I’ve always celebrated vintage, old, torn, tattered, rusted, and falling apart in home furnishings. To me, the timeworn look represents high end elegance due to that priceless mystique of memories and stories. In the case of inherited treasures, we sentimentalists frequently think of the people who formerly enjoyed the object in hand. And when we decorate with stuff culled from a rummage sale, antique shop, or curbside, we fondly remember the occasion of the outing: whom we were with that day, what the weather was like, and where we had lunch.
The timeworn look involves putting stuff in a manner that no one else ever will be able to achieve. Those of use who love to rummage and decorate our homes will always have different and unique material with which to work. Many found and inherited treasures go into our definition of home elegance.
I cannot resist a derelict screen. Two are pictured above on our patio. I find these for a few cents at garage sales, or waiting for the garbage truck by the side of the road. They provide slow-lane ambience in an era of sterile aluminum or plastic window treatment with oppressively shiny surfaces.
Another passion is derelict chairs, like the above patio rocker, decked out in a garage sale basket loaded with pine cones gleaned from beneath a nearby, generous tree. Of chipped and scruffy chairs we have many—and they are frequently a curbside blessing, as well.
I also love rust. At the end of our patio lounge (where I read and watch clouds all summer) sits a cast iron stove—another rummage sale treasure. The stove stays out in all seasons, getting rustier and more beautiful with each passing year. A deer skull with antlers, found in our northern acres, tops the stove. Visiting friends unearthed the skull while we were hiking on our land. I thought they should take it home with them, but alas (happiness, for us!) a polished white deer skull and antlers simply ”wouldn’t go” with their suburban home decor.
Also, in the above photo, you will see yet another screen, plus some of my vintage coffee pots and favorite rocks.
Indoors our favorite table decor includes fresh flowers, rocks, pinecones, nuts, and shells. A mirror tray, originally intended for perfume bottles on a dressing table, accents this shell collection along with glassware reminiscent of the sea. Glass bottles—old and new, clear or clouded by age and stress—are way up on our list of decorative favorites.
If you study the above picture closely, you will see a tear in the upholstery on one of our sofa cushions. This tear is very precious to us. Every day, our Dylan gets a doggie cookie after his morning walk. If we forget to give him the cookie, you can be sure we are quickly and efficiently reminded of our error. Immediately on receiving his cookie, Dylan goes from place to place—burying his treasure, then digging it up and moving it to another spot.
The cookie may go to our bed, then to my knitting basket, then to beneath the drapes on the floor, or to our living room sofa—where Dylan sticks it behind a pillow or underneath a cushion, before removing the cookie to still another hiding place. The scratchie mark denotes Dylan’s great effort, exerted in his primal instinct to bury and preserve his food. Many days later, the cookie might be unburied and eaten. Obviously we have doggie cookies hidden all over the place here, continually.
Although cleanliness and the aesthetics of order are tremendously important to us, Joe and I do not care a hoot about “mint condition” furniture. Since we love the marks of happy and robust living, we find the look of new furniture perfection to be sterile and sadly bereft of soul.* The “Dylan scratch” is one of my very favorite decorative features. If we ever feel a need to replace the sofa for comfort’s sake, that treasured cushion will still have a place of honor somewhere in our home—as Baby Dylan will always have prime time in our hearts!
A well-appointed home is one where family members relax, rejoice, and do those things they love best. Fiber art is one of those things I love best. Some condo owners would have used this counter and the space beneath it for a food bar with stools. I’m fairly sure the designer had that in mind, but what did he (or she) know about living to the hilt? Not much, in my book!
Our “snack bar” is home to knitting needles, photos, teapots, curing homemade soap, and plants. The area beneath is part of my fiber arts studio, with my largest spinning wheel tucked in amongst baskets of fluffy unspun wool plus my handspun yarn—overhung by funky garments and more handspun yarn, just a few of the many products from over three decades of a fiber arts’ cottage industry. Beyond the “snack bar” fiber studio is our kitchen. But that’s another photo trip, for another day!
In closing, you will see my bedside stand pictured below. Every evening, this aging stool holds a soy milk chai on ice which Joe mixes for me at bedtime. (We get bulk mailings of chai powder—in spice, vanilla, and chocolate flavors—ordered online for just a smidge over 1/2 the price of the BIG TRAIN® brand in stores, with FREE DELIVERY! Try to beat that!)
Margaret L. Been, ©2012
*I frequently find kindred spirited homes in English decorating magazines. How refreshing to linger over pages of centuries-old dwellings, tastefully furnished with handsome, tattered upholstered sofas and chairs—replete with sleeping dogs! The Brits featured in these magazine have their priorities straight! Dogs should always take precedence over the condition of one’s living room sofa, or even one’s bed!
If you look carefully, you’ll see the cookie in Dylan’s mouth! In this picture, taken two years ago, he hadn’t yet decided where to bury his treasure. MLB