Saying Goodbye and Vintage Heirlooms
by E.H. Uminn
This past month has been somewhat out of the ordinary.
We had to make two trips to our home state of Michigan.
An initial trip was made to visit my husband’s grandpa. He was diagnosed with cancer and given a couple of months to live. Grandpa was asking to see our girls so we felt it was necessary to put life on hold. He lit up when the girls were around. We made it back home to Virginia and within a few days we received the news that he had passed.
It wasn’t a complete shock, but it happened much more quickly than we anticipated. Grandpa was ready and we are glad he is no longer in pain, but it is sad to think about not seeing him anymore. He was always very proud of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When I worked as a pharmacy technician, he would come to visit me and announce to my coworkers that I was his granddaughter.
My husband and I turned right around and left for the memorial in a whirlwind, three day trip (One night driving, two days in MI, one day driving). Needless to say, it’s been a catching up kind of month. We traveled over 2500 miles in the last three weeks.
(I don’t have any photos for you today, because it is gloomy and rainy out, which does nothing for the natural lighting I need in order to capture good images. Rather than post poor, shadowy photos, I’ll refrain and post as soon as possible.)
I’m one of those people who love passed down, cherished heirlooms. True, I’m a minimalist. True, I love simplicity. True, I hate clutter and kitschy knick-knacks. The reason I don’t like those things is because I want my home to display things I actually love and cherish. I don’t mean that to sound like I love stuff just because it’s passed down either. I have some kind of internal “test” with stuff like this….as in, will I actually use this? Will it work/look good displayed in our home? It has to be functional, no matter how much the grandparents loved it.
So when the grandchildren were invited to the house to determine if there was anything we wanted, what do you think I was interested in? I have this innate love for vintage, passed-over furniture! I can’t help it! I think about how I can transform the worn into unique. There was a big problem though: all the furniture is in Michigan and we live in Virginia. So I definitely had to hold it in…..there were a lot of furniture pieces that went unclaimed and I would have scooped them all up if I could (read: if I still lived in Michigan OR if I had a garage studio). My only comfort is that someone will get to enjoy matching, mid-century end tables (they would have look amazing in white or cobalt blue with brass accents!), a 1930′s style vanity and matching tallboy dresser (with new pulls and a paint job they would have been transformed) and a library table that would have been perfect to pull two cushy chairs up to and stack a pile of books on (but I have absolutely no place in my house for such a set up).
My husband is my voice of reason in these types of settings. He says things like, “How would we get that home?” or “When we get it home, where on earth are we going to put it?”
The one thing we did agree on was the mid-century, 1950′s hutch from Grandma and Grandpa’s dining room. It is very sleek and streamlined, which we both loved. The top portion also lifts right off the main buffet, so it is very versatile. We could potentially store the top portion and use the main buffet as an entertainment stand in the future (a really AWESOME entertainment stand at that!) Plus, we both knew we could fit this in our living space.
While cleaning out the buffet to move it out of the house, my husband’s aunt teased (well, not really!) that if we inherited the hutch we had also inherited everything in it. I had not thought about taking the china because we really didn’t “need” it. Yet, it was not overly “retro”. It could blend into a modern home. I went through and asked if anyone else wanted it. It was going to be donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army if unclaimed it. I felt so uneasy at that because it was a huge set. Then we were told that the china was from Japan and Grandpa had brought it back from when he was in the Navy in the 1950′s. That sold it in our minds. We packed up the white and gold plated china and figured we’d find use for it. I have always thought it would be lovely to own china so this was a perfect: my first china inherited from my husband’s grandparents. We also inherited a Japanese (Lenwile Ardalt) tea set that I am in love with.
Apparently, Grandpa treated this china like gold itself. He would not let anyone else wash it on the few occasions it was used.
We toted the china home and it is now on display in our current hutch. We are waiting for the mid-century hutch to make its appearance next month when my parents visit. I am tickled to death about having it in our home. I love that we can keep a little bit of something that was a part of Grandpa and Grandma’s home and that my husband grew up around. We also inherited a very old, possibly antique trunk that I am preparing to refurnish for the end of our bed, as well as a couple of chairs (a sewing rocker and an corner seat) from my grandmother that will also come down with the hutch.
I have my work cut out for me this month! This week is PHOTOGRAPH week (all photos of my last three projects will be taking place) and next week is REVEAL week (I will finally post the library, the dining buffet, and a child’s chair I’m finishing up). I will also share photos of our new pieces that I will be working on. Keep checking in so you don’t miss the fun of transformations!