As you know, I’m in the process of learning about gardens and interiors what I knew about clothes. So I spend a lot of time studying, on the Internet.
Information abounds. However, with several decades of adulthood and opinions under my belt, I work at keeping my mind open to new ideas and methodologies. I always find a good taxonomy prevents bias. Don’t you?
I now envision style education across these two axes:
- Inspiration: Everything beautiful, totally your taste, who cares if it’s impossible!
- Education: Valuable skills, techniques, and principles, no matter whether you share the tastes of the imparter or not.
Business school ahoy!
I made a matrix, using Photoshop gradients, as the Internet taught me. Luckily I know I’m a dope about PS, so I pay the tutorials all due respect.
In old school business school tradition, the matrix generates four quadrants, and categories. Let’s review!
- High Inspiration, Low Education: Eye Candy. Wow that 13th century French manor is gorgeous, no I’m not going to replace my ranch house with yellow sandstone any time soon.
- High Education, Low Inspiration: Lessons. Detailed, well-thought-out instructions on how to paint a bookcase, from someone who wants to match the colors of their ruffled valance to a mound of teddy bears.
- Low Inspiration, Low Education: Black Hole. Run away! The Internet abounds in this kind of stuff, ugly stupid directions on how to design ugly stupid spaces. Clickbait. The price of all that free good information.
- High Inspiration, High Education: Flow. Almost impossible to find, in my case, and maybe in yours. Very little content focuses on how precisely to decorate a 1950’s ranch house in a slightly bohemian but Sturdy High WASP vein, or how to plant a disciplined garden of California natives. Sort of like looking for another Over-50 Polished Tomboy blog.
Good learning demands the capacity to absorb way more than you are ever going to use.
And here are some site examples in the quadrants, for my particular tastes. Yours, of course, will vary. You guys recommended many of these links, by the way, thank you.
- Eye Candy: These sites train the eye, and help uncover universal principles. Beautiful, cool, hip even if you’re unlikely to wear that, paint your room that color, or build a parterre. And never say never.
- Faux Fuchsia (so vivid, so amusing)
- Frock Philosophy (ladylike, such understanding of color)
- Grechen’s Closet (I tried to dress like her, can’t, love how she has developed a style that is so uniquely hers)
- Accidental Icon (the hair! the sunglasses! the attitude!)
- Door 16 (she does that wooden floor sparse furnishings thing so well)
- Manhattan Nest (ripping up floors with the best of them. My gosh but that man has a good eye.)
- ABCD Design (a gorgeous old stone house on the East Coast with a barn)
- My Scandinavian Home (just what it says. White-washed room upon white-washed room. Learning the art of sparse.)
- Mrs. Blandings (the Givenchy of personal interior blogs. She paints her own walls.)
- Down to Earth (quite different, this one. An Australian women who lives off the land, the inspiration is all about a simple home existence, no focus on beauty at all)
- And, of course, Pinterest – My two favorite interior pinners are Susan Daniel and cevd.
- Lessons: Not your taste or geography – Some of the most useful sites I know are written by people whose taste differs widely from my own. These women wear brighter clothes, design more formal gardens, and use a lot of yellow. And, they know their stuff.
- Imogen Lamport at Inside Out Style (the science of clothing that suits you)
- Tara Dillard (gardens with gravel and lessons on design)
- Maria Killam (houses with vivid pastels, a disciplined approach to choosing paint colors)
- Emily Henderson (all kinds of on-trend interior styling and really useful design tips)
- Allyson at That’s Not My Age (an over-50 style blogger also fond of tomboy gear but the real deal)
- Chronica Domus (writing about a very civilized lifestyle, her post on lemons has been good for my cutting boards)
- Dirt Simple (The most beautiful garden blog I’ve found. Although she’s in Michigan, her container plantings can teach anyone anywhere how to do good pots.)
- Black Hole: Would I subject you to a list of horrible sites? Nope.
Of course, all this theory and deconstruction reveals nothing in and of itself. I use it here, as in the rest of life, as a way to keep my own prejudices and preconceptions at bay, to remind myself to always test assumptions before coming to an answer.