How a Hoarder Lets Go of Beloved Objects

I’m all nostalgic and sentimental because I’m in the process of selling my babies’ cots; they are babies no more. Isn’t it funny how some objects seem to absorb and contain memories, and that we all react differently to the idea of objects and their stories?

Baby Room Stokke Cot Unisex Twins Calm Vintage

I’ve joked before that I’m a borderline hoarder. (The joke is that people around me think I’m well past the border!). I do struggle to let go of objects that seem special, and it perplexes my husband that it’s often someone elses history embedded in an object I choose to hoard.

Others that I know are not at all sentimental about objects, exactly, but they have gathered papers, notes and clippings throughout their lives, amounting to boxes and suitcases full. I’m not alone in wanting to hold onto baby items; I know mothers who still have every piece of clothing and baby toy, without any expectation of procreating again. They simply can’t let go.

Baby Twins Infant Nursery Vintage Decor Hand Made Style Home

These images are a reminder of a time when I hadn’t met my children; I was in the throes of nesting and nervous anticipation. I was attempting to create a calm haven for us all.

Baby Infant Decor Nursery Hand Made Home Vintage Twins Heico Lamp

In addition to the beloved cots you can see numerous vintage toys and decorations; bunting made by a lovely, clever friend; a fluttering mobile made from old doileys; Chinese papercut birds.

Baby Bedroom Vintage Trunk Style

I made provision for note-taking, plus lovely music, lots of story-books: plenty of gentle stimulation for babies.

Baby Bedroom Decor Vintage Doll Books Style

Of course now when I look at that couch I recall anxious time-keeping, attempts to nourish two babies at once (hilarious!), an enormous breast-feeding cushion and the seemingly relentless hum of an electric pump.

Baby Twins Bedroom Nursery Unisex Pastels Vintage Heico Bunny

Thus, objects can hold memories with mixed feelings. The early days of motherhood for me were often stressful and tense as I practically juggled two infants. (Perhaps “juggled” is not the right word, but it felt like that!) I also remember staring for hours at their pink faces, fascinated with their early movements and expressions.

Baby Twins Nursery Decor Infant Monitor Vintage Souvenir Sophie Giraffe

Of the objects in these photos, many have moved on and the only one I now cling to is the “Open” sign, below. It had been the sign my Dad used on the door of his business and he gave it to me simply because it featured two kittens. It was with great surprise that we met our fellows and realised they colour-matched the cats on the sign.

Baby Twins Decor Nursery Bedroom Vintage Pastels Change Table

Objects don’t really hold memories (and I’ve mentioned this before) but I certainly think those that do evoke history have more value, don’t you? So I seek out antique or hand-made, when I need to buy something… and I mourn just a little as I pass on the cots that remind me of when my boys were babies.

I may be sentimental and have a penchant for “vintage”, but I’m very grateful to live in the age of photography so I can revive my memories with a glance.

Baby Twin Nursery Vintage Pastels Heico Bunny Lamp

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Love and Clutter

With a name like “Love and Clutter” — which I recognised as the name of a book by one of my favourite Melbourne icons, artist Mirka Mora — this shop was destined to catch my attention. I gather from my limited time there that it was just my kind of place.

Love Clutter Swing Tag Store Shop Hobart Mirka Mora

Sadly, it closed a few weeks ago. We barely got to know one another.

Love Clutter Hobart Shop Christina Romeo Art Etsy

(Mixed media piece, above, by Christina Romeo).

Love and Clutter Store Hobart Shop Closed Thanks

Even after it had shut its doors for good, this shop had style. Hobart, and especially its town centre, has only a few retail gems so this is a real loss.

Note to self: treasure and give patronage, when possible, to the special places before they all shut down and leave the streets soul-free.

Love Clutter Hobart Closed Window Shop Store Cute

Before The Internet There Was Mail Order

Olden Days Before Internet Vintage Penpals Collectors Mail Traders Magazines

One day my kids will ask me what the world was like in The Olden Days, before the internet. They may struggle to understand that telephones were necessarily attached to the wall, that research was done in libraries and that if you wanted to make friends with someone in another country, you had to write a letter.

I look forward to showing them this old hand-printed magazine, which shows the trouble that people went to, seeking connections across the world.

Olden Days Before Internet Vintage Mail Order Magazine Pre Blog

Some of the ads seem very dubious:

Olden Days Before Internet Vintage Mail Order Magazine Sweetheart India

And I am dying to know if classifieds like these were successful, or even genuine? The expectations are high.

Olden Days Before Internet Vintage Mail Order Magazine Penfriends

And how did people cope before Ebay? The answer is mail order.

Olden Days Vintage Mail Order Collector Magazine We Buy Amulets

And naturally where there is money to be made, there are people seeking to make money from the desire to make more money.

Olden Days Pre Internet What Really Sells Mail Order Magazines

You could be rich. Things haven’t changed that much, have they?

Olden Days Before Internet Vintage Mail Order Magazines

It’s comforting to know that even if the internet breaks, an old typewriter, black marker and a few stamps can set you up with riches and international best friends.

Olden Days Before Internet Vintage Mail Order Magazine Asian Penpals

Strange Ladies: Collection Temptation

Lady Strange Vintage Dolls Paintings Collection New Norfolk Hobart Tasmania

I found myself confronted by familiar “faces” the other day: a variety of things that I used to collect, many of them identical to things I have owned. And I was filled with nostalgia and yearning because the things are gone, that time in my life has gone, but the things are still really cool and collectable.

