There’s something about honest & humble items that captivate me. A mainstay of everyday life, stationery is one of those things that can be enjoyed simply for its utilitarian purpose, but I prefer to look a little deeper. I’ve listed the five pieces that are never far from my toolbag & tacklebox, not only because they’re handy to have on hand as a stylist, but also because they bring a little more to the table in the aesthetic department. Use them for their basic function, but don’t disregard what they can bring to your spaces visually.

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Rulers
I think these things are a tribute to vintage classrooms, a time of Cuisenaire rods, and maps that pull down from behind the teacher’s desk. Perhaps it’s the typography of the numbers that attracts or maybe the different shapes they come in. So let’s open it up to all the tools that measure: fabric tape measures, wooden squares with etched numbers, enamel liquid measures, cone-shaped footed etched glass, old shop 1-metre sticks with a hole in the top for hanging, metal measuring sticks attached to the long tables at the draper’s or even just a good old-fashioned wooden ruler. Always good to have when working out your space’s measurements, but also one of those pieces that can enrich a display when not hidden away.

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Scissors
From Vietnam, my great-grandmother’s pinking shears, tiny, tiny cord-covered Japanese ones, Chinese kitchen scissors – you name them, I seem to have acquired them. There is no reason why utilitarian tools should not be beautiful; these are for use and display.

 

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Tape
A tool I’ve used throughout my styling career and which sits as easily at home in the third drawer. However, I have way too many varieties for one small drawer! I lean towards paper & fabric tapes in all thicknesses & colours. I’m always happy to see them sticking & securing various bits & pieces on my walls; some are even artworks on their own or a great accessory to an existing one.

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Tacks & pins
Nails, pins, tacks, hardware & stationer stores on foreign shores fascinate me and I cannot help but peruse their aisles to see what the locals are using. Hand-forged nails from Baileys, T-pins from the States, brass-dome-topped tacks, upholstery tacks both decorative & functional, dressmakers’ pins, tiny bead pins, thumb tacks etc. Each has its own personality suitable for specific display requirements.

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Brown paper
You always need brown paper for something. In the shop it’s a staple, and most drawers have some form of brown paper in them: envelopes of every size, letter paper, cards, rosettes, big rolls for wrapping packages, sandwich bags, tags and postcards. There’s something endearing and comfortable about it, making me think of an old-fashioned shop where you could buy canvas buckets, yardage, chandlery, stamps, ice and everything in between. Each purchase carefully brown-paper wrapped and tied up with string.

Written by Amber TSI Byron — October 29, 2019

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