A tale of two red chairs – Part one

Nate Berkus The Things That MatterMy aunt gave me Nate Berkus’ new book, “The Things That Matter”, as an early Christmas gift. Let me just say, this isn’t your mother’s decorating book. It starts with an intimate look at Nate’s life then invites us into his home, as well as twelve others, to show us how the things we gather in our life’s travels are a part of us – and therefore, should be a part of our homes. They tell a story, our story. In Nate’s words:

“The truth is, things matter. They have to. They’re what we live with and touch each and every day. They represent what we’ve seen, who we’ve loved, and where we hope to go next. They remind us of the good times and the rough patches, and everything in between that’s made us who we are.”

Before I go on let me say that I started reading this book the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Like every parent in America, I was in a haze of sadness and anger and sympathy. So it was with this level of raw emotion that I started looking around my own home, thinking about “the things that matter”. One thing immediately stood out, my red leather chair.


The Things That Matter laughingabi.com

The backstory:
Our house in Colorado Springs was around the corner from a small, uber-expensive furniture store. The kind where I could always browse, but never buy. One afternoon I was floating through the showroom, dreaming of the day I could lounge on one of these plush sofas in a silk robe and kitten-heel slippers, when I spied a red leather chair. The perfect red leather chair. It was slim and modern and . . . red.

Not surprisingly, it was out of my price range. So I visited it frequently, sat in it lovingly, and told myself, “someday.”

Shortly after discovering the PRLC (perfect red leather chair) my husband left for Chicago on a business trip. As he walked out the door I joked, “wouldn’t it be funny if I was sitting here in a red leather chair when you got home?” He laughed.

I bought the PRLC while The Hubs was gone – I’m sure you already figured that out – and I was sitting in it when he got back from Chicago. It was, and still is, every bit as perfect as I dreamed.

The story that matters:
One of the first things I did was call my mom and invite her over to admire my new treasure. She oooooed and awwwwwed like any good mother should and then this odd look washed over her face.

Mom: “Hmmmm.”

Me: “What? Don’t you like it?”

Mom: “I like it. I was just wondering, did you know your grandma has always had a red chair in her living room? Always.”

Me: “Really? No, I had no idea. That’s weird.”

Mom: “And your great grandma had a red chair too. For as long as I can remember, til the day she died.”

It’s important to note that I’ve never really known my grandma. And while I do have some fond memories of my great grandma (Granny), she died when I was 10 years old. I never knew her favorite color, or food, or singer. I certainly didn’t know anything about her furniture. My point is, these women are virtual strangers to me. Is it really possible for them to have such a strong influence on my choices? I don’t have an answer. I just know that what started as a chair was suddenly promoted to heirloom status – like a secret tradition that’s been handed down over generations. It became something that really mattered. And somewhere in the back of my mind I can see Granny curled up in her red chair, draped in a silk robe with one kitten-heel shoe dangling from her toes.