Wow, I must be hungover. My husband and I went to two -- TWO -- restaurants this week and had ourselves a good ole time. We are now on a mission to explore every honky tonk and sushi joint this side of the 405 (freeway that is). I'm so into my new neighborhood, we've come up with our own hand sign. WLV in the hooooooouse. And if you haven't guessed it, yes, I am a dork. Nice to meet you.
Last week, I delved into the idea of maximalism without the maxed out credit card. Being on a budget does not mean depriving yourself of style and taste. Heck, my Nana had oodles of style and she knew how to do it on a dime. She grew up during the Depression, and for you youngsters, that meant luxuries like buying a couch instead of reupholstering was not an option. Of course everything was built to last back then. She had a burgundy mohair couch before it was cool. Well, it was probably cool when she did it, then it went out of style and now it's back again. But the point is she knew classic style when she saw it.
And come to think of it, my Nana is my taste guru. My grandma was class all the way. But she wasn't the baking and knitting kind of grandma. She was the "let's go see the new raunchy indie comedy" kind of grandma. She loved museums and art and travel and hanging out with her friends. Every room I've designed for my own house, harkens back to her. I'll never forget the day she introduced me to Domino magazine. She told me to rip out the pictures of the designs I liked and pin them to a board so I can remember the things I liked. I think every page got ripped out... this is the picture that sealed the deal:
She told me, "You can do this, too." She was in her 80s and she liked lucite and splatter art. Yeah, my Nana was cool.
But I'm going to stop talking about my amazing grandma and start talking about granny style in general. What is it? How do I do it? And why would I want to do it?
granny stye in a nutshell
Granny style, grandma chic, grandmillenial, Crazy English Grandma -- or whatever you kids are calling it -- can be defined by dust ruffles, pleats, floral patterns, saturated colors, wicker and doilies. Don't forget the doilies. Typically, the grandma-style enthusiast has a healthy stash of flea market finds, lest we forget our older generations were the ultimate hoarders. Design maven, Emily Henderson, said it best in her post "New (Old) Trend Alert".
But nothing says it better than a photo round up:
Now, this is a look. Pattern on pattern on pattern. It requires commitment, daring, and just a little bit of twinkle, just like my Nana. It is not for everyone, however, and it actually might not be for me. **GASP**. I know, I thought I would be all in, too. It's got the four "c"s: crazy, cool, color, cheap. And by cheap, I mean frugal. In fact, by being frugal and buying furniture used, you are helping the planet. So I strongly encourage shopping vintage when and wherever possible.
But why am I not feeling this obvious slam-dunk design style for myself? For one thing, I love modern design, too, so where would I hang my beloved "Radiohead" subway poster? Or my collection of MCM chairs? No, sadly, this will not do. And as I always say, "if I can define it, I'm not challenging myself" (I actually never said that, but I've felt it in my heart for the longest time). In other words, it's missing that tension and indefinable "it" factor that makes it go from "that's pretty cool" to "crazy but works." So for all those interior designers out there that feel the same way I do, here is the alternative:
You didn't expect that floral couch, didya? If it were any other sleek and sexy couch, somehow it would be trying too hard. Same with the white vases and flowers. Juxtaposed with the bright and modern elements, they are stand outs. Too much modern, it would lack soul.
how do i get this granny style?
Now comes my favorite part. Examples. Let's kick it off with wallpaper. Grannies love wallpaper and so do I (click on picture for link):
I don't know which one is my favorite! I could put any of these up on my wall right now and be happy.
Wallpapers are easy. The hard part comes when trying to find appropriately grandma-esque furniture. It has to be that perfect mixture of shape, size, pattern, and color to make it work. Here are some of my favorite ready-made brand new sofas to inspire you:
I know, I know, I'm cheating by using Anthropologie, but how can I possibly avoid them when we're talking GRANNY STYLE here? It would be like discussing the Sci Fi genre without recognizing Star Wars as the pivotal film by which all others are judged??????
But if we want true granny style, might I pose this scenario: why not buy a vintage sofa and NOT reupholster it? Now that's Nana Style, which is a step above the ole pedestrian granny style. Here are some sofas that are perfect as-is:
Of course, if you go this route, you can get your sofa professionally cleaned. 🧽 🧼 🧹 (these images just popped up on my laptop and goshdarnit I'm going to use them). Now pair them with an ultra modern coffee table, some graffiti art and an industrial light and you've got yourself a cool little vignette on your hands:
Why Granny Style? Why now?
I figured something out in my advanced age... being cool means not giving a damn. When I was young(er), I was so eager to replace anything not labeled "cool" for the new, shiny thing. Granny style requires a certain fuck-it attitude. It means taking chances but also listening to your instincts. And Nana, in all her wisdom, told me on an almost weekly basis: "Everything comes back in style."
And she was the coolest. That woman grew up during the Depression on a farm in Indiana. While her brothers and friends went to war, she built bombs in a factory. Then she left her ancestral home where all her family had lived since the 1700s and moved to California alone where she met my grandpa. She survived breast cancer, owned property, became the main breadwinner of her family and became a teacher. And on a sunny day sometime after her 65th birthday, she decided she had enough and quit right on the spot. She traveled across the globe, had many, many friends, and enjoyed life to the fullest. So whatever I think about "grandma chic", if it has anything to do with my Nana, it has to be cool.
Love and miss you, Nana. I wish you could be here to see my new house!