“…I’m not a great one for folk art, never have been—this piece, not of the first quality, doesn’t fit with anything else I own, and yet isn’t it always the inappropriate thing, the thing that doesn’t quite work, that’s oddly the dearest?”
from The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, 2013
The things in our lives that don't quite fit in are the ones that stand out ... in a good way, or in a bad way, it all depends. But think how dull life would be if everything came in perfectly matched sets: there'd be no brown puppy amid a litter of white ones, no souvenir beer stein in a cupboard of fine glassware and no cross-stitched pillow leaning up against your perfectly plumped silk cushions.
Unlike the wedding registry stemware and the imported Indian pillows, it's the odd household accessories that usually have the more interesting stories to tell.
The tacky beer stein takes you back to Oktoberfest, Munich 1978 ... remember Gunther? And your mother … remember the great conversations you shared while she sat bent over her needlepoint for hours on end? Because a treasured 'misfit' is more than the sum of its molecules; it's a holiday, a lunch with a friend, a piece of special music ... to each of us it is something different and, in some form or another, we pass it on. A friend may visit with you and thereafter whenever she comes upon a piece of needlepoint, thinks of you.
Such treasures are so much a part of our domestic landscapes that we, who live with them, are hard pressed to even identify them and recognize them as 'out of place' in the designer sense. This is a good thing.
Houses and showrooms are filled with self-consciously selected furnishings and accessories; homes, on the other hand, grow and evolve with time ... sometimes a little clumsily, but mostly with charm and authenticity. Your home tells your story, seamlessly growing chapters as time goes on.
Take a quick look around your own living room. Are there any story-telling, stand-apart pieces there ... an art print from your last holiday, a funky-looking sculpture made by your 5-year-old niece, or an antique teapot that has poured many family teas over the past decades/centuries? Perhaps these are items you wouldn't normally seek out, but you've adopted them and they, more than probably anything else in the room, have adopted you.
Friends and family learn more about who we really are when they see us in the context of our personal environments. So, don't be scared of tossing an unpaired candlestick, or a tattered volume of classic nursery rhymes onto your bookshelves if they mean something to you. Just like the brown puppy in a litter of white, all it needs is love in order to belong.