Antique stores, salvage yards and tip-shops are essential to the charm and beauty of living in the South-West. A landscape of human life that includes stores like this says that those communities appreciate that which went before. It helps to balance the 24 hour department stores and tourist mini-marts that crowd the town centres.
As a sixteen year old I lived in a share house in the inner city; stubborn and headstrong and completely flat broke. My bed was made of a slab of plastic milk crates, secured together with cable ties, with an old mattress thrown on top. Our couch was milk crates covered in second hand cushions. Everything else in the house was thrifted or salvaged off the side of the road. We lived that way because we had to, the same as we had to eat rice and beans from the can every night for dinner (because there just wasn’t anything else.)
Fast-forward more than 10 years and here we are, living in a regional town, a marriage, a divorce and a small child later, and we are still living in a home that is furnished solely with second hand items. The things that we use in our day-to-day lives – our clothes, our furniture, the crockery in our cupboards – were collected slowly, over time like a bowerbird hoarding its treasure. The way we live now is a choice, an ethical approach to consumption, using things that have been used before, breathing life and love back into that which was discarded. Glass and stone, clay and wood, cottons and leather shoes with scuffs – we collect only what we will use.
If someone was to ask me what my style was, I would tell you it was simplicity. Not the kind that looks like boutique chic, but the simplicity that comes from celebrating that which is imperfect. That which is unique. That which is already here.
Think of the bowl, made by hand, crafted by a local artist out of soft clay. Time and love and talent went in to the shaping, but what the owner may have seen as an imperfection, as a failure in their work – I cannot see. Sure, the bowl may be misshapen, the glaze incomplete, but there is so much beauty in it. I run my hands across the clay as we eat our evening meal and I think of the hands that made it. Along the base of the bowls you can feel the deep ridges of the names that were carved into the base of the clay; the stamp of a local pottery kiln in Bridgetown or Dunsborough or Margaret River. On others it’s simply a first name, a student in a pottery class somewhere, someone practising their art unable perhaps to see the perfection they had made.
I run my fingers across those supposed flaws, the cracks and the chips, the wear and the tear and I see something that cannot be found in that which is mass produced. A simplicity. A beauty. Something sustainably unique. Something that was lost but now has been found again. Therein lies the key to the Japanese philosophy wabi-sabi; a philosophy we incorporate into our daily lives. It is the celebration in the truth that life is messy and imperfect and beautiful all at the same time. The acceptance that nothing living is ever complete, that change brings with it imperfection and that life brings with it shadows.
Our home is not styled, it is nothing like the pages of a magazine – but there is a lot of love in it. There are crumbs on the floor and teacups in the sink, there are paints on the table and seedlings in the window… there are signs that life lives here.
Imperfect and messy and incomplete, just like that bowl, just like the collection of the bower bird, and just the way we like it.
If you are looking for a second hand treasure in the South West take the time to check out; The Flying Wardrobe(Witchcliffe), Community House Op-shop (Nannup), St Marys (Busselton), Blue Emporium (Donnybrook), Busselton Salvage, Bunbury Salvage, Stanley Road Tip Shop (Australind), The Quirky Den and Salvage Yard (Boyanup).
*This post was first published on Kidspot as a part of the Voices of 2015 festival where Inked in Colour was named top 3 for the parenting and style category – thank you all for your continued support. So super grateful. *