Mid-century Soviet embroidery on blue wool felt from my collection. Detail.

Mid-century Soviet embroidery on blue wool felt from my collection. Detail.

Authentic Decor essay series


This blog borrows its title from Peter Thornton's 1984 classic Authentic Decor: The Domestic Interior, 1620-1920 (see my review of his book here).

Despite its title, this is not a design blog. It's not really even about decorating, though I throw in the occasional post about the interiors I inhabit. Instead, this blog is principally about the messy places where art and history and everyday life intersect. I feature essays, book reviews, artist interviews, and historical sketches, all grouped loosely around the theme of decor writ large—the adornment of life, both now, and in past centuries. And in a series of plenary essays, I explore what it means for interior design to be truly authentic. 

I am a professional historian specializing in the cultural and intellectual history of the Russian empire. My research was recently featured on NPR's The Salt. My academic interests include European cultural and intellectual history, material culture, food history, all things seventeenth- and eighteenth-century, and the history of commodities and consumption. At the moment I spend my daytime hours writing a dissertation on the history of tea drinking in imperial Russia, wrangling my two Siberian cats, and attempting to keep my apartment in order (the cats and the dissertation don't help much with the latter). I'm married to a priest in the Episcopal Church and I live in Dallas. I grew up in Denver, but I've also lived in Alberta, Chicago, Ohio, North Carolina, and various cities in Russia.

This blog was inspired, in part, by the development of my eponymous Pinterest board, and is intended as an outlet for my not-so-secret passion for the ways that interior design impacts all aspects of life. I have no special training in the field of design, but I probably spend more of my mental energy on it than I should. (That's a qualification, right?) More importantly, I use this blog to connect my formal academic training with my homekeeping and my hobbies. I like to embroider, make paper collages, experiment with rubber stamps, wrap packages attractively, play with potted plants, go thrift store shopping, and generally just rearrange my existing stuff in a continuing effort to forge beautiful spaces without spending (much) money.

Note: I take other people's art very seriously. All the images that appear on my blog are either created by me, reproduced with permission, or are in the public domain.

Thank you for visiting my blog! I hope you may even learn something.

Drop me a line, authenticdecor at Gmail.