So, you think you’re a collector?
Well, meet the subjects of Mary Randolph Carter’s new book: Never Stop to Think… Do I Have a Place for This?. In this book, Carter explores the homes of some very cool and quirky individuals who all share a love of creating totally unique and very full living spaces, by collecting items (antiques, furniture, art, pillows, books, et. al) of whimsy, charm, sentimentality and priceless style. Flipping through the pages of this book is like strolling through a folk art museum, but one that’s been expertly arranged to accommodate the life and movements of families, guests and practical lifestyles.
Mary Randolph Carter
And about halfway through, you’ll stumble on a full photo feature of Tata’s Vermont home and guest-house! Below, we’ve shared some of the photos that Carter took of Tata and the homes. A quote from Tata’s feature:
“When she first stepped into the smaller farmhouse, now a guesthouse for overflow friends and their families, Tata started filling it like the pages of those childhood scrapbooks. She had no plan– ‘I just allowed whatever I was finding to find a place in the house.’ Her vision was to make it ‘very country… and all antiques.’ She didn’t want anything that was new.
She collaged the walls with primitive paintings, vintage signs, folk art, and her favorite collection of silhouettes. ‘ I bought one, and then I found another, and then I couldn’t stop,’ she confesses. She forages for stuff in local places like Tom’s Treasures, and other haunts farther north in Burlington and Shelburne and on road trips to Maine. ‘I buy everywhere I go. The hunt is never over. The houses are never done.'”
Here’s an interview Tata conducted with Carter that has left us feeling SO inspired to get out and start junking!
Tata: Carter, I am a huge fan of your books. I love to collect them and give them as gifts. This year, you have a new book coming out. Tell me what it’s about and how it’s different from your other books?
Carter: Thanks, Tata. You and I have always had a bond about living with the things that we loveour family and our collections! Thats why the story of your collections (all 16 pages!) is in my new bookNever Stop To Think Do I Have A Place For This? Though all my books are really about the same thingmy love of Junk, this one focuses more on the joy of collections. My philosophy and that shared by the 17 collectors in the book, including you, is that more is better! and if you really love something–one wooden chicken or twentyyoull find a place for them! The big hurdle that always seems to stop people from acquiring something that they love is that wretched questionDo I really need this? When it comes to need, lets face it, we really need very littlefood, a roof over our heads, and maybe a pair of shoes, but do we need to collect another ironstone pitcher patchwork quilt, cookie jar, toy truck, or whatever your passion is? As I write in my bookMaybe the essentials like food, shelter, clothing come first, but let us not forget to feed, protect and embellish the life insideour creative spiritour imagination.
Tata: How are you celebrating the launch? Many of our blog readers live in major cities. If you’re going on a book tour, can you please share dates?
Carter: The book launches on May 6th and starting then there will be a series of book signings I will join around the country. Love to see any of you that can drop by! Here are a few: > Saturday, May 17th at Anthropologie in Richmond, Virginia9200 Stony Point Parkway, from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.
>Wednesday, May 21st at Anthropologie in Philadelphia, 1801 Walnut Street at the corner of 18th, from 5:30 to 8 P.M.
>Saturday, May 31st at Hunter Bee in Millerton, New York, 21 Main Street, 4 to 6 P.M.
>Saturday, June 7th at Antiques on Jackson, New Orleans, 6-8 P.M
>Saturday, June 21st at The Hudson Mercantile, 202 Allen Street, Hudson, New York, 3-6 P.M.
Tata: You’ve been quoted saying that “clutter is the poetry of our homes” and I love that. What influences in your life helped you develop your aesthetic and perspective on what makes a home soulful?
Carter: I do believe that clutter is the poetry of our homesthose amazing treasures from childrens art work to photographs to shells, sculptures, flags, jewelry, toy soldiersthat add character to the rooms we live in and share with friends and family! To me, the soul of a home is in those personal touches that reveal the character of those that live in it, that flourish in it, that are inspired by it! I love walking into a home like Tata and Henrys where stacks of books are lovingly piled on tables, in the shell of an old TV set, in an industrial storage unit. Where the sofa is afloat with a million little pillows and layers of handmade quilts. Where a ceiling twinkles with dangling handmade stars and folk art paintings mix naturally with the childrens artwork.
I am and have been and continue to be (every day!!!) inspired by so many things. Growing up the oldest of nine in a 17th century farmhouse in Virginia certainly had an influence. Our life was chaotic and fun and always about welcoming friends into our home and making them feel like family. So my love of old things, vintage pieces, one of a kind primitives go back to those days in Virginia, but also the energy and bohemian spirit of New York City! I love mixing old and new (though mostly old!), I love textiles, wooden cupboard, chairs, chairs and more chairs, paintingsmostly collected from thrift shops, mostly landscapes and portraits. I have also worked for Ralph Lauren for 25 years and that has certainly grounded or freed the way I express the way I live.
Tata: The question I am most excited to ask… what does your beauty vanity look like? Do you have one?
Carter: Did you know I was once the Beauty & Health Editor of Mademoiselle magazine? You should have seen my beauty vanity then! I experimented with everything. I think I was the one who urged our Editor-in-Chief to change my title from Beauty Editor to Beauty & Health Editor. I really believed then, back in the seventies, that real beauty started with good skin care that was related to diet, exercise and all the things we take for granted today. Today my beauty vanity would probably disappoint you. Of course, the cabinet itself is an old mirrored cupboard that hangs in my bathroom filled mostly with a few basic products and lots of little cakes of soap that I collect when I travel.
Tata: What do you consider one of the most underrated elements of design when making a room come together?
Carter: I dont know if its underrated, but I think the way we light our rooms is one of the most important ingredients to creating ambience and a mood. I love windows that flood a room with sunlight during the day and candles that set a mood at night. I love the light of an open fire. I recently bought a little electric fireplace for my son Sams apartment in New York City. He has an old mantle nailed on the wall behind it and like me; he loves dotting it with votive candles when he entertains. Recently Ive discovered battery operated votive candles that even flicker. Though I will never give up on real candles, there is a safety value to the electric variety, and Ive got to admit theyre pretty effective, and avoid the mess of dripping waxthough truthfully I must admit I kind of like that it.
Tata: Is there a top tip you can share when it comes to shopping at flea markets or thrifting?
Carter: Make a list of things youre looking for, carry some cash and checks, wash n dries are nice to have, scour the place and see whats what before you plunk your money down on the first thing you see be a polite haggler, but always ask, Can you do any better. Dress comfortably, take couple of big bags or a little wagon to haul your finds in I could go on forever. Never stop to think when confronted with something that you cant live withoutDo I have a place for this?
Tata, Grace Paloma (left) and the author, Carter, in Tata’s garden
All photos courtesy of Mary Randolph Carter, and photo credit to Carter Berg. You can shop for the new (and so wonderful!) book here.
Author: Tata Harper Team
The team at Tata Harper Skincare is passionate about promoting a modern, health-conscious natural beauty lifestyle that’s committed to safety, honesty and sustainability.