YOU COULD SAY I’m lucky. My parents, who raised their three children in suburban Detroit, were products of the Depression. They owned no heirlooms and harbored little interest in antiques. But they were inspired do-it-yourself decorators with a taste for quality and craftsmanship, gravitating to contemporary design from the 1960s and ’70s.
“We bought it as a floor model for 300 bucks,” my dad would bemusedly brag whenever I mentioned that the light in their living room could fetch $3,000. They had scored the iconic Arco lamp, with a marble base and swooping armature, designed in 1962 by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni.
I had long admired (OK, had my eye on) the furniture I inherited last year when my father died and my mother moved into assisted living. That lamp and their classic Milo Baughman dining set fit beautifully in my open-plan 1940s Los Angeles bungalow, and though it’s over 40 years old, the furniture has far more value—both aesthetic and emotional—than the midcentury assemblage I have created over the years.