The neighbors wondered whether a motel might be going up during construction. In the Chicago suburb of Highland Park—composed mostly of large, traditional houses—they weren’t used to seeing anything like it in 1963. Single-storied, flat-roofed, vaguely linear, and covered primarily in bright white stucco, it didn’t look like much from the outside. At best, they probably thought, it was uninteresting—a tacky architectural carry-over of California modernism. At worst, it was offensive. There were certain codes of conduct in places like this, and judging from the architecture alone, rule #1 was to color inside the lines.

My grandparents weren’t the original owners of the house, but I never really saw it that way. They were more like adoptive parents: maybe they didn’t build it, but they were the ones who treated it the way it was supposed to be treated. They hired a decorator when they moved in in 1972, and together they conceived and executed a plan, resulting in something not unlike what would happen if Woody Allen’s Sleeper mated with 2001: A Space Odyssey and birthed an entire house.


But that wasn’t how I saw it, either, at least not until I was older. I didn’t see it as mid-century modern or 70s glam, and I certainly couldn’t appreciate the curvilinear design scheme that gave the house shape or the particular balance of materials that gave it form. It didn’t strike me as odd that my grandparents owned a sofa made entirely of foam, or that the rug was made of strands of yarn longer than my hands, or that the coffee table essentially amounted to an enormous plastic cube. It was all just part of them.

My grandparents were both people for whom modernism wasn’t any kind of intentional decision or contrived style choice, but just something they kind of emitted and diffused into the air around them. Like Steve Jobs, my grandfather always seemed to be wearing some slight variation of the same understated uniform. He accessorized with slim plastic watches that looked like they’d been flattened by a steamroller. He was a constant consumer of information and news: if there was a new technology, he wanted to know about it. His whole ensemble—the house, the look, the attitude”“added up to being the sort of person who embraced the future with open arms.

They fit, together. For as long as I can remember, my grandma stuck to a basic wardrobe of black and white. But there was always a twist: a line of decorative buttons there, a pair of glasses so elaborate and substantial that it was hard to imagine the bridge of her nose supporting the weight. She always carried with her a set of Paper Mate Flair felt-tip pens, a packet of tissues, and little pill-sized tablets of Equal sugar substitute in a plastic dispenser. She was the kind of person who thought everybody she encountered was entirely fascinating, who could listen to a person talk about nearly anything, and do so with utterly rapt attention. Everything was “nifty” to her, and if it wasn’t, you felt as though it was. Profoundly so.


And there they were, in that wild 60s house—colored by vivid 70s technicolor—floating around it all like little punctuation marks. They were a part of that house and it was a part of them. And I thought it was the most beautiful place I could imagine.

My grandfather died in 2001, and everybody more or less figured that my grandma would move out of the house in favor of something more manageable and suited to a woman approaching her 80s. But she refused. I found out a couple of years ago that my grandma never actually liked the house—that it had always been my grandfather’s passion and that she had complained about it constantly. But his death brought about a sort of desperate clinging, the despair of leaving it worse than the despair of living in it alone. This went on until she, too, passed away in 2007.

I went back to the house twice after my grandma passed away—the first time, to sit shiva, and the second time, about a year later on a trip to Chicago. To a stranger, it probably would have looked the same. But it felt different. Where before the air always held a slight tinge of her perfume, now it was flat and vacant. The house was still an amazing place by all counts, but something essential about it had dissipated, leaving only a spectacular shell in its place.


Though it would now be regarded more as pathology than habit, my grandmother was a perennial keeper of things: old receipts, letters, coupons, photographs, and other documents. She had a cataloguing system all her own, enabled mainly by binder clips and paperclips, and stashes hidden all over the house. What began as a daunting but straightforward process (“we’ll rent a dumpster…”) turned into an ordeal that took weeks, then months, then years. As middle children often do, my aunt Janis took on nearly all of this work, separating the trash from the treasure, sitting alone in the middle of the living room with mounds of paper building up around her, a pile for everybody. I wonder if she ever considered carrying it all out the back door, walking a rickety stairway down to the beach on Lake Michigan, and just setting it all ablaze. But she couldn’t do that. Instead, she spent nights and weekends, early mornings and late afternoons commuting between downtown Chicago and her parents’ old suburb to take care of things for the rest of us. For Janis, the house became both a thorn in her side and—if not the final—than at least the largest tether connecting her to the past. Anybody who has ever taken detailed stock of somebody else’s belongings knows the feeling: it isn’t just sorting. It’s communing. And when it’s over, there’s a deep feeling of emptiness and finality. There’s no more to be seen or found, and it’s time to move on.

