Judging other people about the way they look, or dress or decorate their home, is not ok. Social media has offered bullies and critics a vast playground in which to share their unwelcome and ridiculous comments about other people’s life choices. The only judgement we should make in life, is on people who deliberately hurt, injure or damage another human being, animal, or our planet. If you want to live in a tree with the birds, a box by the sea, or a mansion in the city, it is really up to you. I do think we have a social responsibility in the way we live. We should be making choices that are sustainable, considerate of our environment, each other, and future generations, but whether you choose to have a wonky bookcase filled with stuff, or a minimal home – that is totally your choice. And as a vintage person and lover of the old, I would love to know what the heck is wrong with Nana Style Decorating?!
When I started Recycled Interiors in 2013, I was very passionate about decorating in your own style – and I still am. It infuriates me when I hear people saying “we love mixing old with new but we don’t want to go too Nana Style now do we..”..
Well maybe some of us do.
Maybe some people love the look and feel of their Nana’s house. The memories of growing up in both of my grandmother’s homes are warm and delicious, something that fills me up with happiness, so why would their style be a negative thing? And what is Nanna Style anyway? Is it knitted rugs and flower power chair covers and pastel walls? Maybe it is mid century sofas and 1960’s kitchen cabinets? To me all of that is lovely. I have pieces in my home collected from both of my Grandmothers and my Mother, as well as some other special women, such as aunties. I also have pieces from garage sales and ebay and gumtree and charity stores.
There is so much flexibility when adding vintage pieces. You might bring something into your home and leave it as is, like the blue and white kitchen cabinet from my grandma which now sits in our entry hall, or upcycle it with some paint, stencils, or other finishes, to create an entirely new look. This old shelf had sat folorn for years, along with some jugs, a vase and a teapot I never really liked – now they all look amazing thanks to some paint effects. We have recently painted all of our timber floors and refreshed most of the rooms in our home, with our own signature style.
The reason that the “Nana Style” label is used as a put down, is to say it is “old fashioned”, daggy in some way, out of step with the “modern” styles. It is to encourage, (force) you to go out and buy what is “on trend”, as god forbid you would decorate with too much old stuff…and be on the outer.
If you really want to embrace a sustainable way of living in your home, there is no reason for someone else to tell you how to do it. Just feel your way. Find what you love to see in your home, fill it with the things that make you happy. It can be Nana, or Grandpa, or Boho, or Modern, or Gone With The Wind, or Country Charm, or Barbie Fun House ( I just made some new style genres for sure!) for all I care – as long as you love it. I love my home to be filled with a majority of vintage, plus a mix of new items I have bought from local designers and creatives when I can afford it and find something I need, or totally adore and want in my life. As for Nana, I am partial to a doily, a lace tablecloth, and old chairs and cupboards from the 1940’s – 1960’s. I love my chippy cupboards and roadside finds, with a touch of industrial thrown in for good measure. I thrive on a boho style with a blend of colour and pattern. I would be hard pressed to define my style as anything but Helen’s House.
So go the Nana. Embrace it with everything you have and load your house with the old, the comfortable, the special, and the worn. Add some doilies and a bit of crochet. Lay your table with china teacups and pour your leaf tea from a special pot. Having some nana in your home shows the stories that have come before you and the paths that people have taken. It reminds you that you are here for but a fleeting moment, and that other people have walked before, and will walk after you. It reminds you not to be selfish. It showcases your unique style and makes a statement about how much you value the energy, recources and time that goes into making stuff, and your commitment to trying to preserve and celebrate the old, and pass these on for someone else to enjoy when you are done.
**update of a post originally shared in 2016