Lesley M. M. Blume's delightful new book Let's Bring Back is full of fascinating things that shouldn't be forgotten. In addition to such gems as "Midnight Birthday Suppers", "Mahogany Telephone Booths in Hotel Lobbies", and "Intellectually Curious Role Models for Women", there are plenty of entries that would add charm to modern apartments...I read the entire book on a cross-country flight, and felt like I'd spent the time with a brilliant new friend. Ms. Blume's writing is charming, sharp, and well-researched. Here are a few "commendable things from times gone by" that I would love to make part of my home:
- Circular Sofas "An elegant Victorian furnishing for givers of serious parties; guests perched on straight couches always have that 'crow on a wire' look." Totally!
- Feather Dusters "They make house cleaning feel more like frivolity and less like drudgery."
- Guest Books My parents kept these for years, and I would flip through them, fascinated by the grown-up world of dinner parties and inside jokes. An amazing record of evenings with friends!
- Profile Portraits A dear friend of mine recently made profile portraits of her family, including dogs, and it is the loveliest, homiest living room decoration I've ever seen.
- Rocking Chairs "Rocking chairs are the most soothing form of self-administered therapy ever."
- Rolltop Desks "When closed, rolltop desks look like they're housing all sorts of secrets." And hide your mess!
- Suitcase Record Players I have neither the space, money, or audio know-how to set up a record player, receiver, and speakers, but I love to listen to records! A suitcase version would be perfect.
- Thick Walls "As opposed to the grade-D cardboard that makes up the walls of so many apartment buildings today." Amen!
- Vanity Tables "New York grande dame Nan Kempner used to say that the best part of a party was getting ready. Vanity tables make that ritual much more luxurious, much more so than raking on makeup in front of a bathroom mirror." Particularly helpful if two people are trying to get ready! You won't have to wait for each other, and can preserve a bit of mystique...
- Winter Picnics For those cabin-fever days when your studio apartment seems perversely small. My parents used to take me on snow picnics in Chicago. San Francisco rain picnics would provide their own set of challenges, but might be fun.
Let's Bring Back by Lesley M. M. Blume, published by San Francisco's own Chronicle Books.
Image: Tess Wilson