Everybody wanted to keep the house. Janis and her husband, Tom, considered moving in briefly, and my parents even toyed with the idea of relocating from Washington, D.C. to live in it, but it just wasn’t practical for anybody. Once it was finally listed, the large lot on the lake immediately attracted the attention of developers rather than families, who saw in the house only an easy tear-down and the potential for three houses in its place. And that wouldn’t do.

So we waited. For two years, the family refused enticing development offers, hoping that the right buyer would happen upon it and see what the rest of us saw. But it didn’t happen, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sinking feeling in my stomach when I found out that we—the estate—had accepted an offer from a developer. The carrying costs and the maintenance had become overwhelming, and we’d all just lost hope. We negotiated salvage rights, giving us the opportunity to bring in a crew of contractors and remove anything we could—lighting, built-ins, even the doorknobs were coming with us. Admittedly, the idea that pieces of the house could be dispersed and reused across the country was a decent silver lining, but it didn’t help much. The idea of a bulldozer destroying the house all at once was only slightly less palatable than us going to rip it apart from the inside out.

But then something fell through, as they often do when real estate is concerned, and the developers backed out. Amazingly, it wasn’t long after until the right buyers did come along, and saw the house as something special and worthwhile and significant, and offered to buy it. And then it was time to really say goodbye.

Most of the furniture, art, and other stuff got loaded on trucks and sent around the country—to my aunt, just an hour away in Hyde Park, Chicago, to my uncle in Utah, to my parents in D.C. and to my sister in Los Angeles. And we got a few things, too.


This chair was one of a pair that sat in my grandparents’ bedroom for almost 40 years (my dad has the other one), and now it’s mine. Of course, I know what it is and what it’s worth, but that’s really not something I think about. I love it because it belonged to them, and because I grew up climbing all over it, and because sitting in this chair feels different than sitting in any other chair exactly like it.


Not surprisingly, it’s also very comfortable and has basically become my permanent office in the apartment.


The other biggest thing that came our way on a truck were these two lithographs that used to hang on the wall behind my grandparents’ bed. They’re really sun-damaged and worth very little, but they’re two of my favorite things. I love them hanging over the bed like that, and every time I peak into the bedroom I’m so happy that they ended up with me.


My grandparents didn’t live to see me become an adult or the sort of life I’m building, or the ones who get to share these things with me. But I think they’d be happy, too.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 3.13.13

    That was beautifully written. Thank you!

  2. 3.13.13
    DA said:

    This is beautiful. I’ve always thought you were an amazing writer, but especially so with this entry. You are carrying on your grandparents’ legacy in lovely ways.

    • 3.17.13
      Jen said:

      I wish I’d said it first, but I much concur–this is beautifully written. I come for the humor and DIY and stay for the excellent writing. Your bubbe and zaide would’ve been very very proud of who you’ve become!

  3. 3.13.13
    Emma S. said:

    I had a very similar experience with my grandparents home and furniture about two years ago when we finally sold their house in Birmingham.

    About half of the furnishings in my apartment are from their home. I love that I get to have beautiful pieces in my home but I love more that I remember my grandparents all the time now. The scratches on our glass coffee table and stains on the couch don’t bother me because I know the pieces have been used and loved.

    Sometimes I think I’m a bit crazy for loving furniture so much so it’s fun hearing about someone else’s experience.

  4. 3.13.13
    Elizabeth V. said:

    Thanks for that, Daniel. I have an Eames lounge I inherited from my grandparents also. My father worked for Herman Miller much of my childhood, and he and his siblings pitched in and bought it for my grandparent’s 25th anniversary. It is a beautiful reminder everyday of all their love for me and for each other.

  5. 3.13.13
    Kirk said:

    Great post – wonderful story and I’m glad that the furniture and lithos will probably share another 40+ years with you.

  6. 3.13.13
    Sarah said:

    So beautiful. Those are wonderful pieces and the memories they carry are so special. As my grandfather would say, “Use them in good health.”

  7. 3.13.13
    Allison said:

    This is a wonderful story, wonderfully written. I am, naturally, quite jealous of your chair, but the perfect tone of the story makes me forget my jealousy. Almost.

  8. 3.13.13
    Jay said:

    This post was perfect, Daniel, and beautifully written. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your family roots.

  9. 3.13.13

    This is so wonderful, my friend.

    Love you. x

  10. 3.13.13
    Lil said:

    A wonderful tribute to your grandparents, their house and your family. What a beautiful, moving post. And an Eames. I would sell my soul….

  11. 3.13.13
    Care said:

    So beautifully written, I can picture your grandparents through your words.
    So nice to have reminders of them with you each day.

  12. 3.13.13
    Ann said:

    This post has me in tears..so beautiful.Thank you for sharing.

    • 3.15.13
      Ann said:

      ps. I keep coming back and looking at the floor in the first photo. I love it.

