Tchotchke Challenged

TchotchkesTchotchkes.  Knick-knacks.  Bric-a-brac. Objet d’art.  Call ‘em what you will, but we ain’t got ‘em!

Now, before you say you’ve toured the Goetsch-Winckler and saw a few items on the shelves, know that anything you saw was hastily placed there solely to make the home appear lived-in, albeit by people with extraordinarily strange taste!

The French designer Andrée Putman, famous for black and white living spaces, said that people (through their personal possessions) will provide the color in a room. In a Usonian home, this theory should extend to the items usually defined as “home decor”.  Any item that occupies space must be both functional and meaningful to the homeowner.

Frank Lloyd Wright certainly agreed with the concept in Japanese architecture that quality building materials are beautiful in their own right.  The Goetsch-Winckler is breathtakingly gorgeous when vacant.  It does not need to be “decorated”.  A Japanese home also features a tokonoma, a low shelf where a few important pieces are displayed and changed with the seasons.  This idea translates perfectly to the Usonian home, and can be assigned to ONE of the built in shelves.  But what about all the others?

The many open bookshelves, designed by Mr. Wright, are obviously part of the storage plan for the home and in 1940 were meant to hold…..books!  And so begins the dilemma.

Who buys books anymore?  Not me.  If it’s digitized and can therefore be enlarged, readily accessed on my laptop, and not collect dust, I’m in!  Same goes for photos, another bookshelf staple.  So that leaves “stuff”.  Functional items, collectibles, art pieces, whatever…

The plan begins with placing the functional items in decorative containers to hide their homeliness.  “You paid HOW MUCH for a fancy cardboard box to hold office supplies?”

As for collectibles, my collection of hand-thrown pottery (that my husband thinks has not been thrown far enough) is kept in my California house, leaving only the Michigan State  Spartans spirit items surrounding his desk to fill this category.  Since MSU is both his alma mater and employer, and our reason for owning this home in Spartan country, anything with a “Go Green!” theme, however kitschy, is welcome here.  Thus explaining  the plastic Spartan Gnome standing guard over the FLW Tiffany vase!

And so we come around to art – an obvious choice in a home built for artists. As we travel through Michigan and the Midwest, discovering craft and sculpture pieces by local artists, the shelves will slowly fill.

In the meantime, we invite our guests to assume the lotus position on the daybed, lean back into the Fiesta colored pillows, and spend a moment of Zen contemplating the emptiness contained in our collection of home center flower pots!