The secret to an Old World life

Red brick house with porch colonnades

That enchanted summer …

Many years ago, I had a chance to live in Seville, Spain, for seven weeks in the summer. I lived in old apartment building by the Guadalquivir River and I could walk anywhere I needed to go.

I walked to the language school in a former 19th century house three stories high with a fountain in the middle courtyard and orange and green patterned tiles on the floors, that cobblestone street with all the smashed oranges on it, the old man’s bar where they watched bullfights on the TV and drank wine out of flat bottomed glasses, the cafe where it only cost 25 american cents for a café con leche

girl standing in keyhole shaped doorway
Me, amazed by Spain.


 I still have a blue and white azulejo tile I pulled out of a construction dumpster. I’ve propped it on a windowsill almost every place I’ve lived since then. Right now it’s in my bathroom on the ledge made by the bead board wainscoting.

blue and white tile
Azulejo tile travels with me wherever I go.

New World Blues

I came from Dallas, a city where  it’s impossible to go to a museum or a grocery store or a cafe if you don’t own a car. I could see my office building from my apartment window but it took me an hour and a half to arrive there by bus.

I felt like I had died and gone to heaven those seven weeks in Seville, I had no idea people could live like that. 

girl standing on a bridge over river in Seville
Standing on a bridge over the Río Guadalquivir trying to look like I am not posing for this picture. I think I have gum in my mouth.

vowing to return

When I returned to my hot ground floor apartment  I sank into a depression. I had to get back to Europe – or I might die.

About ten months later, after a lot of obsessing, essay writing, and one actual miracle, I won a scholarship to study in Spain.  After that I took a job teaching English to first, second, third, and fourth graders in France. I didn’t stay nearly long enough, but every day over there was a gift. 

Mindset

Even before I ever went to France, I had a favorite quote. It’s been my favorite quote for more than 20 years. It’s from Ernest Hemingway: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.

Ernest Hemingway

I think he’s saying that mindset is the most important thing. Mindset. Hemingway was ahead of his time. Such a trendy word. I like that word a lot.

An Old World Life for us

Years ago I overheard a girl talking wedding plans with her friends  –  A day-after-the-wedding brunch, she said, was “so Old-World-y.”

I imagined a long table outside underneath some lush green trees with big pink flowers and huge orangey-pink mimosas at every place. Old-word-y = happy, free, coffee on terraces, beautiful streets, and weight loss.

Kentucky and an Old World Farmhouse

I’ve made my life here in the States, in rural Kentucky. We have a really old, antique farmhouse that needs a lot of fixing up. Its tall doors and transom windows remind me so much of the house (apartment) in Madrid I stayed in one summer. ​​​​​​​

I like to sit on my front porch and drink pear brandy with my husband and pretend that we are in Provence (I’ve never actually been there). In a way. Just in a way. Because in another way it’s awesome that we are in rural Kentucky, and it’s really the same thing, anyway – see Hemingway, mindset.

Read this blog to help you find an Old World mindset

  • Decorating your house in an Old World style that’s real, slow, with lots of layers that develop over time. 
  • Emphasis on the Swedish and French Country Styles.
  • Classic old homes and design principles.
  • DIY within reason house projects, especially house painting and whole house color palettes.
  • Friday date nights with drinks, dinner and a movie. Great movies that are a little bit hard to find but not too hard, so that you always have something to watch instead of wasting time endlessly clicking around.   

I hope you’ll join me. Please leave a comment below, what does “Old Worldy” mean to you?

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