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May 24, 2023 • Annie Cao
Our homes are often a reflection of our lives and personality. Even though there are many beautiful interior design styles, the most sentimental pieces are what make a home special and unique.
Our Sabai team collaborated on this blog post to share what our most meaningful home items are!
I can 100% be that person sometimes who gets stuck in cycles of wanting my space to feel finished all at once, instead of letting things come together gradually as part of an ever-evolving environment. When I feel myself slipping into one of those ~moods~ I take a breather and remind myself that I'm probably just feeling that way because of current trend cycles (three cheers for the algorithm!) so I need to cool it and remember to be intentional. Nothing is a better reminder of that for me than looking at the artwork from friends and loved ones that I've been collecting for years. These pieces are normally peppered throughout my home (not sitting pretty all together perched on this radiator), so whenever I walk into a room I'm greeted with a beautiful painting, print, or photo from someone I care about. No better feeling! It makes me feel like I'm constantly surrounded by friends even when I'm just having a low-key night in.
This really made me think. When people reach a certain age, everything becomes valuable and important, especially after I had kids. I treasure a lot of stuff, but something that really stands out is a picture from one of our family trips when my kids were younger. This photo reminds me of how time flies and how important it is to treasure each moment that you can spend with your loved ones. This also reminds me of my humble beginnings and struggles as a working mom.
One day, I was randomly thinking about what important items I would take with me if there was a house fire (thanks, anxiety). And I realized I would want to take my photo album! The album itself was a gift from a relative, but there are many photos and memories inside that I would never get back if I lost them, which makes them special and valuable to me. In a time when most photos are stored digitally in our phones or up in “the cloud,” I cherish the pictures I can still physically hold in my hands.
My favorite piece in my place right now are the blue forever flowers my soul sister gifted me for my birthday. I love flowers and I also love the color blue, so to tie that together in a piece that can sit in my living room for a long time makes me so happy.
It’s hard to choose the most meaningful item in my house. I’m one to keep everything and anything that I find or am given so there are a lot to choose from! If I really had to decide — either a guitar my stepdad gave to me or a watercolor painting of my dog that my grandma had done for me. The guitar belonged to my stepdad, and before that, it was his father’s. It’s not some fancy axe you’ll see on stage with Taylor Swift, but it plays beautifully and easily. It’s portable and anything that my stepdad gives me immediately holds a permanent spot in my house and heart! The watercolor — well that’s my first dog and furbaby. I burst into tears when I got that, and I’ll keep it for the rest of my life.
My girlfriend and I recently moved into a new apartment and took it as an opportunity to have a fresh start on some furniture pieces. The space is larger than our previous apartment, so we had the space for a dining room table (which is one of the reasons we made the move). We have a local furniture store in Miami that makes one-of-a-kind wood pieces, and we found a table that we loved. It seats six people, has a natural finish, and you can really see the character of the wood in the table. It’s the centerfold of our living space. We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on it. Do work on it. Play a board game at night with friends on it. It brightens our day.
Besides the photos I’ve started to frame within my house of the people that matter the most to me, I love this one painting in my house the most. My mother is from Jamaica, and while this isn’t a Jamaican artist (it’s by a local Haitian painter), it brings a bit of island life to my more muted/calm design palette. I love the way it brightens up every room and it's been the focal point and grounding piece in my home as I’ve moved from apartment to apartment.
My aunt and uncle got me a polaroid camera for my college graduation and I’ve been using it ever since. Every time I have a house party, I bring it out and take a bunch of photos. I display them on this vintage work table I bought at an antique barn in Maine and every time I have friends over, we love looking and laughing at the silly memories. In such a digital era, it’s fun to be able to gather and commune around the analogue!
Similar to Avalon, I lean toward the sentimental side. So it is very challenging to pick a singular thing, which is why I chose a section (or two) of me and my fiancé's apartment. There is a corner next to my desk that includes a whiteboard calendar (which still says February 2020 - oh the old times) that I now use just to hang pictures of friends and artwork from my nieces when they were younger. Next to that is a corkboard with mostly trinkets from Japan and a birthday/love note from my fiancé.
When my fiancé and I travel, we buy a patch from the place we are visiting to commemorate the vacation. So we currently display all the patches in a frame (but we might iron them onto a blanket or backpack one day). Then one of the most important items near this corner is a picture of my brother’s dog who passed away in 2021 (the love of my life).
The second place I want to briefly mention is our film photos that are strung above our bed. They include my trip to Japan and Australia as well as my trips with my fiancé to San Francisco and Oahu. These spots in our home remind me of all the good that I experienced even when times were dark.
My favorite pieces in my apartment are ones that have a memory or memories associated with them. There are many that I love, but one that comes to mind is from a trip I recently took with my mom— something we hadn’t done in a while — to Barcelona. We had such a great time exploring the city together, including visiting Casa Batlló, where I bought a red sculptural vase.
After my grandfather passed, my mother brought home a few of his belongings that she thought we might want. I have some photos of him from his youth, his service uniform from his time as a photographer in the Navy, and an old Craftsman beam level.
When I was in elementary school, I spent several summers visiting my grandparents and I remember both their garage and basement being filled with tools. I wasn’t particularly handy as a child, but I remember being intrigued by them. Most of the tools were 30-40 years old at that time, and looked like they were from an entirely different universe.
At the time of his passing, I was 34 and had become a bit handier. I’ve used my grandfather’s level for countless projects over the years and it always reminds me of him, as well as my youth. It might not be the thing I grab if there was a fire, and I don’t use it every day, or even every month, but I always appreciate that it’s there when I need it.
What would you consider to be the most meaningful item in your home? Feel free to share in the comments below!