  13. 3.13.13
    Jennifer said:

    What an incredibly moving post.

    I went through a similar situation a few years ago when my grandmother passed away… sitting on the floor amidst piles of belongings, selling a home filled with memories and disassembling a lifetime of collections.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Stories like this are never easy to tell, but you’ve done it beautifully.

  14. 3.13.13
    Nora said:

    You lovely, lovely person. I can relate to all your feelings here, the emptiness of the house, the meaning of every personal posession passed from one generation to the next. Thank you for writing this piece, and writing so well.

  15. 3.13.13
    Sarahmia said:

    This is so beautiful – I’m so glad you got to keep some of the bits you treasured the most. I love those lithographs!

  16. 3.13.13
    Jodi said:

    What a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  17. 3.13.13
    Kelcey said:

    It’s funny, and yet not so funny, how my story seems to have come from the same mold. I grew up spending time at my grandparent’s Eichler house in “the Valley”, and later at their less architecturally iconic but none-the-less beautiful Redondo beach townhouse, which was full of Eames and Saarinen and Heywood-Wakefield. My grandfather used to spin us round and round in their electric purple swan chairs and then wander into his office and relax in his Eames lounge chair with the Wall Street Journal for a while. My grandmother is 83 and still kicking, and I love going to visit and seeing how she’s rearranged, what she’s reupholstered or added to each room (she has even more great vintage pieces–mostly rescued from thrift shops and garage sales in storage, all waiting to be fixed up).

  18. 3.13.13

    Beautiful writing as always, Daniel. I’m so glad the house found a good owner, and that you got to keep some of their treasures.

    This post struck a chord with me, as my family (mainly my mom) is going through something similar with my grandparents’ house and possession (I think it must be something about that generation, the receipt keeping, photographs, documents, etc). Although their house isn’t a Mid Century gem, it’s just a simple, 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom brick house among McMansions, so in all likelihood someone will tear it down and build a giant monstrosity overlooking the river.

  19. 3.13.13
    Kay* said:

    Beautifully written Daniel. The pieces you’ve inherited look perfectly at him in their new home.

  20. 3.13.13
    Judith said:

    This is beautifully written, and explains a lot about where you come from, too. Thank you for sharing with us. And I’m really glad the house has found its people.

  21. 3.13.13
    frances said:

    touching, eloquent and tender……

  22. 3.13.13
    Adrienne said:

    This is such a lovely post. I confess I cried a little bit.

  23. 3.13.13
    Jean said:

    Daniel, thank you so much for this beautifully written post. I will be saving it.

  24. 3.13.13

    Tears in my eyes. Lump in my throat. Well done.

  25. 3.13.13
    lisajay99 said:


  26. 3.13.13
    sara said:

    A beautiful post, Daniel. I’m so glad the right buyers came along for your grandparents’ lovely home.

  27. 3.13.13
    B said:

    This is an incredible post – so beautifully written! Must admit, I also cried. I think there’s something very special and unique about love for grandparents, and it’s awesome that their house got a happy ending, and you get to enjoy pieces from their home and smile remembering your time with them.

  28. 3.13.13
    Alexis said:

    That is a good story. Glad it didn’t end with a bulldozer too.

  29. 3.13.13

    What a well written story. I, like many of the other commenters, was touched because I think a lot of us have also gone through this. I really wanted to be able to purchase both of my grandparent’s homes for their modern design but had to settle for pieces of furniture and art. I lived in the arctic of Northern Canada for many years and didn’t want to risk shipping the pieces and damaging them. Now that I’ve settled in a ‘city’ I finally have the chance to enjoy them. Thanks for reminding me again how special they are.

  30. 3.13.13
    Claire said:

    While I started to read, I was really wondering what was this all about. So different from your other posts. Than, I became curious. At the end, I almost wanted more.
    That was a beautiful post, really, well written and such an amazing story. Thanks for sharing that memory, that part of your life, and I think everyone reading you right now can agree, your grandparents would have been proud of you.

  31. 3.13.13

    what a sober post; you had me at hello.

  32. 3.13.13
    Greg said:

    LOVE. THIS. My favorite part of stories like these is the context of meaning — what the pieces mean to you, and how they fit into your life and your personal lexicon. Stuff really isn’t just stuff — there’s a story, and a meaning, behind everything. I think the best part of sharing someone’s space is hearing the stories and decoding the meaning.

  33. 3.13.13
    Rachel said:

    Wow! Such a beautiful story. You made me miss my grandparents a lot. My grandparents were collectors and owned two antique stores in Boston that I grew up in. I have a few of my grandmothers favorite things and one of my grandfathers favorite flannel shirts. You’re grandparents obviously had impeccable taste that you definitely inherited. Treasure all of your special pieces.

