Sunday, February 12, 2012

Style with Meaning

Above: A collection of sea glass from our honeymoon inside a maple
 leaf shaped dish that once belonged to my grandmother.

With the work we do, we visit showrooms quite often.  I am always struck by the lush colors, luxurious fabrics and objets d'art that adorn these perfectly sectioned-off spaces.  I often leave feeling envious, wishing my home looked like that too.  However, in reality, I know I would never be happy.  Where would I store the dog toys that are usually spread out across our floor?  Would my vast collection of art and cooking books fit in that stylish yet tiny bookcase?

The problem with showrooms is that they are not spaces that real people live in.  One of things I love about our home is that it looks like people live there.  It's the way I feel about my parents' home and my in-law's home; almost everything tells a story, and that's comforting.  The artfully arranged collection of Mexican masks displayed on the bathroom wall reminds me of sunny days spent on the beach; the painting of the boat hanging over the fireplace reminds me of a day trip to Provincetown.

Recently I was working on "styling" our coffee table.  Yes, I thought about mixing textures and using colors that would work together.  However, what was even more important to me was that the objects meant something.  Above, you will see the flowers in the mint julep cup my sister and brother-in-law (a Kentuckian) gave Matthew and me for our wedding.  It reminds me of the time my entire family went to Keeneland Horse Track in Kentucky.  The tray was a very special gift from a friend who owns Haymarket Designs, and the rug in the background is from our store, next summer.  

We fell in love with this rug, but it did not come in a size big enough for our living room.  We ended up buying two small rugs and sewing them together.  Sure, you would never find a rug sewn together like this in a showroom, but I would miss the memory of laughing with my husband as we made multiple attempts to duct tape the rugs before we decided to sew them.

One of the hidden benefits of owning next summer is that when I'm buying products, I get to choose things that seem particularly meaningful, either for what they represent, or for a significance beyond the object itself.  Here are two items that struck a response with me.

Sara Pfau makes beautiful sterling silver and gold pendants in the shape of Lake George and various islands on Lake George. The neat thing with her pieces is that each one has a different meaning for the person who purchases it. Lake George is a special kind of place and affects people in many ways. So the meaning comes from the buyer as much as, or often more than, the artist. 

Handmade glassware from Rose Ann Hall Designs. This company is owned by an incredible man who suffers from some profound physical disabilities, but rather than let that stop or even slow him down, he's decided to use the success he's created to help others. Today he only employees disabled people in his factories.

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