Our cozy bedroom

I hope it's clear by now to readers who follow this blog that I intend the title "Authentic Decor" to cover a wide variety of themes that could probably all be grouped under the broad headings of "material culture" and "history." And that's what a home is, isn't it? Material culture plus history. A physical space inhabited by a family over time.

Since the blog is intended to engage with the field of interior design, among other things, it's high time I displayed my decorating cred, and I am doing so now, with some photos of the bedroom I share with my husband. We rent an 860-square-foot apartment in Oak Cliff, Texas, so I don't have much control over the building blocks of the space. Still, I've done what I can. I apologize in advance for the graininess of these shots. I am not a good photographer, and all I've got to work with is my vintage iPhone.

Vintage Eastern European embroidery provided me with inspiration for our bedroom. The bed, mattress, bedding, and bedside lamps are from IKEA.

Vintage Eastern European embroidery provided me with inspiration for our bedroom. The bed, mattress, bedding, and bedside lamps are from IKEA.

The focal point of the room, and the piece I've used as inspiration for the whole space (small and humble as it is), is the 1950s wool felt embroidery piece hanging above the bed. I bought it from an old woman on the side of the road in St. Petersburg while I was conducting research there for my dissertation in the fall of 2012. It was a Saturday, I believe, and I had gone up to Udel'naia, one of those spots in St. Petersburg where people tend to congregate and sell things on the street—a sort of flea market consisting mostly of elderly people with odds and ends of household possessions spread out on blankets on the ground. It's just a little depressing, actually, to see these people selling small bits of their lives for kopeks on the dirty sidewalk. But for 300 rubles ($10), I walked away with an amazing piece of vintage gorgeousness and a feeling of self-satisfaction when the woman I bought it from told me she hadn't realized I was a foreigner until near the end of our conversation.

The other embroidery pieces have an interesting story too. I bought them in Szentendre, Hungary, while on a tour of Eastern Europe with my grandparents in 2004. Because I have the kind of grandparents who travel with their granddaughters around Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Romania, booking nothing in advance but making up the itinerary as they go along and having many adventures in the process.

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I'm lucky to come from a family that saves old things. The cradle at left is the one I slept in as a baby, which someone made for me by hand; I don't know who. The stuffed red giraffe is another holdover from my babyhood. Under the chair in the corner is a chamber pot that I believe belonged to my great grandmother. I've repurposed it for bedside book storage.

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To fill up some space in this corner, I hung up some sticks I found outside, and suspended my small air plant garden from them. The rocking chair has been in my family for at least four generations. My mom bought us the dresser for $25 at an antique shop in Glen Ellyn, IL; I found  the mirror resting on top of it in a dumpster at Wheaton College, my alma mater. I wrote about the Bellotto print in a previous post.

St. Basil the Blessed lounges on our bed. The wool rug is from IKEA.

St. Basil the Blessed lounges on our bed. The wool rug is from IKEA.

Here's another view of the whole room. It's not very big, as you can see, and it's difficult to get a good angle for photos. The rug at the foot of our bed is my most recent acquisition, a lovely geometric design in wool from IKEA. We bought the antique cobblers bench at antique shop in Wheaton, IL when we were first married. The bed and all our bedding are from IKEA except for the black and white striped pillow, which I made. Not a strand of artificial fibers in sight, except for that horrid beige carpet. It's not much, but it's home.