Friday, May 25, 2012

A Peek Inside: Patterns

It's no secret that I love estate sales. That said, the treasures being sold are only half of the joy for me. It's the homes themselves that often hold the greatest allure. Especially if they still have original vintage touches. Admittedly, it's often very hard to take photos because there are other customers around (and who wants to be the freak who gets caught taking photos of strangers?) and the majority of times, the people holding the sales don't understand why one would want to photograph the homes. That last bit is a shame to me. So many times, they just don't get the charm of the houses that they are holding the sales in. Or the history. Or the relevance.

Often, the fact that the houses are being emptied and put up for sale further fuels my fire to document the great old touches in the homes because for good reason, I fear that they'll be removed and thrown away within mere days or months. I've decided that even though sometimes, the photos that I take at the sales are covert and rushed and blurry, I'm going to start sharing them with you all here. Today, I'm pulling from my stockpile of photos from past sales and would like to focus on pattern.

People in past generations were extremely into using and mixing patterns in their homes. Today, it seems like if a pattern isn't carefully coordinated in a bed linen set in a bag or in a matching towel set that a department store suggests, many people fear using pattern in their homes today. It's like people feel like they have to be given permission before bringing a color or pattern into their home. Is it in style? Would my neighbors approve? What would Nate Berkus say? Remember, the home improvement stores may highlight certain colors and patterns because they think that they're the current trend - but if you look further, you'll notice thousands and thousands of colors and patterns displayed mere steps away from what they think we want.

I'd love it if the fear of choosing patterns and colors would go away and more people could just go with their hearts when decorating like we used to do. Sure, people have always gone with trends but it seems to me that we've felt a lot more comfortable veering from and mixing trends in the past. Here are some shots from several different houses that I'd like to showcase because of their use of patterns in the decor.

This house belonged to a local politician and his two story home was packed full of historical and travel mementos. This wallpaper was in his Den. We stayed at this sale for three hours because there were just too much wonderful things to see and go through.

I love this linoleum. And that harvest gold dishwasher with the knotty pine cabinets with original hardware. It also had the period yellow cracked ice counter tops with metal edging. I recall that everything at this sale was cheap and wonderful. And that a dealer beat us to our dream couch (which we eventually accidentally bought back from him).

This one is a more subtle bit of patterning. The original linoleum goes great with the two-toned paint on the cabinet doors. I love the little bar on the end. The white counter tops might be hard to keep clean but they look really nice with the color combo and help the newer appliances blend.

This was the inside of a basement pantry.
Pristine old atomic patterned shelf paper in pink and gold. 

This was a little funky farmhouse in the country. The woman at this sale couldn't understand my wanting to take photos of the floors but did give her permission. I

I loved this kitchen so much. They put wallpaper on the door fronts, the walls and even on the back door. I really loved the combination of the soft green and orange. And the kitchen was huge and felt so happy and sunny.  The rest of the house had a mostly bicentennial theme. 

You can see here that the house even had the original floor and metal edged counter top.

This is Helen's kitchen (whose crafts I showed you on the last post) with a bright flower print wallpaper. It's hard to tell from the sale merchandise everywhere but her kitchen was so pristine. Glossy wood cabinets and the original counter tops. I wasn't able to get a photo of it but there was also a built-in knotty pine wall pantry. I love the unexpected color combo of yellow, orange and periwinkle blue. 

A closer look at Helen's wallpaper.
This is the breakfast nook with vintage dinette and off of this room was a little knotty pine den.

And here is a peek down into her basement. Sweet linoleum and a complete kitchen down there. One of the great things about this house was how decorating from many decades happily coexisted. The house was built in the fifties as evidenced by the kitchen, the wood trim and the basement lino - but the sixties and seventies had a strong voice too.  There was also an original pink tile bathroom.

That's one thing that we have to remember when decorating or restoring a vintage home. Most homes wouldn't have all things from one decade like a museum. People would have brought handed-down family furniture with them or renovated certain areas of their homes while leaving other areas intact. Don't be afraid to mix and match things that you love.

I hope that you've enjoyed the first in my series of peeks inside of local estate sale homes.  There will be more soon, you can bet!

