The Story Behind…

This is the north wall of my dining room:

How to decorate with meaningful items so that your home tells a story you love...
I rather like how the north wall of my dining room looks… but that’s not why I’m sharing it with you.  I wanted to share this little wall with you because it holds the key to my philosophy for decorating: what story does it tell?
Mr. Pax, an avid non-fiction reader, teases me for my love of fiction.  When I read a book, it is all I do for however many hours it takes me to finish it.  I read while I cook.  I read while at dinner (how rude!  I know…).  I read while at stop lights (please don’t honk at me!).  And I read until all hours of the night. I live for stories.  And I want my home to tell a story, as well.  And that is why I love this wall.
The buffet (with its damaged back left leg which this photo mercifully hides) belonged to my paternal great grandparents.  Love that.  It also resided in my parents’ house throughout my childhood and housed our art supplies.  Love that.  Now, it earns me numerous compliments from visitors to my home.  Don’t get me wrong, I love those compliments, but I love even more that it tells me a story when I see it.  A story of history.  A story of crayons and glitter and picasso-worthy art projects.
The photographs (which are horribly crooked above and have a terrible glare) are of a distant cousin’s former New York Park Avenue apartment.  While I never had the privilege of knowing this relative (who passed away before I was born), my grandmother was quite close to her, and I have loved hearing stories of the spectacular art collection she and her husband owned.  The most special piece for me was King Herod’s head from the choir screen at Chartres cathedral (a very famous medieval cathedral which is located mere minutes from Paris via train and happened to be one of my favorite places to visit while we lived there).  The smaller lamp also came from that apartment, and I love the delicate silk shade that is falling apart where it sits (and will continue to do so until it is truly mere dust – I love it!).  These items (which, by the way, I find to be very cool vintage pieces in their own right) not only prove to be excellent conversation starters with dinner guests, but also remind me of family, history, architecture, and the inter-woveness of it all.
The big lamp (which I truly did polish using ketchup and updated with a new finial and shade) came from my grandfather’s office.  He passed away the year after I was married, and I was the only grandchild (of 8; we were all very close) whose wedding he was able to attend…  I miss him, but I love having this memory here.
The giant brandy snifter (I have no idea what it really is, but that’s what Mr. Pax and I call it!) holds two things: corks and a candle.  The candle came from our wedding (we had a lot of white pillars, some of which are still in our attic, and I plan to have at least one in use in our home until they all run out).  The corks are a collection over time, many of which have written on them a special date or occasion. I love the memories of love, friends, joy, and celebration.
To me, this is what a house should be: stories, memories, hopes, dreams.  It may sound cheesy… but I don’t care.  I know not everyone has family history or antiques, but everyone can make memories.  Everyone can choose to keep the napkins from the restaurant where you got engaged.  Or cover a pillow in fabric that came from your blanket as a child.  Or find an old window frame on the side of your house and choose to make it into something cool with a loved one.  If you have memories, use them and make them part of your story.  If you don’t, then make some.  I hope my home has its share of both.
What’s your favorite story-teller in your home?

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