The John Burmingham surprise

Today I pulled a book off the shelf that I’ve never read to Little Fearse. I have read it before, but I had forgotten the story.

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In the book Georgie has out grown his cot so his Mum sends he and his Dad to the shopping centre to buy a new bed. After reading the first page I looked at Little Fearse and said “That’s not what we’d do in our household. We’d find one second hand.” She nodded sagely (actually, I think at this point she climbed off my lap and I read the rest of the book to the back of her head).

Well, to my delight, Georgie’s Dad didn’t think they needed to go to the shopping centre, either. They saw a second hand furniture shop on their way and stopped off to see whether they had any beds. They found a little old bed, which was said to be magic. Georgie’s Mum and Grandma were unimpressed, but Georgie loved his new-old bed.

The last ‘scene’ of the book has Georgie climbing lovingly onto the bed on top of a pile of rubbish in the dump where his Grandma sends the bed while they are away on holidays.

Mostly, this book made me think about how sentimental we can get about old furniture and things with a former life. I find it hard to get enthused about something I’ve bought new in the same way.

One of my favourite pieces of furniture is an antique chair I bought with the stimulus money we were given from the Government in 2009. I was on a junk trawling trip to the Yarra Valley with a friend and found a green Gentleman’s Library chair that had originally been made in 1888 for the Seahorse Inn at Bateman’s Bay, NSW. BP and I had just come back from a gorgeous holiday up the East Coast and had enjoyed a romantic, oyster-filled meal at the Seahorse Inn. It was a little bit of fortune, maybe a little bit fated. Anyway, I bought the chair, I stimulated the Yarra Valley economy and have since enjoyed sharing that little story.

I can’t tell you a story about the couch we bought at Freedom or the lamp I bought from Ikea. Well, I did assemble the lamp. But that’s not much of a story.

I wonder if any of you have great stories about the things you’ve found second hand to furnish your homes?

Mama xox

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4 thoughts on “The John Burmingham surprise

  1. Thanks Eliza for reminding me of so many important things we take for granted via this blog :). I have bought, begged and benefited from many second hand finds for many shared houses I’ve called home over the years. It’s true I do value my special finds, not only for their unique, imperfect, well loved appearance. It’s often the contexts I found them and stories that go with them. The random co-incidences, significant dates, family history and memories/associations that make them so precious to me. Looking around my home I feel like I have a lovely, colourful and eclectic visual history of where I have been told through these objects. 🙂

  2. My 20 year old niece visited our home for the first time last year. As she looked around our home she asked questions about different pieces. “Wow.” she said. “Everything here has a story!” We were so happy because over the years we have collected not only furniture and bits and pieces but so many stories as well! Perfect!

  3. Oh yes, I know exactly what you mean! We have an old beat up 1930’s era pantry in our kitchen. The kind with leadlight doors and a metal aeration panel in one end. No idea of it’s past, although we know it lived at least 30 odd years of it’s life in a large Queenslander down at Shorncliffe. It really really suits our Queenslander kitchen and although it’s really beat up and would probably be worth money if restored, I just can’t bring myself to repaint it. It tells too many stories just the way it is.

    From the same house we also acquired an old wardrobe. An absolutely solid piece, no flimsy panelled doors or back. My Dad converted it into a bookcase for us, using some of the doors and the front of the bottom drawer to make shelves. It has a gorgeous VJ back on it and a simple cornice detail around the top and looks fantastic in it’s new role. One day it will be our son’s and he’ll know the story of how we came by it and that his Grandfather made the alterations.

    • Oh both of these things sound gorgeous! We have an old pantry I’ve been meaning to do up, too. It is out under our barbeque area and creates a kind of cosy indoor/outdoor vibe which I loath to ruin (and I’m afraid, too, that doing it up will ruin its charm). The bookcase sounds wonderful!

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