Fayez and I had a couple of “just us” days this past week, and on a beautiful 80 degree Saturday we went into New York. It had been a while since I ventured in, and it was just as I remembered. All the crowds, smells, and sights were still there. Although now, after living in the burbs of New Jersey for almost a year, I have a hard time fathoming how we survived that level of daily noise and chaos. I feel very sentimental about our Queens neighborhood at times, but on the whole I’m very happy to have left that daily craziness behind.
But there are some things Jersey just doesn’t have. Like awesome Vietnamese restaurants, Central Park, and John Derian’s row of three shops on East 2nd Street. These shops you guys. You can get lost in them. F dutifully went with me, and while home decor obsession isn’t his bag, he’s a good sport at tagging along while I go bananas over vintage vignettes and paper flower art.
At one point he asked me, “These prices are expensive, and you find things in thrift stores for less than half the price, so why do you enjoy these shops so much?”
I suppose it wasn’t something I’d given much thought to. My first reaction was, “Define expensive?” But when I had to answer, I said, “It’s like art. There’s an art to the way he collects, arranges and displays everything. I take notice of things I might have overlooked in a thrift store, or discover new ways to use the things I already have.”
For example, look at this collection of bottles and paper flowers in an old garden cart. Fantastic.
Don’t get me wrong. If I had all the funds I would love to be John Derian’s favorite patron. Like his shop peeps would be all, “Liz! So nice to see you again!” But until then, he’ll be my Patron Saint of Inspiration.
And speaking of inspiration, I was so excited about the open windows and beautiful weather this weekend (and the free time), that I dove into a project I’ve been mulling over for a while. One of the thing John Derian does so well in his store is little gallery wall sections. He has one with mirrors, and one with carved wooden animals, and this one here: vintage portrait paintings, unframed. I’ve always loved the way it looks. It’s very vintage and accumulated, like something you might find in a house where the same family has lived for 100 years, which is basically my decor love language.
Last week someone asked me how I defined my “style” and I was all, “Well, if the Weasley family had a grandmother, and that grandmother was southern, and she liked flower paintings.” Give me all the old house vibes.
Now… I have feelings about portrait paintings. I love it when other people decorate with vintage portraits. But in my house, personally, they would wig me out a little bit. They tend to be in the realm of old photos. Like, I don’t know these folks, and I don’t know what kind of energy they had in the world, and having a crowd like that in my house makes me feel a little spooked out. You know in Harry Potter where all the paintings move and talk and turn their heads? My imagination is vivid enough without stuff like that worrying me. That’s just my Grandma Weasley opinion.
But. I’ve been stalking and collecting vintage paintings for a while now AND I started painting some myself because every now and then I get struck with the “I CAN DO THAT’ bug. Then, this past week I saw a commercial for Velcro command strips, where you literally stick your pictures to the wall with no holes, and I decided to take the leap.
I’m super proud to say that with the exception of one, none of the paintings in this picture cost more than $10 (and three were almost free because I did them myself). This entry wall (which is really part of our dining room) was so bare, and now it feels really welcoming. I even had a crazy weirdo moment, and after I got it all done I went outside and looked through the window to see how it looked. So basically I was like a stalker outside my own home. F was like “whaaaaaa?” but then decided it was best not to ask. Grandma Weasley was on a mission.
And since winter came back with a vengeance and won’t end, apparently, I’ve got a nice indoor garden to cheer us up. And since those command strips are easy to change, I can add more paintings or move things around any time I want.
Don’t you miss the days when you could read blogs and get ideas and tips that weren’t ads? I just used the commands trips and really liked them. Next time remind me to tell you about my cordless vacuum.
So there you have it. All my John Derian inspiration, an indoor painting garden that is comforting since apparently we live on Hoth, and my favorite new way to hang things without putting holes in the walls. Happy Monday!
Also, seriously, Mother Nature is leaving us no other alternative…