I shook things up in the “family room” of our Chicago home — “family room” in quotes because that’s what this room is supposed to be, but it gets really cozy with a whole family in it. If you want family togetherness time, this is the place to do it. A good friend said “this is what you would call a reading nook” when he visited for the first time. No judgement. Just calling it what it is. But interestingly, people gravitate mostly to this room.
The middle cushion on the couch has become smushed, I sit here so much.
Favorite things live here: family photos, dog-eared books, really divine smelling Illume pomegranate candles, a ficus tree grown up from a tiny twig.
This is where in the winter our Siamese cat soaks up radiator heat, and in the summer our Maine Coon cat seeks cool evening breezes in open windows.
This is where we’re surrounded by things from our travels. Truly there is something from every trip in here (yes of course I’m in here now! of course on the smushed couch cushion!) so this room does get busy looking. But I feel embraced here rather than exposed as might happen in a minimally-furnished room.
There’s a collection of red painted wood and brass Indian candlesticks always on prominent display here. They were samples made for a business we had back in the 90s. They were handmade for us, by men who hoped to deliver many more for us. To this day I still wish we had been able to be successful enough to deliver on that for them. We told them to be creative, surprise us, inspire us. But I recoiled when I opened the boxes. It was too much. I wish I had the vision back then to be joyful about the colors that struck me as garish back then. I wish I hadn’t given them away, to just get rid of them. We sold online way back then. Now I know better how those colors would flourish online and they would have colored people’s homes and lives, and they would have helped these men who carved and sanded and painted for us to become more prosperous too.
The only survivors were the red and brown ones.
These candlesticks have lived on the fireplace mantel. But to prolong the gorgeous autumn season, I redecorated the mantel to bring the colors indoors. I’ll post that tomorrow.
Today, here are our India candlesticks and other things from travels on the huge oak shelves in our cozy nook. I know it’s that Midwestern USA orangey oak that some people abhor — I’ve been so tempted to paint these shelves lighter, yet so afraid to do it.
Lacquerware we found in Thailand and India mix well with the candlesticks:
I threw the frame over the clock because without it, the display was missing something. My apologies for fuzziness. This camera is so old.
Here’s me — a rare appearance on the blog! — in patti’s sari with our niece and nephew years ago. They’ve both grown up so much. The frame is Jim Thompson silk from one of the company’s shops in Bangkok. And, lacquerware found in Thailand and India:
Here we are with patti. Now she’s wearing the sari! I think she put me in it because the blue would look good on me. We’re not outdoors — that’s a huge mural inside a home! These things are from far less exotic places: the frame is from Target, the buddha is from Z Gallerie and the travel journal is most likely from Barnes & Noble. The buddha is holding a bird nest I found on our driveway. It was carefully woven of plastic netting! I spray painted it gold to dress it up:
An inexpensive mudra Buddha hand from somewhere in Thailand, and a Thai Buddha postcard framed, sitting atop one of the many travel journals on these shelves. I try to take advantage of any traveling downtime to write memories and details. It’s not the same typewritten — they must be handwritten in a beautiful journal:
A prayer wheel from Sikkim laying atop a small portion of my extensive collection of design books:
Some pieces we found in the night market in Luang Prabang, Laos:
This is one of my most favorite possessions: dirt!! Yes! I scoop dirt when we travel. There’s dirt of many colors and consistencies from many places: New Mexico, Big Sur, Angkor Wat, Tuscany and Umbria, the Silk Road. I painted these spice jars from World Market antique gold, filled them with dirt, and made labels from scrapbook papers:
The bracelets above are from India but they were a free giveaway at Ulta or Sephora — one of those cosmetics stores.
And we can’t forget the other two ever-present lovelies in this room. In fact they’re both here next to me right now. My Siamese Snowshoe, Seesa:
Everything new put on the shelves here, or moved around, she notices. It must meet her approval. She rules this house and she’s tough.
And here’s Chaai showing off his toys in this Indian brass urli. There’s a Lakshmi on it and she’s always facing east. What a stylish toy box you have there, Chaai!
I didn’t make him do this “Vanna” show-off thing — he’s a ham and he recognizes every little photo opportunity.
Thanks for taking this trip through just a small part of our favorite room!