Me, Myself and Pottery Barn

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DSCF2602Mail order catalogs were my JAM in middle and high school. I obsessed over the Speigel catalog’s home décor section. When I grew up I swore I’d have a breakfast nook with a pink table, pink café chairs, a pink fan light, pink coffee maker, and pink microwave just like I saw in Speigel. But when Pottery Barn came on the scene, my tastes changed. While Pottery Barn has been around since 1949, its mail order catalog didn’t start until the late ‘80s. The catalog would arrive and my sister and I would flip through it a dozen times, circling what we wished to have in our future dream homes.

Christmas, senior year of high school, I asked for a tree topper from Pottery Barn. My family already had one and I wouldn’t have my own tree for many years, but I felt this would be an heirloom, a signature piece that I would pass down to my children. My parents, so patient and understanding, bought me the large silver-plated star. It was too big to fit on our family tree, and way too heavy for the tiny tabletop trees I had in dorm rooms and college apartments. Even after college, my sister and I decorated our fake ficus instead of a fir and it didn’t have a top (or a branch strong enough) for a tree topper. When Karl and I bought our first place together, the 700 or so square feet wasn’t enough to fit a tree that could hold the weight of the silver star.

tree1When we found out I was pregnant, we decided to put an addition on the home to accommodate the addition to our family. Another bedroom, another bathroom, a larger kitchen, and a full-size living room with a bay window begging for a tree every Christmas. Emerson’s first Christmas, 17 years after I received it, was also the first proper Christmas for my Pottery Barn Silver Star.

santa babySince 1992 when I got the star I’ve lived in many different places, traveled to many different continents. My hair has been more lengths and colors than I can count and I’ve purchased dozens of “investment pieces” that I felt defined my personal style but a few years later were donated, sold, or consigned to make room for the new me. I’ve been a flower arranger, a fashion consultant, a visual merchandiser, and a manager of construction crews. The only constants in the past 17 years have been Karl… and this tree topper. I could say how far I’ve come, how much I’ve changed, but it seems the core is still the same. And yes, when the Pottery Barn catalog comes to my house I do get excited and I do still pull out a ballpoint pen and circle the items I’d love to have in my future dream home.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I like the Pottery Barn look too.
    My gripe about their Christmas decorations, which you hit on (in a positive way) is that they run big. A lot of us in older areas don’t have houses with huge double-story family rooms that can take large-scale decorations.

    All the same, that star could go on a mantle or a table, with a little museum putty or foam base to hold it up, a work around for times when you don’t have a full-on tree.

  2. Posts like this are why I love your blog — I can so relate! I have a similar relationship with Crate and Barrel. Beginning back in high school, I have always loved their catalogs and in-store displays, year round but especially at the holidays. And long before I had the time or money for most of any of their wares, I would wander around at Christmas time just taking it all in. Since I could not afford much, I would usually buy just one of their cute and whimsical holiday mugs, just to get a little of that feeling to take home. Lo and behold, decades later I realized I have amassed quite a sizable Christmas mug collection that has become a family tradition to swap in after Thanksgiving. And even now I find it hard to resist the latest addition to their collection:

  3. It’s hard to see who we’ll be in the future. Only a few things have made the full journey with me as my tastes changed along the route. The old rolltop desk my grandpa gave me, I just recently passed along to my grandson. I hope he passes it along to his kid or grandkids in the future. My childhood blue willow tea set years later started me collecting blue willow china. I still love blue and white.

    1. I think it’s funny how magazines and websites will tell women in their 20s how to find their style. Even I used to say to buy something that will be chic for decades. But life changes us, and with it, our style and tastes change. Some things stay the same, but if we don’t grow and change with our experiences, we’re missing out.

      1. It’s really interesting getting a bit older and seeing things change and things stay the same. I would still more or less decorate like I did when I was 18 (was obsessed with forest green, gold and cream) or even when I was 8 (dusty pink with a stylised rose pattern frieze). What I didn’t expect is long-held tastes in food to change i.e. I like herbal tea now and can tolerate cucumbers (in duck pancakes! Nom!)

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