Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lessons From the Stove: Less Is More

When Apple announced the forthcoming iPhone X, with a price tag of over thirteen hundred dollars (US), I thought of my mother-in-law’s stove. Bought in 1972, the olive-green propane stove has cooked almost 50,000 meals (I did the math) and it’s still in use today.
The stove is 45 years old and still in use.
That certainly deserves recognition, doesn’t it? A certificate or parade or even a speech in the legislature because how many of us can claim to be using an appliance or vehicle that is ten years old, let alone more than forty?
According to my father-in-law, the only problem in the last four decades was a faulty burner so there was never any reason to replace a perfectly good stove with something newer, shinier and likely less durable. My husband and I have been married ten years and we’re already on our second washing machine.
Once a stove reaches this level of survival, it simply can’t be replaced. It is, in all of its olive green glory, truly vintage.

Lori Byrne would love to get her hands on that stove. 
An interior decorator who lives with her husband and two young daughters in Meadowville, Nova Scotia, Lori’s passion for all things vintage finds expression through her ‘Farm Fresh Style’ venture, in which she combines her decorating knowledge with her crafting skills.
“It’s about repurposing and upcycling and creating with what I acquire and what is kicking around,” she told me over the phone.
For Lori, that pile of junk we clean out of our parents’ basement or grandparents’ attic isn’t trash for the landfill; it’s a treasure trove of decorating ideas. She said it’s both challenging and satisfying to take a crappy old headboard and turn it into a “super-cool” sign.
“I like seeing what I can create with an unlikely object.”
Lori was raised on a farm so the value of repurposing rather than throwing out is deeply ingrained in her. Author Jon Katz wrote the following on his blog in 2015 after he’d lived in rural New York State for a number of years: “Real farms are beautiful places, orchestrations of chaos, where junk is utilitarian, nothing is new, nothing is ever thrown away, everything is used. Farmers are obsessive tinkerers, always patching, stitching, welding and praying.”

It’s not just about repurposing old things, however; for Lori, it’s also about valuing what we have. The inspiration behind her annual Homegrown Vintage Market is her appreciation for items whose usefulness stands the test of time.
“Items can have so much nostalgia for people,” she explained. “They’ll pick something up and say, ‘My grandmother had one of these’. Someone else says, ‘All the stuff in my kitchen is vintage! This is what I use every day still.’ Vintage items are still here, they’re still functional. These old items have longevity and they will be around long after we’re gone. There’s some permanence to that, and I love that, as well.”

Permanence. Not a word often used in our fast-paced, globally-connected, constantly-upgrading world yet that olive green stove, with its permanent spot in my in-laws’ kitchen, tells a far better story about life than any iPhone ever will. 

Check out Lori's Farm Fresh Style website here.

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