Chelley Kitzmiller Shares Her Western Decor

 

There’s no place like home, a Western home that is. I’m not talking about a home located in the West but a home decorated Western.  Since Petticoats and Pistols is for readers who love the West, old and new, I figured some of you probably bring that love of the West into your homes as I do. I admit I may have gone a little overboard but what can I say, I’m a Western writer and I have a big imagination.

 

Return with me now to yesteryear as Ben Cartwright and his sons gather in the main room of the Ponderosa Ranch house to discuss the latest cattle rustler or homesteader.  A massive stone fireplace dominates the room with an opening big enough to hold a cord of wood.  The smoke-blackened mantle is fronted with a pair of mounted longhorns to remind folks what the Ponderosa is all about. Though just a set, the Cartwright’s home and decor exemplified the Old West.  Granted not the real Old West, but the Old West of our imaginations, our hearts and Hollywood.

 

Finding Western furniture and accessories is not the challenge it used to be, but if you want your decorating to have “heart,” you need to haunt junk and antique stores, garage sales and the back rooms of feed stores.  That’s where the treasures are. There are no rules for this kind of decorating. In fact, you need to think outside the box and give everyday things an unexpected use.  An old cast iron stove makes a terrific bedside table.  Throw a colorful serape over your dining table and serve potatoes and rolls in granite ware.  Never mind the chips and scars.  Some of the best granite ware serving pieces lived their former lives as spittoons, chamber pots and thunder mugs, but I suggest you wait until after everyone has eaten before you saying anything.

 

Call it cowboy style, cowboy chic, lone star living, bunkhouse design or simply Western decorating—it’s a decorating style that brings the past into the present that reminds us of our heritage and of a simpler way of life.

Above is one of my guest bedrooms—it’s Western, Native American and Mexican.  It reflects my love of color and the genre I write in. The most expensive item in the room is the bed ($700), which was custom made but only because at that time there were no stores carrying Western furniture. The desert scene side table my daughter found in an abandoned condo. The Indian headdress came from a yard sale. The tins were collected over a decade. I found the poster of Joaquin Murrietta online and had it framed. (My first book, Touch The Dawn, is about Joaquin Murrietta). The valances cost about $40. I sewed two together and hung them from a rod—super easy and lots of effect. There is a cowhide rug on the tile floor, which you can’t see.

Above is another guest bedroom and it has a more Victorian flare.  The walls are faux painted to look old.  The velvet drapes are right out of Gone With The Wind.  My grandmother’s handmade crazy quilt hangs over the bed and another quilt that I found at an antique store serves as a bedspread.  The cabinet is at least one hundred years old; the drawers are all dove-tailed.  On top of it, are several old quilts I picked up at yard sales. I found the iron bed at a yard sale for $60.  This room was more like a museum than a guest room and sadly has since been torn apart and most of the items sold off.  The room now houses sick or orphaned kittens and cats for Have A Heart Humane Society, the pet rescue me, my daughter and my husband operate.

I bought this old cast iron stove from someone who had it tucked away in their garage, oiled it up and outfitted it with dried peonies from my yard and collectibles.

Some years back, Country Sampler decorating magazine did an article on my house following a bathroom addition and a kitchen remodel.  After reading their magazine for several years and seeing very little on Western decorating, I called them and next thing I knew, they were flying out to photograph my house.  When I was decorating this bathroom, I tried to tell the faux painter that I wanted the walls to look like old adobe, the way I imagined the adobe homes of Tucson to look in the 1870’s.  You could say I was in the moment because I was writing about 1871 Tucson at that time and still am—I love that time period!  The bathroom floor is vinyl and very easy to clean. The wood is oiled oak. That is not the morning sun coming through the window but a lighting trick their photographer used.  The boots, the pot, the cactus all help the Western feel.  The bathroom is entered via a chipped batwing door just like in the saloons.

Sometimes the best ideas come from our worst mistakes.  I thought the ceilings in the dining room would be the same in the kitchen because the two rooms were connected. Wrong.  The solution—a tin ceiling which was not expensive but tricky to hang because the tin edges were sharp as razor blades. I wanted the kitchen/dining room to look like an old general store, thus the chicken wire on the cabinets. The French doors open to a former bedroom that is now my office.  You can see a small—and I do mean small—sampling of my Western research books and papers.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed the mini tour of my home, which is in a rural area of a small California town on 2.5 acres. Instead of a herd of cattle, we have a herd of dogs—that we rescue and find new homes for.

