Tuesday, 20 July 2010

How times have changed

I popped over to visit 'Little Jenny Wren' this morning and her recent post about decluttering really struck a chord with me. Like Jenny I'm part of the baby boomer generation. During my childhood it was normal to only receive toys and gifts for birthdays and Christmas and as a consequence I have only a small collection of childhood items which remain special to me.

I'm afraid my own children were given a great many more toys than I would have ever dreamed of. Now that they have grown up and left home I'm desperately trying to downsize but there are so many memories stashed away in their cupboards and drawers that it's difficult to know where to start.

Take a look at this charming illustration from a 1986 Laura Ashley catalogue. 'Bedtime in the Nursery', 1940s style. The glow from the fire lights an idyllic scene in which three happy (freshly bathed) children listen to mummy's bedtime story whilst nanny draws the curtains and attends to the nursery chores. But just look at all that clutter! The shelves are overflowing with toys and the floor is awash with playthings. This is very definitely a modern interpretation of nursery life in the 40s.

Below is an illustration of a nursery taken from a book dated 1946. What a contrast!

Beside this picture is written ............ 'Could any young ones wish for more than this lovely nursery provides? It is airy, bright and just the right height for little people of different ages to put their things away tidily'.............Throughout the book there is much emphasis on having a place for everything and everything in its place (what joy that would be!)

Here is another sweet picture entitled ' Pretty and so Very Inexpensive'.

The text tells us that pink and grey is a lovely colour scheme for a nursery and this little room could be prepared very inexpensively. The walls are painted grey and the grey cupboard is painted pink inside. The screen behind the crib is simply an old clothes-horse which has been covered in fabric to match the curtains. Somehow I find the simplicity and lack of clutter in this little room very appealing.

Over the years my mum hung onto her own items which had cherished memories and this pretty pink and grey fabric is one of them. It dates from the 1940s so I reckon it would have been perfect for the little nursery above.

I had to include this final picture as the associated text says a lot about those times. It reads .........
' Your schoolgirl daughter would love this attic room. There in summer she can continue her studies and also entertain her friends. A bookcase is something she will prize. Search your lumber. Could you find the wherewithal to copy this fitment? The top is painted and the rest covered with oddments of paper to match the room. A charming piece of furniture'........

Can you imagine a young girl in 2010 being satisfied with this simple uncluttered look? A place to continue her studies and entertain her friends.....!!!! Sadly today's values are so very different.

And so I must continue to confront my decluttering and decide which things will and stay and which will go. However, without exception it is the oldest items that are always placed on the 'to stay' pile.