Today I decided to string some lights on a few trees that would only be seen by us. Not for public admiration, just a little bit of sparkle to delight us and remind us that elves are working away. It was a task I undertook on my own and being as I am not tall and the trees are growing on a steep-ish hill so a ladder would have been tricky, I really hope the only observers were rabbits. When I light our indoor tree I am ridiculously obsessive about the placement of each light, so I was quite pleased with my devil-may-care approach today. Of course, the results speak for themselves and as always you get what you pay for but I am still delighted with the little bit of sparkle in our private space.
As I was tossing strings of lights as far up the trees as I could I couldn't help but remember a Christmas-gift-making day with Merin and Eden. Merin was making a throw for her sister-in-law. In most things she was almost maddeningly perfectionist but in just a very few others she was adorably devil-may-care. She could wail over muffins ever so slightly over-baked but on this day when she ran out of the yarn she was using to make an incredible and luxurious fringe on the ends of the blanket (about 20" too soon), she calmly announced that it was fine. She was finished. Eden and I laughed - and told her that it was not fine!! It simply wouldn't do. One can't give a gift that far from completion. She laughed with us but insisted it was fine. I can easily see her sitting at the sewing machine with her little baby belly just beginning to show and her face glowing with happiness. Such a good afternoon with my girls. A Merin memory that makes me smile.
postscript: The throw was completed another day. Don't know if the sister-in-law ever knew how close she came to getting a very unique gift.
I am back (after too long away) and very proud to announce the birth of my latest grandchild. Yes, Jonathon had a baby and he named it LITCHFIELD with a tagline of 'How We Live'. The birth - like most first births - was a bit longer than one would have liked and a little more painful but my goodness, the baby is beautiful!!!
Jonathon has been tossing the shop concept around for a while and a few months ago decided that there was no time like the present. So he left his position as president of Sturdy, visited with his bankers, signed the lease on a fantastic space in the Gastown district of Vancouver, rolled up his sleeves and gave up sleeping, eating, and playing to build and open this very cool shop.
He describes it as a lifestyle concept store. I don't know much about that but I do know that I love everything about LITCHFIELD. That may be because the idea for the shop started from our family - the way we live, the things we have collected and love, the places we have lived. The space is beautifully done with elements that recall bits of family - the grasscloth on the wall is definitely a nod to my father and the house he built, as is the beautiful walnut used throughout. The long run of walnut shelves were designed by Jonathon and built by Thomas with a little help from Daylan and David. Brass covered industrial shelving lines the opposite wall and upstairs there is more industrial shelving made cool with slabs of resin ordered from Martha Sturdy's workshop. Eden's amazing photography is a wonderful addition to the decor and adds another layer of family interest. My sister-in-law Paula Litchfield contributed her incredible talent to paint a stunning "rug" on the concrete floor that looks perfectly like the scrap of Japanese indigo fabric we showed her. There is a picture of Merin on a shelf because it just seemed right that she be there. The bison rug under the vintage mid-Century Danish sofa is like the rug in my living room. And the merchandise on the shelves is inspired by items we have used or loved - some made by us. Overall the shop looks like a sibling to each of our homes. There is a story in the store if you care to look.
The shelves are loaded with everything that I want one of. There are baby alpaca throws from Peru, handmade knives from Japan, bison rugs and Japanese blue and white dishes. Exclusive (and incredible - I never knew my life was not complete without a set until I saw these) headphones from France made of Italian leather. Italian bags. Handmade axes (and yes I want one!!! although I have no idea what I would do with it) and Blackwing pencils. Skincare that is pure enough to eat and Snow Peak Japanese outdoor gear that makes me want to pull out the tent and hit the hills, never mind the snow. Laguiole knives from France that had me sighing and the most unique and beautiful scarves from Japan that I lust after. Cool hand knit 'house shoes' from Peru with salmon skin leather soles, hammered copper mugs from Japan, a truly amazing porcelain iPhone/iPod speaker from Italy (no power needed), Turkish towels, Danish bowls, my favourite cookbooks…. The list is intriguing and long. Every item chosen because it is beautiful and useful. Because it will last to be handed down. Because somehow there is a connection to our story. Because quality is utility as well as luxury.
I worked with Jonathon for a month as the shop took physical shape, the days were long and very full. It looks so simple but was in fact quite a lot of work. I am glad that I had the experience because I will forever appreciate the details of a retail space in a totally different way. I will notice things I simply took for granted until now. I will know that each individual element - although perhaps lovely on its own - adds up to more than the sum of the parts. Besides that, it was a lot of fun to work with Jonathon and I don't get that pleasure often enough. The only regret I have is I was so busy working that I took only iPhone pics and not many of those, so that is all I have to show off. But like any proud grandma the quality of the pictures won't put me off showing all and sundry. So from start to opening this is the journey…