Decorating Secrets We Stole from Our Grandmothers
Think it’s all doilies and dusty figurines? Not so fast.
If we all really turned into our own mothers, then it would seem pretty natural that our homes eventually turn into those of our grandmothers’. Especially in a time when so many popular trends clearly shopped the 70s for inspiration. But macramé aside, it’s some of the most timeless, comforting, and thoughtful design ideas that we’ve really absorbed from time spent at Grandmother’s house (or mimi’s, or gigi’s, or gran’s, or mamaw’s). Growing up, small ceramic dishes filled with possibly (—er, likely—) stale candies were merely a conveniently unguarded treat for youngsters with a sweet tooth. Collections of china and trinkets revealed no other purpose than to be avoided, and eventually, dusted. Needlepoints adorned powder rooms to remind visitors that this is, indeed, the home of a grandmother. (In case they missed the aforementioned candy dishes and army of small, meticulously dusted collectables.) But as you grow up, you realize these are simply the clever touches to add character, charm, and make guests feel right at home. Here are a few of the decorating tips and ideas we’ll be stealing from Meemaw for our current homes:
1. Buy fewer, but nicer things. And take care of them.
Forgo trends, cheapies, and shoddy fixes. It’s tempting, but pieces should be bought to treasure for years and hopefully be equally loved by future generations. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with hand-me-downs…especially when they turn into heirlooms.
2. Character is good.
Still think collections are for dusty china cabinets? Don’t believe it. Fearlessly collect and show off the things that bring you joy, whether that’s china or stately taxidermy. These bring character to your home and show guests your personality. Use trays to create organized vignettes of trinkets and treasures.
3. Play with patterns.
If anything, “Grandma” patterns have merely proven their ability to stand the test of time. (And some really colorful decades.) While many designs float in and out of vogue, there are a few motifs and patterns you can count on for their timeless charm. Hello, chintz, chinoiserie, and checks.
4. Design with guests in mind.
Finally, the ultimate Southern feat: an effortlessly welcoming, comfortable home for guests. Those aforementioned little candy dishes? They’re endearing nods to visitors; a way to subtly say, “Welcome! Get comfortable!” So much of decorating revolves around thinking about who is in the room or gathered around the table—does everyone have a comfortable seat? An inviting place to sleep? It’s the small touches that show the most thought.