A History of It’s Own

March 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Design Space

I am so excited that this month’s theme is journey, because it is completely in line with my latest design fascination. It seems every time I flip the page of a magazine, or browse a design photo gallery, my eyes are instantly drawn to the beautiful antique piece so delicately displayed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a credenza, or chest of drawers, a vintage iron bed or a light fixture, I can’t help but sit and stare at the uniquely crafted piece.

I am a hopeless romantic, so when an old piece of furniture catches my eye, I can’t help but drift off and dream of the very full life it may have had. Who sat at this desk, and what did they write on it? A love letter, a poem, a diary filled with deep and tormenting thoughts? And what about that chest of drawers? How many times have they been opened and closed over the last 200 years? And what was stored or hidden inside them? And my favorite is the mirror. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if it could reflect for us what it has seen throughout its life? I think of each pieces journey, from the day the tree was cut, to when the wood arrived at the carpenter’s door. The hours of cutting, nailing, gluing, carving, sanding and staining, only to catch the eye of someone passing the shopkeepers window. How did it end up here, in this home owned by a young family somewhere in Southern California? Fascinating, isn’t it? The journey an inanimate object can take.

March 10 - JourneyIt seems to me that purchasing a piece of antique furniture is in fact a journey in itself. It’s never easy to find the exact piece you are looking for so it takes time and plenty of patience, and because it can often be very expensive, it may take the occasion as well. I love the idea of buying a beautiful writing desk or antique chest to commemorate a change in career. Maybe that carreer is just the beginning, or maybe it’s coming to an end, or maybe, you just landed the dream job of a lifetime. It just seems so fitting to mark your history, with a piece that has a history of it’s own.

March 10 - Journey1I love the idea of really fun and interesting antiques for children. Something that reflects their personality, and hopefully something they’ll want to keep with them for a long time. A fantastic Armoire, a vintage bassinette or crib, and playful furniture like this miniature chair, can add character and charm to any room.

March 10 - Journey2Recently, I came across a home that was filled with so many interesting pieces of furniture. It belonged to an interior designer, and I was impressed to learn that most of the furniture was handed down to her by family members, her mother, grandmother and an aunt as well. Everything from a reclaimed piece of wood for the dining to table, fine china, to the antique bed in the guest room were part of her family’s history. It was wonderful to see how she brilliantly coordinated all the pieces to compliment her lifestyle.

March 10 - Journey3Nothing excites me more than reading about a chandelier that was discovered while window shopping in Paris, or a gold gilded starburst mirror uncovered in a market in Florence. I love the idea, of shipping something home so that you can surround yourself in a blissful reminder of your adventures in travel. And so, as you continue on your journey, it begins a new one.

Finding an antique for your home is as much about your journey as it is about the piece itself. The process is quite enjoyable if you take your time, familiarize with some of the periods, and are patient enough to hold out for that one piece that takes your breath away.

Photo Credits, from top:

1. LeftShabby Slips Houston via House Beautiful   RightCaldwell Bebe

2. LeftNancy Price via House Beautiful   RightMartha Stewart

3. LeftMarie Claire RightBarbara Westbrook

4. LeftCaldwell Bebe RightVeranda Magazine

About the Author:

Vitania IMG_1182Vitania M Liscio is a small business owner from Toronto, Canada with over ten years experience running her family’s furniture manufacturing business. With an always apparent passion for art & design, Vitania has created a line of furnishings that is beautiful, timeless and of superior craftsmanship. A devoted blogger, she brings a fresh perspective to the world of fashion and interiors, that includes admiration of the laborious work of designers, artisans and fine artists.

