I am very honored to have interviewed Patricia Shackelford of Mrs. Blandings for this week's Behind the Curtain! Patricia's blog is one of my favorites-- she is a fantastic writer (and from Kansas City, too!). Patricia has been featured everywhere from 1stdibs to The Skirted Roundtable to The Washington Post. She also writes for Spaces, a Kansas City shelter magazine. Read on to learn more about this smart and very witty woman!
(Mrs. Blanding's Dream House)
What inspired you to first start "Mrs. Blandings"?
I began reading design blogs and was delighted to find that there was a community of design crazies just like me. It’s not the sort of interest or hobby, like running or golf, where you can find like-minded folks. I was thrilled to discover them on-line and eventually wanted to contribute to the conversation. While I was just a reader I felt like I was having a phone conversation with my phone on mute.
Have you always been interested in interior design?
I was always messing around with stuff in my room growing up and I have an old journal with an entry that debates a degree in broadcasting or a degree in interior design. I didn’t really begin the obsession until I had my own apartment.
Tell me a little about your background.
I have a journalism degree from the University of Kansas with an emphasis in broadcasting. My father worked for CBS for most of his life-long career as a photographer and I grew up in the business. Journalism appealed to me as the job was constantly changing – always fresh. After a brief internship at Nightline I decided that, while I loved broadcasting, it did not provide the lifestyle that I needed.
You often blog about your own home-- what is your favorite room in your house?
One of the things I treasure about our house is that it is just the right size for us. We use every room. My kitchen is my favorite room when it is bustling with boys doing homework and finding soccer shoes. My dining room is my favorite room when we have good friends around the table. My living room is my favorite room when the house is quite and I’m in there with a cup of coffee reading the paper. And my office is my favorite room when the words are coming easily.
(Rosie, the family boxer)
When you're fresh out of ideas, where do you turn for inspiration?
I often turn back to old tear sheets, design books both old and new and the latest issue of nearly every magazine. I’m not a trend follower, but I love stumbling on that image that makes me think about a design challenge in a new way.
What is/are your favorite book(s)? design book(s)? magazine(s)?
Favorite books, gosh. I read both Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald in my young adulthood and I reread them both every few years or so. I’ve read all of Fitzgerald over the years and go back to him again and again. I’ve recently been on a “between the wars” jag. As for current fiction, I will read anything by Michael Chabon, Ian McEwan and Jonathan Frazen.
My favorite design books are too numerous to mention and I wouldn’t miss an issue of House Beautiful or Elle Décor and buy World of Interiors when I’m feeling indulgent.
(Kate Spade's Garden Party Reina Dress)
What are you looking forward to wearing this spring?
It's difficult to believe it will ever be spring, but I’m captivated by the offerings of floral dresses.
What's on your fantasy wish list?
Basalt ware, a “4” from the Jasper Johns number series, a Calder mobile, Gio Ponti pottery, a pair of vintage Verdura cuffs and another Boxer pup.
(Loose Park, Kansas City's answer to NYC's Central Park)
Describe your perfect day.
My perfect day is sunny and warm, holds a walk with Rosie, lunch with a friend, a dinner of something that no one deems “disgusting” with a deadline one day behind me. And no one throws up.
(1950's grammar textbook)
What are some of your long-term and short-term goals?
Short-term – complete the crocodile that is half-stuffed with paper on my dining room table.
Long-term - convincing the boys that they cannot submit papers or communicate with teachers or potential employers in text-ese. Truly, teaching them that choosing the words you use, whether you speak them or write them, is incredibly important.
(Boca Grande lighthouse)
Where is your favorite place to vacation? Where in the world would you like to travel to next?
My favorite place to vacation is Boca Grande, Florida. We have taken the boys there for several years and its casual, small town feel suits us to a T. And by casual, I do not mean wife beaters and flip-flops. And, I would very much like to go to Italy. For a long time.
(The Crestwood Shops in Kansas City, Missouri)
Where is your favorite place in Kansas City to shop? To dine?
It’s a good day if I have time to visit the Crestwood Shops and my favorite dealers in the State Line Antique District. To dine? The Peanut for nostalgia, Pot Pie to relax with Mr. B, Happy Gillis for lunch with a friend, Blanc Burger with the boys and bluestem for a treat.
How would you describe your style?
I haven’t thought to define my style, really. In one word I’d have to say “classic,” I suppose. And open-minded.
(Mrs. Blanding's Office)
Do you have any silly quirks?
Millions. I’m quick to judge, horrible with numbers and terrifically impatient though I try to hide it. Also, I don’t nest nesting bowls as I find it a ridiculous waste of time and energy; this makes my husband crazy.
What are some things that you can't live without?
There’s no thing I can’t live without though I would sorely miss my mother’s jewelry and my wedding rings if it ever came to that.
What is your favorite quote?
There are many, but I have Thomas Jefferson’s “That which we elect to surround ourselves with becomes the museum of our soul and the archive of our experience,” on my desk.