Michelle Maëlie February 27, 2021 Home Design
Kristen’s Storied Home in Kansas City is full of furniture and jewelry passed down from family members, but she is particularly sentimental about this buffet made by her grandfather and great-grandfather in 1963 (and considers it one of her most precious possessions). She uses the made-up word anemoia from John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, meaning “a pang of nostalgia for times you’ve never experienced,” to describe her love affair with objects that tell stories of the past.
Dana McClure keeps her grandmother’s Chantilly Lace, along with other family heirlooms like this gold framed mirror, jewelry boxes and display trays resting on her great aunt’s Dorothy Draper dresser. “I never wear [it], but the smell brings me back to being six years old and playing dress-up in her bedroom.” This is her favorite spot in her New York state farmhouse to wind down after a long day and fill her heart with warm memories of her childhood.
Sarah and her husband Matthew Latkiewicz, a television host, writer, and producer, arrived in Oakland with only what they could squeeze into their Honda Fit. This included Sarah’s grandparents’ coffee table, Matthew’s two favorite chairs, some art, and their clothes. After weeks scouring Craigslist and thrift stores, Sarah realized the best place for reasonably priced home goods was estates sales. “That is how the best stuff gets into the bloodstream of the Bay Area. That and the Alameda Flea Market.” From her estate sale and flea market explorations she began assembling a collection of what she calls “soulful objects.” It took about three years before Sarah felt like she had made a cohesive and comfortable space of their 1920s Art Deco apartment.
Creating a space that was colorful, informal, incorporated furniture inherited from Betsy’s grandparents (traditional on one side and mid-century from the other), and that could handle two wild boys, was essential. Betsy is most thankful for the former stables that became her studio, originally thinking that she would have to rent a studio before they found their home. Betsy explains, “The feeling of old time past and rustic white wood are so brand-friendly. It’s a luxury to work while the boys are home and at night without leaving the house. I also bring them into the studio to make projects like tie dying and painting. Plus I like for them to be exposed daily to my work and to art and design — I hope to inspire them.” She also never takes the open space for granted, especially during the long winters. Betsy adds, “They run around, build obstacle courses, and shoot Nerf bullets all over the place. It really helps keep them ‘out of my bubble’ and I can see everything they’re doing while cooking, etc.”
Resting on an inherited buffet in the dining room of Anne and Rad’s Richmond, VA Victorian are a pair of turquoise, porcelain foo dogs. Anne shares, “My husband’s grandmother bought them in Vietnam before Vietnam was the name of a war.”
One of the things that makes family heirlooms so special are the stories they collect over time. Objects give us the ability to recall adventures that have been told and retold, or spark the memory they carry. Cherished items often cross oceans, countries, and generations to create their stories, probably with a few scratches and bumps along the way. It’s as if these treasures traveled down the branches of our family tree and ended up in our living rooms.
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