The tragedy of Pottery Barn, Ikea and Craigslist…

One of my clients, a recent widow, is downsizing. Her husband loved beautiful things – heavy silver from Tiffany’s, elegant Spode porcelain, Riedel wine glasses for every sort of wine, hand-made serving platters, artisan-made furniture. This isn’t little old lady stuff with tiny pink rosebuds either; it’s gorgeous and contemporary.

She’s moving into a much smaller home and feels certain she’ll never be entertaining on a grand scale again.  Furthermore, she doesn’t want to fuss with silver, crystal and china that won’t go in the dishwasher.  She drinks her evening glass of wine from a small tumbler.

“I’m done with all that,” she says. “My kids don’t want it – too much trouble for them too. So what do I do with all this beautiful stuff??”

That’s the $64,000 question. When you can get every sort of attractive plate, fork, wine glass, etc for a few dollars at Crate and Barrel et al, who wants to fuss with the real deal? With cheap stuff, if you break something it doesn’t break your heart (or the bank, to replace it). If you get tired of blue plates, heck, toss ’em and get green ones, or orange, or polka-dot – or several of each.

And that artisan-made marble coffee table? Or that massive McGuire desk? Sure, it won’t be the same quality, but with patience you can find some very nice pieces on Craigslist.

Are the days of heirloom-quality treasures that get passed down through the generations gone forever? Like it or not our things have meaning. What are we saying about our domestic life?


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