Jan 26, 2012

Carefully Curated Clutter

1940s lamp, Station Clock and Automaton Bird Cage
from my office
I’ve never been asked to reflect upon a space before, and now that I have, I’m rather alarmed.  I have collected quite a bit of “stuff” in the relatively small area I call my office.  My office best reflects who I am, because it is the only room in the house I have complete control over.  The rest of the house has gone to the dogs…and to my tornado-like child, and to my messy husband (don’t get me started on the socks I find stuffed between the sofa cushions.)  My only sanctuary is the fifteen-by-eight-foot spare room off the living room.  My office.

            The décor is an eclectic mix of 19th century Parisian and Art Deco, contrasted by a mid-century modern coldness.  On the north wall, front and center, is a large antique banker’s desk in deep walnut.  This is where I work, where the magic and inspiration happen.  This massive desk is well stocked with your typical office supplies (hold punch, stapler, copier paper, etc) but also yields to various tools of my trade.  A jewelers loupe, prong setters, and needle nose pliers are just a few I forgotten to put away.  I am often forgetful like that.
corner of the office
            A quick three-sixty turn of this room, and you will see evidence of my many unfinished and neglected hobbies.  A dress maker’s dummy stands in the corner, fitted with a vintage 1950s day dress I have been meaning to take in.  So the Singer on the sewing cart across the room makes sense now… and the several bolts of fabric peeking out from behind a plaid upholstered wing-back chair.  A glance at the titles on the two, half-bookcases on the west wall (Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist, Complete Guide to Drawing, The Horse in Art, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, and several Canson sketch books) would suggest I was an artist.  I used to be a proficient painter, but you will find no canvases, brushes or oils in this office. These books are remnants from another time.

            On the east wall, next to the only window in the room, are framed Sinatra records: That’s Life, My Way, and The Concert Sinatra.  Above those hangs a large vintage movie poster for the original Ocean’s Eleven.  From these you can infer that I listen to Jazz music.  It is only now, that I will modestly admit to being a Jazz singer myself.  I confess that my dream job would be singing atop a baby grand, night after night, in a smoke filled club circa 1950s.

Records, antique die cast cars, ormolu box and rock crystal locket

            Back on the north wall, above my grandiose desk, is a large train station clock (not vintage, just “pretending” to be).  A  Vaseline glass table lamp from the 1940s complements a reclaimed-wood sign depicting a candelabra and French verse.  Framing the desk on the other side is a vintage French advertising poster (I don’t speak French, but the striking red colors of the sign and poster blend well with my aesthetic.)  Below the wall adornments, a ceramic black hand and an oversized glass hurricane vase sit atop the desk.  The vase is filled with vintage bobbins and notions and satin ribbons.  While I use the satin ribbons on almost a daily basis, the ceramic hand is purely decorative, an impulse purchase from Hobby Lobby.  

            Facing the desk on my left is a highly decorated cork board.  Pinned with snippets, photos, business cards, and Audubon magazine clippings of bird paintings, the board is a “catch-all” of inspiration.  Hanging from one tack is an “I MOMM” beaded necklace my son made for me last mother’s day.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him he forgot the “Y.”
pin board

            If you really want to know me, it’s all in the details.  This brings me to my favorite piece in this whole room: A gold Ormolu engagement ring presentation box.   It’s a weighty title for such an unobtrusive little trinket box.  It sits in the shadow of the black ceramic hand, waiting to be noticed, with its beveled glass, ornate design and velvet lining.  It is quite a treasure.  In case you are unfamiliar with Ormolu, here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Ormolu /ˈɔrməluː/ (from French or moulu, signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-karat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze. The mercury is driven off in a kiln, leaving behind a gold-colored veneer.

As you can imagine, huffing mercury vapors is not the safest practice, and was abandoned sometime in the 1800s.  Just think, all that hard work, to create what was basically “the packaging” for an engagement ring; I love the romanticism of it all.
Ormolu presentation box, hand, clock and sign

            I know this may seem like the narrative of a hoarder, but then I believe there has always been a fine line between “collecting” and the aforementioned psychological disorder.  I use this quote from English artist William Morris, in my defense, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” 

            If my personal space reveals anything, it is that I long for a time, or place, or a world that no longer exists.  I surround myself with mementos, thoughtful conversation pieces, and objects with both form and function.  My office, like my personality, is a mixture of strong lines, softened by textures and fabrics, accented with baubles and bits.  Someday, when I die and my executors sell off my estate, I want people at the sale to think, “Wow, look at this neat stuff!  Who was this woman??”
 I have created my own private museum, carefully curated with “clutter.” It’s my space. No boys allowed.

If you like my style, you can find some great pieces on ETSY to complement your personal space:
Sign by FrenchMood on Etsy
Sign by FrenchMood on Etsy

Ormolu Trinket box by NouveauMotley on Etsy

Vintage Cast Iron Car by blurredvisionary on Etsy
Canister Set by BarnFlyVintage on Etsy
Pin Board by shabbymcfabby on Etsy


  1. Love your blog! You've inspired me to carefully curate! Thank-you!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Lexi
    Not only do I want your office for myself..
    I totally felt like I was there,when reading this...

  4. Love to read about your space Lexi!Very well written.

  5. Thank you for letting us "voyeurs" having a peek at your eclectic work space! Style is written all over your blog and shop.

  6. You Should Think About Listing Your Goodies At TripleClicks ! https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/117532433478838072340/117532433478838072340/about

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