Meanwhile Back At The Ranch: We're still working on the hall and foyer. The drywall is done and cleaned up after, thank goodness! We've got it primed and are now trying our best to pick a paint color. The kitties are still sailing on the rough seas of getting to know the new kitten (who has become quite the biter and wire chewer). The new Blogger format makes posting take three times longer than it used to and I sometimes see coding in my sleep. The kitten likes that it takes me longer because he likes to stomp on the keyboard and chase the cursor. I hope that you all have big weekend plans. Hey, some of you will even get long weekends due to the holiday!

Until next time,
x's and o's,


What Remains Now said...

You have a wonderful eye for this period. I can only imagine how excited you get when you see that it's going to be a "good" home.

Tasha said...

Since we never go to estate sales, I'm happy to follow along with this new series! I like seeing the interiors.

I agree with you about the use of color and patterns. We're trying to embrace that too, and trying to not decorate too perfect but very liveable too. It's easy to get caught up in thinking what everyone else has going on in their home is perfect and yours will never be as nice. We're trying to let the house get decorated organically as the right things come along, even if it takes longer. :)

Anonymous said...

I too go to tons of estate sales and when I look at the photo before hand, if the kitchen is cool, I know the house will have great stuff.

chutti said...

Awww, this stuff just makes me happy.
Glad you are able to share this.

And I am a huge proponent of mixing periods. It's rare that NOTHING of grandma's ever wore out or had to be replaced over time. If you want it to feel like grandma's house, you have to mix it up a bit!

cheshirecat666 said...

1-!! That old style ad wallpaper,that was SO big in the 70's,we have that style behind the bar in the den of the house I grew up which is now a rent house,except it's old newspaper ads from the late 1800's...or early 1900's. Seeing this pic totally brought back childhood memories of reading the wall as a kid. I will get a pic when I can!

2-Now you've seen our 70's harvest gold fridge,we had the "matching" dishwasher and oven and the orange & harvest gold linoleum to match! That pic brought back ANOTHER childhood rush!

3-GAWD I totally love you for all these pics. That rug in the 5th pic down, from the 70's Lie Detector Graph collection...LOVE. that is the kinda rug I would have seen as a kid and DREAMED about having in my bedroom

Big plans for the weekend,FEH. It's 100 here,I will be lying on my bed in front of the fan in my boxer shorts

Laura said...

I love what you said about people having things from different decades and living with them all at the same time. It's helping me make peace with the fact that I have a gray/chrome dinette set from the 1950s and a white painted cabinet (same era) in my kitchen, which is otherwise VERY 70s era. I love all of it, but was feeling sort of mixed up about it. But you're very right, and why should I get rid of stuff I love just because it isn't perfectly matchy-matchy!

Oh, and that green/white linoleum is to DIE for!

erin said...

sometimes i worry that my love for different eras is too much to be mixed and matched...thank you for the reminder to love what we love and not be afraid to put it all out there :)

Lisa said...

I love this look into "the sales that were". It makes me sound kind of creepy, but I occasionally remind my mom and dad or Matthew (who have been to Lord knows how many estate sales with me) exactly HOW MANY people's homes we've been inside. Think about how a normal person might never have been inside maybe more than forty people's homes in a lifetime. We're in that many people's homes in a month! It's macabre, a little, but like you, I LOVE seeing how people placed this and that in the 60's and just left it. It's like seeing a vintage interior design book come to life, spots and all! You took some great pictures! And I love how you've captured the "treasure hunt" that the estate sales circuit is to us with sympathetic eyes.I love the politician's stuff...I remember going to that house and (foolishly) not buying the huge oil portrait of the lady of the house that was upstairs! Ah, well. Good work!

SUZY8-TRACK said...

Nice to see the lovely preserved vintage details of a home.

Lynn said...

Oh, how I love this post. I have been thinking the same thing with regards to quilts and quilting and quilt fabrics. People have become afraid to do their own thing. So many people purchase a "line" of fabric from one designer and make a quilt from that. It tends to look overly matchy and flat. I'd love to see a bit more "mixing it up". I think people have become more affluent and tent to redo the whole house at a go and get everything all matchy. When times were harder people purchased and redid in a piecemeal fashion. Same with the fabrics for quilting. People couldn't afford to purchase a lot at one go. They used leftovers and scraps and came up with something beautiful from that. Perhaps money has sapped some of our creativity.

