What Is An Exclusive Listing?
When I stage, I tell a story – it’s not your story and it’s not my story. It’s a story that anyone can see themselves being part of. And, it’s one that is told through unique interior design and decor that speaks to each individual in their own way.
My home tells a different story. It’s my story, my husband’s story, my daughter’s story – and there’s a lot of compromise. We all love to travel. And, we all like to learn from the stories of people whose lives and cultures are different from ours. I like to collect objects that tell these stories as I travel. However, my husband and daughter do not. And so, in my house, less is more. This is especially true when it comes to my collection of artifacts and textiles from around the world. A few items thoughtfully displayed or used throughout our home are enough to make me happy and not too much to make my husband cringe every time he comes nose to nose with an African mask.
My home, my stage, my stories. I’m sharing five interior design ideas to inspire your home’s story too. Take a look at a few of my favourite things…
I have a collection of textiles from around the world – ikat and batik from Indonesia, embroidered tapestries from India, and kilim pillows from Pakistan. My most recent addition is a hand-dyed, batiked and embroidered textile from the Black Hmong tribe who are nestled in the mountainous region of Northern Vietnam.
Tradition is significant to the Black Hmong women. It is disrespectful to their culture to wear “Western” clothing. And so, even today, they wear their traditional clothing. Each garment is unique to every tribe – the colours, patterns and embroidery signify their own culture. The fabric is woven with hemp threads, dyed in indigo, painted with wax (batik) and then embroidered. The primitive “factories” that produce these fabrics are still found in every village that line the Sapa valley.
I have framed my Hmong textile, and it leans on the floor of my bedroom against the mirror.
[image via wildtussah.com]
My story: My family recently spent two days trekking through the Sapa Valley with our Black Hmong guide. She shared stories of her childhood, her culture, her marriage and her family. We talked about the differences in our stories and cultures, and we found commonality and shared many laughs. Every time we stopped for a break, she would pull out her embroidery. At the end of our trip, she gave me the pouch that she had been working on.
Who hasn’t tried lassi? It’s a delish yogurt drink from Northern India and Pakistan.
Even better than a lassi is a vintage hand-etched lassi cup. They are all different and quite exquisite. Mine? It’s from Afghanistan with a carving made sometime in the late 70s. I’ve been told that it is part of a bomb casing. What makes it truly unique is that instead of the typical decorative etching, it depicts a beautiful city with a giant rocket crashing into it. To me, it is Kabul during the Soviet-Afghan war.
I use my lassi cups to hold my pens and pencils in my office. Beautiful, functional – and they tell a story.
[image via scaramangashop.co.uk]
My story:If you asked me if I could go anywhere in the world, I would tell you Afghanistan – in the early 70s. Kabul was known as the Paris of Central Asia and was thought of as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Sadly, I don’t think it will restore to its previous splendour in my lifetime, if ever.
The Swat Valley is in the Kyhber Province in Northern Pakistan. I’d be surprised if you’ve heard of it. A battleground for the Taliban, they’re gone now and peace is slowly returning. The Swat Valley was once the home of professional woodworkers who produced elaborately carved furniture. I really hope they have revived their craft after the war.
Wooden prayer boards were an alternative to prayer rugs in Swat Valley homes. Their main use came from women during prayers and then leant against the wall. Ours is a different culture, but I’m quite sure that in my home, my husband would get the wooden prayer board and I would get the much softer rug. I also have a wooden koran holder from the Swat Valley that I use for my cookbooks – yikes, that sounds pretty sacrilegious.
The prayer board hangs in our foyer.
[image via Museum of Applied Arts and Science, Sydney, Australia]
My story:I have never been to the Swat Valley. For many years I managed a store that carried a large number of artifacts from the Swat Valley. I would travel to New York once a year to purchase items from a Pakistani man who split his time between New York and his family in the Swat Valley. We would sit on the floor around the table in his very sparsely furnished apartment, share tea and eat amazing home cooked Pakistani food.
I love rugs – especially old rugs that tell stories. My husband does not. My husband tolerates our kilim – in the basement, where he doesn’t have to see it every day. Although, his preference would be to donate it to someone else.
I’m not sure if our kilim comes from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan or Turkey. I know that it’s old. I like to think that my kilim was used to decorate the walls of a yurt – the tent-like home of the nomadic people of the region. A portable “wallpaper” that could quickly move from location to location, my kilim was likely woven by a community of female artisans. And, its purpose gave warmth and ornamentation before it found its way into my home.
[image via 1stdibs]
My story:I spent many afternoons with carpet sellers in Istanbul sipping chai, looking at beautiful rug after rug and sharing stories. It was an experience not to be avoided as many guide books suggest you do. I purchased two rugs which arrived home long after I did. One of them was completely destroyed by an incontinent cat. The other is still in the basement – to my husband’s chagrin.
Raku is a Japanese word that translates to “enjoyment, happiness or comfort”, and also “happiness by accident”. It is also a hand-moulded glazed earthenware invented in the 16th century for tea ceremonies in Japan. Each piece is unique and each piece is beautiful. Combined with the concept of “raku”, how could these vessels not be given a special place in my home?
Today, raku pottery is made everywhere and is used for many different purposes. Many Canadian potters produce stunning pieces. I have a raku urn for the ashes of cats past (and passed). We use raku dishes for eating sushi and dipping sauces.
[image via Artesanbazar.com]
My story:I have not been to Japan, the origin of raku, yet. Many years ago, a cherished client gifted me a set of Japanese raku bowls and then another. From there my love of raku took hold. Japan is on my bucket list. I hope to add more to this story one day and explore a culture and cuisine that beckons.
We are not planning on moving anytime in the near future but when we do, I realize that all my favourite things, which tell part of my story, will need to be packed away so that our home tells a different story.
Need help telling your story? From staging transformations to interior design and decorating help, the FM Design team can help you curate your story – and we love stories!
This article is written by Kathy Mighton, Project Manager and Lead Designer here at Fox Marin Associates. She is FM Design’s creator of well-crafted spaces that inspire and impress! A true design enthusiast, there are not enough walls or surfaces in Kathy’s life to display all the art that she loves.