Buy Only What You Love

We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.

– The Talmud

I heard an interview with Gloria Steinem on NPR a while back. She was talking about her book, My Life on the Road. In her early years, Steinem traveled with her family by car throughout the U.S., living for long stretches of time out of boxes.

It wasn’t until her 50s that Gloria bought her first home – an apartment in New York City. When a close friend came to visit and saw towers of boxes in every room, she told Gloria, “You need to buy some furniture,” and offered to take her shopping.

As they ventured into one of Manhattan’s tony antique stores, her friend pulled Gloria aside and whispered in her ear, “Buy only what you fall in love with, because if the same person buys what they love, then everything will go together.”

Revere Your Eye for Beauty

The lovingly curated art glass collection displayed in my clients' dining room (top) feels like a close sibling to the corner vignette in their master bedroom, which we anchored around a hand painted heirloom screen.

Listening on my car radio, I totally connected to her story. I, too, have always advised friends and clients to only buy what they really love. But Gloria’s friend was wise. She knew that on some level, we all have a personal eye for beauty, and if we honor that eye when furnishing our homes, everything will work together.

After 30 years of helping people select items for their homes, I have repeatedly witnessed that color, shape, texture and pattern are very personal, and each of us has a unique eye for our own preferences. And the great benefit this personal eye gives us is a one-of-a-kind, often timeless home that reflects who we are.

Be True To Yourself 

I was in Crate & Barrel recently, looking for a lamp for a client’s beach house. My eye was drawn throughout the store to all the new shapes, colors and patterns C&B was displaying for the new season. After finding a lamp my client loved, I passed the glassware section of the store and remembered I was down to just a few of the cool green polka dot glasses I bought in Mexico a few years ago. But after looking closely at the many choices, I walked away empty handed. As lovely as the selection of glassware was, nothing really spoke to me. Rather than following what’s new and sparkly in the retail world, I deferred to my personal eye for beauty and decided to wait until I found glasses I truly loved.

In a hillside living room in Mill Valley, we added a rustic red mantel and surround to the existing fireplace to create a suitable showcase for the couple's favorite oil painting, cast bronze dog sculpture, metal stars, and oversize Mexican copper candlestick.

Surround Yourself with Objects You Love

My former dining room in San Rafael, CA, was filled with singular treasures from near and far that I just had to have. Every piece tells a story and has a memory that lives in my heart and makes me smile.

Whether it’s glasses, lamps, chairs, art, rugs or dishes, if you see something that makes your heart sing every time you look at it, chances are it will live in harmony among the other objects you have chosen for your home. Remember, it’s not just the way a home looks, it’s the way it feels. Just like notes in a symphony, each distinct object in your home will contribute to the special music of who you truly are – in your heart of hearts, your wildest dreams and your quietest moments. At the end of the day, I hope you come home to your self!

For the love of the music your symphony creates,

Linda Applewhite's signature
Showing 6 comments
  • Jane Hartling

    I am smiling around my home this morning! Thank you for reminding us to forgo the latest fad and hold out for what really speaks to us.

  • Cynthia Dahl

    Good Morning, Linda.

    Yes, agree, buy only what you love and on occasion I need to step away…
    Currently have my eye on a buffet, corbels, mirrored, medallions, perhaps 1920-30. Would love to put in kitchen, three bottom cupboards are delicately carved, which I could use for storage but when kitchen is renovated not sure if it would fit. So…

    Screen is divine.

    Love what you do.

  • Donna Buehler

    The very best advice yet!

  • Jody Serritella

    Hello Linda,
    Your words are so wise and so true.
    I love going to consignment shops and antique stores and flea markets. However, I have had to tell myself if I want to buy something I HAVE to fall in love with it, as well as get rid of what I am replacing it with. (My wallspace is completely filled)
    Recently, while shopping at my favorite consignment shop a gorgeous painting of terra cotta pots with red geraniums caught my eye. Luckily my husband was with me and made me come back to earth as I was taking it off the wall! Where are you going to put it he asked? I had to stop and think, so do I really love it, and need it?
    I went home and measured the perfect spot, moved some other paintings to other rooms and my decision was made.
    The next day, the ladies in the shop remembered me and chuckled a bit saying “happy wife, happy life! “
    Mother’s Day was the following weekend so I made it a gift to myself!
    I’ve had the piece only a few months but I walk by it several times a day and say I really do love it!
    Jody, Willy and Gigi

  • Sherry Temple

    I ,too, found a sofa table that I just loved. That was 4 years ago and I finally bought it from an antique Asian dealer. I kept thinking that the price was too high and the size was not right. The dealer managed to alter the piece to fit perfectly, so I paid more than I ever have for an antique piece of furniture. But I am so glad, as I love passing by that piece and know I will love it forever. it was worth the wait.

  • Kirby Kendrick

    I have found that the price, whether $10 or $1000 matters little when we fall in love with a certain “objet d’art”! Let’s go for it if we can!

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