I’ve been “Tidying Up” (thanks to the Marie Kondo show) with the rest of the universe, trying to convince myself to let go of some pieces in my house, asking all the “spark” and “joy” questions. I have a lot of stuff (more in storage) so it seems like I wouldn’t regret donating or selling a lot of it. Sadly, I’ve realized that over the years (pre-Marie), there indeed HAVE been things that created a hole in my heart that were never filled. You see, once or twice a year (always after the holidays) “Purging Emily” emerges due to extreme home clutter body. I want to get rid of EVERYTHING and I often just go too far. I usually don’t regret it immediately because purging Emily likes her space, but normally a year or two later, I find myself thinking about that piece and all of a sudden having the very real realization that it’s gone. Like…gone and likely no hope of ever seeing it again.
Anyway, as I was lamenting about my past purge regrets to my team, their reaction wasn’t comfort or grief counseling, but more “Wait, which pieces?”
It’s like asking someone to talk about and show photos of ex-boyfriends. Dead boyfriends. Buried but not forgotten.
But let’s face it…I’ve had a lot of “boyfriends” over the years.
Remember when I thought that taking a photo of a piece and hoarding the photo would suffice? I was wrong. I have all the photos. They just remind me of them and make me wish I hadn’t given up on them.
I think it’s obvious to say but in case it’s not, I don’t regret giving up anything that I can get again or anything mass manufactured. Sure, every now and again there will be a shoot where I’m like “ooh, I wish I still had that pillow from Target that I donated to the rummage sale” but it’s not something that brings me real sadness and deep regret. I can shrug it off. The six pieces that follow though…they weigh heavy on me. The ones that got away (that I let go of, which makes it even more painful).
#1: “The” Blue Sofa
That tufted and teak unicorn haunts me every day. Every time I Google myself (gross), it pops up (grosser), looking all authentically mid-century in a simple but unique way. The perfect navy. Indestructible poly that felt like velvet. A wood base that has the perfect curve that says “I was made with care and I will pass that care on to you.” Why???? Why did I sell it??? Because I had owned, styled, sat on and shot it for four years and when we moved into our first home and I started thinking about the furniture and decor, I wanted to do something different, show something different. SUCH a regret. That sofa was unique in shape, and perfectly comfortable (although you could feel the springs inside on the back). I’ve actually never seen another one and while many new companies have tried to replicate the shape, they can’t get it quite right and it just looks like a mid-century wannabe which is fine, but not her.
Plus, it’s sentimental to me. I bought it right after Designstar and it was the biggest purchase I had ever made to date. Something like $700 or maybe $900, but I don’t actually remember because it was nine years ago…definitely under $1,000. I kept it for five or six years.
I think the person who bought it was a reader and lives in San Francisco. I’m serious that I’ll buy it back for a large profit. I miss it and it means a lot to me. It brought me SO MUCH JOY.
Maybe what I should do is talk to the new owner (PLEASE SHOW YOURSELF, I WILL NOT STALK AND ROB YOU) and get exact dimensions then find a furniture maker to recreate exactly, but a slightly updated version. Maybe the base is white oak instead of teak. But otherwise the dimensions and style would be attributed to the original designer. I know what you are thinking, and I have no intensions of then selling the design because A. it will likely be an investment custom piece with a wood base like that is special and can’t be mass manufactured and B. then other people would have it, thus losing the uniqueness.
Thoughts? Should I redesign it? Or are you guys over it and you think I should be, too? Am I too emotionally connected to it to be objective? Is it dated? Too mid-century?
Oh and where would I put it? Our LA living room. I was trying my hand at “traditional” in our 100-year-old English Tudor and while our sofa is beautiful, it’s just too traditional for me. I swung too far and I want to come back. I NEED MY GIRL TO HELP BRING ME BACK.
#2: A Coffee Table You Probably Won’t Think Is Special
Even longer ago, 10 years or so, this was my living room (as many of you know) and while I have most of that art still, I do regret donating that coffee table. It doesn’t look special but it was solid and simple, with drop leaves on the side (so it could be a side table, too).
It’s just nice and simple. I also miss my pouf (but I gave it to my friend so I can visit it) and if someone could give me back the painting of the sailor, I’d be psyched. But THANK GOD I still have my birdcage ladder (not joking…I love that thing).
Next up…a piece that doesn’t quite garner the same emotional reaction as the sofa (well, nothing does)…
#3: This Credenza
I was literally just shopping online for a vintage piece for the mountain house family room when I said “Ideally it would be mid-century, Danish, with cabinets for toy storage and mixed finishes…like wood and caning or natural material and…oh man!!! I used to have this!!” So NOW I want it back. So stupid of me. It was functional, unique and simple. I believe I got it at the flea market for $500 which sounds like a lot but it was in perfect condition and credenzas are expensive.
Side note, I also miss those chairs as they were comfortable and graphic with a bit of whimsy (the round cushion) but I recently found my dream chairs at the flea market that I have yet to show you. I’m sitting in one right now and while they aren’t as comfortable as those up there, they sure are beautiful. Stay tuned 🙂
And P.S. I still have the pair of lamps, the painting, the frame and the collection of wooden fingers/hands.
Also in the same room (but styled/staged to sell) is…
#4: My “Cool People” Painting I Loved
I bought this piece at the flea market years ago (I have a lot of this artist’s pieces, actually) and the composition and colors are great. Now, again I didn’t think it would “go” in this new house but when you find good art that is unique and in a color palette that you’ll love forever, you KEEP IT FOREVER.
#5: My Safari Chairs
The safari chairs. The perfect caramel leather chairs I bought right before the trend hit hard. I bought them for $900 for the pair in Salt Lake City 8 or so years ago and I panicked when I spotted them in the store. They were so comfortable, kushy, large scale and stylish. I held onto them for a long time but one was increasingly falling apart and as we were moving and I was donating a bunch to Pop-up home to sell, I think I just sold them. For like nothing. I think I had just stared at them for so long and I wanted to be more ‘refined’ or something.
Big mistake. Big. HUGE.
Followed by another one…
#6: Birdie’s Daybed
Birdie’s daybed was vintage. No, it wasn’t just vintage, it’s FRENCH, you guys. Now, there are new versions, sure, but I miss my vintage one. It is also sentimental to me as that room is, frankly just kinda perfect for us. It’s one of my favorite rooms ever…I miss my daybed and want it back. Whoops.
It was hard to write this post. Reliving the past, staring at lost loves can hurt. Especially when you were the one that broke up with them. But lessons were learned today. For all those pieces, I had a visceral reaction when I first saw them—yes, love at first sight. And like most relationships, after a few years some boredom snuck in and I couldn’t see how amazing they were any more. I had moved on, and it’s only now that I realize how wrong I was. Those pieces were so “me.”
But moving on, folks. I’ve licked my wounds and my love hole can be filled by others (I hope). So, I’ve been on the hunt to find that visceral, guttural reaction for vintage pieces. That’s the way I felt about my blue cabinet (from Round Top), our piano, my blimp, my antique Shaker chair…all still alive and kicking. And for the mountain house (and updating some of our house here), I’m going to shop and wait for love at first site.
Again…and hopefully again and again. 🙂
Also, please regale us with tales of “one that got away” pieces from your design history in the comments. Let’s all mourn (and move on) together…