Sunday, July 3, 2011

Water for Elephants & Decorating Big Top Style

I couldn't have waited longer to see Water for Elephants. I didn't even wait to finish the book. I'll skip the explanation of how good it was, how unexpected some scenes were (which makes me glad I didn't finish the book yet,) how I wished it had been longer, and how much I enjoyed it.

After I turned off the TV, I felt like I had been watching actual history, and like I  was somehow connected to the story. I remembered how my father used to take me to the circus, although I can't remember how many times, but it felt like a lot. I regret never being able to see a traveling circus like the ones that ran around the time of the Great Depression, only the ones that were shown in the same type of indoor arena as concerts. The only thing close was occassionally going to local carnivals. However, seeing the circus will always be a very important memory to me, in fact, possibly my happiest memories with my father. Besides going to the Cedar Point amusement park, going to the circus was something I lived for. I loved to see the animals performing, and I loved seeing a glimpse of the lifestyle circus performers lived, the talent they showed. There was even a time when I entertained the idea of running away with the circus (before I knew it could ever be a "real" job, but now people make tons of money doing themed acrobatic shows this in Vegas.) I thought maybe I could swing on the trapeze or train the animals. Seeing this movie brought back those childhood daydreams, and I will always believe that there is something incredibly magical about the circus.

The scenery in the movie was also strangely familiar. My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression, and watching this movie reminded me of her, her house, and her neighborhood. It wasn't anything extravagant like the colors and fabrics in this movie, but even flipping through family photos of that time, I can see how accurate the movie's set is (other than the outdoor string lights, which is the coolest thing.) Even the character Marlena's hairstyle is very similar to how my grandmother wore her hair.

So anyway, I thought it would be great to do a post with circus-style home decor, and somehow, with all the lights and youthful magic, 4th of July seems to be the perfect time to do it. A few years ago I flipped through the pages of Tradtional Home magazine's take on the idea, and it was really inspiring. Since I was a kid and my dad took me to see the circus I have always loved the array of colors, the lights, the animals, the acts, and the splendor. And I love that feeling you get when you're with other people at night for a theatrical event.
Apartment Therapy - Golden Globe Lights available via Napa Style

Here are some wonderful circus themed pictures to inspire you. They are from Traditional Home magazine March 2009. At first you might think "No way would I try to have anything in my house look like a circus," or, "It already is a circus with my kids!" But you don't have to make it obvious. try taking just one idea out of it. These rooms bring you fun at the same time glamour. You can add something "circus" to your home by doing something as simple as framing a vintage circus photograph as art.

Don't you just love the rich colors and drama in these pictures? My favorite is the bold purple and black damask wallpaper, which I could totally see in my small hallway between bedrooms. Here is a picture from Traditional Home's website, an online article titled "3 Ring Style." The house was previously the "winter headquarters" for John Robinson's Circus. It has been redecorated, and honestly looks fabulous. As you can tell, it doesn't scream "circus," and in fact looks very modern.

I think there are some major factors that can create a home with the circus in mind. Tassels, stripes, mixing bold colors and candy colors, elaborate fabrics, lights (especially string lights and the classic "dressing room" lights) animal prints, carved wood and detailed furniture, vintage items, canvas, red velvet, and even picnic tables.

And here's some more eye candy for you: a circus themed wedding! I couldn't resist adding these pictures. The wedding was gorgeously done, if I do say so myself. Photography by Josh Gloeman.

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