The Peacemaker and The Seeker are Ebooks available at Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. The Healer will be out in October. And finally, Oscar Goes Camping, an adorable little book that helps support homeless pets, also on Amazon. Please visit my website at ChelleyKitzmiller.com and join my newsletter (Chelley@ChelleyKitzMiller.com) so you can keep up with my books and find out what’s going on with the pet rescue.

I’m giving away a $5 gift card for some wonderful See’s Candy to one person who leaves a comment.

Guest Blogger
Updated: September 29, 2012 — 4:31 am

20 Comments

  1. Chelley, this is absolutely fascinating. I would never have thought to look in feed stores for home furnishings. Hmm.

    I really love what you did with the cast iron stove. As always, your imagination shines. Great stuff!

    Hugs!

  2. I love those pictures,they are awesome,I love western decor too,,,thanks for coming by,an love the post,,

  3. Vickie, Margaret, thanks for stopping by. I wish the rooms were as clean now as they were then–everything is sort of pre-animal rescue. The Victorian room was emotionally hard for me to dismantle, so many things I’d collected and loved.
    But now I have a bunch of little furry things that I love running around–today a very young momma cat and 3 adorable 6 week old kittens (2 Russian Blues and one Snowshoe). I smile every time I walk in the room and see a cat tree where my Gone With The Wind draperies were!

  4. Hi Chelley, welcome to the Junction. We’re thrilled to have you back. Wow, your home is a real showplace! I’d love to come and browse. You have so many brilliant decorating ideas. I never would’ve thought to use an old cookstove for a table. That’s amazing. And that bathroom! Oh my goodness! It’s my kind of place. Very relaxing and full of atmosphere. Love the covers of your books. The colors, the man, the horse, it all blends together just like the rooms of your house.

    Wishing you much success and happiness!

  5. Thank you Linda, I used to really enjoy decorating, finding all those “just perfect” pieces for whatever room I was working on. I’m glad it’s finished so I can concentrate on other things–like writing and pets. Oh, yes, I forgot, my husband of 49 years!

  6. A wonderful post with gorgeous photos and a fascinating and captivating topic.

  7. I enjoyed everything about your writing, the decor and an absolutely great tour of your home which is decorated with beauty, taste and warmth.

  8. Welcome Chelley, Your books sounds captivating and special and your home a haven.

  9. Ann, Ellie, Pearl, thank you for your nice comments. Decorating Western was and is fun for me because that’s what I love to write about. It’s even more fun when you can find cool things really cheap!

  10. I live in the West and have a few western-type decorations. However, mine tend to be more from the indian influence-rugs, paintings and pottery. i really like how you have captured the west in your decor and furnishings.
    I have yet to read one of your books. They sound really good.

  11. Love it, love it, love it!

  12. Hey, Chelley…I love your house the way it is now! The addition of furbabies is always a good thing. Sure would like to see upstairs sometime!

  13. To all of you who like the inside, you should see outside. Love it.

  14. Chelley,

    I love your house. It is so beautiful. I love the bedrooms, just everything. The cover of your books are awesome. I live in AZ and I write books too. Hopefully, we can meet someday.

    Melinda

  15. Just fascinating what you did with your decor. I love that you are helping out with cats. I too help with ferals/strays. And love your book covers – gorgeous!

  16. Enjoyed your mini tour. My place is decorated in what I call the Southwest look…I love the desert colors which go nicely with my pottery collection and Navajo rugs hung on the wall. I’ve also painted some landscape scenes in watercolor that add a lot to the decor. It reminds me every day of the place where I grew up in Arizona….I miss the desert. You have some unique ideas which look nice in the photos.

  17. Thank you ladies. I enjoyed blogging on P&P and especially enjoyed your comments. I also love the SW style but this house wasn’t condusive to that. It’s a cedar-sided 2-story, cabinish.

    Yes, catslady, we do cats too. We’ve found homes for over 600 in two and a half years. And we’ve spayed and neutered all those cats too.

    One of you will win a $5 See’s candy gift card!

  18. Chiming in late Chelley. Love your creative Western decor. What a cozy place to write or just curl up and relax. Just wanted to say what a pleasure it was to meet you at RWA. I’d planned to send a small contribution to your animal rescue, but had forgotten the name. Thanks to this blog, I can now google it.

  19. We live in the Southwest and love the decor in your home. So unique and special. You certainly are talented in many ways.

  20. Hi Chelley, I have to say after being in your writing group at your (now your daughter’s) store, and then seeing the outside of your home during one of your rescue fund-raisers, I’m not surprised by how wonderfully your home is decorated! 🙂 BTW, I’ve read Peacemaker and Seeker and can’t wait for Healer!!!! Dang girl — you’re good! Again, not surprising, but to say I noticed 🙂 Hugs 🙂

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