They're Meant to Be Used

Ell spent part of her childhood living outside of London which meant she was a skip hop and jump away from Stoke on Trent, a factory town where many of the best brands of dishes are made: Burleigh, Portmeirion, Spode, etc. Over the course of her time in London she accumulated many, many sets of dishes. I think we could swap out our dish set at least once and month and it would take us well over a year to have a duplicate set.

But here’s the dirty secret.

All of those dishes are what the factory calls “seconds.” They’re dishes where the pattern has been misprinted or smudged. Sometimes the color isn’t quite right. Point being, if you sit at our dinner table and look closely you’ll see blemishes in our “fancy” dishware. These dishes which cost $20+ a plate at department stores were purchased for less than 10% of that at the factory. We love them, though. We use them and sometimes we break them. Normally with the quick line of, “Well, they’re meant to be used!”

I think it’s a good lesson though. Oftentimes what gets in the way of hosting and sharing a meal these days is a nascent perfection; we’re self-conscious about the meal we’re preparing (“It’s too simple!” we say). We’re freaked out about being behind on laundry or setting the table improperly or the furniture being worn from kiddos. Like our dishes, there are dozens of ways something could not be perfect.

As we’ve continued to have folks in our home and think about the kind of homes and spaces we want to help folks create we’ve planted a flag on this idea that smudged and done is better than perfect and to be planned. Homes, like dishes, aren’t meant to be pristine, locked away, and safe. They’re meant to be used. They’re meant to have things break from time to time. They’re meant to be well known and familiar. It’s a bit part of a house being a home.

Jerry Hodge