I think my things talk to each other. This belief probably comes from the fact that I live with furniture, art, and other items that once belonged to family. My grandparents (both sides), Roger’s grandparents, and two of my great aunts made notable contributions to our collection of home furnishings. So, when I arrange (and re-arrange), and combine the older furnishings with things Roger and I have acquired over the years, I imagine that conversations are occurring. Sometimes, I feel like I should be making an introduction, as when I placed these two chairs together.
The red club chair belonged to my mother’s mother, Sylvia, whom I called Nana. It was in the living room of her house in Bethel. The dark green wing chair belonged to Roger’s mother, Lillian. I think they would have enjoyed having a nice chat. The upholstery choices are mine, though. The club chair was formerly covered in cracked (and not in an attractive way) red leather. I kept the color, but the fabric is silk. The green textured silk on the wing chair replaced an itchy gold brocade. Both the side table, and the wing chair’s wooden arms and legs were my refinishing work.
In my study, I reunited Sylvia with her sister, Anne, by placing this Victorian platform rocker, which was in her bedroom, next to Anne’s Danish modern sofa bed. This piece I had re-upholstered in another green silk, this one very smooth and sleek. Apparently, everyone of my grandparents’ generation favored itchy upholstery.
The rocker (in the foreground above) is a piece I both restored the finish to, and re-upholstered, replacing the ancient cloth upholstery with dark brown leather & copper accent tacks.
Behind the rocker is a mahogany desk that belonged to my father, and before that, his mother. This is a piece I repaired and refinished, using a red stain to enhance the mahogany.
I also decided that the room need a punch of color, and this vivid, gloriously loud, tropical green was what I chose for one wall. I found myself smiling as I applied it, just happy to be next to it. I like how the greens of the couch and the wall talk to each other as well. I made the long, purple silk pillows from an old pair of evening pants. The fabric was too gorgeous to throw out. And I hadn’t worn ‘Hammer’ pants in some years.
Over the desk, I placed a favorite picture of my grandmother, Evelyn, as a child, with her sister, Alice, who was a also a large part of my life growing up. I like to think they’re admiring the ironwork on the New Orleans balcony next to them, an original photo by Johnny Donnell.
And finally, over my computer desk, I’ve hung a framed Guatemalan textile, depicting a religious animal sacrifice, opposite a carved wooden totem by a Kansas artist. My girlfriend Terri gave me the cloth, and the carving is a souvenir of our most recent cross-country drive. I’m not sure I wish to speculate as to the content of this conversation, but I bet it would be interesting. And possibly terrifying.
I look around my rooms, and I can almost hear voices. And they are having fascinating conversations.