  34. 3.13.13
    beks said:

    My Grandfather passed away at 96 in January, he was still living at home and still always had cookies in the cookie jar. My parents brought me the arc lamps from his living room as a gift from him for my Febuary birthday. I will never fail to turn them on without thinking of all my amazing elders, they have all passed on, but I thank them for helping me become the person I am.


  35. 3.13.13

    How amazing… I was just thinking this morning that the tradition of inherited furniture, one that was so common for our grandparents, may not exist for the next generation. People are so hesitant to invest in original versions of the design classics of today. This thought has really made me reconsider the purchases I make for my home – is this something that will last generations, and that can be passed on to my children and their children?

    It’s a beautiful piece you’ve written here. Thanks for sharing such a touching story.

  36. 3.13.13
    Ann Iezzi said:


  37. 3.13.13
    Chelsea said:

    A truly beautiful story, I must admit I also had tears in my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing and I’m so glad that your grandparent’s home went to a family that loved it like your grandfather did, it looks like it was an amazing home.

  38. 3.13.13

    this is a gorgeous story, so glad you shared. xo

  39. 3.13.13
    jp said:

    I’ve been waiting for a while for your next post, and now I understand why. This is seriously lovely. Thank you.

    • 3.14.13
      Simone said:

      Thank you. I love this story. I love the humanity of it. Having sorted through my mothers belongings for weeks, I know what it’s like. A labour of love, to see that every single thing has meaning and quality and beauty and longevity and has been lovingly used all that time. Also I love that amazing floor in the first picture.
      Time flies, life waits for nothing, enjoy it and celebrate it. I guess quality slows down time a bit…
      Kind regards.

  40. 3.13.13
    Margaret said:

    I totally understand this. Furniture is so much more than design sometimes. My dining room table is old and a little worse for the wear. It certainly isn’t a designer piece and the chairs around it are worth more than it, but it was my grandparents’ kitchen table. My favorite memories were sitting around it with my grandpa early in the morning “reading” the paper and eating oranges picked from the tree steps outside the kitchen door. I have dragged that table around and I always will even when I sell the rest of my furniture. I also have my grandma’s old oak, oilman’s desk. She wrote the wittiest letters to the editor at that desk. Its literally as big as my bed and I hate oak, but I love it and love sitting at it writing a brief. It just feels right.

  41. 3.13.13
    Amanda said:

    Ok, seriously, that totally brought a tear to my eye. Beautifully written, so heartfelt. Along the same lines, my mom’s grandparents owned a lovely mansion in a part of Houston that was super nice at one point and that eventually, by the 60s or so, became a bit slummy. When the elders finally all passed away and the house was sold, the house was dismantled by a salvage company and all of the beautiful old fixtures and such were sold. My cousins say they still see bits and pieces around Houston, stained glass windows and things like that, and everyone in the family still uses the furniture and such that each was given.

  42. 3.13.13
    jo said:

    this is the best post you’ve written.
    thank you for sharing.

  43. 3.13.13
    Jen said:

    I thought I was following a link to a specific page regarding some home improvement project from Anna’s blog but turns out to have been way better than that. I skimmed some of the post because I wasn’t expecting to read something so touching and am tearing up at the office. My grandmother just passed away last week and being one of the closest grandkids, received some furniture to use in my own home. While nothing is on the level of Eames, it might as well be in my book. I love to look at the pieces of furniture or art and know that it was loved and used by my grandparents which means more than any label. I can tell that you would have loved your chair regardless of the label too. Thank you for such a sweet post.

  44. 3.13.13
    misa said:

    this is such a beautiful story. my grandmother collected those absurd ceramic frogs with the big eyes (http://www.etsy.com/listing/70481946/set-of-4-very-cute-tiny-ceramic-frogs). they are truly ridiculous, but i have the one who’s propping himself up on his elbow, and almost nothing in the world makes me happier.

  45. 3.13.13

    I love this post! My grandparents’ house was my favorite place in the world and, 56 years after we sold it, it is still the setting for all of my good dreams. I have a lot of favorite things from that house, things that no one else understands about. I understand about your grandparents’ house!

  46. 3.13.13
    Ren said:

    Your grandparents home was amazing. I inherited a dining set from my grandparents. It’s worth nothing and kind of chintzy but I love it and will never change it because it was theirs and I remember climbing on it when I was a kid and being fished off the top/chairs by my grandmother and told off by my grandfather.

    I can never have them back but I am so grateful for the memories I have of them.

    Thanks for a beautiful post.

  47. 3.13.13
    Lara said:

    This was absolutely lovely and so touching.

