As I’ve watched movies in quarantine, the tracking shots of bedroom set design keep catching my eye: Enid’s teenage, Tavi-Gevinson-esque paradise in Ghost World and a smoky library belonging to a dog named Peabody in Rocky & Bullwinkle, in particular.
I have tentative plans to move house when such a thing is possible, and as someone without much furniture of my own, I’m basically starting from scratch. Which is sort of liberating! And also intimidating! But mostly, right now, it’s entertaining and soothing to window-shop online, and to make a list of things I like, arrange furniture configurations in my head (furniture-moving being less sweaty when you’re just doing it in your mind), and be the architect of a mental compartment where hope for the future can live.
With this on my mind, I decided that making my own occasion-less “registry” for home decor purchases would be a fancy way of reframing this shopping strategy shared by a MR reader:
Usually, I maintain a similar system to Kate’s—I keep a list in my phone of things I’ve wanted to buy and then I let it cool off before I even so much as click “add to cart.” (Right now, this list reads: Dimes’ Emotional Eating cookbook, a Polo Ralph Lauren button-down, a Thousand bike helmet, a mini-trampoline, English Breakfast tea, a refill of hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary.)
I also have a folder on my desktop called “Things I thought about buying.” Often, dropping a screenshot into that gorge is sufficient satiation. Before granting myself re-entry to the folder, I remind myself of this sobering line from Cynthia Zarin’s book, An Enlarged Heart: “I was in the midst of the years in which I didn’t know that desire is infinitely replaceable.” That usually halves the list, at least.
If you’re in the market for home goods and appliances, consider the personal registry as the next step of this shopping strategy—after an item has been vetted, considered, reconsidered, and it still provokes desire and proves to be necessary, then it can be promoted to The Registry.
I’ve instated a personal registry because, from a pragmatic financial standpoint, I’m not going to be able to buy a bunch of this stuff for a while or all at once. But it’s nice to feel a) like I have a firm shopping list to slowly tick things off of, and b) really certain about which home items warrant the investment. The organization incentivizes me to budget with intention. I like it because it’s an evergreen document with no time peg. Plus, now I’ll have an answer whenever my grandmother asks me what I’d like for my birthday.
Because the registry isn’t a list of immediate action items, a little daydreaming is allowed (because I make the rules). The list can have some moonshot ideas alongside some more reasonable aspirations. My daydreaming takes the form of a modular Pierre Charpin slice sofa, a Katie Stout centaur lamp or the Togo lounge that evokes a docile Shar-Pei. Why not play a little dream house? I can figure out why I like what I like and look for less expensive dupes, rummage around eBay or scout for secondhand pieces. (Easier than it sounds, I think. I turned on a $200 price maximum on The RealReal and found this Kartell shelving…. And I’m pretty sure this is a Mies van der Rohe chair.)
Harling Ross has, notoriously, always been a year older than I am. This arrangement has serious advantages: I like to do things a year behind Harling in order to glean wisdom from her trials, tribulations, and successes. I recommend finding a friend who is one year older and one year more advanced in your life stage than you are, who can function as a sort of salad strainer of life experiences for you. For example, when Harling’s furniture took months to trickle in, her short-to-medium term solution was to order a few bean bag chairs as interim furniture. Taking a page out of her book, I immediately bookmarked Moonpod for the same purposes (they are offering 50% off for healthcare workers right now, btw). Non-sequitur but imagine getting one of these supersized bunny-shaped lounges for Easter?
To keep the registry on task, I added all of the elements I think I’ll need, so I can find solutions at my own pace, like so:
If I didn’t do this, you can be sure that I’d just buy 17 Gantri lamps in rapid succession and nothing else. Speaking of which, these are all the lamps that are vying for my attention:
- This one that looks like it’s integral to a search party
- This extremely adaptable Bollard pendant going for the delightfully low price of $29.99
- A lamp that moonlights as a tiny toadstool, to go with my tiny fungal EQ3 lamp
- Any of these Noguchi lamps, picked at random while blindfolded is fine
- These table lamps by Fatboy that would’ve made Thomas Edison himself squeal, I’ll bet
And some other ideas gestating on the list:
- Chairs for dining with multiple people solution: Lumber Club Marfa stools, made by a woodworking club of 7-14 year-old girls in West Texas? Or these Philippe Malouin Ace stools that could double as bedside tables?
- Nonstick pan: I got the Great Jones Small Fry for my parents and I love it—I just realized they make a Large Fry, too. And I recently heard about the Our Place Always Pan, which looks intriguing.
- Full-length mirror: Moonshot, Gustaf Westman’s curvy mirrors. Or a vintage restoration by Glare Goods?
- For a desk turned dining table: There is something appealing about the proportions of this outdoor terrazzo table from CB2 (and about the idea of using it inside). And about creating a chaotic tableau by going all in on Crow Canyon Home splatterware.
- Shower curtain: I’m trying to take my own advice here. Never thought I’d say these words but these shower curtains are perfect!!!
- To be quite clear, the thing I’m most excited about on this list is a Smeg milk frother.
- Closely followed by a Smeg toaster.
Hashing these ideas out in list form also helps me see how cohesive or incohesive these items would be together. And then there’s the not-so-necessary stuff that I’ve bookmarked, which shrieks “variety is the spice of life!”:
- For some reason, I have an emotional attachment to this Normann jug at my grandparents’ house.
- A striped Tekla bathrobe.
- This bite-size speaker, admittedly for its eye-candy value.
- Prints by big name photographers and artists via Pictures for Elmhurst and Dream Sequence, the proceeds of which go toward local New York hospitals and charities for people affected by coronavirus.
- There are so many beautiful transparent teapots. This one is typeset in Comic Sans.
It’s all a work-in-progress, but it’s the kind of stagnated yet future-forward daydreaming I can enjoy right now—big plans and lofty ideas with the blank canvas of a hypothetical studio apartment as my oyster. If you want to give it a whirl and replicate a full-immersion browsing experience, I recommend playing this song that Haruomi Hosono composed as background music for Muji stores, and which Ezra Koenig eventually sampled for the recent Vampire Weekend album.
Feature photos by Heidi’s Bridge