Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Feminine Home

When I was a young woman living in England my favourite shop was Laura Ashley. I just loved browsing the rails of floaty, feminine dresses. Each time I visited a different city I would look out for the familiar green shop window and sigh as I stepped through the door. I always remember my first visit to a Laura Ashley store that also had a home wares section. The furniture, the wallpapers, curtains and cushions all spoke one word to me - feminine. It stirred something within me and I knew at that moment in time, that when I married, I wanted a 'Laura Ashley' home. Simply put, I wanted to express my femininity within my home.

Alas I could not afford to shop at Laura Ashley. I only ever window shopped and my visits were purely for inspiration! So you imagine my squeals of delight as I unwrapped the wedding gift from my parents - the sight of a large green box embellished with that most feminine of names - and inside folds of crisp, white tissue paper, a cream lace bedspread. Exquisite - it graced our bed for many years. We also received as a wedding gift, a set of Laura Ashley lace napkins which still sit in the drawer where I store table linen and candles. The only other authentic Laura Ashley decorator touch we could afford was a floral wallpaper border which added a most romantic touch to the living room walls of our first home - remember when wallpaper borders were all the rage? I understand they are coming back into fashion and wallpaper is back and walls are once again being festooned with floral designs. I have kept a sample of that Laura Ashley border. It is tied up with yellow ribbon and is stored in my memory box.

I'm not about to whip out the wallpaper paste and some of those new floral designs are just a tad too bold for me but I love to express my femininity within my home and today I would like to show you just one of those ways.

I say it with flowers! I don't have the time to arrange elaborate bouquets or the finances to purchase big bunches of flowers, so I have to use what is in my garden. We grow more vegetables than flowers but each winter I rejoice as the camellias come into bloom. I stepped outside into the garden today and snipped a few blooms. A shallow glass lid sits in this urn and it took just minutes to tuck in a few flower heads. The decorative urn cost me nothing - it was plucked off the 'free stuff' table at a garage sale last weekend by my eleven year son who knew I would like it! Like it? I love it and can also see it being piled high with limes or used to hold a pillar candle at Christmas surrounded with roses and greenery.

Even single blooms placed in a bottle or even a jam jar can add a feminine touch. The white camellia in the reproduction green glass honey jar is scented. A clear glass milk bottle is perfect for a camellia bud. Both these vintage style vessels were gifts from a friend, so thank you Michelle - I wanted you to see them on my blog! I usually display them together to remind me of God's promises to His people about the land that He would bring them to - a land flowing with milk and honey. Simple visual reminders of God's blessing and His goodness to my family.

If you have no flowers in your garden and cannot afford to buy bouquets you can still enjoy their beauty portrayed in paintings and of course on fabrics. I just love roses on everything but if that is all too much or too busy for you (I'm English and a lover of Laura Ashley remember!) just an occasional floral embellishment here and there can add that feminine touch. Did you notice the picture frames alongside my displays of camellias on the top of my piano? Roses on the border of the ceramic frame, roses in the design of the little pewter frames? Roses in the bouquet of my wedding photo and in the cross stitched 'Home Sweet Home' plaque. It is all deliberate! They also appear on the frame which graces my bedside table - a painted butler's tray which also also has some decorative floral folk art touches - not painted by me, it was a garage sale find. The lamp with its little touch of crystal was also found at a garage sale and given a new pleated shade from Target. I could not resist setting out the camellias I arranged today for this picture.

Here's a few more ways in which flowers are used to bring femininity into my home.

On my favourite china - a wedding anniversary gift from my husband and it is not roses but rather camellias and pansies which decorate these plates. One day I will find the perfect dresser on which to display this dinner service. I used my special china to create a backdrop for an Easter craft post for my blog and it is always my china of choice for a romantic anniversary or Valentine's dinner at home! I found the perfect flowers in my garden to create a centre piece - once again no skill required - just snip blooms and pop into a bowl and admire!

If you are a regular visitor to my blog you will know how much I love Christmas. This is another time of year when flowers come into my home - silk flowers embellish garlands and add a pretty finishing touch to gifts. It's just another way in which I use flowers to express femininity at home.

I also wear flowers! Love how just a little floral embellishment on clothing can express femininity. I was just days away from giving birth when this picture was taken. I always feel more feminine when I wear flowers!

Even when gardening!

I bought these lovely rose embellished gardening gloves for my aunt on the occasion of her diamond wedding anniversary. Are not they just delightfully feminine? My aunt told me she would wear them with her little black dress and pearls! She is in her 80's but has such a sense of humour! The trowel is engraved with their names and the date of their anniversary and hangs on the wall of their conservatory to remind them of their mutual love of gardening over the years.

Homemaking I do believe is in the heart of every woman and even though we may have different tastes, I think every woman wants to add some feminine touches to her home. Even the modern minimalist interiors on the pages of magazines will often feature feminine touches - the spiky leaves and a colourful bloom of a tropical plant in a tall vase set out on a hall table - plants and flowers are often what the stylist chooses to 'soften' or bring a feminine touch to what can be a stark or masculine look.

I just love what flowers bring into a home and for me they truly are an expression of my femininity. Their colours, their shapes, their scent, whether in an elaborate mixed bouquet or just a single bloom, immediately uplift the senses. And as I have shared, even when there are no fresh flowers on display, I can still enjoy their beauty in the adornment of fabric, china and on other accessories found in my home and yes, I can even accessorize myself with flowers and feel more feminine, with my choices of clothing, with perfume (love perfumes with floral notes!) even when wearing gumboots in the garden, or an apron in the kitchen! The expression of femininity is experienced in the everyday life of my home. In those simple little touches - I'm aware I live with a man and I want him to feel comfortable here too, so I 'm careful not to go overboard with frills and flounces but those feminine finishing touches make even the most mundane of chores a more pleasurable experience.

How do you express your femininity at home?

With Love and Joy,


Finding Joy said...

One of my first special dresses as a teenager (in the early 1980's) was a Laura Ashley dress, very feminine and covered in tiny flowers. I loved it completely and felt so special. For a long while Laura Ashely fashion maintained that feminine look. However today to work I wore a Laura Ashely skirt and you probably would have no idea as it was a slight flared brown skirt with not a single flower in sight, very stylish but not like their previous clothing. Most of the clothes are bold and classic and certainly no patterns!! I still like the outfits though.

I also live pretty things and a girly girl at heart.

Farming On Faith said...

Oh I loved Laura Ashley too.
I so enjoyed this post.
We are still on our Anniversary trip. We are having a wonderful time. We will head home tomorrow.

Have a wonderful weekend my sweet friend!

Renata said...

Hi Ann
Another wonderful post - that has me dreaming of flowers everywhere! I love roses & anything pretty so this post was just for me!!
Even though our garden doesn't have a lot of flowers at the moment, I love to tuck a few geranium flowers or daisies into a jar! I have to tell you that I've found the perfect "pretty" photo frame to match the family tile you gave me - thank you it graces our entry way!
I hope you have a wonderful long weekend this weekend! We are just having a quiet one at home as Dave has an assignment due for uni (his 2nd last semester!!!! YAY!!!)
Love to you

Camille said...

*Love* your gardening boots Ann! :) I'm with you on the flowers and Laura Ashley beautiful! We have flowers on our kitchen walls (small Victorian print wallpaper), floral couches...and houseful of men! LOL! But, they like it (at least they seem to)...they have no choice. ;-)

Have a wonderful week!

Katy said...

I love the boots! :)
And all the flowers are lovely!
I agree...there has to be some love of homemaking and beauty in every woman's heart! :)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin