As our external worlds have been shrunken by mandates to spend less time outside, our interior lives—that is, our lives inside four walls—have expanded to fill the void. Interiors are suddenly taking up more real estate in our daily lives and social media feeds (metaphorically, that is), imbuing the smaller details of private spaces with more visibility and therefore more significance. The Reign of the Tchotchke has thus begun, thanks to an unprecedented exposure to the various objets that people choose to surround themselves with.
A tchotchke is typically defined as “a small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional,” but in these decidedly atypical times they have taken on additional meaning. There is something special about bearing witness to other people’s something specials–the little things that punctuate a room like exclamation points, fancy or simple, artfully curated or haphazardly placed, new or nostalgic–small clues to the precious secret of how someone else lives.
I’ve been bookmarking tchotchke sightings over the last few months. Below are some of my favorites, organized by category into the ultimate tchotchke shopping guide, for your punctuating pleasure.
The Tchotchke So Nice You Don’t Want to Cover It Up With a Glass (Even If It’s Technically a Coaster)
Eye spy with my roaming eye: a coaster so nice it defies functional logic and begs to stand alone, with nary an obligation to separate sweaty glass from unsuspecting table (though bonus points that it can easily waffle between its art object status and its destiny to buffer condensation, as exhibited in the above carousel). Why not roll with the ceramic floral route and consider these Liberty of London coasters? Or this lovely set made from Portuguese tiles?
The Tchotchke That Looks You in the Eye
There’s something quite compelling about the marriage of a classic bust with a distinctly modern color like neon yellow or baby blue, which is why if someone else doesn’t buy these pistachio bust bookends for $21.95 I absolutely will. Alternatively, here’s a turquoise statue that would look great on a mantle, and here’s a butter-colored one that doubles as a vase.
The Tchotchke That Waves Back
Handshakes may be out of style for quite some time, but hand tchotchkes are all the rage. Here’s a cool pink one, and a gold one that offers some assurance. On the pricier side, this hand comes replete with a bowl to fill with M&Ms–or whatever suits your fancy.
The Tchotchke That Holds Your AirPods, Thank You Very Much
Maybe it’s just because I’m constantly misplacing my AirPods, but the idea of having a designated tchotchke in which to tuck them into bed every night (or after using them) is extremely appealing. Possible vessels include: this espresso cup, and this asparagus jar.
The Tchotchke That Belonged to a Young Englishman Who Was Picking Grapes in France
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A favourite new thing: a circa 1780-1800 harvest flask from @lacquerchest. Gretchen from Lacquer Chest says she assumes this belonged to a young Englishman who was picking grapes in France. It would have had a leather or fine rope strap running up through the lugs in either side, with a cork attached, so it could be slung over a shoulder. I love the script so much
The Tchotchke That Undulates, One Way or Another
A tchotchke’s charm potential increases tenfold when it happens to resemble a macaroni noodle, or a ric-rac border on a slice of thick card stock. Do as Ryan Norville does and check out the ceramics offerings at Rachel Saunders or Home of the Brave. I also love this seller on Etsy, whose designs have a similar aesthetic.
The Tchotchke You Could Conceivably Light on Fire
A candle becomes a tchotchke when it’s fun or pretty enough that you’re reluctant to actually light it on fire–this is a cardinal tchotchke rule. Candles that potentially fall into this auspicious category include: this twisty guy, these friendly-looking blobs, this lovely lady, this cereal bowl, and anything by Piera Bochner.
What are your most beloved tchotchkes? I want to hear where you got them, and the stories behind them, in the comments.
Feature Image via Maggie Shannon.