One of the most common questions we get at the Swellesley Report is: Why don’t you ever share your insights into Swedish, Belgian and Gustavian decor styles? Sad to say, we have our limits.
Fortunately, another Wellesleyite, Gina Milne, is a real expert on these topics and has a photo-filled blog called Willow Decor to prove it. Her blog, which boasts the tagline “Decor Inspired by a love of European Country and Classic Design influenced by Swedish, Belgian and Gustavian Styles,” has gotten the attention of everyone from the Washington Post to, more recently, a website called Decor Medley (you’ll notice similar responses there and on our site since we both asked Gina questions around the same time).
Milne, who has a professional decorating background and has lived in Wellesley for 5 years, started her blog early last year “as a way to catalogue my personal photos of interesting interiors for my own home renovations.” She’s had lots of practice renovating, having moved 8 times in 17 years, not including rentals while building homes. Her blog has enabled her to connect with many design enthusiasts, including architects.
“My husband says after 12 months I get antsy and want a new project. He is probably not too far off,” Milne says. “I do work with a few clients per year that like my style and want to re-create that look in their own home. I am having a great time!”
Like so many in town Milne visits the Wellesley Recycling & Disposal Facility’s take it/leave it area for bargains, though acknowledges “I do not have the stamina to go all the time, so I have missed most of the really good finds. I am a bargain shopper at heart and I remain a flea market girl – I never miss Brimfield.”
Milne says she likes to mix the expensive and inexpensive in her decorating. “For instance, the focal point in my family room is an 1800’s painted chippy mantel I found in the trash. It is a wonderful, hand carved piece with the original label still on the back. I have had it hanging in the past three of my homes and when we sell the houses the buyers always request it in the deal. But I always say- sorry I need to keep it – it’s a deal breaker!”
As for where her passion for Swedish/Belgian/Gustavian styles come from?
“For the first several years I was married, my husband and I both worked and lived in Munich, Germany. I had always loved Swedish antiques and Bavarian antiques have a similar quality – painted, and waxed pine pieces. We often drove to Austria, Italy, France and Switzerland visiting the sites and antiquing. We traveled all over Europe and had many pieces shipped to Munich. At the same time, my sister happened to be also just married and living in Copenhagen, Denmark. The four of us spent many weekends antiquing and acquiring beautiful pieces. I am lucky because my husband loves antiques and also enjoys the hunt! It was such a great opportunity and I was exposed to so much living in Europe when I was in my 20’s – I regret I did not take enough pictures. There was inspiration at every turn!”
Milne now lives in a 1930’s Royal Barry Wills colonial and says she feels “a tremendous responsibility to take care of the home maintain the level of integrity of the design.” Major renovations have included the kitchen (seen above) and pantry (see before/after pictures below), for which she did the space planning and design.
“I am a perfectionist so I tend to try to do it all myself or work very closely with the expert to make sure all the bases are covered. Like everyone else who has done renovations I have had good experiences and bad,” Milne says.
All photos courtesy of Gina Milne/Willow Decor