Susanna Salk


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HEIRLOOM STYLE
Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

I am hunting and gathering pieces for a March 5th Today show spot called “Heirloom Style.” I’m looking for pieces-new and old- that bring a sense of generation and history to a room as well as a touch of whimsy. So if you’re not lucky enough to have an Auntie Mame in your life, (imagine if EBay had existed when she was alive?!) your rooms don’t have to suffer. There are treasure troves of things to be had to give your space a sense of history. (And let’s not forget how the word “story” dominates that word: for every piece of furniture in every room should come with its own little back story, even if its history begins right when you found it: I swear even the most basic of pieces become more interesting if there has been some emotion in their questing. (“Oh that chair? Found it at Target the day I fell in love with Roger.”)

And no worries if you’re not the antique-trolling type or if garage sales give you the hives. Click on Anthropologie, 1stdibs.com or even Crate and Barrel to find furniture and accessories that didn’t let a little thing like lineage get in its way. (WAIT til you see the pink velvet Savoir Chair from Crate and Barrel I’m going to air! If only I had had that in my door room in college! I swear my grades would have improved -not to mention my love life.)

A few times I have been blessed by the Heirloom fairy. Last year, I was given my late Grandmother’s blue velvet sofa which looked like something Noel Coward would have lounged upon. Oddly enough, it looked completely out of place in her staid living room surrounded by antiques and yet, when it found a home in our Connecticut play barn, (not enough room in the house), it seemed to let its hair out with a glamourous sigh of relief, finally ready for its close up.

After my Grandfather passed away, the grand children were allowed to pick one piece each that belonged to him. As admiring I was of him and his formidable character, I did not know him that well. Yet for some reason I gravitated towards his mirrored shaving stand, a most intimate of belongings. But it was so quirky and distinct. And stood as poised and amused as he did, so I just had to have it.

It’s now in a corner of our master bedroom. I don’t look into its mirror. It’s more like I nod respectfully in its direction whenever I walk past, grateful for the dignity its-his- style brings to our room. And I wonder who will have it next? Will one of my sons place it in another corner in their room and think how much more at home it looks with them than it ever did in their childhood home?…

Or maybe furniture was meant to always be on the journey to somewhere else and that the ultimate destination, is the memory it leaves behind.

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