The one lesson I will take away from the pandemic is how important home is. I have always had a problem throwing things away – so this instinct to use the New Year as an occasion for a major purge is foreign to me. It isn’t that I own anything particularly valuable but every item in my home tells a story. Friends who visit have no compunction about commenting on what they see as “clutter” but I am immune. Marie Kondo just gives me hives. I love my things.
At one time, I justified this need to hang onto the detritus of life with a story I read in the Economist. According to behavioral scientists, the need to keep things is rooted deep in our DNA. The theory goes that no one needs another coffee mug. But back when we were hunters and gatherers, danger lurked everywhere. Survival frequently relied on the ability to know where your possessions were so that you could quickly bundle them up and move on. People that were good at it made it and those that weren’t didn’t. Cue Darwin. This early necessity has become a kind of modern glue attaching us to our chattels.
The New York Times Design & Luxury Magazine recently provided more justification with this cover story: “In an age of manufactured taste, idiosyncratic design that stands out.” It says loud and clear: “This is My House.” This new look encourages crowding our homes with unique finds and saved items from vintage furniture, antique chairs and international curiosities.
I find deep sympathy in the design sensibility of Canadian stylist JP Michaels who as always is ahead of the curve. For years he has lived by the adage: “Too much is never enough.” “I am committed to home environment that pleases your own unique inner vision,” says JP who believes that cherished objects reflect the fabric of a life well-lived.
JP doesn’t believe in tossing things in the trash heap, instead salvaging found items to breathe new life into them. This type of décor reflects personality — a deeply personal comfort and appeals more than the sleek and clear lines of minimalist décor.
Isolated for months at a time this past year, I have found the courage to give up my defensiveness about all of this. My mother’s lamp and that rather gauche vase from my friend Irena remind me that I am loved and that I have “place” in peoples’ lives. So as the New Year comes in I lift a glass to things!
If eyes are the windows to the soul, then let us peer through the windows of our house to find the heart of our home. jpm