My husband is a fixer-upper, and I am a throw-away-er. He’s an engineer who figures out how things work, so fixing something that doesn’t work is his default setting. If I see a chip on non-essential stuff I can’t wait to get rid of it. So while S tests batteries with a volt meter to ensure he’s gotten the last bit of juice left in them, I put my moribund batteries straight to a bin and let them accumulate for years.
For all of our differing opinions on what to keep and what to chuck, we agree that understanding family history and preserving it is precious to us. S has dedicated himself to cataloging his father’s exhaustive work in economics, computers, information productivity technology, management, family history, the Holocaust, and cybersecurity. In 2003, when my mother died, I instinctively asked to keep her letters, papers, and address books. I am still trying to go through all of the boxes.
A couple of years ago, we visited my in-laws and were tasked with getting rid of S’s high school and early college stuff out of their basement. S and I spent hours sifting through boxes and in the process of seeing all of his paraphernalia, some of his old toys, piano books, and correspondence with a high school sweetheart; I fell in love with him all over again. Through the pictures and the objects, I understood more about who he was before I met him. I told him that if he had asked me out, I’d say yes in a heartbeat.
On the way out of the basement, my father in law pointed to a light fixture that was gathering dust in a dark corner and asked us “You want to take that too?” S remembered it being in the same place for years. We admired it and replied that we’d think about it. Every time we’d go visit they’d offer us something to bring back, and we’d say yes, but this gorgeous chandelier was more than trunk space: It was a project.
The designer is Gaetano Sciolari
Back home after having seen we had a lighting void in our living room, we decided to bring the fixture back with us from New Canaan to Boston. Looking at the chandelier up close we noticed corroded and bumpy metal and discovered some white matte plastic inserts. For good measure, my inlaws threw in matching sconces they must have bought with the chandelier. So it began: the light fixture moved from their basement into ours where it sat forever until we’d remember from time to time that we had to it repair once we found someone who knew something about re-chroming.
The chandelier became another task that we stuffed in the back of an already crowded basement along with all the art that needs framing, the dollhouse that is a daddy-daughter project, and other unique treasures that I picked up on neighborhood trash days. We still knew little about the light fixture, but we hoped to muster the energy to fix it. Then we met Seth from Rare Restoration, a place that feels like real magic could happen at any time, and it does. Rare is a curated assortment of antiques, a haven for restoration and a repair haven filled with possibilities of resurrecting the most defunct and cherished objects you own.
Peek into Rare’s fantastic world.
Seth took the fixture from us and quickly learned that it wasn’t chrome. The darn thing is silver-plated! By the time we got the fixture back from Seth, he had shined it, cleaned it from the inside out removing all the corrosion. As he wiped some of the pieces, Seth discovered some broken pieces of plastic, and we remembered then that we had the sconces. Problem solved. We mined the sconces for a couple of the white panels, and we got the fixture back good as new. The next step was to hang it, so we hired a skillful electrician to do the job.
The living room situation is still not where we’d like for it to be. We have 25-year-old furniture with lovely bones and saggy covers that once were super-hip. Art sits on the floor keeping our plants company. After years of basement dwelling, another inherited piece of furniture has gotten love and care from Seth’s staff at Rare and is finally hanging on the wall.
So no we’re not done, but when we sit on the couch in front of a fire and read by the glow of our chandelier, we appreciate how lucky we are. A little piece of family history keeps us connected to the past as we create new memories of our own. All the while our chandelier continues to shed light some of our paths.
Sure we have aspirations for something a bit more like this room, but so far we are contented just the way things are.