My parents saw (and stayed in) our house for the first time over Christmas, which was so, so lovely. "Wow!" my dad said, as he sat down at our dinner table and took it all in. "I've seen this place so many times on FaceTime, but it's the first time I can really feel what it's like to be in it!" My mom quickly acquainted herself with the kitchen and, before I knew it, had tidied up all our drawers and descaled the kettle. Go, mom.
As a housewarming present, my parents had offered to buy us a new set of dinnerware, which we needed since our previous set consisted of a bunch of mismatched Habitat/IKEA/John Lewis plates and bowls leftover from our shared housing/university days. So, we went to Heal's, picked out a set and carried it all home together.
The best gift? The best gift we received was this selection of six sketches, which my dad had made during previous trips to England. He reproduced them in the States using high-quality printing (and paper) to resemble the original works in his sketchbook, before bringing them over during their visit last week. When my parents arrived, we took them to a framing shop in Walthamstow and picked out the frames and mount board together (apparently, the shop assistant was so impressed by the sketches, he asked who the artist was when John went to pick them up!).
My dad carries his sketchbook with him whenever he travels. I like to think of it as keeping an illustrated diary! Sometimes, in order to get the "right" angle, he'll stand and sketch for two hours straight, leaning against a building (which he did in Bruges)!
For our home, I'd chosen his sketches of popular London landmarks, as well as two scenes that were special to me: a flock of sheep grazing in the Cotswolds, where we'd taken a family vacation a few years ago, plus Blenheim Palace, where I'd taken my dad to during his first visit to England.
Before my family left last week, my dad drew up a plan for how the framed sketches should sit on the wall, before he and John measured and mounted them in our entryway. I couldn't believe how amazing they looked! When the sun shines, the glass picks up the reflection from the stained glass on our front door and casts a beautiful, twinkling light on the artwork. We placed the set in our entryway, so that visitors walk past them on their way into the kitchen and living room and can admire the sketches at eye-level.
Every time I walk past the sketches on my way up or down the stairs, it's like my dad saying "hello" to me. They are such a beautiful and personal reminder of the wonderful times we've all shared in England, and a true testament to my dad's talent and artistry.
AND ... now I'm crying, so I'm going to stop! When you moved into your house/flat, were you given a personal gift to make your home uniquely yours? What was it? Please share!