COLLECTING KEEPSAKES

The One Day Box: A Life-Changing Love of Home by Flora Soames (Rizzoli)

Most of us are unable to throw out anything of sentimental value. And, so, we should make no judgments on the celebrated English textiles designer and interior decorator Flora Soames, who admits, in her new book, The One Day Box: A Life-Changing Love of Home (Rizzoli): “The fact I still have my dachshund Enid’s whiskers in a pot on my mantelpiece from fifteen years ago probably tells you all you need to know.”

What that admission tells us, and that is revealed in the pages, is that Soames has elevated the saving of personal items to an art form. “This is a story about my out-of-control collecting habit,” she writes. But what she collects and continues to amass—everything from antique damasks and chipped Lusterware—reflects her love of where she lives. This book is also “a love letter the role that home has played in my life,”further evidenced by the photo below of Soames with her then-toddler daughter, Lily Hope, and Clover, the family’s Shetland pony at the time.

As a girl growing up in an Edwardian-era home built by one of her great-grandfathers, Winston Churchill, Soames witnessed the importance of objects. Her mother coveted family photos, china and cutlery, even suitcases that told stories about the past and present. Because the book is also a kind of memoir, we learn that years ago Soames was atop a ladder to retrieve a roll of vintage wallpaper she had saved in a shoebox and wanted to show to a friend. When the box was finally brought down, her friend referred to it as “my ‘One Day Box’.” That was yet something else she decided to collect—a phrase.

That shoebox of goods morphed into a trunk, into a shed, and now into rooms of houses. Soames thinks of that One Day Box as “a place, real or imaginary, where we store fragments of our past that spark a feeling of connection—memories of sights, smells and sounds we love, and to which one day we hope to return.”

As a reader, you’ll continue to return to this book.

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WRITTEN BY DAVID MASELLO

This story appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of MILIEU.