The right kind of clutter: a collection of houseplants in a mixture of terra cotta and colour glazed pottery, stacks of books, cushions, warm colours on soft furnishings and walls-not too matchy, favourite items both decorative and useful on display, mismatched hard furnishings (new mixed with antiques and antique/family pieces), bowls of fruit in the kitchen and glass storage jars showing off the colours of staple dry goods such as red lentils, green split peas, black turtle beans and tan chick peas.
For a few months after we moved back into our renovated home I contemplated living in a pared down de-cluttered sort of decor. Everything we owned had been boxed up and stored for nearly two years. I reasoned that if I didn't miss it or had forgotten it existed then I didn't need it. In the end that proved to be somewhat true and I did make very selective choices about what went back into the house, but I need to be surrounded by things I love. I prefer a home to reflect the personality and the life of it's occupants. A the very least I cannot live without books plants and candles. We live on the coast of British Columbia, rocks, seashells and bits of driftwood also make their way in. I don't do tablescapes-I know they look lovely but my husband and son think the coffee table is for spreading papers all over. I have to live realistically.
Most things in our home have a story of some sort and have been personally chosen by my husband and myself. Some of those are inherited things and these all have stories too. One of the best is the occasional table we know as the "Bob is a bum" table. It is a table from my husband's grandmother, it was in the house where his father and uncle grew up and was probably in the hall or foyer. We don't know as my husbands grandmother, uncle and father all passed away over a decade ago. It has a little drawer that is to small to be very useful and it isn't more than two and a half feet tall. A child sitting underneath this table would look up at the little drawer's sides, and a child, probably Uncle Don, once wrote about his older brother. Bob in some sort of fit of pique. In blue ink it says, "Bob is a bum. Don is right when he says Bob is a bum."
In our solid oak dinning table, once belonging to my great grandmother, a marble has been inserted inside some of the support pieces under the table top. It is a round top which can be removed from the pedestal for transport and storage. My great grandmother had four boys who enjoyed playing tricks on her. The story my grandfather told me was that the boys installed the marble so that it was in a hollow space where it could roll freely across the width of the table whenever the table top was removed and turned on its side. The goal was to make their long suffering mother think something was broken. We would never dream of having that marble removed.
The Bob is a bum table is, you guessed it, covered in plants and books. And yes there is a candle there too. The oak dinning table is in my lovely red conservatory like dinning room, surrounded by many potted plants and when not supporting family dinners it is covered in the work of grade five and six students, waiting for me to sort it all out and mark it. Although I want my home to be beautiful, I wouldn't want to live in a show room. Good architecture is important to me, and my home should be invitingly real. The clutter of my life. It's stuff I can live with.