Sara In AZ said...

I so totally agree, why do people have to be SO rigid now-a-days when it comes to decorating???? I just don't get it. I don't like the hardcore matchy-matchy stuff and would definitely rather have a mish-mash - it's SO much more fun that way anyway!!!

I LOVE seeing all of these pics from estate sale houses and I too try to get pics when I am at the sales too.

*fingers crossed* paint color picking goes smoothly and easily! :)

Lakota [Faith Hope and Charity Shopping] said...

This is so interesting - Brits just don't have estate sales :-(

Rae - Say It Aint So said...

oh man, when i'm alone at sales i have a hard time taking pictures, but if travis is with me i have no shame. i've gotten more than one weird look when i've taken pictures of a pristine pink bathroom.
i LOVE this post. and that yellow linoleum with the gold dishwasher. and that crazy jagged line carpet meeting up with the green linoleum! oh man, i could comment on every single picture here. i love seeing all the amazing old houses. i WISH i had been to the estate sale at our house before we bought it. the same family lived here since the 40's so I bet there was all kinds of amazing things.

i sometimes think i should pick a decade/theme and do my whole house like that, because i always love seeing it, but i like to many things! ill just call it "eclectic"

Jen said...

What marvellous patterns! The wallpaper you show first reminds me (for some reason) of the wallpaper in the kitchen of my childhood home—red, white and blue kitchenware. It was so colourful!

The green linoleum is just gorgeous. I love it. The green kitchen is pretty, too—the one with the wallpapered doors? Forget the goodies, I think I would have put an offer in on the house just based on the kitchen! It's beautiful and so happy and cozy! (Bicentennial theme: BONUS for a history nerd like me.)

Also, you are spot on regarding homes with different eras happily living together. I think about my grandparents' homes, for instance. Some people didn't understand why our last home wasn't totally 50s, as it was built in 1951, but I said to myself (in addition to "I am not a millionaire"), wouldn't the homeowners have had some things from the 30s and 40s? Why shouldn't I? Of course!

It is funny—remember that pretty tile backsplash we had in my last house? Due to the corporate moving thing, we had to interview three agents before choosing one (the one who sold us the house in the first place, because she's awesome). One of them actually told us to GET RID OF that backsplash and another suggested it, both saying it was "too busy". Too busy. ! Gah. (Cindy loved it, of course.) Weird. People are way, way, way, WAY too influenced by TV, magazines, and design blogs—most of which ALL want us living in greige, patternless and personality-free boxes. No thanks.

Atomic Auntie said...

I, too, would love to see most folks loosen up when it comes to color and patterns. There ARE colors out there besides taupe and putty, with a little black or white for accent, folks. Color should make your heart SING!

BEESTLYproducts said...

that farmhouse rug! omg! and the daisy wallpaper? omggggg. i wish my house was that cool. maybe one day when we aren't renters anymore.

A Day in the Life of One Girl said...

wonderful! I love the carpets and flooring - wow

Betty2Tone said...

Hey! I just wanted to let you know that you won the Ava Gardner book I was giving away! If you email me at with a mailing address, I'll send it ASAP :D

alix said...

is it weird that i'm really into that shelf liner paper the most??? This whole pad is amazing. I love seeing people's homes.

I totally agree lady! mix and match is where its at. Love your posts ms eartha!


Rita@thissortaoldlife said...

Too many things to love. Yeah, I vote for not sterile. Todays all-greige homes do nothing for me. Give me orange and pink flowers, gold appliances, and crazy plaid any day. Thanks for sharing these. I'm going to have to get over my reticence at asking if I can take pictures.

Anonymous said...

i adore that daisy wallpaper! i am pretty sure someone i know had that dishwasher, it looks oddly familiar to me. the full kitchen in the basement reminds me of my grandparents old home in minneapolis, they would host pancake breakfasts for the LODGE in their basement. brills. so often when i am thrifting i think of you. today i spied some plastic cowboy boot shaped cups from dolly parton's theme park.

Adrienne said...

People are "pattern wusses" these days,me included. I think my lack of pattern is die to laziness thought, lol.

I love the old schol kitchens. The linoleum, the color of the cabinets and countertops. Everything had so much character, it was fab.

Happy paint color picking!

What Lola Wants