My grandparents, Tom and Josephine O'Shaughnessy, lived for some time on Moody Avenue in Chicago. We lived only blocks away, in my early childhood, and we visited them often. Their home was typical of a couple who raised their children during the Depression. A few good pieces of solid wood furniture, but mostly hand-me-downs from others, a real hodge-podge of style. But, it was warm, comfortable and inviting. It was my grandmother who taught me to always offer coffee and something to eat to any guest who visited. She also read me my first poetry as she was a published poet herself. She would have me sit at her feet while sitting in her rocker, reading her own poetry and the poems of her mother, to me. I loved her dearly and still cannot believe I was only seven when she died, as my recollections of her are so strong.
It's those memories that are forefront as I create my little writers studio. After repainting the walls a neutral grey and leaving the window trim and loft beams, deep red, I gathered all the vintage rugs we had from the old farm house and covered the contemporary vinyl floor from wall to wall. The large red rug above was a giveaway to us over 20 years ago, I have no idea how old it is, but we had thousands of family meals over that thing as it sat in our dining room. You can't see it in the pics, but there is a metallic green paint spot in the middle. A gift from a grandchild, which makes the rug that much more valuable to me.
My recent score is the matching couch and chair (above) which I found on Craigslist. It too has a story. Purchased in 1935 by a young farm couple in rural Melvin, Illinois, this Sears brand set was their "company furniture". Long since passed, their grandson, about my age, told me of visiting his grandparents often but never being allowed to sit in the front room where the matched pair resided. That room was only used when the pastor or other important folk dropped by.
Consequently, the two pieces are in excellent shape for their age and much smaller than they appear. My feet rest firmly on the ground when I sit in the armchair which is a thrill, because at 5ft 1in my feet often end up dangling mid air Lily Tomlin style.
My kids don't think much of the furniture with its flowered seats and mossy green upholstery, wondering why I would spend money on something that was-For Gods Sake-over 80 years old, but they're young and not too sentimental as a rule. I have a feeling though my GK's will like them. I hope so because I plan to leave them the pair. After I have them sit at my feet and listen to MY poetry.
Next up for my studio: the conversion of my parents 1950's buffet into a desk, the hanging of vintage artwork for the walls (I have a few Andrew Wyeth prints that will fit ) and lots of shelves for lots of books. Oh, and some sort of small wood stove or propane heater. Eventually electricity would be fab as well.