I grew up in a house full of antiques and reproductions of antiques. My parents have a great eye for furniture and decorative accessories, and they have made a hobby out of hunting for the next great piece to add to their collection. I love going to their house, because I love hearing about what they like about the newest antique mule chest they acquired or about the gorgeous rug they were considering. It’s obvious that they enjoy living with each object they purchase, and it’s hard not to be infected by their enthusiasm.
But when it came time to decorate my own home, I found myself leaning in a different direction. Having studied history and design in my undergraduate career, I brought a love for modern design to my graduate studies at the Winterthur Museum. I spent my days with a sketchbook in hand, shining a flashlight up the underside of a chest of drawers, learning all about how mahogany veneer was applied to Federal furniture and why through-tenon joints on Windsor chairs were wedged. My appreciation for the craftsmanship of these pieces increased exponentially, but my foundation in more modern design acted as a lens, helping me see each object, whether plain or fancy, as a piece of design.
I won’t lie: I love antiques, but I don’t own a lot of them. Quite frankly, this habit started because my budget wouldn’t allow anything else! I first set up housekeeping with a healthy mix of IKEA and hand-me-downs. Though that mix has shifted a bit, it’s still a pretty healthy mix. Pieces like this lamp (IKEA ca. 2004) live next to pieces like this rug, which I purchased from Dana Kelly’s booth at the Grosse Pointe Antiques Show sometime around 2005. In the next room over, this trash-picked, slightly worn Hans Wegner chair (happily rescued from my old apartment’s dumpster in 2011) accompanies an IKEA Karlstad sofa. As I played around with what I had, I realized that I could arrange my modern furniture around the older pieces to highlight them as the intriguing works of art that they are, and I rather liked it.
In the years since I set up my first apartment, I have spent significant time working in the antiques trade. I had the chance to observe on a regular basis the generational gap that plagues the field in general. As the most fervent collectors have begun to retire their collections, antique dealers have started looking for the younger generation who will take their place, people like me. The problem is that, like me, few people in my age range (25-35) are interested in forming the sort of comprehensive collections that our parents or grandparents had. More often than not, so-called “young collectors” are collecting much differently than other generations. I think that my own eclectic urges are not atypical, and spending time on any of the more popular shelter/design blogs will suggest the same.
My goal for this blog will be to explore the sort of blended collecting urges that shape modern interiors, the mixed vocabulary of high and low and new and old. I genuinely love both, and I can’t wait to get started exploring how each can enhance the other.