Downtrodden Abbey

OK, so first off, I'm watching old episodes of Kell on Earth. Love Kelly Cutrone. A friend introduced me to her years ago when I borrowed, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside. One of my favourite quotes is:
you can’t truly be happy if you’ve never known pain. You can’t truly feel joy if you’ve never felt heartbreak. You can’t really know what its like to be filled unless you’ve been empty. And here’s the other thing: sometimes in life seasons don’t come in order instead of fall, winter, spring, summer, we get three winters in a row. But that doesn’t mean spring won’t come eventually.

I know, pretty great, huh? Particularly for those of us on their third winter.

I'm also reading Max Lucado's Cure for the Common Life. Really good stuff about finding God's purpose for your life. In my mind, Lucado and Cutrone are a great team, but I can't ever see them sharing a book tour.

In other news, I'm adoring Facebook. I never get worked up about what they are doing as a company so it's a fun space to kick around ideas. I wrote about my realization that my current design style seems to be Reversal-of-Fortune Chic. One of my former work colleagues (a glamour-puss who was schooled in Paris and has probably been wearing Hermes since she was 15) asked if I was referring to economic circumstance or the movie. Oh how I wish it were the latter!

Seriously, look at that headboard!

No, I was more referring to my desire to style my home like Downton Abbey on a Buckwild budget. It's something I imagine would appeal to the Dowager Countess who moved from fabulicious Highclere:

to something that looks more like my house (OK, I'd die to live in this house too, but it was a move down the real estate chain for her:)

In spite of the more modest abode, she's always bringing her A game. Look at the silver and the curtains!

I know I've written about it before but I still cannot believe that I paid $10 for this gorgeous antique, brass-claw-footed, three-tier piecrust table. To me, that's Reversal-of-Fortune Chic. Top that sucker with a couple of silver birds (I'd wanted sterling silver pheasants for ever but lacked the $4,500 so when I saw these resin copies at Springridge Farm, I snapped them up), and add a blue and white bowl in which to toss your keys and sunglasses and voila:

It's cheaper than the ubiquitous Lack side table.

Now, there is nothing wrong with the Lack. But it is named honestly. I need a whole lot more eye candy in my home.

Reversal-of-Fortune Chic is the buying the best quality stuff one can so that it will last through the ebb and flow of finances. (When they say "this too shall pass", they are referring to the good times too. I don't know anyone over 50 who has not experienced at least one major set-back in life and it's nice to have comfortable surroundings when it hits.) Eight-way hand tied sofas last in a way that glue and stapled sofas never will (better to buy great stuff used and have it reupholstered) and there is nothing worse than flinging oneself down on the sofa for a good cry, only to have it collapse! I also like the classics. If one is constantly changing all of her stuff to suit the trends and she experiences a sudden reversal of fortune, she might get stuck with peach leather overstuffed sofas and harem pants for a decade or so. Ghastly! Far better to be ride out the recession (global or personal) with a black cashmere wrap dress and a tailored tuxedo sofa until circumstances improve, no? I am partial to distressed leather sofas that grow better with age, big silver butler trays that develop a lovely patina, cashmere blankets that grow softer over time. I love old oil paintings, persian rugs, blue and white ware, dark wood, nailhead detailing, iron beds, leopard print, crocodile embossed-leather (my kingdom for a Torlys recycled leather floor in Modena brown!), drab floral linens, holiday tartan, summer wicker and chinoiserie. It could be 1912 or 2013. You can pay a fortune to buy replicas from Ralph Lauren or Hickory Chair, or simply hit the consignment stores and flea markets. People are fighting to the death for mid-century modern stuff but generally leave the older pieces alone.

Who knows, maybe this will all lead to a new career. Lucado, in Cure for the Common Life, writes: "When God gives an assignment, he also gives the skill. Study your skills, then, to reveal your assignment." Maybe my ability to source Dowtonesque furniture on the cheap is part of my assignment. Perhaps other people rebuilding their lives after hardship want to be surrounded by beauty, too. Perhaps they want to get rid of the old pieces and start anew. As Cutrone writes, "sometimes you need to let go of everything you're clinging to and start over, whether because you've outgrown it or because it's not working anymore, or because it was wrong for you in the first place.” After death, debt, divorce or disaster, furniture, jobs, are friendships are subject to change. It's a scary time, but also sort of exciting and perhaps I can help people navigate that change.

Until tomorrow,