When I was a kid, I imagined that there was a secret door in my closet. On the off chance that a burglar entered the house, I planned to run into the closet, shimmy past the clothes rack, and squeeze through the child-size secret door to a safe room that only I knew about. Perhaps most of us imagine secret places like these; I think this is one reason so many people are captivated by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
I don’t think I have ever really left the idea of a secret place behind. I like dusty attics full if boxes that haven’t been touched in years, forgotten corners of museums (like the Field Museum’s botany hall), and cozy places to hide away and read a book.
In the past few years, my apartment has become more and more like the places I used to imagine; part museum, part living space—a place to display collections and combine them in interesting ways. My aesthetic is like a cabinet of curiosities in the Renaissance sense: a room filled with items that range from natural history to art to relics of the past. As I’ve discovered, creating this collection hasn’t come at great expense. When most things you enjoy are considered “old junk” by everyone else, you are in luck.
As I’ve worked on decorating my living space, I’ve tried to renegotiate my relationship to all this “stuff.” I strive not to own anything so precious that it can’t be broken. Unlike museums where most everything on display is for viewing only, I want my friends, family, and guests to open up drawers, pick things up, and possibly drop them if that is part of the discovery process. I used to enjoy storing away my little collections for an imagined future when someone would open up my boxes and discover my “treasures.” Now I find that future rather difficult to imagine, so I’ve moved most of my things out into the open. Here are a few images from my little corner of the world. And if you are in the market for an old roller skate key, let me know.