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  • Writer's pictureWendy Elizabeth

New Ways with Old Homes

I was reading a book the other day on how not to look old; the fact that I was even reading it speaks volumes, but after turning fifty I entered that magical place of being technically older (whether I liked it or not) and feeling like the universe had made some type of horrible mistake. I thought that I wasn’t quite old enough to be fifty, and I still had so much left to do. Even though age had never bothered me at all, I felt like all of a sudden I had a sign on my head announcing that I was older, and maybe it was about time to start acting accordingly.

So, I bought a book, and basically, the book said that we should ignore the number, try to stay youthful in our ideas, have a sense of humor, and prop up (prettily) all the things that are falling down.

This got me thinking, and I realized that homes are very similar to people; there is nothing wrong with them having age and character, but they also need a small injection of youth now and again. So, with thoughts of botox (no, not yet) and hair dye (of course) in mind, here are a few ways to battle the old, gray areas, and bring a touch of vibrancy back into your own home. FORMAL LIVING ROOMS

Old Way: A curated, untouchable space for company and special occasions.

New Way: Use it every day. Make it more cozy and welcoming by bringing in what you really need to make it livable. Mix up the styles, and add some casual, personal bits and pieces.


Old Way: The place where old furniture and everyday messes went to hide. Not a place for company.

New Way: Mix in a few nicer items to perk it up a bit. Add some color if it seems a little dull. Tidy it up at the end of the day, and (if needed) be practical and add a decorative container or basket for collecting garbage.


Old Way: Bed in a Bag (we’ve all done it before, but the fabric is usually itchy, no-one really wants a European Sham anymore, and they are really far more expensive than they should be).

New Way: Choose your linens based on total comfort and personal preference, not your wall color.


Old Way: Covering the windows up with a decorative valance. Decorating the top of the cupboard with dried (and fake) flower arrangements, plastic ivy and wicker baskets.

New Way: Lighten up the kitchen by removing all but the most necessary curtains. Banish any plant and food that isn’t real, or can’t be used. Your kitchen should feel warm, useful and alive, not dusty and fake.


Old Way:   Covering the windows with heavy valances, sheers and swooping curtains with tie-backs.    

New Way: Remove valances and tie backs. Hang your curtain panels simple and straight. Take the curtain rod a few inches above and beyond the window frame to add height and light.  


Old Way: Shop the showroom, and buy an entire room, or a matching set that goes with what you already have.

New Way: Decide what you like (need?) before you go to the store, and, deliberately pick and choose items from different stores; your home will feel far more interesting if you buy it in pieces rather than all at once.


Old Way: Defining yourself by a particular style. Being loyal to a brand, trend or an idea.

New Way: Buy according to what you really like and need, not what others say and do. Be fickle in your choices, and let your heart and budget make your decisions for you.

p.s. The fabulous photograph is of Iris Apfel, a designer, fashion icon, and a great source of inspiration (age 93).

For more by Wendy and the Blue Giraffe, go to:

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