    I feel the same about my grandparents’ furniture but couldn’t ever write about it even half as eloquently. Thanks for putting your fabulous writing–and DIY ideas too–in the world for people like me to find.

  48. 3.13.13
    Erica W. said:

    You’re a good kid and your grandparents would be very proud of you. How sweet that you have those tangible pieces of them to help you connect to your memories of them.

  49. 3.13.13
    Dianne said:

    Simply beautiful post!

  50. 3.13.13
    Kim in Chicago said:

    Speaking as an ex-architect who lives in Chicago, I am SO FREAKING HAPPY that the developers didn’t get the house. Lovely pieces you inherited too! Thank you for your blog!

  51. 3.13.13
    Jenn said:

    What a wonderful post, and what an homage to your grandparents. I’m sure they would be so, so proud of you.

    I’ve lost my grandparents over the last decade, and this post made me remember all the wonderful things about them, too…thank you!

  52. 3.13.13
    Anne said:

    Daniel. That chair. THAT CHAIR!!! Whoa. I grew up in a mid century furniture museum (my parents house) in Nova….and I Know just what you mean…..I inherited a teak bedroom set and it makes me feel warm,fuzzy, happy and smiley bc of the memories it evokes. Awesome chair….and plant! Your grandparents rocked.

  53. 3.13.13
    Mom said:

    I find it so hard to write a comment to this post that is so deeply personal. However, I am so proud of the way Daniel has expressed the memories of his grandparents and what special people they were in all of our lives. Sometimes stuff is just stuff but sometimes it is special stuff and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. I think Daniel gave us all a lot to think about, which is such a great gift. Keep on writing my son because you’re really, really good at it. Thanks for letting lots of wonderful memories come rushing back.

  54. 3.13.13
    Alex said:

    Thank you for writing this – it is so beautiful and true. Your grandparents sound awesome, and your writing does justice to their memory.

    My grandfather–the best man I ever knew–passed away last year. I ended up with some bottles of whiskey, among other things, and I can’t bring myself to drink them! The bottles sit on my bar like inviolable religious objects. I really regret not requesting one specific item from his house: a deer hair-covered ottoman with actual deer hooves as the ottoman’s feet. (He grew up in a poor Italian family in upstate NY and hunted deer and rabbits for food! He’d have no idea how well that ottoman would have fit into a Brooklyn apartment :) )

  55. 3.14.13
    Casey said:

    When this started out talking about Highland Park, I was so sure that it was going to be about Frank Lloyd Wright’s Willits House. I definitely preferred this! I’m from HP, actually, so it’s great seeing more of the older architecture from the area. Thanks so much for an excellent story!

  56. 3.14.13
    Phoebe said:

    What a lovely story. Your grandfather sure had great taste! I love the lithographs above the bed. When I saw the picture (and before I kept reading), I was about to ask where you got them. The sun damage actually gives the such an interesting texture.

  57. 3.14.13

    Really beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this part of your story. I certainly hope that my kids and grandkids will have the same sort of treasured memories of my home.

  58. 3.14.13
    Nna said:

    Wow! there is a landmine of emotions in this article. I have grown a deep respect for you. You have obviously have the mid century modern gene passed down to you.

  59. 3.14.13
    Alan said:

    Really great post. My father spent a portion of his childhood in Switzerland—sometime around the late 60s. Both of my grandparents discovered a love for the Swiss and Danish aesthetic and have carried much of in to their home and personal lives. It is incredible just how much a little trinket will remind you of someone after they’re gone.

  60. 3.14.13
    Brad said:

    Yes. Thank you. This was a warm hug.

  61. 3.14.13
    Lou said:

    Really a lovely post – thank you.

  62. 3.14.13
    Nancy said:

    Your sweet remembrance truly honors your grandparents. I would love to see a picture of them.

  63. 3.14.13
    Jack said:

    A beautiful story with a beautiful house and a beautiful chair. You are very fortunate to have such delightful-sounding grandparents.

  64. 3.14.13
    bliss said:

    i love a happy ending :) i am currently emptying my recently deceased aunt’s mid-century home. the treasures are amazing, especially the lighting. your post made me realize that yeah, it’s going to be incredibly sad when this process is over.

  65. 3.14.13
    Samantha said:

    That was a really lovely ode to , I don’t know, a sense of home and meaning, and why THINGS, the physical objects that we choose to surround ourselves with, matter. Thank you for sharing it with us. And the chair is lovely.

  66. 3.14.13
    stephZ said:

    All the things you speak of, other than a 70s modern house in Chicago, sound like the same things our family went through when my grandparents passed away. They passed within a week of each other about 7 years ago and we still have the estate. I have received some items from their house and while some of them may not be worth much, every time I look at them it brings me back to my grandparents house.

