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On a drive home from work one night I overheard an interview on CPR with Lucy Worsey, the author of If Walls Could Talk.

Book CoverHer British accent immediately caught my ear and I naturally turned up the volume to hear more of its quirky intonation.  Lucy turned out to be a scream….extremely funny with a dry bent that complimented her subject matter: the origins and purpose of rooms.  Her unique and witty approach gave life to what could have been dry history coming from a historian and curator, and I was soon vividly envisioning homes of the past.

I learned some new things….bedrooms haven’t always been the private sanctuary we have made them to be today, a need for warmth and security meant they were most often communal.  And heard some not so new things… closets were originally created as a place to “closet away” your books or treasures while you kept the few outfits of clothing you owned in your bedchamber. Did you know the coat hanger was invented sometime between 1869 and 1906, and by a man?  That surprised me.

Design is often created out of necessity or circumstances, as in the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel.  And this is still true today.  Of course we have more time on our hands than the average worker-bee used to in medieval times, we have more leisure time to daydream and invent our spaces.  The world of Interior Design has evolved.  We’ve increased the size of our homes, we’ve added more room types over time, designed furniture that accommodate the larger size of our rooms as well as the shape of its occupants. We’ve stretched our creative minds over and over in decorating them to be an expression of who we are.

As Lucy pointed out in her delightful English accent, some of these things are coming full circle and, once again, necessity is the mother of invention: our homes are contracting in size as our lifestyle is changing.  We’re craving more community with our family and neighbors, a simpler environment is the new trend, and our homes are beginning to reflect those needs and values.

Listen to or read more of the interview here.

— Debbie Hindman