Just down the road from our house overlooking Buzzards Bay in West Falmouth, Massachusetts, is an amazing antiques barn. It was there, 25 years ago, when I found three beautiful hand-painted oyster plates. I didn’t purposefully set out to start a collection, but I fell in love with them instantly, and the rest is history.
My mother taught me to love houses, and to layer them. Things don’t have to be terribly expensive to be special. If you love something, buy it and put it on a shelf—that’s sort of our family motto. I buy what appeals to me in the moment, and that’s how the process of collecting starts organically. If something is meaningful to you—if it speaks to your heart—it doesn’t matter what it is. That’s how you end up with an authentic collection.
Slowly but surely, my collection has grown over the years, and I’m running out of room to display it. Soon I’ll need to build an addition onto the house just for my oyster plates! When I arrive each summer, I spend several hours wandering from room to room, gazing upon these objects imbued with so many memories. Being back on the Cape marks the beginning of lazy days and good times spent with family and friends. That is what this house, and my collection, symbolizes to me.
I’ve been collecting for a quarter of a century—too many pieces to count!— but those first three plates I found in the antiques barn down the road are still my favorite. I have warned everyone in my family: They can break anything in this house, even my heart, but not my oyster plates.