  67. 3.14.13
    Marci said:

    Daniel —

    You have such a talent for weaving a story that never fails to snare my interest. Whether it’s an emotionally engrossing post on marriage rights, a hilarious recap of hallway renovations or a piece like this that left me feeling like I knew your grandparents, you are amazing.

    Also is it wrong that I secretly wish your family would adopt me and gift me that amazing table in the third photograph?


  68. 3.14.13
    jules said:


  69. 3.14.13
    Sherry said:

    Such a beautiful story! We sold my grandfather house last year, a fifties ranch that had not been touched since it was built. My uncle updated it until the inside was unrecognizable to me, so I disconnected myself from it long before the sale. But I still drive by every so often and look at the outside which is pretty much like I remember it.

    Your grandparents had amazing taste! My grandparents had a huge crushed red velvet sofa out straight out of of a prince video. So the only thing I took from their house was an enamel recipe box. Still, seeing it in my kitchen makes me happy to have a little piece of them.

  70. 3.14.13
    Chris said:

    Best yet. And that’s saying something.

  71. 3.14.13
    Caitlin said:

    I never comment on blog posts (ok, rarely), but I just had to say how much I loved this. Beautiful sentiments, beautifully expressed. Your family sounds wonderful.

  72. 3.14.13
    kim said:

    good story. what’s 65?

    • 3.14.13
      Mom said:

      I should let Daniel answer but I know he has a long day of school and work today. 65 is the address of the home.

  73. 3.14.13
    jbhat said:

    What a gorgeous tribute to your grandparents. I love the way you described her, in particular and how you described their relationship to the unusual house. I’m glad you have such special reminders of them and the place in your own home now too.

    Also, I think you should be published elsewhere besides here. You deserve a wide, wide audience because what you say and how you say it truly resonates.


    • 3.15.13
      Daniel said:

      Aw, thank you jbhat! I’d love to be published somewhere else…it’s one of my goals this year. :)

  74. 3.14.13
    Sharon said:

    I’ve been reading for years and have always done so first and foremost for your voice and your writing. The design and DIY fabulosity (sp?) is secondary for me. But this posting- this blew me away. What a beautiful essay. This portrait of your grandparents through the lens of their home strikes me as a seed piece for a larger story- even a book. A launching pad for discussing your association with design and how you see it? An autobiography with a design bent? I don’t know. But know that your talent goes beyond decorating and hanging mad shelves and tiles. BOOK!!!!!!!!!!

  75. 3.14.13
    Elizabeth said:

    The writer Frank Conroy (Stop-Time: A Memoir) used to say that writing that really matters displays “intelligent emotion.” That’s true of this post, it’s beautiful.

    “An autobiography with a design bent”–I second that emotion.

  76. 3.14.13
    jo ro said:

    Beautiful post. Made me nearly shed a tear (at work).

  77. 3.14.13
    Simone said:

    P.S. I think this article should be read by all design students. Because it expresses the relevance of design and quality. And I think it could be a way to reflect on the meaning and importance of design to people.

    • 3.14.13
      Nancy said:


  78. 3.14.13
    Sandy P. said:

    Beautifully written Daniel! Your grandparents would be proud of you as I’m sure your parents are. So young and yet You inspire me. May God continue to bless you!

  79. 3.14.13
    Camla said:

    I think they would be very proud of you. LOVE your blog.

  80. 3.14.13
    Rebecca said:

    Thank you for writing this, Daniel. My mom died in December, and it’s comforting to read such an eloquent description of what I’m feeling:

    “Anybody who has ever taken detailed stock of somebody else’s belongings knows the feeling: it isn’t just sorting. It’s communing. And when it’s over, there’s a deep feeling of emptiness and finality. There’s no more to be seen or found, and it’s time to move on.”

  81. 3.14.13
    Amanda said:

    Very nice post!

  82. 3.15.13
    jon said:

    such a beautiful story. thank you for sharing!

  83. 3.15.13
    nicolezh said:

    what a moving story- if you ever publish a novel I am sure to get it, as I love your writing!

  84. 3.15.13
    mariane said:

    Daniel, I have to join my voice to everybody else here and say : you are such a talented writer but more than that, I just love your sensibility and maturity. Also, I am so intrigued by this house, it is not the first time you give us a peek in this unusual house and I wish we could see more photos (and in color maybe!). It must have been such a magical place to visit as a kid, your grandparents seemed to be so honest and cool.
    Thank you for sharing.

  85. 3.15.13
    Rebecca said:

    Thanks Daniel, for the lovely post.

  86. 3.15.13
    Kate said:

    Daniel, what a lovely tribute. I still have moments where a certain smell or sound triggers a memory of my Grandmother’s house. Our family went through similar heartache when it had to be sold but I really treasure the things of hers I’m lucky enough to have. Connections like that are really special.

