Friday, January 7, 2011

frontier living

my hometown, laramie wyoming, circa 1870

downtown laramie, circa 1870
for new year's eve this year, bill and i, along with my friend katie, went to see true grit. it was wonderful- really. i know you die-hard john wayne fans may be skeptical, but it's really a wonderful movie that feels like a true western. it also follows the story line and dialog of the book much more closely than the john wayne version so it doesn't feel like a remake- more like a re-imagining. anyway, this post isn't really about true grit, it's about the inspiration it fueled in me.

beautiful still from 'true grit'
i grew up in the closest remaining thing to the frontier of the old west- the state of wyoming. though we didn't ride horses to school (a question i am frequently asked, oddly enough), there are many ways in which wyoming hasn't changed since the days of the 'wild west'. wyoming is the second least densely populated state, second only to alaska. this is something that most wyomingites are fiercely proud of and something that a lot of town governments will protect (sometimes at the cost of economic development, but that's for another blog entirely). it takes a day to drive across the state. and many routes can be a beautiful, lonesome affair. you can drive for hours without seeing a town. on some of the backroads you can drive for hours and not see another car at all! it's a land of true wide-open spaces and rugged, almost surreal, landscapes.

wyoming-like no place on earth (yes, this is actually what the signs say as you enter the state!)

there are many things i love about living in the city, but i do miss the simplicity of small town life. i miss seeing endless stars at night, and unbelievable sunsets over the plains. it's been a very very long time since i've visited my step-family's ranch, or any ranch for that matter, but i can still conjure up the scent of the barn and the softness of a horse's nose. i may live in the city now, but i'm a wyoming girl at heart.

a beautiful old ranch building near my step-family's ranch in the little laramie valley
when i first moved to the city i tried to leave everything small town and country behind me and embrace my new, urban identity. as i've grown older though, and more accustomed to city life, i realize the country is part of my identity and always will be, no matter where i live. i started wearing cowboy boots again (and not always ironically). i've had a strong craving to ride horses lately. i've even been watching the old westerns, movies my grandfather was so fond of. the wyoming girl in me has come out of hibernation. and lately, with the help of beautiful, well done films like 'true grit', that wyoming girl wants to have a say in decorating our home!

wyoming horses at sunset
which brings me to the real theme of this post- i'm dreaming of doing some redecorating! my recent frontier inspiration, coupled with the fact we may be moving into a new apartment soon has my brain working overtime with decor ideas. i probably won't actually start any projects until we find out if we're moving or not, but i thought i'd share some of my schemes and dream finds with you. i know most of you have visions of log cabins and antlers when i say frontier style, but i believe it can encompass so much more...

lovely wool blanket on etsy (and what a wonderful photo!)

we've been trying to find new sheets lately and i can't find anything i like in a color that would match our bedroom and at price that we can afford (which is pretty much $0!). i've realized that i'm tired of all the bedroom textiles we've had since we married. i want new colors and new textures! i'm thinking a great place to incorporate some frontier spirit may be our bedroom. we could used a warmer blanket anyway so i've been considering trying to find an old wool army blanket to top our down comforter. there are some great ones on etsy and i may have even found one in our price range!  

however, if we incorporate a more rustic style in our bedding, a few more things will have to change. fortunately, since i sell vintage goods, i can sell a lot of what we currently have in order to pay for new items like...

new bedside tables. i love what my bestie melissa did with some old wooden crates. her's are very elegant looking with crystal lamps and mint julep cups (all vintage of course). if she doesn't mind me taking inspiration from her, i can imagine them lined with some old books pages and topped with some rustic bedside lamps. find more of melissa's amazing decorating ideas on her blog.

or perhaps instead of bedside lamps, some pendant lamps? these mason jar lamps have a great rustic vibe and while i can't afford this version from napa style, i'm pretty sure i could figure out a way to make something similar. 

of course, curtains are essential. we currently use 5 curtain panels in our bedroom- 2 on the window, 1 to cover the closet that doesn't have a door, and 2 to form a 'door' for the room since it's so small we had to take the door off the hinges in order to fit a queen sized bed in there- so whatever we find has to be affordable. i love the look of these linen panels in this london shop. it reminds me of being inside a tent. i'm envisioning a few skinny panels draping from the ceiling down over the window. 

in the dream version of our new bedroom, there would be enough room to have a hamper again! i hate having our hamper in the bathroom because i'm always laziest at night so there is a perpetual pile of dirty clothes on the floor in the bedroom! in this dream version of my bedroom, our hamper would be a vintage canvas laundry cart like this amazing one on etsy.

we're not currently using a headboard, but can't you imagine a headboard like this in a humble hotel in the old west?

now for a few detailed touches. maybe a full wall collage of old photos and tin types? or perhaps a map of the territories?

now all that's left is to pick a palate (well really i suppose this should have come first but i was so excited about all the exciting finds!). i've been thinking 2 or 3 colors- a drab green, charcoal grey, and possibly a dusty grey-blue. the color in these images really inspired me...

i'll keep you updated on the frontier living project as things progress. i'm excited to see all this inspiration come to life! what are you inspired by right now? i'd love to hear about your projects or inspirations! i'm also always happy to give input on how to bring your inspiration to life!


  1. hey what if you used drop cloths as your curtains? they are a good color and super cheap.they might also be a good texture to add for your western theme. i could help you sew them??? :)

  2. good idea melissa! maybe once we find out if we're moving you can help me make some decorating decisions for the new place?!