“A Room of One’s Own”

Virginia Woolf wrote of a feminist freedom in her 1929 novel, A Room of One’s Own; she was way ahead of her time and said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” How you wish to furnish that room is another story. 

What do your design preferences reveal of your personality? Are you into minimalism: monochromatic rooms filled with sparse furniture and blank walls?  Or maybe the baroque, slightly tacky vintage aesthetic (Tiffany lamps, lots of velvet, fainting couches, heavy drapes)? Perhaps you’re a bohemian at heart with a fun-loving spirit (with beaded doorways, a lava lamp, yoga cushions, and succulents) or simply an overgrown college student (bean bag chair, anyone?). 

“All I want is a room somewhere

Far away from the cold night air

With one enormous chair

Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely?” 

–Lerner and Loewe, My Fair Lady (1956)

(Ingmar Bergman’s bedroom in Fårö, W Magazine)

  • Modernist, Minimalism: Hello, Ikea! When it comes to functionality (and monochromatic color schemes), the Swedes are revered. Simple, modern, monochromatic: do you prefer solid white or beige? Most minimalists are, of course, very neat, organized, and efficient. They also enjoy space! The “Less is More” aesthetic is all about clearing out the clutter and only having maybe one throw pillow on the sofa. Also, you probably have a twig of eucalyptus in your bathroom somewhere.

(Gloria Vanderbilt and Diana Vreeland photographed by Horst P. Horst in their over-the-top NYC apartments)

  • Vintage: What about a chenille bedspread? If you’re into antiquing and thrifting, you probably have an old handmade quilt somewhere (at the foot of your bed) and gewgaws and tchotchkes everywhere. If you love kitschy décor, you’re probably an old soul who is very thoughtful, playful, and into the fun in life. Your drapes are probably a funky color, and there are definitely feathers and/or dried flowers somewhere to be found. The furniture (and tub) has claw feet, and the dining room table is made from Formica. You have a tiled bathroom and a percolator on the stove. There are also lots of picture frames filled with loving faces, art on the walls, and maybe even a sculpture or two.

(Eudora Welty’s simple, light-filled Southern kitchen, photographed by William Eggleston)

  • “Shabby Chic,” Classic/Traditional Farmhouse: Are you interested in repurposing old items? If you see a piece of sturdy craftsmanship on the curb you probably take it in, clean it, wax it, paint it, etc. Sound familiar? This means that you’re very much into quality and well-made furnishings. Furniture used to be made to last and families passed down pieces through the generations. Do you own a family heirloom, something that belonged to your grandparents or even great-grandparents? If your old grandfather clock is what makes your heart go pitter-pat when it comes to décor, well, you’re obviously into antiques and keeping memories alive. You have reverence for the past. You also probably have hardwood floors, a butcher block table, an Oriental carpet, mason jars filled with flowers, and a kerosene lamp. 

(Frida Kahlo’s kitchen, “La Casa Azul” in Mexico City: Note the traditional Mexican clay pots and unexpected splashes of color)

  • Bohemian: What does your sofa look like? Is it covered in layers of throw blankets and decorative pillows of all shapes and sizes? Do you have contrasting patterns, fuzzy rugs, plants galore, bright paint schemes, a Buddha statue and some incense on the coffee table? Well, you are most definitely a free spirit! Don’t forget that all bohemian style aesthetics include candles on just about every surface and an altar complete with personal effects. 

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