The Stylist Alphabet: L is for…
L is for…
I bought my first set at auction when I was in my late teens. I have always enjoyed organising my collections in my own way, giving them all a place to live, in some state of organised chaos, and accessible when required. I keep an eye out for old shop, museum & library furniture, including glass-fronted milliners’ drawers, wooden filing cabinets, plan drawers and pigeonholes. Many are made from oak & kauri pine, with lovely simple hardware (note: you can always change the hardware if it’s not to your liking).
I recently bought a buge shelving system that was once part of an old Belgian hardware store. It sat on one of the walls of The Society Inc, Paddington. It’s the perfect shade of grey and has shelves and drawers and compartments for all the small things I hunt & gather. On some of the drawers, the old rectangular die-cut-cornered, red outlined labels still hold firm, with beautiful cursive writing, all browned & crunchy.
Many of the museums I frequent have the best old labelling and, although it is merely a form of categorising, identifying & organising, I see so much beauty in a label tied to a bird skin, a simple rectangular typed & dated label on top of a corked test tube or stoppered apothecary jar. Buy old and new labels, and add to your old containers.
One of the simplest ways to introduce depth to your interiors is to layer, layer, layer. Textiles, in particular, offer a tactile and visual beauty like no other and, when unified by a central colour palette, a vehicle for a dynamic mixture of patterns.
Lights that hang & clip
I’m going to say that this came about because of my total dislike of downlights. I do not like to be in a spotlight, blinded by misdirected lighting. Everyone looks fabulous in soft ambient lighting, so why not make a prettier & happier world? I have picked up old & new lights the world over and love the immediacy of clipping them onto a chair, or hanging where I want them to hang. Note: Don’t be deterred by different voltages, make friends with an electrician who can MacGyver them to suit your country code.
Limbs & body parts
I borrowed (and never returned) some framed Indian doll heads from my parents many years ago. I enjoyed that people either loved them or hated them (yes, a strong word, but true). Since then , I have sought out various random body parts from flea markets and junk shops.
There are two shops in San Francisco and one in NYC that have fuelled my curiosity for oddities over the years: Tail Of The Yak, Paxton Gate and Obscura. I’m not sure if I have always liked unattached doll parts, fake eyes, teeth sewn on cards etc, but maybe I have. These things are often small, and for those who notice, cause a double take.
Linen & homespun
It’s crunchy, textured, absorbent, durable, loomed, natural and thick (well, usually). I like to surround myself with it in every room: bath, kitchen, bedroom. In my time, I have found a couple of old rolls and felt over-the-moon excited. I sleep on linen sheetsI bought in a backstreet brocante when my friend Edwina was getting married in a barn outside Bordeaux. Ah, living the dream and listening to rural French radio. In my top five places to visit is a linen company that manufactures old-fashioned towels, sheets, cloths etc in Transylvania (where I will find my Dracula, of course).
Luggage & porters’ tags
These conjure up a time of slow travel: steamships, trunks and the all-important porter. The tags that would link you with your possessions, plus the name of your destination to minimise confusion upon arrival! I use the newer version of these daily in my shop, and have a very extensive , that I have picked up while gallivanting to stationery stores, flea markets, artist suppliers & hardware shops. I have since made them into metal form to be used as drawer pulls in my hardware range for Anthropologie.