The post-Christmas clean up is when I start my spring cleaning. Not that I take down the drapes or anything – but I do begin to take stock and decide what can stay and what should probably go. I have a family of great gift-givers, so my collections are usually added to (and sometimes started) by what’s under the tree. And, though we bought this great old house, I don’t want to fill it up too quickly!
This year, as I worked on my office straightening and decor, I came across an article I saved from Country Living‘s June 2014 issue — “the new art of collecting”. The photos of Mary Randolph Carter’s “unapologetic” collections lie in the land between inspiring and terrifying — as she has curated truly incredible collections – but the sheer volume of them is a bit overwhelming.
She does, however, make excellent points when it comes to the whys and hows of collecting — things that we should all make note of when deciding which things get to maintain their residence in our space.
“Remember: It’s not clutter; it’s the evidence of life.” Carter points out that collections aren’t just of things – they’re of memories and moments in time.
“Forget the word need.” Emily and I have both experienced the dreaded should’ve bought it but didn’t — and have lived to warn others of the experience. If you see something that you connect with emotionally, and you have the means to purchase, then invite it into your life – even if you don’t have a specific home for it yet. The things we need are food, shelter, a few other basics — but, “if you stripped all the [unnecessary] things away from your rooms, tabletops, walls, and floors, where would the color, sparkle, humor, fun, and creativity exist?”
“Embrace the power of multiples.” This is a basic decorating tip, and one that is made exponentially more interesting with groups of like vintage objects. And, don’t forget about the fun of the hunt! One vintage Japanese mermaid is great – but a fleet of them makes such an impact! (fleet? pod? school?…) (source and source)
“Let contradiction lead to harmony. They say opposites attract, so what happens when the eye of the collector collides with another? Accept what your partner loves and let contradiction make your home even more unique.” A marriage lesson via vintage? Of course.
“Trust your instincts.” Your gut knows things. You rely on it when doing other things, and shopping for vintage is no different. “I’ve learned not to let guilt or someone else’s taste overcome the pleasure of my desire. Let yourself fall in love with something that simply makes you happy. If there’s a place for it in your heart, there’s a place for it in your home.”
“Mary Randolph Carter is an author, photographer, and a longtime creative director at Ralph Lauren. Her latest book, Never Stop to Think..Do I Have a Place for This? celebrates the artfully quirky ways people surround themselves with storied objects.”
Bottom line: don’t let your desire to reduce dust and stuff take away from the things that make your space uniquely you.