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The Things That Tell Our Stories

The Things That Tell Our Stories

When it comes to the design of our homes, we are in a time of both abundant opportunity and abundant tension. On the one hand, our homes are having to work harder than before as they bend and flex to meet our broad and diverse needs for daily living, serve as functional and flexible workspaces, become nurturing spaces for healing our overstretched nervous systems, morph into atmospheric spaces for entertaining and more. At the same time, the image of the ‘ideal’ home is continuously being recreated through the onslaught of ever-changing trends and must-have home accessories all of which promise to be the product that will finally bring us the calm and contentment we long for.  

On the other hand, there has never been as much opportunity for self-expression, freedom of choice, and ability to create spaces tailored to our differentiated lives without the need for interior designers, or a design degree. As people live increasingly diverse lives, tailored to their own unique circumstances and preferences, so too, more and more homes are becoming a reflection of the people who live within them.

In his seminal book A Pattern Language, the now late academic, architect and author Christopher Alexander notes that “the things around you should be the things which mean most to you, which have the power to play a part in the continuous process of self-transformation, which is your life.” He points out that when people look outward, influenced by design magazines and passing trends, evaluating choices through the eyes of others, this very important function of home is lost.

I have spoken before about how the objects in our homes can serve to reinforce our sense of self. What we put in our picture frames, the objects that hold prominent places in our homes, what we catch in our line of sight each time we enter a new space, all serve to imprint in our minds a sense of how we identify and tell the current story of self. Indeed, even a sparse and undecorated home expresses much about its owner. Undecorated or unfinished homes can say something equally important about the self. There are times when for a variety of reasons, we choose to prioritise our time, our work, or the preservation of our mental capacity or our finances, and entirely forsake our homes for the benefit of something else of deep importance. This can be a beautiful and wise choice when made intentionally. Any choice when reflected on through the lens of our current values and the values we wish to move toward in our next iteration, can be a wise and beautiful choice.

Where our choices can feel less skilful is where they are made based on the external forces that exert influence through manipulative advertising aimed at pushing us toward decisions, not in our own interest. Similarly, when we find ourselves running on the treadmill of fashion fads and trends, the pursuit of designing a home can become self-alienating rather than self-enhancing.

Decisions and purchases made from this externally oriented place are often characterised by something that feels like a need. A kind of yearning that makes us believe that there will be a sense of completion once we have this next thing. This process of purchasing leaves a perpetual hole, always waiting to be filled by the next new thing.

But there are also ways of creating from a place within ourselves rather than from a place of need. These decisions (often made at particular moments in our life rather than on an ongoing basis) are marked by a calm, intuitive knowing that resonates with something within the centre of our body rather than an image that aligns with an external source. When an object speaks to us, it usually carries within it something of the many and varied experiences we have collected throughout our unique lives. A chimaera of our great aunties' rocking chair, the experience of breathing in the scent of old leather, the feeling of linen canvas bound books on our fingertips, and the sensation of a repeating dream we used to have, can be stirred within us all at once, without even registering in conscious awareness. When we encounter such an object, even though these sensations might be at the very edge of awareness, something meaningful often registers. Tapping into this felt sense can guide us toward making deeply personal decisions that come from our own sense of self rather than our view of ourselves from the perspective of the outside world.

Homes decorated from this personal place of inner knowing as well as items that are unique to us (such as inherited objects, personal creations or photographs), are endlessly more charming than the ubiquitous hotel décor scheme. Christopher Alexander highlights this point beautifully by noting that “it is far more fascinating to come into a room which is the living expression of a person, or a group of people so that you can see their lives, their histories, their inclinations, displayed in manifest form around the walls, in the furniture on the shelves”. Home décor he notes, is always “most beautiful when it comes straight from your life – the things you care for, the things that tell your story.”

The images above show our Brass Coffee Pour Over Stand, Classic French Table Glasses, Handmade Speckled Matt Glazed Side Plate and Cup, Copper Tea and Coffee Canisters, Vintage Fork Set with Patina, Vintage Oil Painting Portrait of an Artist, Vintage Victorian Marmalade Jars, Vintage Artist’s Palette, Handmade Kitchen Towel in Hay, Shuro Palm Hand Broom, Round Dish Brush, Hand Forged Copper Stacking Cups, Rice Root Scrubber, Natural Olive Oil Savon de Marseille (coming soon), Round Cleaning Brush, Vintage Burgesses Storage Jar, Vintage French Cooling Rack, Vintage European Breadboard, Vintage Dark Clay Pot, Vintage Small Beaded Serving Spoons, Antique 19th Century English Tin Lantern, Vintage Tea and Coffee Pot Set, Copper Kettle, Shuro Palm Trivet, Vintage French Ironstone PlatesBrass Water Mister, Hand Carved Curley Maple Cutting Board.