July 27, 2023

Five Items That Make a House A Home

Five Items That Make a House A Home

Is your space lacking soul? These five items help to tell the story of you while breathing life into your home

There is no mistaking that I am a maximalist and I mean MAXIMALIST. I have to reign myself in so my maximalism doesn't teeter into the world of hoarding. I love accessories, tchotchkes, set-arounds, brick-a-brack, and all of the other terms that encompass the realm of curiosities that add to the personality of a home.  

Obviously, I love old pieces - pieces that have a story and tell that story well, particularly if those pieces have been handed down through generations in your own family. But I also love mixing the new with the old to start a new story. This list of five "must haves" are what I consider essential to creating a home that tells a beautiful story.  Enjoy!

1) Books

Books are multi-functional. There is nothing better than curling up with a good book on a cold, rainy day.  Books also are easy ways to decorate a space. That being said, I am not a proponent of curating a large selection of books just to decorate. I think the books in your home help to tell your story. Growing a library is the best way to start your journey of decorating with books. What interests you? Cooking? Art? Interior Design? Fill your spaces with conversation-worthy material that you’ll be able to speak on should questions come up!

If you ever come to my house, you'll see there are tons of books - novels, biographies, coffee table books. You can be assured they were all acquired for a reason and are now enjoying places of pride within our home.

2) Something Worn or Tattered 

I become incredulous when I go into a home and everything is brand new and perfect. There are no scratches on a wooden box, no tiny chips on a porcelain vase, no brass cachepot that has just the right amount of patina. The scratches and dings from years of love and use are how you know there is a story behind these pieces. 

I love a giant antique Imari-style English ironstone platter that has just the right amount of fading and crazing and maybe just a tiny crack on one side; that platter has hundreds of years of stories to tell and will keep telling them for hundreds more. 

Don’t shy away from a vintage or antique should it appear worn, think of the generations before who valued and placed these items in their very own home. Much like your favorite sweater that’s soft and wearable from years of use - a few items in your home should possess that same patina. 

3) Tiny Tables 

This is something I think a home can never have enough of. I love tiny little tables that can easily be moved around and pulled up to a chair or sofa. A lot of the antique, small tables you come across were intended to be used for ashtrays (thus the term "cigarette table" - Gross!) or cocktails (thus the term "martini table" - Yum!).  

I love mixing more traditional styles, like a small pie crust table, with something more modern like a sleek cast bronze piece. You and your guests will never be without a place to perch that martini! Scared you’re short on space to start your collection of tiny tables? I love nesting tables for this very reason! 

4) Baskets 

I think baskets are all too often overlooked in decor. Basketry is a craft I have long admired and one that has been around for thousands of years. Baskets, like books, are both visually appealing and functional. I have baskets of all sizes, ages and provenances throughout my own home.  

I love a large vintage French market basket to collect throws in a den or a Gambella canoe basket to collect car keys and sunglasses by the back door. Two of my personal favorites in my home are a vintage triple cutlery wall basket made by the insanely talented women of the Mississippi's Choctaw Nation and a hand-woven cachepot by famed editor Deborah Needleman. Don’t shy away from a basket - just ask yourself how you can get creative with them! 

5) Something Living 

Besides People and Pets! Maybe it's the often-forgotten degree in Horticulture that I have, but I want plants in all rooms of the house. By now, everyone knows that spiel about why you should have interior plants: They clean the air, make you happy, and bring the outside in!

Beyond that, indoor plants help to make a room come alive, literally.  I love seeing a leggy, spindly geranium in an aged clay pot next to a window sill or a bird's nest fern in an antique blue and white Chinese soup pot. You get tons of extra points if you can keep the elusive Maidenhair fern alive in your house for more than three days.  

Access to great houseplants is better than ever so green thumb or not, there really is no excuse to have a home without them. And for those that don't have a green thumb, pick up a Devil's Ivy or Z plant. They may not be the most exotic, but they won't pout when you forget about them. Even better if this ties into suggestion number one, illustrated books on flowers and plants are absolutely beautiful on a coffee table, while lending the added bonus of turning that brown thumb green!