"...it is the key that fits the lock of everybody's heart." ~Anthony J. D'Angelo
I have a (mild) obsession for a variety of objects, mostly the type that have a history attached to them. Books, clocks, vintage furniture and fabrics, old cameras, etc. But I really love old keys. Especially decorative (authentically antique) ones. I don't really like newly reproduced ones because they don't have a history; however, the jewelry pictured to the left is not antique simply because I'm able to find them more easily. I have keys on jewelry, on clothes, rubber stamps with keys, decorative papers, etc. You get the idea.
Most of the time, though, I prefer to acquire old keys as I encounter them. Don't get me wrong, I'll look for them if I'm in an antique store. But I usually just stumble upon them, rather than go searching online. It makes them more special, I suppose.
One of the dilemmas I've encountered is how to use them as part of my home decor. I don't agree with collecting just to collect, having them packed away to never lay eyes upon them until I need to downsize and discard them. I came across this excellent post over at Design*Sponge with great ideas. I really like the framing idea and I'll have to try that next when I come across a few new ones. But I thought I'd share how these keys grace my walls, artwork, ceilings, etc.
This extra large key was purchased at a craft store and I knew it had to be placed in a unique position on the wall in our bedroom. I have mostly limited the keys to the master bedroom, but because they are small (this one being the exception) the design element doesn't feel overwhelming. This celtic knot poster was one I drew in high school (we have an Irish theme to our bedroom) and the key seemed to be the perfect accent. Some day I'll need to re-mat and frame it, but until then, the key fits perfectly over-top it.
When we moved into our house three years ago, we replaced nearly all of the ceiling fans and I wanted unique pull chains for each room. While it's not an actual antique (it's just been aged to appear like it), this key was a perfect pull chain for the fan in our bedroom. You'll also notice that the walls/ceiling in our bedroom are white (and if you know me, you know I detest white). Sometime this spring, we'll be painting the walls a nice green "Amazon moss" color when we refinish the wood floors. I'd prefer wallpaper (which I love), but the walls in here are textured. It'll take us forever to scrape it and I don't feel motivated to do that this year. So paint it is!
Finally, I have my collection of loose keys. For the longest time, I had nowhere to put them and I arranged them loosely on my dresser top. But just a couple of months ago, I came across this metal hanging basket at Goodwill for $1. I knew it would work perfectly for my keys AND take up blank wall space. The silver key on the bottom (middle) was the first one I collected. I came across it at the silversmith shop at the Renaissance Fair. Love at first sight! Some have come from other festivals we've attended or craft/antique shops. The cluster in the upper left corner came from a friend who knew I loved old keys. The long hook dangling from them was for Victorian women to lace up their tall boots with ease.
While I'm running out of room on the walls of my bedroom (I have a spot here or there I could use. I don't like a lot of decorating clutter), I can't wait to try the framing idea. And because we bought a Victorian house with the original interior doors (with skeleton key locks), I might incorporate the Victorian keys by dangling them from a lock or two. And no, none of the keys I own work in the locks. I've tried. :( But they do fit inside the lock, they just can't turn them. I guess these ideas mean I'll just have to keep collecting them!