Monday, July 21, 2014

The Legacy

Photo courtesy Flickr

An acquaintance and I discussed the heirlooms left when his mother died recently. It was heartening to hear his love and respect for his family and the seriousness with which he takes maintaining future ties. George said he had declared to his siblings that stuff was less important than a meaningful network. He added that he’s up for a sideboard, but that it’s halfway across the country and he’s contemplating downsizing of his own.

I suggested that it might be worthwhile just to ship the thing to Seattle. It clearly has value beyond the market price. I forgot to add that a side board can do much more than store forks and place mats. A local B’nB used one as a kitchen counter in a 1910 room. One could stow a home office in a sideboard, use one as a subtle room divider, add a worktop and call it a light duty shop, or use it at the foot of a bed in lieu of a dresser. 

The side board originally was just that, a board mounted on a wall to one side of the eating table in a medieval communal hall. It held cups and plates that weren’t in active use. The dining space was multi-purpose, with the table, aka board and trestle (sawhorse) being set up and knocked down for each meal. The term cupboard derives from the original design. The sideboard became a specialized dining room piece in the eighteenth century, a period when gentlemen were rightly house proud. Sideboards are often narrow compared to their length and height, which makes them good for small spaces.

2014 is an interesting period. Any piece of furniture can be put to use in any room, for any reasonable application. I favor keeping and carefully using the best wood. A well-designed piece of furniture is a passive appliance. We have been so wealthy we don’t even know what we have.


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