October 24, 2010

What’s The Story?

First, thanks for all of the kind words that you sent after my second appearance on The Nate Berkus Show, and the lovely birthday wishes. I appreciate each and every message.

My friend, Lisa, sent me a story from the Guardian, called Anatomy of a Style: Vintage. It’s about a house furnished in vintage finds and treasures. It is clear that the owner of the house, a set designer in London, has collected the pieces over the years.Anatomy-of-style-001She could probably tell you a story about almost each and every piece that she has in her house.  As she found different items, she added them one at a time, bit by bit, until the house became what it is today. Each piece contains a memory. She brought the tiles behind the sink back from a trip to India, and collected the scuffed mirrors. It is a deeply personal space.Anatomy-of-style-007 Following the article, the paper listed places that you could find similar things. That got me to thinking about this house, and then about my house and of course, your house.

Do the things in your house tell a story? Can you walk through the place and remember the time and place that you found certain items? If so, what will the story be?Anatomy-of-style-002There is nothing wrong with places like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware, and the items they have on offer might be things that you love. But I think that there’s a huge difference between going to Pottery Barn and buying a piece of furniture, and hunting around around an old barn sale and buying a piece of furniture. You will remember that day and circumstance longer than you will remember a trip to the mall.

Do you have things in your house that tell a story? I hope you’ll share them!


  1. I own a window from a barn now demolished in Carroll County, MD; it is five-sided and shaped like a house (NOT a pentagon, but more like a square with a triangle on top) and has wonderfully weathered paint and the original glass. I remember trying to buy it an auction many, many years ago and it soared well above my limit to $200-300 – I was so upset as I wanted it VERY badly - I had already planned what I would do with it. A few years later, the gentleman who bought this window closed his antiques business and his inventory was sold at another auction. This window was included in that auction and I was able to buy it for $25!

    I have an étagère filled with green glass, porcelain, objets d’art, etc (I call it fine greenery/green finery). Most of what is on that étagère has been a gift from someone or other and I enjoy looking at the objects and remembering who gave me what and for what occasion.

  2. I definitely feel partial to the idea of purchasing things with history and having a story. There is nothing like finding the diamond in rough! It isn't a piece of furniture, but we have a few decorative elements collected from our travels. We purchased a display tray made of a wine barrel from one of our favorite wineries in New Zealand {where we lived for a while} and it makes me smile every time we use it. I hope that we'll fill our home with pieces like that.

  3. Absolutely!!!!
    I know and cherish every memory I have attached to each and every piece in my home. It definitely tells a story that I love to recall and tell anyone who is interested.
    I'm so thrilled that I finally made the connection that you are the collector after Nate's heart. I loved the first segment you did. Only today did a friend enlighten me that it was you!! You totally resonated with me.
    I'm exactly like you, a person who invests in junk:)
    I loved how you have transitioned from collector to hunter. In fact, the tag line on my blog reads... hunting and gathering up and down the California Coast. I so love the thrill of the hunt but I don't need to possess so many things anymore, but I love to make some money doing what I love and am good at. I also love your rule of 3. The episode you were on has been my all time fave! Tell me, did Nate end up buying those fabulous fishing floats. I know he was smitten!!
    You really are a natural and I can tell Nate is totally into you!!!
    You are a treasure huntress after my own heart!! I'm thinking you are going to be a regular on The Nate Show!! Kudo's to being discovered!!!
    You're my newest treasure!

  4. Hi Meg,
    That's so cool... you know what they say... there is no such thing as a coincidence! I was just watching your segment on Nate's website while you were leaving me that comment!
    Do you ever come to California?
    You must stay with me if you're ever planning a trip here:)

  5. Meg I adore entering ones home and being so intrigued by every little vignette of lovliness!

    Art by Karena

  6. Oh yes, the things in my house definitely tell a story. And they seem to rotate in and out. Have a great week.

  7. Most of the furniture in my home has a story. I received a lot of it from my grandmother when she went into assisted living. I can recall holiday meals as a child sitting in my grandmother's apartment just by looking at the pieces I live with. I also have my childhood furniture which my daughters now use. my son has my sister's bedroom set. In addition to family pieces, I have pieces I have rescued and refinished. Of course, if my whole house was furnished this way it might feel like grandma's house. I mix in new upholstered pieces, lamps, accessories, etc. I believe it's the mix of old and new that gives a space character and soul. I love Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware (among others) but only for an occasional piece or inspiration.

  8. Yes! Our homes should reflect who we are, where we've been and what we do.

    I love when my friends ask, where did you get this? or How did you find that? Most of my stuff is from flea markets, garage or boot sales and lucky finds from conversations with people I meet both here and Europe. And always the less I pay the more treasured it seems. Go figure.

    My lovely oval serving warmer that I paid a fortune for (at least to me it was) in England doesn't hold a candle to the huge ironstone platter and silver footed tray I got at good will for a buck and half! LOl

    BTW, that teal bathroom is gorgeous!! What room! Just goes to show EVERY room should tell a story not just the living room or library, etc.

  9. I love your post. I have all the Nate shows tivoed and will watch them all when I have time. I love the idea of things from your travels and/or flea markets. I have my wooden fish salad spoons - I got in Bangladesh, my pictures from Italy, my grandmothers carasene (?) lantern she brought from Italy that's now over 100 years old, pictures I scored on Ebay or a flea market for next to nothing. My great Aunts china that I eat on every day makes me smile when I think of how she was so cheap and use to steal sugar packets from the restaurants and my aunt (her daughter) had to open them and put them in a jar. I agree there is something about family, flea markets, traveling that you just can't get from pottery barn.

  10. I am an American Expat who has been living overseas for almost 18 years. Our permanent home in Maryland is full of things that were bought in the countries we lived in or visited. The furniture, baskets, ceramics, art, etc, all tell a story of our life, though I am afraid that my two children (in their 20's) don't seem to be too interested in these "memories," and are very afraid that they will inherit everything someday. Perhaps they want to create their own "stories." By the way, an air freight of more "stories" is being shipped back to the US in December with a sea freight in March. Have no idea where everything will go until our next overseas assignment.

  11. You are speaking to something close to my heart. I truly believe that every home should tell a story of the occupants...and that is done through the things that are in it...! his very thing is what makes a house a home. I can tell you where and when I have gotten most things that are in my home, and the ones that I have just purchased without thinking about it, are most likely in a closet! Thanks for a great post.

    --Gretchen O.

  12. My dad is a part time antique dealer, and I was his part time assistant. So I have a corner cupboard we picked up in a tiny Ohio town while driving home from Art School. I ended up with 3 corner cupboards on top of my station wagon, and he had more stuff on his. The trucks honked at me constantly, but we had a great time, and I have the cupboard in my bedroom now because I won't part with it.

  13. I found a beautiful, framed etching by John Taylor Arms in perfect condition for $25 in an old antiques store in Winter Park, Florida around 1985. I rotate it throughout my house to enjoy it in different settings.


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