Today's blog post honors both Lorraine and The Hobbit. I believe (I KNOW) they have a similar philosophy regarding the importance and the magic of Nooks & Crannies. I couldn't speak to this topic without bringing both of them along for the ride ... together.
How amazing is it that Lorraine gave me my first copy of 'The Hobbit' ?? How did she know that one day I would write a blog about four characters, and that SHE AND THE HOBBIT would be cast as shining stars in my approach to 'the magic of houses' ??? When I took note of this old book - water stained and warped and cobbled together with blue painter's tape - on the shelf and the realization hit me ... well you can imagine. I knew I had to honor the sentiment.
We celebrated Lorraine's 106th birthday this month. Oh Yes. Lorraine is actually 106 years old. Right now, today. I'll give you a moment to take that in.
Okay. Now that you're ready, let's move on. In honor of Lorraine's 106 years, let's talk about the importance and the beauty of Old, Antique, Vintage, Enduring, Timeless, and Storied.
How important is it to introduce the elements of old, antique, vintage, enduring, timeless and storied to your home?
This month's blog theme is 'Nooks & Crannies' and I've been thinking a lot about the magic of the storied treasure that lives there. Old Things. "... chipped, frayed, tarnished, faded, tattered, worn, and weathered things that bring comfort, character, and joy to the places we call home", as Mary Randolph Carter* writes in her book, "For the Love of Old". This is often where the deepest magic lives, in old things.
In the book, Carter recalls her first encounter with an attic. "I was about six when I discovered my first -- a dim, hidden world of boxes and trunks, suitcases and wardrobes tumbled on top of each other, filled (squished even!) with old papers, letters, scrapbooks, school reports, clothes, lockets, and musical instruments, nestled next to paintings of forgotten people and places, mirrors, headboards, broken things, forgotten things, wondrous things, all sent into a benign exile by my two great-aunts."
Now THAT, my friends, is what I call a Nook & Cranny of the home. A home's Nooks & Crannies are places that don't get a lot of attention, yet have the power to hold the home's greatest treasures. Storied treasure, no less.
Then there are those amazing heaven-sent delights called "antique & thrift shops"!! This is a place where many attics have been dumped all together into one building to create a gloriously contained treasure hunt!
This last paragraph might sound ridiculous to you. Yes, Yes, we all know about antique shops, Kendra. But - I don't think I actually did know about antique shops until they became chic in the mid-90's with Rachel Ashwell's 'Shabby Chic' craze. Did antique shops exist before then? They must have. And yet, this was a new world to me. And so it began.
My love for the Nooks & Crannies of a home, and thereby antique & thrift shops, is completely wrapped up in my memory of Lorraine's home. Talk about Nooks & Crannies. To me, Lorraine's home might as well have been Alice's Wonderland complete with a Secret Garden and the other-worlds of Narnia tucked into one of the bedroom's wardrobes. This was THE house of Nooks & Crannies that could be explored all day, every day, day after day, until I grew into adulthood. So - yes - I already posessed a healthy appreciation for the hidden delights in attics and basements and dark cupboards and top shelves too high to reach.
But then Rachel Ashwell stumbled into my world and everything became even more magical. Now all famed interior designers seem to covet the thrill of the hunt. Oprah's favorite designer, Nate Berkus, writes about it often. "... waking up at dawn and waiting for the gates to open -- flea market finds are heaven." Perhaps this was always the case with famed interior designers, but the Shabby Chic movement made it so for me.
Looking at my blog's four characters, I'd say that the magic of old things and Nooks & Crannies is felt most profoundly with Lorraine and the Hobbit. Let's take a look at each:
Lorraine. Her home felt warm because the frayed edges lived in the room with us among the candlelight and cousin-laughter. The chipped, tarnished, faded, tattered and worn features embraced each room like a badge of honor. "This room has been lived in", was the unspoken message. It wasn't trendy, but it was her truth. It wasn't polished or proud or new or sparkly or chic. It was real. It was important. It was slow and steadied. It would always be that way.
The well worn grooves of her face and hands now tell the same story that I always felt in her home. She has, actually, always been the oldest person I've known. No matter what her age, she was the oldest. There was - and is - a storied treasure about her.
The Hobbit. Before I met my husband, Jeff, an Anthropologie catalog was delivered to my doorstep that highlighted a beautiful couple ducking their beautifully wardrobed bodies into amazing-chic antique shops on a rainy day. The whole catalog featured this idea.
I fell in love.
What?!?? I pondered. Are there men out there that would willingly join their girlfriends / wives in antique or thrift shopping? I saved the catalog. I was inspired.
Enter Jeff (my Hobbit). A couple weeks ago I published a blog post about Jeff's tendency to request "something clever" each time we approached the design of a space together. This translates to "permission to indulge in antiquing with me during a rainy day to look for something clever together". Amazing! My dream came true. I met a man with an appreciation for the thrift - flea market - antiques scene. Very rare.
Jeff's "something clever" requests are all about folding storied treasure into the home. This is why a Hobbit's home feels warm and inviting. The frayed edges live in the house among the candlelight and laughter. The chipped, tarnished, faded, tattered and worn features embrace each room like a badge of honor. "This room has been lived in", is the unspoken message. It isn't polished or proud or new or sparkly or chic. It's real. It's important. It feels safe because its slow and steadied. It will always be that way.
I know the thrill and anticipation felt when peering around the corner and into one of an antique shop's nooks & crannies for the first time. It's that same feeling that stays with you as you joke with the old man behind the cash register and load your treasures into the trunk of your car. That feeling stays with you as you unpack them and lovingly clean them up, preparing them for their new home. It's the magic of finding that crazily-perfect and unique birthday gift for your son who LOVES cereal more than anyone on the face of the planet (!) and the knowing that he'll think of you and that birthday every time he reaches for his vintage cereal bowl. It's the memory of that day spent with your daughter antiquing and peering around one magical corner after the next that stays with you and is felt every single time you gaze upon your new-old treasure. It's the secret behind the Hobbit hole and Lorraine's home's feeling of wonder: