Saturday, January 28, 2012

Signatures of Domythic Living: Day 6, Words

I'll admit, straight-out...this post is a repost from my personal home blog. But it's so true. Wordplay in decor is a huge way to help your home inspire you.

One prominent repeating decorative theme in Arts & Crafts decor was incorporating words and text in furniture items and decor. Yes, the concept definitely pre-dates the modern vinyl wall clings and stencil kits you can find online! But I love this tradition not only because it is a classic feature of the style, but also because it suits my romantic images of what a home should be. To someone who grew up with a love affair towards reading and the beauty of words, I understand how just a few words or lines of text as part of a living environment can help transform an object, a room, a space, into part of a living and breathing story.

Life, to me, should be a fairy tale. And by that I don't mean we should all expect constant happily ever afters with no trials. Rather, I mean that we should each seek to see every day, every space, every inch of how we live as part of a tale that can include journeys and trials, magic and enchantment, fear and haunted forests, and happiness and love. Wrapping words around the every day objects with which we live helps transform those objects in our minds and our hearts.


Wightwick Manor is one of the greatest examples of a fine British residence transformed by William Morris and the Arts & Crafts Movement. In the image of the great hall, you can see that lines of text have been painted directly onto the wall. (to either side of the tapestry) In a book I have read, there is an image of this space in which one of these lines on this wall can be read. It says

When Orpheus strikes his trembling lyre
the wolf and lamb around him trip
the bears in awkward measure leap
and tigers mingle in the dance.

Of course, frankly, the manor needs very little to make it enchanted, but to me the words still add an extra dimension.

Thanks to the amazing website of British antique dealer Puritan Values Ltd. for all of the below examples of text used in Arts and Crafts furniture.


One of my favorite Arts & Crafts quotes/mottoes on this firescreen:


  1. I adore words on walls and furniture. I wrote all over the walls of my last house (a 400 year old thatched-roofed cottage)...but alas, my husband is not a fan of walls covered with artsy scribbles (not *yet* anyway, I'm working on him), so the walls in the current little house ( a mere century old) are sadly bare in that regard.

    My studio walls, however, are properly covered in poems and quotes, written in gold ink. There are even hidden quotes, found only if you happen to take a drum down off the wall, or lift the edge of a tapestry....

    I'm loving this blog, Grace. So much inspiration.

  2. What a wonderful idea, to put the quotes in places that aren't necessarily overtly seen. I think I may just have to create my own wall of quotes in our house as well.

    Thank you!!