Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's all personal

One of my very good friends just moved to New Zealand last weekend.  I could not be more excited for her new adventure.  Thankfully I was able to convince her to blog about it {here} so that I (and anyone else who wants to) can follow along. :)

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a bunch of friends at my house for her send-off party.  There were a few Id never met before.  It was such a great night.  My sides hurt from laughing so hard. 
I was excited to host a party – everyone always brings wine and theres always a few bottles left unopened to help fill my wine rack.  Apparently, this is not the case when you invite a bunch a girls over who grew up in Sonoma County!

A lot of them hadnt been to my house before or hadnt seen it since Id bought furniture and was able to do a bit of decorating.

Everyone had such wonderful things to say and it was so nice to hear.  As usual though, my first response when someone complemented my home was Oh, theres so much I still need to do.  Because whenever I look around I see my list of to-dos and all the things that I havent gotten to yet.

One of the girls, who I had just met that night, said something thats kind of stuck with me.  She responded to my usual comment and said, oh no, everything looks really nice you just need to add some personal things.

I thought it was funny, because I had just been thinking maybe I needed a few more designer-type things, like what you see in interior décor magazines, to make it look a bit more finished.  When I look around my living room everything I see is personal.

My mantel holds one of my favorite photos of a bridge over the River Seine in Paris that I took while I when I lived there.  It was taken with a camera that used film.

Along side it are two gifts from my brother. One is a framed photo of the Brooklyn bridge, the other, limited edition artwork showing part of the exterior of the Guggenhiem museum. Every year when my brother asked me what I wanted for my birthday or Christmas I said the same thing: photos of New York (where he lives) from the street vendors or farmers markets there.  It took a few years before he gave me these and when he did he said these were the first ones hed seen that he liked for me.

One side of the mantel holds a sake carafe from the restaurant where Dan and I had one of our first dates. {I plead the fifth on how it got on my mantel.}  I use it as a vase to hold lavender from my moms garden.  It sits next to a birthday card given to me by my best friend around the time that I bought the house.  She wrote the nicest things in it and I cant read it without getting teary-eyed {or type about it apparently}.

 The other side has the crowns I made for Pacinos first birthday {DIY found here}, the votive holders I made from Glitter Guides post {here} and the LOVE print I made with poster board and glitter wrapping paper and I had left from a Christmas project.

It also has my favorite photo from Thailand.  It was taken after an all night beach party on Koh Phangan, a small island off Koh Samuii.  It was before 7 am and my friend and I had walked around the island to the other side of the beach and watched the sun rise.  Her camera had gotten sand in it and wasnt working well, so she borrowed mine and I have no idea who took the picture.  There were small empty boats scattered around the water and Ive never seen so many beautiful pastel colors in one sky.  Its in a frame I bought at Zara Home on Regent Street when I lived in London.

On the wall hangs a sconce that my best friend in high school gave me as a Christmas present one year.   When I opened it, she complained that Im the hardest person to shop for.  Its hung in every home Ive lived in since then.

Another wall hangs a frame with two photos from a road trip I took with my friend who just moved to New Zealand.  In September 2010, we drove to Utah and spent 10 days camping and hiking the national parks.  The photos were taken at The Arches and Canyonlands and I love that you cant see our faces in them; its just vast beauty spread out in front of us.

Theres a large colorful cachepot on the floor.  It used to sit in my grandmothers entryway.  My aunt bought it for her from Gumps, the historic San Francisco department store where she used to work.  She used to bring me there with her on take your daughter to work day".  {Do those still exist?}

Across the room is the mirror and console table my dad built for me.  He surprised me with the console table after I showed him the one I wanted from West Elm.  Its built from wood that was from my parents old water bed from over 25 years ago. {Why he saved it, I dont know}.  For the mirror, we picked out all the wood and trim and paint together and he text me photos along the way of his progress.

On the table theres a small silver dish thats engraved Welcome Home. My parents gave it to me when I closed on the house.  I set my keys there every day.

Theres a framed photograph of my cousins from their engagement session.  Theyre on Baker Beach in San Francisco with the Golden Gate bridge and the fog in the background.  My cousin was my best friend growing up and he lives across the country now.  It makes me happy every time I see.

