Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Decorating With Betty

It's no secret that Betty Debbie and I let pretty much everything in our lives go to pot when we embarked on our Betty World Tour.  So, it's been really interesting to take my nose out of a book and look around the house for once.  Eek.  It needs refreshing.
One of my current obsessions is design blogs (here's one I follow) and as I was cruising around the inter-web-nets this morning I saw a rug that I didn't just love a little.  But...was it Betty-worthy?

Not this rug but like this rug
On one hand it was referencing a classic element (sort of a wicker caning) but on the other hand, it was clearly contemporary.  So, what do you think?  Would The Great Betty have given this a pass on it's classical merits or would she scorn it as unworthy due to its obviously non-Aubusson origins?

I usually adore the world that The Venerable Neels decorates in my mind's eye: Shabby-cozy for the cottages and Grandly-traditional (but no less cozy) for the castles which is also echoed in a smaller manner for any RDD's pied a'-terre.

My question is: Using two words, what is your decorating style and how does it part ways with La Neels?


  1. Decorating style: Traditional Eclectic.

    My mother's theory was that if you buy things you like, they'll go together. Of course, that worked with my mother, whose taste was darned close to impeccable without looking "designed."

    I have noticed, however, that once you fall in love with a style (Craftsman, Art Nouveau, Louis XIV, etc., etc.) you can't pull off the "eclectic" thing.

    So my current house is 200+ years old and the paint scheme (which I never changed) is white walls with wood trim painted in Williamsburg colors. I never would have picked it, but I just decorated around it because I realized that it helped set the right tone for the house.

    My previous house, now Betty Henry's house, is a mid-Victorian side-hall townhouse. A few of the pieces I own are still there simply because they wouldn't work here.

    Here's my office, to give you an idea of my style. It's in the basement, which is newer construction and thus not as specific in style.

  2. Traditional Comfort.

    We both like pieces that stand the test of time, style-wise, but they must first and foremost be comfortable and USABLE. No fussy stuff to worry about little (or large) hands messing up. We used to have cobblestone rugs in the living and dining rooms but Faron insisted we take them up when I started to use the walker and scooter more. He's right but I loved those rugs. They wear like iron and the color blends hide so many ... things. ;-)

    We still have many hand-me-down pieces of furniture. Not sure we'll ever "out grow' that. Some of them I love - my mother's china cabinet, for instance. Others I detest - my sister's dinette set, for one. UGH, I hate it - Formica top with a butcher block pattern, and shiny chrome legs, and the chairs, while very comfortable, are BUTT UGLY - fawn colored fake leather with chrome frames. Faron actually likes it, and this is a bone of contention, as you might imagine.

    As he's not working yet, at least we can't fight over replacing it. ;-)

    As for the rug, while it is contemporary to a degree, the colors are so traditional and neutral I think Betty would have quite liked it, in an eclectic setting like one of her cozy cottages.


  3. Betty Barbara here--
    Comfort rules!!
    The one time I had real money to actually decorate I ended up with non-shabby cottage with a Victorian edge. I have a lovely Edwardian side-board(huge)and a Victorian era mahogany round dining room table. But my rugs are faux oriental(no apologies), my family heirloom Victorian bedframe/headboard is in storage(though we are still using the chest of drawers). I used to love keepsakes and knick-knacks--I now view them as evil dust-catchers.
    If I had the money to start from scratch it would be Mission/Arts&Crafts, with Art Nouveau touches. I'm not too much on Tiffany lamps, but a Tiffany or LaFarge stained glass panel for a window--oh yeah!!
    Okay lotteries--come to mama!!

  4. Here's a question to rabbit trail: Do you think Betty's appeal crosses racial/cultural boundaries? I mean, looking at the "Conquering The World" map, it'd seem so, but she's so "white bread," in her line of characters and life-styles, and all of her characters are at least nominally Christian.

    We've observed that either you love her books or find them bland as blancmange but does one have to be from a certain demographic to find her appealing?


  5. Betty Cindy -- I don't have an answer to your question, but it reminds me of a recent flurry of questions about why we all love England as the setting for most historical romances. (There are quite a few romances set elsewhere, but they're all rather notable for being *not* set in England.)

    There's something about England that many of us like. First, it's a pretty country. Second, they speak English here, so none of that vexing business of not knowing what the locals are saying. Third, they're rather reserved, so when they DO fall in love, it's swoonier than if they were the types to give it up for a new someone every year or so. (That last point is true in real life to, as I know with my consecutive Brit Hubs.)

    As for Betty Neels, well the only complaints I've seen are about their old-fashioned values (which aren't particularly religious, at least not in the romance novel sense) and, uh, homogeneity.

    But if you like those two elements, or if you like The Great Betty's writing despite those two elements, then it's a joy that she wrote 134 stories.

    The other thing I'd say is that this blog is so superior to all other blogs about romance novels, well, I suspect someone may have read their first Betty Neels just to get in on the fun!

  6. "Swoonier" There are no words to say how much I love that word.

  7. My mother used to say, when we were young, that her decorating style was "Early-American Childhood."

    B. Baersma