Source: Pioneer Press
Make Room for That Memorable Piece of Furniture
The holidays evoke strong and vivid memories for many of us, hopefully most of them fond memories of sharing time with friends and family. Maybe the holidays were the one time of year you were sure to see some favorite relative who lived a distance away. Our memories of spending the holidays or anytime with relatives and family friends almost always include not just the people but their home as well. After these dear ones have passed on, we are lucky if we have a favorite object that belonged to them and one that we can remember and associate with them.
Notwithstanding the fact that you may have worked hard to achieve a specific furnishing style for your home, you may receive Aunt Gert’s favorite rocker or Uncle Marvin’s worn footrest, which has a warm spot in your memory but fitting it into your living room is another matter all together. Perhaps you have a sleek, contemporary style and inherit a Victorian armchair. Should you cast these treasures off because they are so, well, “yesterday?”
Often, items that once belonged to someone special easily find a new home among our things. If your home isn’t furnished in a style that is extremely contemporary or strictly furnished in a period style, chances are you won’t have much trouble at all. How nice it is to have some thing, however small, that once belonged to say a grandparent. These items may have very little monetary value and yet, they can add warmth and interest to a home.
Other times, we may not be so sure that the object is a blessing, even if you and Uncle Ed did sit at that big desk and play cards. So, how do you fit the unusual item in?
In design, there is something referred to as the “unique element.” When creating a space that is primarily rectilinear for instance, a designer may decide to introduce a “unique element” that takes on an entirely different shape. The designer may introduce a curved wall that cuts prominently through the structure. The same is true for interiors. In the contemporary ranch house Uncle Ed’s nearly medieval desk will be absolutely wonderful, not to mention unique, in the den on the oriental rug. It may take some time and thought to work an object into your current furnishings, especially if it is quite different from the style you have created.
Blending the old with the new is tricky. Consider whether you want to highlight the item or you want it to blend in. If the item is functional, even if it cannot be used for its’ original purpose, consider putting it to work. An old crock or butter churn can make a nice umbrella stand, a wooden tool chest refinished and lined is an interesting jewelry box. Even Grandma’s end tables that you may not have been fond of can be put to good use covered with framed family photographs.
If you want to use an inherited piece but don’t want to mix it in with a room’s furnishings, consider giving this piece of furniture a place in the entrance way or a second floor hallway. Put it in some common space where it can be seen and enjoyed by all but where it’s obvious that you aren’t attempting to merge its’ style with your own. Again, let it be the “unique” element.
Truth be told, my family owns Uncle Ed’s desk. It is a large, dark, intricately carved desk with a leather top. It is like nothing I have ever seen before. It reminds me of the bow of an old ship. Uncle Ed was a favorite of the family. He came over every Christmas Eve to put up the tree and set up the electric train. He didn’t leave until the last present was wrapped and everything readied for the next morning.
We had to find some way of making his desk work in our house. After the locksmith opened it up for us (whereupon he declared he had never seen anything like it either), we hauled it up to our second floor only to discover that it wouldn’t quite fit through any doorway without the removal of the door stop and casing. Finally, we got it all situated. I understand that Uncle Ed had a great sense of humor and I suspect he would have found the whole scene pretty amusing. It makes us smile every time we think about it. It is nice to have this piece that we know meant so much to a wonderful man.