Business: www.anvilwroughtiron.com

Blog: www.verdigrisvie.blogspot.com


9 Responses to “A History of It’s Own”
  1. janice says:

    Lovely photos, Vitania, and a piece that really got me thinking because of the context of journeys. I love to see cherished antiques and quirky pieces with stories in other folks’ homes, but I usually buy new pieces of furniture, and only keep antique pieces that my own parents bought new and my husband or I grew up with. I know it’s an approach that horrifies a lot of home design-loving folk, but I prefer to give a new piece the chance to develop its character on my own family’s journey, so that every dent and scratch means something to my kids as they grow up. That way, I can cherish all of a piece’s story without wondering if it had a dark history. That’s maybe why I prefer customising new pieces, too, instead of doing what I enjoy watching others doing; giving new life to flea market finds by revamping them.

  2. Vitania, you know that we’re currently building our new home, and I need all the inspiration I can get! Your article has inspired me by giving me permission to use what we have and love to furnish and decorate, and to know that it will work out well.

    I’m intrigued by the idea of furniture to commemorate a special occasion, event or rite of passage. My mother and I were discussing my daughter’s 17th birthday the other day, and how – for my 18th birthday – my parent’s gave me a trunk to keep my ‘glory box’ in. All the treasures that I’d use when I got a home of my own. It still sits at the foot of our bed.

    It’s a tradition we’d like to keep for my daughter. So we’re now on a quest to find that beautiful old trunk or chest for her – we have a year and I’ll wait for something to ‘take my breath away’.

    Thanks Vitania! By the way, I just love that starburst mirror!

  3. Anne Maybus says:

    How beautiful is this article? I love the photos and I, too, have spent many hours wondering about the feet that walked here before mine, or touched my wonderful old table. I love the idea of the mirror reflecting it all back to us. Thank you for writing this.

  4. Dee says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article Vitania; you have such a wonderful way of bringing our treasures to life! My favourite piece is my great grandmothers rosewood bed, which she purchased in 1950 when she first married. On her passing, it was given to my grandmother who generously gave it to me a few years ago.

    Gran often retells stories of her childhood, and that bed certainly features in a number of them – its wonderful to think how one piece of furniture, marked by so many fond memories can have such a beautiful impact on the generations to follow.

  5. Vitania says:

    I too love to bring something new and beautiful into my home, and take pleassure in building memories around every scratch and stain. I think most design-loving-folk begged, borrowed or stole a piece of furniture that once belonged to someone in their family. I have my eye on a couple of pieces in my mother’s house that I may have to fight my brothers for. For me it’s about mixing the old and new, the borrowed and the bought. But I still love the thought of having some old mysterious piece of furniture telling a story of it’s own somewhere in my home…:-)

    My father made me an wrought iron bed that I received when I turned 18 and I still have it today..and I don’t think i will ever part with it. My bedroom furniture was also a wedding gift from my parents and I love it. If there is one thing all designers agree on, it’s surround yourself with things you love. They will go together just fine.

  6. Vitania says:

    Thank you so much Anne. I love the idea of the mirror too.. I think I will have to make it a point to find an one for my home.

    Thanks to you as well Dee. I love that you have your great grandmothers rosewood bed in your home. I wish I had pieces that belonged to my grandparents, they didn’t have much, and what they did have stayed with them in Italy. When I was in Italy a few years back I took one of my grandfather’s drss shirts, and it hangs in my closet today..

    I think about this every time I buy a piece of furniture. I want it to be of good long lasting quality, just in case my kids will want to keep it in their future home. NO offense if they don’t, but it’s nice to know that a physical memory can live on long after I do.

  7. Bo Mackison says:

    Lovely photographs showcasing such beautiful works of art-furniture. I think of hand crafted and antique furniture as artwork. I also love old buildings, love the look of the hand crafted architectural details.

    A lovely place to visit, this post, on a dreary afternoon. Thanks.

  8. Vitania says:

    Thanks for stopping by Bo.

    I agree hand made furniture is just another form of artwork and creative expression. Old or New, you can see the pride that goes into the details, much like the architecture of old buildigs.


  9. Kevin McCuaig says:

    Hi Vitania,

    I just stumbled on this article – warm insights and beautifully written.

    Well done!