open book and you think back to the time when you were little and you watched your mother, sitting at her writing desk writing out her Christmas cards. Sprigs of your rosemary bush or even a plain boxwood in a glass bottle makes you feel fresh and alive and that spring is right around the corner.
So look around your house and take out all of those little things that you have stashed away in drawers. Make use of your beautiful china or of a glass milk jar that you were about to throw away. All of these things make a home a "home." And you don't have to go farther than your own kitchen or backyard.
Enjoy some of those "little touches" in my shop:
Objets d'art -- Love them, can't get enough of them. Fragments of old frames??? Don't throw those away. Use pieces of old gilded frames and dried roses to add a touch of nostalgia to a desk top.
An open magazine on a writing desk makes you wonder who was just reading it.
Dried flowers are a great way to add color and texture to any setting. Vintage plaster covered book with gold number from "Fanciful Designs."
Now, go on and make your home "inviting."