Sometime when I was in early high school my Mom and I started yard-saling together. I don’t really remember why we started, maybe someone needed a dresser, maybe it just sounded fun, I don’t know. But what I quickly discovered was that the fun of yard-saling is in finding things that just “sing” to you. If you haven’t experienced this before, it goes something like this: You are walking beside the table of other people’s discolored tupperware, and suddenly you see something that you never knew you would like. For me it is sometimes in a color that I didn’t think I liked, but then find all at once, that I adore. Sometimes it is simply an item that has the right shape, and I fall in love with it in the color that I plan to paint it. Whatever the case, it is seldom something that I could have anticipated loving. It just hits you, you pick it up, and carry it around with you to look at the other totally unappealing things. Sometimes you run into someone you know, and of course they look to see what you are getting, what you have tucked under your arm – you might feel compelled to tell them why you are buying it – why they should regret not having even flinched as they passed by your little treasure.
Our house is full of things like this, things that I paid very little for, and still stand around to admire them. Sometimes I have them around for years and just keep on loving them more. Just a couple weeks ago I came home with a bulbous yellow vase (to be completely frank, the thing is nearly neon). I know it was marked at a dollar, and I think I paid less for it. But the funny thing is, since then I have not stopped moving it around to different places to admire it, using it as the centerpiece in some rather aggressively colored table settings, and stopping whatever I am doing if the sun is shining on it.
What I love about this way of gathering favorite things and then decorating with them is the extremely personal nature of it. You have to risk a little – think of the vaguely curious looks you got at the yard sale, and magnify that into a look around your whole house. It is a way of decorating that really tells about the people that inhabit the space, and ends up not just singing to you, but singing about you too.