The floor at my house sags. Badly. It’s so wonky we actually have to use a shim under the piano just to stop it from rolling downhill!
The piano is from an aunt who passed it on - thinking my daughter might someday want to play – and the camelback sofa in the same room came from my grandfather’s house. After he died, my mother rescued it from the removalists, knowing I would rather sit on it than see it go. Originally made in the 1930’s, it has been reupholstered more than once, but remains as solid now as it was way back when.
Above the sofa is a framed print of renowned photographer William Eggleston’s famous tricycle, a souvenir from a memorable romantic escape to San Francisco a few years back. The fella and I accidentally left it in the taxi at the airport, and had to run like the dickens to retrieve it before the driver returned to the city!
Stories Add Substance And Soul
Do I sound nostalgic? Maybe. Sentimental? Yes, definitely. Overly attached to my stuff or encumbered by clutter? NO. I really don’t think so. I could lose it all tomorrow and still have my memories, but in the meantime, I like to live surrounded by a bit of history.
Why? Because history is an essential ingredient in a comfortable home. Not only is our stuff an outward expression of our story, material references to the past can also help us feel more connected – to ourselves, to our loved ones, and even to our communities. A home that makes room for history grounds and nurtures us; like roots do for trees.
Now I’m no proponent for hoarding, or the accumulation of crap, or never saying no thanks to a hand-me-down. And, I’m not talking about holding on to old baggage out of obligation either - there is no sense in haunting yourself with memories that are less than happy!
Instead, I’m suggesting that the presence of artifacts that represent your interests, reflect your preferences, and tout your personal triumphs can be life enhancing. That’s right. If you can be selective about stuff, and bold about showing it off, you do much more than just add a bit of style to your space. You add substance – and soul.
Where History Shows
Our stories manifest in many ways at home, and much can be learned by observing. Look around where you live, and clue in to the following historical cues!
Heritage homes: Not everyone can claim they built the house they live in, but there is something to be said about the appeal of an older home. There are certain architectural archetypes we’ve become accustomed too, and the well-worn charm of character buildings remain attractive to many. Also, older homes are a good indicator of the age of your neighbourhood, and the stage of urban development in an area.
Architectural remnants, reclaimed materials & found objects: Even in the most modern of environments, the texture of aged, rugged materials bring a layer of warmth and depth to a space.
Furniture: Family heirlooms, passed down over generations, enrich us with their provenance. And, depending on their period and style, some antique pieces can be quite enlightening with respect to the geographic, socio-economic and cultural origins of your ancestors. Or, if you have recently acquired a living relative’s rejects, don’t be too hasty to run them out to the dump. Vintage furniture and well made reproductions can also be fun, whether recycled, upcycled or simply left alone.
Personal mementos & ephemera: Framed photos, your Mickey Mouse ears, or a clay sculpture crafted by your child. Old fashioned bookends, your grandmothers needlepoint pillow, or an ice bucket you bought while at the beach. Your university degree, a weathered leather coat, and your collection of ticket stubs. This the stuff your personal story is made of, and that makes a statement about what you stand for. Keeping a tea set doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer the chaos of clutter. It just means you might want tea in something nostalgic and pretty!
Vintage textiles: For some reason, blankets have a way of being used by many generations. – especially the beautiful ones. Hand-stitched quilts, knitted afghans, or just plain boiled wool - blankets always come in handy! And, when they’ve been lovingly maintained, they’re definitely special.
Integrate History In Your Mix
But, when you’re ready to reveal real substance and soul, be smart about it.
Inspect your belongings as though your home were a wonderful indie boutique. Edit carefully, and consciously curate your very own ‘museum of me’. If it’s beyond repair, just plain ratty, or making you anxious in any way - let it go. Ruthlessly shed anything that doesn’t qualify as a treasure.
Keep only those pieces that prompt amusing anecdotes, snippets with sentimental meaning, or items you love because they’re beautiful to you. And, most important, honour them through use. Frame and hang the truly unique, recover or refinish the furniture, and employ the household goods in an everyday way. Once you do, you’ll feel more at home, and your friends will think you’re cool!
Just don’t forget, your story doesn’t end. To keep it current, re-start this process over and over again!Image via RueMag.com. o o