Everything we keep, we must use’. This has been the catchphrase as my partner Rob and I settle into our new home. Although we have given away a vast amount of our possessions on the local community site, we still have lots of inherited family antiques, and other treasures gathered over the years. My philosophy is not some Marie Kondo style minimalism, but simply to more deeply appreciate everything we own.

I say ‘my’ philosophy, because Rob has been slower to embrace it. He is far more sentimental than I am (a surprise even after 45 years together), and he has a love of order and routine (not a surprise). For example, he has clung to these old metal teaspoons for his coffee making because he says they are a better size than any of our inherited silver cutlery. Hmm, I’m not convinced, but never mind.

Much of the furniture we have kept dates from the 1930s through to the 50s. We have repaired and restored chairs and cabinets and other pieces, including a 1930s longcase clock.

When it came to photographs, we framed some family ones, digitized others we wanted to keep and threw out the rest, including old albums.

Admittedly, Rob still has a way to go in this area. It’s not that he disagrees with me on an intellectual level. However, we discovered a huge number of photographs of his late father recently. Alan’s career took him overseas a lot, so he missed a great deal of family life. He died when Rob was only 22. Along with sailing trophies, letters and WWII documents, the photographs have provided an emotional reconnection which I have no intention of destroying.


While I was unpacking some china I came across two, long stored Italian cup and saucer sets that had belonged to Rob’s mother. Marked Trussardi Table they are in rich royal blue and gold. The porcelain is eggshell thin. It seems the cups are from the nineteen seventies, so barely even vintage. However, I couldn’t bear to part with them. It was slightly against my new philosophy, but they went into the dining room sideboard.

The Trussardi  cups in the dining room sideboard.

OK, now here is a confession. Every morning Rob brings me tea and then two cups of coffee in bed. For years he has served the coffee in our Villeroy and Bosch cups; sometimes enhanced by his sweet efforts at art;

Coffee art  in one of our Villeroy and Bosch cups.
Well. I write about birds a lot.

However, a few days ago he walked in with one of the Trussardi cups and a silver spoon and said ‘I think we should use these from now on. The Villeroy and Bosch set can be for visitors.

One of the Trussardi cups.

Oh the joy. Look, the transparency means I can see at a glance how much coffee is left. This is fantastic, because I get into trouble if I haven’t finished the first cup before the second is due. It can happen when I am preoccupied with social media….sorry, I mean writing work.


Meanwhile, the cups have been moved from the sideboard to the kitchen. I must admit I feel quite emotional. Quietly, this special fellow has embraced our new philosophy.


While we were living in England in the 1990s Rob and I visited Kelmscott Manor, the Oxfordshire home of designer and artist William Morris. I’d like to think that we have been guided by his famous quote;

Our Trussardi cups surely qualify on both counts in Morris's quote.

Of course, what we believe to be beautiful is influenced by love. The treasured items below came from my mother. And yes William, they are useful as well. The old green bowl holds paper clips on my desk. The flute playing cherub serves as a paperweight, and the apple corer still functions as well as it did when my maternal grandmother used it in the 1920s.



This seems to be an appropriate place to close. The crystal glass below is one of about a hundred, in sets of various sizes. The arrow points to this one’s original sticker It seems I’m the first and only person to use it in nearly a hundred years. No jokes about being ‘in my cups’ please. 😍

FOOTNOTE – Does Rob still use those tacky teaspoons? YES.


  1. Pauline, I absolutely love your approach. With parents who have led interesting lives and gathered treasures, it is a fine balance between keeping those that are meaningful and ridding the clutter in your own current environment. Your story suggests you have made a great effort to achieve such a balance.

  2. I suppose it comes down to the simple but difficult question “are we owners or custodians?”.
    My wife and I have a rule to consult with our children about disposing of anything inherited or that they were familiar with as children. Their connections are different to ours. They are frequently the destination of any disposals.

    • Pauline

      I think you have taken a great approach Harper. My partner and I don’t have children so it’s simpler for us. ☺

  3. My house is full of clutter, but every single thing has a sentimental memory and attachment to it. One of my most precious possessions is being the keeper of our family photograph albums that my mother put together, charting mine and my four older siblings lives from the day we were born, and of course with photos of both my parent’s growing up years, and of their wedding in 1936. My eldest brother was born in 1938, and me, the last child, in 1948. I did the same with my own family and sons. Nothing much printed though since digital came in.

    • Pauline

      I’m trying to make a distinction between clutter and keepsake treasures!

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