Angela Huston

The current extended period of near-isolation has presented a variety of opportunities to explore areas in the house that might otherwise go unnoticed for long stretches of time. For example, except for the necessary maintenance of our furniture, I rarely think about identifying our loosely-defined decor.

Even as a young wife I seldom thought about what specific style of furniture I might someday want. Back then, we simply made do with what was available, but some of our more knowledgeable friends were already exploring future options, wishful choices with specific names. For the sake of amusing conversation, I usually likened what we had back then to Dark Ages Special or Delightful Depression but eventually settled on Early Attic. It was simple ---- and the name never went away.

Over time I discovered other people shared some of my sentiments about not having a properly legitimate-named decor; they, too, invented names to suit their own furniture: Early Available, Available Rejects, Attic Renaissance, No Strings or Springs Attached, Classic Charitable, Curbside Restoration, Top of the Line Goodwill, Garage Sale Special, Previously Used and Abused, and Great White Elephants were among my favorites.

Currently, the combination of nostalgia, liberally laced with boredom, revived some of my thoughts about those early days when others were aspiring to own furniture with creditabilty.

Early American was a favorite choice then, but I could not even be very serious about that. I would immediately envision tepee-like houses with peace pipe towel bars and totem pole hat racks, or, for the other Early Americans, sparsely furnished one-room log houses whose main features were large walk-in fireplaces.

I used to be fascinated by the expression Period Pieces, which had a curious, almost mysterious ring to it. I never really knew which period people were describing - fur rugs from the Cave Dweller Period, lava lawn chairs from the Vesuvian Period. To the less informed such as I, the two-word term was vague yet seemingly acceptable, like "I'm Not Quite Sure."

Surely the early, slightly haphazard, years of setting up housekeeping could have contributed to the legitimate introduction of Eclectic decorating, a style that found its place in homes in the sixties. The name "Early Psychedelic" came to mind when I first saw promotions for the melded, mismatched colors and designs of these assorted pieces. I wonder if this style is now listed among Period Pieces, or if it contributes to the current Retro trend.

We have replaced several pieces over the years, the new ones still chosen, first and foremost, with comfort in mind. Lately, some of them are beginning to qualify as contenders for those contrived names, although "Old Junk Our Kids Refuse to Take Off Our Hands for Free" is the way they are usually described.

I wonder if our furniture finally qualifies as Period Pieces, which, along with Eclectic, and 'I'm Not Quite Sure', are all a bit synonymous to me; only vague subleties separate them. However, if I were choosing, of the three, the designation of Period Pieces still holds some appeal; it is the most applicable since it tends to embrace old things.

I really have no interest in replacing our comfortable old "stuph." Instead, in an effort to give credibility to the furnishings that have served us so well, I will simply rechristen them. Early Attic is now officially elevated to the well-earned status of The Attic Period.

This pandemic has to end soon. The constant cooking, cleaning, (some cussing) and mental categorizing of everything is making me question the odds of ever having any cogent thoughts again.