How to Live with Objects

How to Live with Objects book cover

How to Live with Objects is a book about giving your home a soul by stocking it with meaningful things:

the objects we choose to live with aren’t merely nice to look at; they can significantly affect the mood of a room and its occupants. Imbued with the stories of where they came from and why we chose them, our objects radiate meaning into our space, triggering us to remember, feel, or think while giving our guests a tangible sense of our personality.

I especially liked this distinction of objects as either active or passive:

Passive objects are ones that simply exist in the background of our lives, sitting there unnoticed until we need to use them. Most of them are merely utilitarian … but even a decorative vase can be passive if it means absolutely nothing to you; maybe you got it with your last flower delivery, and it’s so generic you keep it buried in the back of a cupboard. Active objects, on the other hand, have an (ideally positive) energy that activates certain feelings or thoughts inside us. Sometimes they bring up good memories of a person, a place, or a time in our lives.

I used to call this “upgrading”, but that term now feels too commercial and pragmatic, as if meaning derived from build quality alone. You’d toss out grandpa’s hammer if a new one had less rust.

I much prefer the passive-to-active spectrum. It adds the element of emotion so that the stories an object tells are as important as its craftsmanship.