  87. 3.15.13
    A said:

    Daniel- thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful piece of your life. I have been waiting for your next post-checking back everyday almost and being disappointed that it was still stuck at “Tiling-Part 1”. Today you have not only redeemed yourself, but giving such a satisfying yet upsetting read. It is so heart warming and so and sad at the same time. Letting go of the past usually is. I’m sorry your Grandparents are not here to see who you have become, but I think they would be so pleased!

  88. 3.15.13
    terrie said:

    Lovely. Evocative and I know my folkscwere almost exactly the same from that era.

  89. 3.16.13
    CindyE said:

    This is why I keep coming around to Manhattan Nest – Daniel, you are a writer. What a wonderful story about your Grandparents and their house. Your writing is so vivid – I can visualize how your grandparents looked, the house, even you as a little kid being there. Without saying too much, you managed to give your grandparents a voice in this story and so we even kind of know what they were like, their personalities. There is so much in this short story. Thanks!

  90. 3.16.13
    Jemma said:

    Wonderful post Daniel, thanks for sharing. How amazing to have such cool grandparents! I know what you mean about THAT chair being special to you. I always had a massive thing for Cathrineholm enamelware and collected a few bits here and there. Then one day my sister excitedly said she had something for me. She brought out a big blue pot and said she found it in my Grandpa’s cupboard. Turns out it was the pot my beloved late Grandmother had cooked rice pudding in every sunday when I was a kid. It had been so long since I had seen it I didn’t even know it existed but the design had imprinted itself somewhere in my brain! Needless to say I got very emotional over that pot and it is THAT pot I love from my collection. The rest I just like. (The only thing I might love more is a big leather Eames chair).

  91. 3.16.13
    Janis - yes the one in the story, or like Joplin said:

    Daniel, In case I don’t tell you enough, you are amazing in so many ways. You captured the essence of your grandparents with the ability to lend even a strong visual to those who didn’t know them. When I read about Grandma’s glasses, I burst out laughing just thinking about them, though now MY kids are telling me that my glasses are reminding them of Grandma (uh oh!). And as for your Grandpa, well … in my sorting and getting rid of the “stuff”, let’s just say that there were at least ten of every high tech item to be off loaded. Yup, ten seemed to be the number he particularly liked when purchasing things that were up and coming, as well as his shirts from Marshalls. Keep writing because we all enjoy everything you do. And, if you need that box of clips to ever check out again with total amazement, you can now find in my basement! XOXO

  92. 3.16.13
    Sally said:

    Beautiful writing, Daniel. Thank you for sharing this story.

  93. 3.16.13
    Judy said:

    Sweet, lovely post. Your grandparents would be so appreciative & so proud. Thanks for sharing.

  94. 3.16.13
    kate o. said:

    Beautiful post. I also inherited my grandparent’s Eames lounge chair. My grandma passed away at 97 last year. It always takes me a while to adjust to having loved ones’ belongings. When my dad passed away my mom downsized and I inherited all of their teak mid century pieces. Both times I went through a period where it was really hard to see their things in my home. But slowly it got easier and now every day I’m reminded of them and it makes me happy.

    I didn’t even check to see if someone else mentioned this in a comment, but think about getting the side shock mounts replaced. My chair is 40 years old and I came home one night to a crumpled mess of a chair. I’m not going to lie – I bawled. It felt like I lost my grandma all over again. Once I was able to composed myself I googled the hell out of fixing Eames lounge chairs. Turns out this is a common problem, the side shock mounts are known to give out on vintage Eames lounge chairs. If you find this out early you can simply send it in to HM and they will replace them (for a fee) and you will have an almost new chair to enjoy for another 40 years. If you are somewhat lucky no one tells you of this fate and the shock mount fails when no one is sitting in the chair and little damage results. If you are unlucky (like me) you have no idea that anything could ever go wrong with the beloved chair and your husband’s friend who is built like a hockey player is sitting in the chair when it gives out and the lower back panel literally breaks in half.

    Anyway, I now feel like it is my civic duty to spread this news. I pray you never see this kind of damage to such a beautiful chair or have to pay for the $1,000 plus repair.

  95. 3.16.13
    Jaimie said:

    I usually skim through most posts on blogs, especially the long ones – computer screens are so harsh compared to print – but your writing is so beautifully done that I read the entire thing. I’m glad you have some lovely mementos of your grandparents to remember them by.

  96. 3.17.13
    Juliska said:

    Beautifully written, warm, honest and moving. It also explains how you came by the great design gene.

  97. 3.17.13
    Isabelle said:

    THanks for sharing this very personal experience with us. And yes, you have awesome writing skills.

