Many years ago, before my Godmother Becky passed away, she asked me what I wanted from her house. I was in my early twenties at the time, and wasn’t quite sure how to respond. I knew why she was asking, it was the last time I’d likely see her. I distinctly remember looking around her beautiful minimalist house in Pittsburg, Texas – unsure of whether to name some little knick-nack or something larger. I knew I wanted to have pieces of her life to stay with me, but wasn’t sure what was appropriate. I smiled and told her that I’d love to have her copy of The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I hated reading that book in high school whereas it was one of her favorites. We had an animated discussion about it some time prior – and although I’ll probably never enjoy actually reading that book, I smile every time I see our copies on my bookshelf.
Then Becky asked what else I wanted. Hmmmm, so the book was too small. I walked through her house and told her that I’d love to one day have one of her beautiful vintage writing desks. One belonged to her husband Dan’s mother, one belonged to Becky’s father, and I cannot remember who the third desk belong to.
Time passed, as did Becky. Pieces of hers show up throughout our house: The Old Man and The Sea is on a bookshelf, some of her jewelry is in my nightstand, her silk scarves fill my scarf drawer. There are other things, a Jacques Pepin cookbook, a grocery basket, and various other odds and ends. I assumed that perhaps the writing desk was too big an ask.
When her husband put their house on the market this past year, my parents went down to Texas to spend their last long weekend in the house. I know it was really difficult for my mom as she spent so much time there, particularly towards the end of Becky’s life. And even the times that we visited that house after she had passed away, everyone felt a sense of her calm presence the moment they walked in the door. To us, that house gave her life. On their way back home I got a phone call from my mom, she asked if one of us would be home later that evening, she had a desk to drop off at our house. My mom had remembered that Becky wanted me to have one of her writing desks and made sure that she wasn’t leaving Texas without one for me.
This is Becky’s father’s writing desk, patented in the early 1900s. It lives in our living room with a wooden try of knick-nacks on top. You might recognize the top of it from some of my stationery photoshoots 🙂
The desk is in fantastic condition with the exception of the knobs. Somewhere along the line (before it was mine) one of them lost their metallic piece. This made them appear mismatched and overall they did nothing to add any further visual interest to the desk.
So on my lunch break today I headed over to Anthropologie to see if they had any interesting knobs for sale. And by if, I really mean I knew they’d have some fantastic knobs. After studying each of the knobs in their large selection I’d narrowed it down to 4. From there I noticed that I was really drawn to the knobs that looked a little older (with the antique metal) and less crafty, so I narrowed it down to 2.
I texted Mike to ask which one he preferred (he’s got great taste and pretty much always has an opinion) and he surprised me with a neutral response. So I texted my mom, figuring that she has a vested in this desk and, like Mike, always has an opinion. She told me she liked both of them. This was of no help. So I bought both to bring home and try on the desk.
I was actually a little surprised by the results. I expected to either still be wishy washy over the two knobs or to like the more traditional round knob (I picked up the long ivory colored knob more as a wild card). I really, really preferred the long ivory colored knob.
I think that they’re understated and a little unexpected.
That was such an easy upgrade. Unfortunately there are only two other places in our house where knobs show up (the hutch in the dining room – which is already donning an Anthropologie knob – and the vanity in the bathroom – which Mike and I don’t agree on whether or not it needs its knobs changed out… * cough * yes * cough *). While there aren’t a lot of knobs in our house… there are a lot of handles/pulls… #ohthepossibilities
What I’d like to do now is to make the writing desk a stationery station of sorts, and maybe even add a chair over there. I’d like to populate the drawer with our address stamps, lined envelopes, our monogram stamp, note cards, postage stamps, our address book and a nice pen or two. I think it would make it easier for our personal correspondence to not live all over my office and be a nice way to pay homage to the original purpose of that desk.