Remarkable Homes & Extraordinary Lives

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

-William Morris

The vintage door above the sofa was repurposed from my last home. A home that expedited much soul searching and emotional growth during a period of my life. See “My years in Rehab” post.

We choose our homes and we choose everything in them. Spartan or stuffed to capacity: why shouldn’t our homes be remarkable reflections of our extraordinary lives?  The furniture, art, books, collectables and even our taste specific tchotchkes, are the things that surround us, bring us comfort and tell the story of who we are and where we’ve been.

As a real estate broker, I frequently have the opportunity and privilege to see firsthand, people’s lives reflected in how they live.  There are a million stories in the naked city and each is full of travels, experiences, and relationships. Some dreams realized and some, not so much.   Many stories are exciting and full of explosive energy and accomplishments. Others, melancholy and laced with shadows of “should have” and “could have.”  All are reflections of people living day-to-day lives.  Without intention, we illustrate our stories by what we chose to  surround ourselves with in the privacy of our homes.

At its heart, home is that place to land at the end of the day that supports us and provides us shelter. It also, provides us with a great source of strength and well-being. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone that lives in it and to those who visit.

In my own home, my partner and I have combined two households full of past lives, experiences and travels and assimilated them into an extraordinary story of the here and now.  Who we both were has collectively become who we are.  The past and the present, enriching the future.

We found this mid-century modern, rosewood desk at a local furniture store. It’s a great pairing with the restored chair that was made at a furniture factory in my hometown.

Our homes are made remarkable by the memories we create in them and the parts of ourselves we choose to fill them with. Like a snowflake, no two are the same.   What makes our lives extraordinary is how we create, embrace and share our experiences and the STUFF we collect along the way.  Like a home, no two are the same.   Extraordinary lives happen simply by being ourselves.  Remarkable homes are just the by-product.

Try it; create a remarkable home from an extraordinary life!  You probably already have.

Second Hand Prose.

This old  house has a few stories worth passing on. Listen up.

After a recent trip to a Swedish retailer, which shall remain nameless I am standing strong on a philosophy I have long thought to be a foundation stone to the sustainable future of our consumer driven economy. I have always had a sweet tooth for found objects, repurposed furniture, gently used clothing and well, some might say junk.   Not to mention pre-owned cars, leftovers and old fashioned hand-me-downs of all sorts.  This is the stuff that surrounds me and illustrates my level of taste, style, and identity.  Let me say now that I am by no means a hoarder, pack rat or junk collector.  Well…not yet.

On a planet with finite resources and space, it is worth looking at our consumption from “the triple bottom line” approach. A term coined by Jon Elkington in 1994 to evaluate the measurement of corporate performance from the perspective of the shareholder to that of the stakeholder and coordinate three interests: “people (social), planet (ecological) and profit (economic).”  Three interests that work together like the legs of a stool.  All must be equally strong for the stool to serve its function.

With so many manufactured products already crowding the corners of our world is there truly a need to always be looking for something “new” – newly manufactured, that is?  NEW to our household is something to think about.  Some of the best housing stock in our cities and neighborhoods is the vintage stuff.  Many of our most prized possessions have been around for longer than anyone can remember.   Classic cars, vintage clothing, retro design…see where I am going with this?

Not too long ago, I made some updates to my kitchen and bath in order to put my home on the market.  I had quite a time finding fixtures, lighting and finishes that matched the vintage integrity of my home while still making decisions that would appeal to buyers looking for updated amenities.

I did not want (and could not afford) to do a total remodel so I opted to get rid of a few pieces and replace them with vintage pieces that supported my concept of reusing existing materials and pieces…nothing “new”.  Just new to my old house – and me.   For the master bath I found a vintage pedestal sink that looked great and added a wonderful look with period light fixtures, accessories and paint colors.

My kitchen, which had been “remodeled” before I bought the place, had an entire wall with no cabinetry, counter or anything else useful for a functioning kitchen.   By retrofitting a farm cabinet I found in a 2nd hand store with lighting and glass shelves I was able to add additional storage and an element of authentic vintage character.  I also found a great farm table that had been used as a mechanic’s bench in an auto garage.  Needless to say, that was quite a restoration project.

So, back to the “triple bottom line” approach; people, planet and profit.  People; I contributed to a general well being by shopping locally, employing the services of a furniture restoration company, and engaging the services of a handyman for installation (do not for a minute think I did the work myself). Planet; I re-used existing stuff.  Profit; I saved money on the acquisition cost and put money in the pockets of a local merchant, restoration company, and handyman.

I know that applying TBL, (3BL) to home remodel projects is pushing the envelope a bit.  My goal in using this analogy is to make us think globally about the decisions we make in our homes, shopping habits, and daily routines.  Yes, it takes more time and requires more planning but the benefits outweigh the efforts.

Upcycle. Just something to think about.