  98. 3.17.13
    Cindy said:

    What a pleasure to read!

  99. 3.17.13
    kmkat said:

    What a lovely tribute to your grandparents. When you described climbing over the chair as a child, I remembered climbing into my grandfather’s lap in his old platform rocker. Such a nice feeling.

  100. 3.17.13
    Camille said:

    i totally relate – after my grandfather passed away two years ago, it was really hard for everyone to let go. He was a hoarder and had tons of stuff in his room, and I grabbed a few of his old beanies and a gold watch. My friends like to tease that all ofmy accessories are from him, but I love looking down at my wrist throughout the day and seeing a little part of him :)

  101. 3.18.13
    Janie (Rabbits and birds) said:

    You are such a clever, clever boy! Your posts (whether DIY or family related) give so much to so many in this little corner of the internet. Don’t ever stop writing. And thank you x

  102. 3.18.13
    Mina said:

    I usually lurk on your blog, but had to leave a comment. As others have commented – this is a wonderful post, very touching, and beautifully written. Thank you.

  103. 3.18.13
    Elise said:

    Goddam you are a good writer. That was amazing. If you weren’t planning on a career as a writer YOU SHOULD.

  104. 3.18.13
    Carmelina said:

    Beautiful…tears in my eyes; you are a beautiful writer!

  105. 3.18.13
    Fahm said:

    I love your writing and think you should absolutely write your own book/screenplay/column/etc. Should you ever explore self-publishing via Kickstarter or another route, count me in as a supporter!

  106. 3.19.13
    Monica said:

    Not in a hundred years would I be able to convey my thoughts about what you have written here. It is so wonderful that you received these pieces from your grandparents home and can now include them in yours.

  107. 3.19.13
    Karina said:

    This post was so touching and offered some insight to your design sensibility. I love when people have a connection with their grandparents, and it’s obvious you deeply cared about yours.

  108. 3.19.13
    Polly said:

    Daniel, This is the second piece of yours that I’ve read that really came from deep within you. The first being your post on the gay marriage vote. You are capable of very moving writing. If you haven’t already encountered Slow Love Life, Dominique Browning’s website, may I recommend it to you. In my view, you and Dominique have much in common, even though you come from different generations. Best wishes for continued success with your writings.

  109. 3.21.13
    jen_cam said:

    This really hit home with me, as my grandparents (on my Mom’s side) passed away before I became the adult I am today. Their large house with a wrap-around porch, still stands and holds many memories. Yet, I hesitate to go back because it just isn’t the same. I now live in the Chicago area, and if I’m ever driving around Highland Park, I’ll keep my eyes open for this “nifty” home.

  110. 3.21.13
    Karolina said:

    Ok – I’m crying. My grandparents live on the other side of the world to me and when they pass on I will willing spend thousands of dollars shipping one of my grandfather’s chairs to me. He was a craftsman and the thought of his handywork being thrown away makes me so sad, likewise with the thought of your grandparent’s house being knocked down. I am so happy that it has found new owners :)

  111. 3.21.13
    sierra said:

    This is such a wonderful story and remembrance of your grandparents! I was in tears by the end of it, especially when I scrolled down and saw that amazing chair treasure that you get to keep in the family! Those pieces that make us remember are so wonderful, I think it must make you very happy to sit in that chair and have all the memories of it’s past…happy sitting!

  112. 3.23.13
    paige said:

    You truly are a word weaver. Please keep writing and let us all know when you publish!

  113. 4.6.13
    Amy said:

    Lovely, thank you for sharing this, Daniel. Every part of the tale – the history of the house, your grandparent’s style and how they made you feel, and especially what it means to have things they lived with – so beautifully expressed. My grandparents are still in their home, and my grandmother is bordering on paranoid with the worry that we will have to sort through everything when they are gone.

  114. 4.8.13
    Kristin said:

    I love this post. Your grandparents sound like they were amazing people, and I am so happy that your family was able to find a buyer for the house. I’m also happy you were able to take a few items to remember them by. It’s definitely special.

  115. 7.23.13
    Jen said:

    I was so touched by this. I am a new fan of yours and happened upon this post just now. You are so talented and you are an exceptional writer. This post made me cry. Partly because I miss your grandparents and their house on your behalf and partly because I miss my grandparents and their house on mine. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  116. 10.27.13
    Amanda said:

    Brilliant post. Your post comparing the Eames lounge to the replica is what brought me to your blog (I went to an Eames exhibit today and am now in love with a chair I’ll probably never own, but that’s okay!) and I read this post after reading the first. It’s just beautiful. I’m going to bookmark this post and read it again, or share it with family members. It’s a poignant eulogy to not just people, but a home, too. It’s so relatable, a remarkable piece of literary journalism.