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New England High WASP Meets Swedish Empire, Meets Santa Barbara Semi-Tropics

This is my mother’s house. The living room, one morning last week. Christmas wreath still hanging above the fireplace. Signs of High WASP eclecticism everywhere.

My mother said to me, in the midst of the semi-chaos, “You should do something for yourself.” A mani-pedi wasn’t in the cards. But it was completely possible to take pictures here and there. I asked both my mother and stepfather for permission to put up these photos, and they were kind enough to agree.

Their house is a classic merger, of old, new, Sweden, New England, Santa Barbara. And a couple of families.

For example, desks. From New England.

From Sweden. With new technology. And old.

Clocks. From Tiffany.

And somewhere in Sweden. Now next to a thermostat. As a house isn’t a museum, after all. And winter’s cold, even in Santa Barbara. Especially if you just got out of surgery.

Avocado trees. Palms. And tropical flowers that grow like weeds. Maybe they are weeds here.

Flowers sent to the hospital. And carried home. Murano glass candies, to be played with by grandchildren. Very useful in teaching the ultimate High WASP principle, i.e., delayed gratification.

And, like families everywhere, a wall of pictures.

Brothers, sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters, mother, cousins, stepfather. Family.

Images: me. First one with a Panasonic Lumix. The rest with my iPhone and the ShakeIt fauxlaroid application. Because if you can’t do a real photo shoot, fake it in low-fi. If it’s good enough for Hollister Hovey, it’s more than good enough for me.

41 Responses

  1. Darn! cyberspace just swallowed my comment — wanted to say what a gorgeously light-filled space your mother's home is — if you have to be away from your own house (oh dear, I'm forgetting all the High Wasp semantics around home/house which I remember you discussing earlier), at least you're surrounded by beauty and comfort — and light! I can't get over the light! Sooo very different from up the Pacific Northwest Coast, so very non-grey!
    Thanks for inviting us in.

  2. Great images – love how your mother has combined the different elements in her home, yet everything looks classic. High WASP, indeed. :)

  3. What a wonderful home. European antiques with California casual, a great combination.

  4. I LOVE eclectic houses…and this mix is no exception! In my office I have a entire wall of photos. The cleaning people hate it, but I think every house should have one!

    Thanks for sharing the photos! Love it!

  5. Thanks everyone. It's funny, kind of hard to get back in the blogging saddle after last week. I was hoping you all would like the photos.

  6. Lovely home! I was expecting some white or dove-gray Gustavian…if not a tiled stove…but this will do! The empire console with soapstone (?) top reminds of one my parents had with gilt fittings, marble top, and porcelain insets. It's so interesting how some forms persist.

  7. What makes a house breathe history is not the artifacts, but that wall of family photos. Every house should have "the wall"

    I just love the big windows that lets in all the warmth of the sun. Your Mom's home is so warm and inviting.

    Happy your Step Dad is well on his way to recovery.

  8. What a welcoming charming house! I love the personal touches! So many fun treasures!

  9. Thank your Mother and Stepfather, for allowing the share of her home. I can easily see the care and restraint in the Merger. Well done.

    Always Bumby

  10. I adore the cocktail table. I would be HUGE if we grew avocado trees! Tell you Mamacita gracias for giving us a peek into her beautiful home!

  11. Yummy fabulous! Got your question on the blog! How it came about? Do you mean how I got in the show? Need more defining so I know how to answer! xo

  12. I love that living room – it's so spacious and light and airy. And I'm about to cry over the palm trees and tropical flowers; it's all of 19 degrees here. *sigh*

  13. You could walk right in to that fireplace! It looks really homey, and that light fills this midwesterner with envy.

  14. Hello LPC:
    Seeing this living room vividly recalled a trip I took to Santa Barbara more than 30 years ago, when I stayed in a similar house where East Coast Wasp was reworked and made modern, and clean. Lovely. How perfect the melding of that sensibility with Swedish, the ones who really "get it" in my books. We have some Gustavian chairs at Darlington and they are marvelous. Your mother's living room reminds me of photos of some of Francis Elkins' California interiors, check those out if you haven't seen them yet in the book published on her recently. My Darling grandparents had a similar wall of framed family photos in their house in Grosse Pointe, and I will forever associate such walls with thoughtful and caring grandparents.

  15. I will let my mom know about all your kind words. Jill – which is the cocktail table? Ha. Funny I don't know. And Reggie, there are some books on that designer. Great present idea for mom and stepfather. Thanks. Julia, my mom made the white tile bordering the fireplace:). Do you see why I liked your white on white pillow so much?

  16. And now I want to go back to SB. Yes, I was just there … but I never grow tired of that place. Sigh …..!

  17. I think your mother's house is lovely! I especially love the tiled floor, the light, and the airy feeling about it.

  18. That beautiful white fireplace just jumps out at me. There should always be a wreath there.

  19. A wall of family photos is hands down one of my fav things in anyones home. Particularly fun in a powder room. Kinda makes the visit to the loo exciting…XXOO

  20. For some reason, when I read your headline on my bloglist, I conjured up an image of Connecticut farmhouse meets IKEA meets Florida retirement home. Ugh. God knows where my sub-conscious comes up with these things.

    Obviously, I should expect better than that from your blog. Your mom's home is beautiful.

    It reminds me a bit of my parents' condo in Melbourne, which is much smaller, but has that same lightness, white furnishings — a little classic, a little eclectic, not showy, very comfortable.

    We don't have a wall of photos though. Maybe next time I visit, I will make one for them, as a gift.

  21. A charming living room. Each article has its place and is well thought through, yet there is place for imagination for each and everyone of us. The wall of family pictures inspires me now to rearrange some of my photos too.

  22. Interesting, the wall of photos. All my family members have had them and I always hated them (most of all my photos, probably), so I've never done one. Also, I came to understand, since coming to England that it's not the done thing. Photos are supposed to be on horizonal surfaces (on the piano if one has one). I've found this convenient as one of my Grandmother's tables is decidedly fragile and covering it with photographs prevents anyone using it otherwise. Sadly, it's rather a graveyard collection of pictures.

    I notice your parents' wall of photos are not from Olan Mills, like mine, but rather fairly individual pictures in scenic spots. Also, they seem to all be in black or red frames, not a hodge podge of colours. Perhaps there isn't really a rule (other than perhaps being born into the right family) about photos and their placement.

  23. Oh yes. Very Santa Barbara. The look is like no other. I spent many a dangerous liason there. Your photos look terrific and capture the feeling very well. Hope everything has settled and all is well.

  24. I loved getting a little glimpse into your mother's home, Lisa. That fist room with the beautiful sunlight – it's lovely. And the wall of family photos – I have a soft spot for those. It all felt like getting a little glimpse into who you are, too. A very sweet post, my dear.


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