Monday, March 3, 2014

Fostering Your Creativity: Creating Your Own Bleak House {Home Tour}

In doing some research last week on Guillermo del Toro in preparation for teaching his film Pan's Labyrinth (more to come on that later this week), I came across this youtube video about the inspirational space he created in what he calls his Bleak House. (This, as a side note, is my favorite Dickens novel).


As del Toro describes it, his Bleak House is a cabinet of curiosities exploded, with art, models, toys, books, and films dripping from every surface - a "compression chamber" for the creative spirit. Granted, malformed marine biology specimens and Alfred Hitchcock's birds may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love the idea of creating a house that is a cabinet of curiosities targeted toward your specific imagination. I find entering a house that looks like something directly out of a Restoration Hardware catalog depressing. While such homes are indeed beautiful, they have no personality. I call this "Stepford Wife" decorating, since it requires a hefty bank account more than thought or creativity.

My house may not be perfect, but you can tell it's mine. I believe that material objects radiate some kind of power, especially when they evoke a special reaction in you as their owner. I try to only bring something into my home if I find it unique and evocative. Here are a few of my favorite spaces and objects in our home, and I'll tell you why.

I've posted about our stairs here (I also change them up by the season; here they are at Halloween and at Christmas). The images going up the wall inspire me every night when I go to bed or make my way up to my office to work (I've posted about them here). I also like to keep books on my reading list on the stairs. I then don't forget where they are;). 
I won this hand-carved bird at a silent auction of African art benefiting a local arts collective. I had had a few too many glasses of wine that evening, bid more than I should have at the very last moment, and carried this three-foot bird home at the end as a result. I'm not sorry. He's a majestic thing, and is carved entirely out of one block of wood. The Raven block suggests my favorite poem, the photograph is of my grandparents at "The Cannonball House" (famous because it has a cannonball stuck in the foundation), and the angel is from my nephew's funeral (a sad reminder to live everyday as though it might be my last). 
Some of the art up in the house. My Aunt had a small version of this Vogue print in her house, and I loved it as a small girl. When I saw it in a local Goodwill, I swooned, and snapped it up for over the mantle in the new house when we moved in. The middle one I also found at Goodwill. I love its magic (I often imagine myself walking down the stream into the orange light beyond).  The piece on the right my mom commissioned from a local tattoo shop because she saw a version of it hanging on the wall and knew I would love it. She was right. 
I really do have a cabinet of curiosities. Most people would put china in such a built-in in the dining room, but I think that's boring (well, I do have china, but it's my Alice china, so that's more exciting;)). Everything in here is special to either myself or my husband. 
The Poe boys. Next to the Bibles. I've written about the Poes here. The Bibles my dad found in an old house he was working on and was allowed to keep them. They've been around as long as I can remember. 
Even the magnets have meaning. I buy a new one every time I go somewhere (or have been given them as gifts). Alice, for example, came all the way from Italy.
What inspires you most in your home? How have you made it into an environment that brings out the best in you? A/J
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