You open up magazines and look at other people's houses - or maybe at what other people's houses are supposed to look like - but they never look like mine. I love, love looking at houses. I love meeting new people and meeting new houses, which I guess is why I love my job as a real estate broker. So after seeing hundreds of homes every year you start to see the styles emerge.
You have the "hand me down house" which is where most of us start out. We get Moms old kitchen table, Grandma's tv trays and Uncle Billy's sofa that we throw a blanket over because it might have a hole in the arm but at least it is comfy to sit on. We start out here but hopefully after 5 or 6 years we start to buy our own things that define who we are.
So after much magazine reading and catalog shopping and buying of sofas and throwing out of sofas because of dogs and kids and general deterioration of sofas of a certain age, I have decided I have found my style... Pioneer Chic. (that is pronounced "Sheeeeck" not Chick - as some who read this before it was posted were concerned it might be)
Pioneer Chic is something that I made up to define what my house is and why. I'm sure the term has been used before but here is my definition. Pioneer Chic: A style dependant on taking old and bringing in new, letting the local culture influence new purchases while retaining those things you love and making it all work together.
I live in New Mexico and always pictured myself as a pioneer taking the wagon train across the prairie, having to leave grandma's hutch behind along the trail to make room for the flour we had to buy at the last fort. Maybe the next person on the trail picked it up and brought it home. My house is an eclectic mix of the old and new - what might be found if you peeked in a stone house in the old west - out there on the prairie.
I have a Mexican farm table made by a local woodworker - who also hand carved my thick slab of a pine mantle with corbels that graces the front of my stacked stone fireplace. I have a library of books in painted black built in bookcases along the wall. Included are cookbooks, old favorites and a stack of antique readers, hymnals and 1930s children's books. I bought a Mexican island with a table that pulls out of one side and another side that holds carved barstools. It has a wrought iron star that holds up the folding bar along the other side and a wonderful cabinet side that is big enough to hold my huge stewpot and cast iron skillets.
Beside that sits an antique wardrobe with a secretary desk that folds out that I bought from a local farming family who was downsizing. I have my great grandfather's 18 drawer cabinet that he made for my great grandmother with a shiny, metal top. My grandfather then used it for his woodworking tools in his shop and I brought it back into the kitchen when I remodeled my 1970s ranch house.
I have pie pans on the wall, white painted kitchen cabinets with a Silestone countertop and hardwood floors. It's not shabby chic, it's not country living, you can't go to the store and buy the look. It has to be acquired over time.... Buying or rescuing pieces you love. Just like the pioneers brought pieces from the east and traded for something new. I have silk on the windows and leather on the sofa. It isn't western, though I do have a small framed painting of a Hereford.
It's what little house on the prairie might be today, with enamelware next to crystal and a hand-blown Mexican bubble glass bowl of fruit on the table. It may not be out of a magazine but it's home.