Am I reformed? Have I given up my compulsive habit? I don’t think so. But after going through the trouble and “pain” to reduce my belongings, it seems silly to recollect things that I have relinquished.

We had taken a jaunt with the basic directions of “let’s follow the river north” and found ourselves in New Norfolk, which has an interesting convict history as so many places here do. Amongst the conventional antique stores I spotted a cluttered window, a pink bicycle and a handwritten sign that said “Lady Strange”.

Lady Strange Vintage Shop Store New Norfolk Tasmania

That title belongs to the shop’s young proprietor, it turned out, and she is afflicted with the same collecting compulsion as I am. The shop stock had been gathering in her bedroom since she was eight years old. And it seems her criteria matched mine: she had acquired a mixed bag of stuff that was old, interesting, uncommon but otherwise random. It was a great shop with a cool soundtrack and lots of character.

So how did I escape this treasure trove of kitschy, vintage clutter? Mostly I just remembered how hard it was to fit all our stuff into one truck on the boat over to Tasmania. I reminded myself that most of our belongings are still stored in the shed if I ever feel the need to add knick knacks to our house.

And mostly I focused on the fact that my life is not what it was. The clutter is self-generating at our place. I have two little human whirlwinds in charge of decor at my house now.**

But if I ever decide to collect that stuff again, Lady Strange is a fantastic place to start.

Lady Strange Vintage Cornishware Collectables New Norfolk Tasmania

**While writing this I was called away to retrieve a cracker dropped into the heater. In addition to the cracker, I found six puzzle pieces, a toast crust, one stacking peg, a matchbox car and two dates inside the appliance.

Home Remedies

Doctor Hospital Medicine Sukie Furniture Home Decoration

A doctor’s surgery may seem like an unlikely place to seek aesthetic inspiration but that’s where I found myself today, with a pair of sick children. Then without thinking about it, I stopped for a caffeine hit at a cafe called “Doctor Coffee” and a motif was made.

Doctor Coffee Hobart Medical Inspired Cafe Home Decoration

It takes panache and style to incorporate medical equipment into your home without recreating the set of M*A*S*H, but it can be done. Lyn Gardener of Empire Vintage has been decorating using vintage stuff like this for years (see the surgical tray stand next to the bath, and the old hospital beds furnishing a guestroom. Photographs by Jeff Kilpatrick).

Doctor Vintage Hospital Medical Furniture Home Decoration

I love the old swivel chair, lamp and the white tiles below left; together they hint at surgical chic but are softened by the plants and table cloth (photograph by Karina Tengberg). The kitchen sink shown below right, again in Lyn Gardener’s house, is a medical antique. How useful to be able to turn on your taps with your elbows while cooking!

Doctor Decor Medical Inspired Furniture Home Decoration

It’s not just the doctor’s office that creates an impression when we’re seeking help to heal. In fact we probably spend more time in the waiting room, so often sparse and characterless. Imagine what a touch of colour or pattern, or a well chosen art print, could do for the mood of the ill and infirm?

Doctor Hospital Medicine Waiting Room Furniture Home Decoration

“I keep seeing stripes in front of my eyes.”

“Have you seen a doctor?”

“No, just stripes.”

Doctor Waiting Room Sukie Cushion Home Decoration

(Stripey photo from Elle Decor Italia, of colourful textiles by Wood and Scherer. Bottom image, detail of very top image, from Elle Decoration UK of Sukie cushions.)

Expressions of Gilt

“With fire we test the gold”, a sign pronounces in Magnolia 73, the excellent suburban cafe where a quirky exhibition is taking place. (The quote is from Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í faith).

Gold Beetle Taxidermy Plate Art Kris Schaffer Tasmania

It features many little gold items (see above and below), compiled by artist Kris Schaffer as “faith, symbols, religion, tests, trials, trust, honesty, ritual, adornment, wealth, riches and art with Love.”

Gold Beetle Chair Scarab Butterfly Magnolia Kris Schaffer Moonah

Gold. It means “the best”and “most valued”, among other things.

Gold Brocade Dress Ornate Vintage Perfume Scent Bottles

The metal has long been prized but I prefer the colour.

Gold Decor Velvet Chair Cushion Brocade Curtain Moroccan Star Lamp

Gold is sumptuous and radiant.

Gold Jean Paul Gaultier Dress Carolyn Quartermaine Rack Bath

It’s luxurious and decadent

Gold Vintage Tea Set Pants Sequins Brocade Chair

Meanwhile, I bought some flea drops for my cat yesterday and the supermarket helpfully displayed the fact that they cost $2,436 per litre, which makes them basically liquid gold.

(Images: Straw hat and gold dress photograph by Manuela Pavesi. Vintage perfume bottles seen in Vogue Australia, by Ken Leach and Christie Mayer Lefkowith. Velvet chair from Vogue Living Nov/Dec 2006, photograph by Antony Crolla. Brocade curtains from Elle Decoration Nov 2006 by Sean Myers. Jean Paul Gaultier dress photographed by Kim Weston Arnold. Carolyn Quartermaine hat rack and bath tableaux photographed by Dider Mahieu. Sequinned corset image source unknown. Gold tea set seen in Real Living, uncredited photo).