For Christmas, my aunt found a frame similar to the others that I have around the living room and framed an old photo she had of me and her. Im about 2 years old in a ruffled and polka dot one-piece swimsuit {I guess it's true, styles do always come back around!}.

Theres an etched glass bowl from my grandmothers house.  It used to sit on her bar cart next to her sliding glass door.  I wasnt allowed to roll her bar cart even though it had wheels and a handle.

Theres a candle holder that my dad made from a wine barrel stave.  He used the same stain as the console table he made of rme.  He bought the wine barrel from a Sonoma County wine maker (my hometown).

One of the first décor things I put up in my home was my gallery wall.  I went through all my travel photos and ordered prints online.  Once they arrived, it took me all night deciding which photos and which sizes to use and how to arrange them on the wall.  I took every one of the photos myself, aside from one which I bought it from a street vendor in Prague.  Its of the Charles bridge at night and its almost perfectly reflected in the water lit by the city lights.  The photographer signed the mat for me. 

On the gallery wall, theres a photo taken of the view from my bedroom window in my flat in Paris.  Theres one of the water running through the lush green rainforest when we were on a hike in Costa Rica.  We were looking for a waterfall we never thought wed find.  We went swimming in the pool under the waterfall a little while later.

In Croatia, we went kayaking in the sea off Hvar.  The next morning when we woke we stopped first thing to get coffee.  One of the guys who worked at the kayaking places saw us and asked to sit and have coffee with us.  I am ashamed to say that when I saw him, my first thought was oh no, I have to make small talk.  (I am not always at ease with people I dont know well.) 

While we were having coffee with him, he pointed to a small island just off Hvar.  He said it had a private beach and a small bar that only locals really knew about.  He was going out there that day.  We walked to the dock and saw a woman and her young daughter on the boat headed to the island as well, so we got on the boat.

When we got there, his friend owned the bar and gave us each a beer and brought out a small tray with meats and cheeses and fresh fruit.  When it came time to pay the bill, the guy who brought us said it was covered as well as our fee for the boat ride over.

We walked around the teeny island and found hammocks.  I laid in the hammock and looked up at the sun shining through the tree branches and was so grateful and humbled that I was having this moment in my life.  I laid my camera on my lap and took a photo straight up into the trees.  That photo is framed on my gallery wall.

Its all personal.  I look around the room and every item feels personal.

On the bookshelf theres a box covered in stamps from all the countries I visited on my first trip to Europe.  My aunt made it for me.  Theres a framed photo of my Dad hugging me super tight at my going away party when I moved to London.  And one of my grandmother, unposed and smiling, who passed away 7 years ago.

Its all personal. 
And its funny what someone else sees, what an outsider sees, when they look around.

And it reminds me that I dont need the designer-type items to place around my home to make it look like the interiors in the décor magazines or blogs. 

Sometimes I am unsure if I want something or if Ive just seen it so often on a must have or currently conveting wish list, that I think its something that I want.  Im glad that Ive been slow to buy those things.  Because Ive found that when I stop seeing them as often, I sort of want them a bit less too.

And Im happy that when I look around my home, even though its still very much a work in progress for me, its all still personal to me, even if not everyone can see it.



  1. The gifts from your brother sound so sweet - I'm glad he gets them for you now :)
    The candle holder from your dad also sounds lovely. I adore how your house is filled with not just items, but items that have stories. My house is filled with that too, and I wish there was enough time to share these stories with everyone!

    1. Thanks Yelle! I love your Fall decor - so pretty!

  2. I love your home. Everything in it is completely you and something personal. You're just too good at decorating. It's so beautiful it looks like a show room. Thanks for the shout out. I went swimming the other day, in a cave, in freezing water and instantly thought of you. weird....

    1. Thanks Lo! I figure the 4 people who read my blog may want to check yours out too :)

      I LOVE reading your blog! It looks like you're having an awesome time. I came home yesterday and all of Pacino's toys were in front of the door to the guest room. I think he's missing you too!


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