Decorating trends and DIY dreams

Kym Seabolt's house

As a popular joke goes, if I really want to get Mr. Wonderful’s attention, I need only to wander past him with a tape measure in hand and mumble something about “load-bearing wall.” It strikes fear into his heart every time. 

On that note, I think everyone needs to applaud the remarkable self-control it takes for me not to ask Mr. Wonderful to bring home an entire massive sandstone porch assembly I saw listed for sale. It’s just a simple old thing consisting of seven pillars, 40 feet of header, six dozen posts, and an assortment of archway and framing stones that will require an 18-wheeler and an excavator to disassemble. It is large and fancy and wholly impractical. This is absolutely in my wheelhouse. 

Speaking of impractical items, I continue to haunt thrift stores and online sources for an oversized antique mirror. As noted above, I am a huge fan of impractical and unwieldy things. If it requires a pickup truck, a red flag on the end and four strong men — take my money! 

I’m not saying I first loved our son-in-law when he carried a claw foot tub across the yard and up three flights of stairs for me — but it certainly didn’t hurt his credibility. Side note: you might want to make “ability to lift 500 pounds” a requirement for dating your child. 

Do it yourself

As an avid DIY-er, I have just come down from the high of our recent closet-turned-bookshelf renovation. A “closet” only in the loosest sense, it was more accurately an alcove with a door. We removed the door, added shelves, and now we have a gorgeous built-in bookshelf. 

I’m so pleased with it that I thanked Mr. Wonderful for a solid week. It’s important to express gratitude when a man spends his weekend with his head and shoulders stuck inside a dusty old closet for me. He may have thought he could rest on that accomplishment for a while. 

He’s adorable. 

I am a home project junkie. I have accepted this as fact. Mr. Wonderful has accepted it as his fate. We renovated our kitchen six years ago. This means that by modern standards it is hopelessly outdated. I am already over the gray-washed finishes and circa 2016 gray color scheme. 


Now that the “modern farmhouse” trend is over a decade old, it has become de rigueur to poke fun at the scripted signs prompting us to “Live, Love, Laugh,” or “Gather.” We were, in fact, ahead of the times on that one. A few years back, BoyWonder and Mr. Wonderful conspired to make a graceful, script-lettered sign for our porch that said “Leave.” I don’t care. I love it.

“Farmhouse style” is a decorating movement just like any other. It played out beginning to end in the age of visual social media programming. This fact seems to make it a target for derision today. 

Farmhouse style with its wash of cool gray and white is to today what “Early American ” was to the 1970s. I’m no history major, but it’s fairly well established that the early Americans did not actually have plaid sofas, plastic eagles on everything, and deep pile shag carpet. 

Each generation embraces a look. Don’t even get me started on the white country geese with blue bows that dominated the late 1980s. Take note: They are coming back. 

My style

My new trend is dark, wallpaper, maybe a hint of ’80s meets William Morris with a swing by a library book sale and a dash of the set of Golden Girls. Very few things in our home match, and I’m fine with that. I call my particular decorating style “early auction.” 

It is also very popular for people who make shadow boxes and other found art out of the wonderful items they find while renovating a historic structure. Buttons, boots, scraps of wallpaper, old silver and fancy apothecary bottles are just a few of the finds that will end up on display. 

Our house is over 120 years old, and we’ve done a great deal of remodeling. Taking up floors, extensive gardening, digging, grading and hard scaping. I keep waiting to find something rare and amazing. So far, in addition to the recent coupon (expired circa 1956), we have found a few spent shotgun shells, one spoon, a mummified squirrel and half of a little toy car from the mid-20th century. Also beer cans. So many beer cans. 

I just choose to keep moving forward with my projects and count my blessings. We have a home to renovate which is certainly a gift. Not to mention that any day I don’t find a cursed doll, evil mirror or a painting that changes every time you look at it in this old house is a good day as far as I’m concerned.


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