What if Martha Stewart liked dinosaurs and Studio Ghibli movies a lot more? What if she liked taking the time to do things perfectly a lot less?
I think that all things in the world should be done in the way that reflects what is important to you, what makes life a little more enjoyable for you – not the way things “should” be done, not the way things are usually done, not the way people will tell you things have to be done. Every time you conform to your own tastes rather than some other standard, you’re making a little choice to live the kind of life that you value. So when I use a toy dinosaur as part of my decor, its just one small part of choosing my own kind of life. Fortunately, Thom also likes dinosaurs, and skulls, but also sunlight coming into a room with white curtain so our house is.. cohesively eclectic.
Here are six of my favorite atypical decor touches from around the house – I like to think that most of these are simple, just a little unexpected, and random in just the right way.
- Nerdlair Window Ledge “Terrariums” and Jars
The floor plans call this a game room, but we call it The Nerdlair. On the window seat I have glass terrariums and jars filled with not tiny plants and whatever one typically puts in jars. Instead, there are little figures from Super Mario Brothers and Princess Mononoke, a set of buttons featuring video game art that I had produced as swag for a work event, and a set of Kiki’s Delivery Service cards that my friend brought back from Tokyo Game Show.
My original vision was jars and bell jars and beakers and vials, all filled with small interesting things, to give off sort of a mad science lab feel. The way it turned out, I don’t really think hit that original vision- but I like the way it is. Sometimes the way you picture something isn’t the best way it can turn out.
2. Stone Dinosaur Repeat
We bought these little stone dinosaurs (and some other stone animals) on one of our trips – I can’t remember for sure if it was Wyoming, or maybe our desert roadtrip. I know that I wasn’t sure at the time why we needed three of these little dudes, but I felt like we did. They had been part of an arrangement with some other dinosaurs (see below) on the shelf in our tiny master bedroom at our previous house, trying to give some sense of design to a room that could barely hold it’s furniture. At this house they just lurk above the stairs in a repeat pattern.
3. Nausicaa Planter, Now with 300% More Succulent
The seeds which came with this, which I totally did not bring back from Japan without being totally sure if it was cool with customs totally failed to thrive in the window light of Texas. (Totally because I totally didn’t bring them back from Japan, totally not because I let them get fried.) So I just filled it with dirt and replaced them with small cacti. These plants are doing well in there, and it’s a bit odd to me now to think that it was supposed to have a different type of plant in it entirely. Some people would probably do something about the dirty paper towels under it, but they don’t really make me any less happy when I look at it.
Random additional information: we also bought trees for the yard when we bought the succulents for this. I’ve got a vivid and amusing memory of the drive back with these in my hands and trees poking out of the Subaru’s moon roof…
4. Assorted Bottles, Beverage Bar
The mini-counter in the window of our kitchen is set up as the coffee-and-booze area. All the things we use for beverages are there, and also some things that are beverage themed but don’t necessarily make themselves useful. The orange sake set and the bottle behind it came from an old couple’s garage sale in Henry, Illinois. I visited my aunt during the brief time she lived there when I was about eleven – I think the sake set was about 50 cents. Behind it the black cat wine bottle slinks – its one of three so far with orange and green cat wines in their own windows.
We have a tradition – or had one anyway, as I’m not drinking these days – that if we saw a bottle of Blanton’s in a bar anywhere in the world, we had to kill it. At a basement whiskey bar in Tokyo we saw this one and sentenced it to death. Japanese bartenders sometimes put the bottle in front of you so you can read it. This bottle was dumped on June 21st, 1991. The day we sat in Tokyo bringing about its end was June 22nd, 2016.. but at that moment when we read the dated label, back in Kentucky where the bottle was dumped, it was still June 21st.
5. Ascending Dinosaurs of the Stairs
At the top of the stairs are three stone dinos; on the stair edges past the banisters are three gray ones, a red one, and a random raptor at the top. I looked for a long time for the perfect dinosaur toys to be part of our afore-mentioned decor at the other house; these eventually were located at a Dollar General. I removed their messy paint and dyed them and gave the red one a glossy coat. Its surprisingly rare that they get knocked off the stairs by a dog’s tail.
6. The Masked Antlers
Above a shelf of masks, feathers, and random little things we’ve bought while traveling hang two Princess Mononoke prints in a traditional style, and the antlers of a deer which wear a mask. Thom’s first deer kill has its entire skull on a shelf in the library, but this one just got the antler mount. Its antlers are uneven and damaged from events during its life. For reasons that are hard to explain, we decided to hang one of our leather masks from Spain on it, and now it just seems like the mask should be there. I never thought I’d want hunting trophies in my house – and I still don’t think I’d want mounted heads – but I like this now. Part of it may be the spirit that the animals were hunted in was not to bring their heads back and put them on a wall. The meat and hide was used, the animals were killed quickly and respectfully, and it seems to make sense to me now that the antlers should continue to be used just as something beautiful.
7. Plain White Curtains with Animal Head Hangers
In the bedroom we have simple white curtains from a white-on-white striped fabric thats sheer enough to let the sun in but opaque enough to not be entirely lewd. I don’t tend to like commercially made curtains, because they don’t often hit that balance, and often put more weight on being curtains than on being part of the window. So we made something simpler for the best window in the house. The curtains have bronze-look rings in the corners, and they hang from animal head hooks that alternate between rams, horses, and deer. Waking up in this room always makes me just a little happier when I realize where I am, and that’s a rarity for someone whose default thought in the morning has historically been “ugh.” The rings I pulled off of ring and clip curtain hangers; the animal hooks are from Amazon – similar ones are here and here.
8. Old Dog on the Carpet
Wait, no, Meeka is not part of home decor, although the dogs are another thing that tend to make me a little happier when I see them around the house.