Ruthie Staalsen is an Interior Decorator and owner of DecRenew Interiors in Grapevine, Texas. She was born and raised overseas, with influence from Europe, Africa and Central and South America. Fine Decorating on a Budget is her slogan and she is known for creating spaces with a European flair that look collected, not decorated (a woman after my own heart). Ruthie believes that everyone deserves a beautiful home no matter how big or small. She offers design consultations to those that need a full design plan or is available for hourly consultations for smaller projects. Her specialty is her “Walk-thru” consultation for the DIY’s.
I collect books that tell a story about our lives. They are a window into our personalities, individually and as a family. They tell friends what we are interested in, where we were born and raised, what we love to do, what languages we’ve learned and some of our passionate interests. Some are antiques, some old, some new, some colorful and some just because they tell a little bit about our style.
This Nursery Rhyme Book is about 70 years old. It belonged to my mother-in-law. Her mom read this book to her when she was little and then she read them to my girls. It now sits waiting to be passed on to my grandkids. It’s really special because she scribbled her 5 year old handwriting in the front of it and has written little things here and there within the book.
KG:When did you start this collection?
I started my collection when we bought our first house and my mother-in-law gave me lots of her books to fill up my bookshelves. As I dusted them all off and started thumbing through them, I realized that they all had such meaning and represented who my in-laws were. I’m passionate about these treasures because they have history and character and are a window into another generation that lived before me. You can’t help but wonder who touched them, maybe cried over them, traveled with them or were even inspired by them. It got me kick started into my collection.
KG: What really spoke to you about them?
I love anything that tells a story about someone’s life. I’m crazy about color and textures too. A book that is old and tattered appeals to me. When people walk around our home, they always comment that looking at our books tells them a lot about where we have traveled and what our interests are as a family.
KG:What can you tell us about their history?
We have started a tradition in our family. If we give a book as a gift, even if it is used, we always write a note, blessing or reason we are giving it in the front of it with a signature and date. That way some of the history of the books we have received or given is documented in a personal way for the next generation to enjoy.
KG: Where and how do you use your collection?
My collections are spread out throughout my home. Some are stacked under lamps, some are on bookshelves, some are even in my bathroom and on top of the fridge. Anywhere I think people might have a chance to see what we are all about. I also place the books that have to do with travel with photographs we have taken there or artwork we purchased in that country.
KG: What are your favorite sources for finding these pieces?
I always check out thrift stores and estate sales. When looking for books just for color and texture, I always find one that catches my eye and then remove the covers to see what they look like underneath. There is usually a nice surprise. I also pick up one of these treasures when we travel or anytime I see something that speaks to me personally.
KG:What’s your favorite piece?
I found this book at a flea market over Thanksgiving in Paris. It’s a memory of a great day together with a friend scouring through treasures. I’ve placed it in a little miniature silver tray (also purchased in Paris) and it’s sitting on top of my African camel saddle.
Thank you so much for sharing your personal collection with us, along with the wonderful memories.