Keeping the Past Alive
Cottages and Bungalows|FMD Christmas 2020
Keeping the Past Alive
An Illinois designer channels holiday peace and love from the 1970s through mementos and collectibles.
DANI GRACE

VANESSA MULLIN HAS ALWAYS FELT SHE WAS BLESSED with an old soul. She has consistently felt most comfortable amid the culture and accoutrements of the 1960s and ’70s, but only recently has she really developed her décor to reflect the sentiments of that “groovy” age.

When her grandmother passed away in 2012, Vanessa inherited many of her belongings, like jewelry and the Pyrex bowls in which they had mixed cookie and cake batters together. The items began as a few sentimental keepsakes to cherish, but now Vanessa has turned collecting into a joyful and intentional habit, transforming everything from small memorabilia to classic appliances into a simultaneously mismatched and organized style.

“I started to feel very connected with these old things, so then it kind of became a lifestyle,” she says. “It’s great not only to bring myself joy, but anyone who comes over remembers these things from their grandparents’ or parents’ houses, and it brings back great memories [for them].”

Since then, Vanessa has curated a self-described style of “Rainbow Brite meets Austin Powers,” which grew out of a childhood filled with neutral-colored furniture and décor. While her mother touted soft hues, Vanessa has always felt more connected to vibrant tones. “I was always drawn to ’70s pop culture,” she says. “I just love color and the ’70s hippie vibe.”

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FMD Christmas 2020