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Lorin and Sadie Stein

The first couple of The Paris Review take a literary stance on the objects that shape their domestic world

Sadie: My grandfather Turner–who had the sensibilities of a hoarder magpie–found brass animals particularly irresistible. When I was little, he gave me a small, midcentury brass whale: a paperweight, probably, or maybe just an objet. I’ve carried it with me wherever I’ve lived, and it currently resides on the piano between a driftwood mobile (made by the artist Piero Lottamice) and a mermaid drawing (done by my friend Lara Apponyi), a sort of under-seascape. Here’s the really funny thing: When Lorin first saw the whale on my desk, he explained that he’d had one in his house growing up! They must have been a dime a dozen when they were made, but I love it.

Lorin: For a wedding present, my father and stepmother gave us the dining room set commissioned by my great-grandmother Stein in Paris before the war. (These Steins were not those Steins. My Steins were in the glue business in Chicago. This Paris trip would have been a special occasion.) When I was a kid, the seats were black leather, but Sadie re-covered them herself using a staple gun and remnants of French upholstering fabric from the 1920s.

Sadie: My great-grandmother Benedict was a prolific letter-writer and in her family was famous for drawing a little cartoon girl, named ‘Dimples" in the margins–a tradition continued by her daughter, my grandmother. I’ve never mastered Dimples–I always make her forehead too bulbous when I try to draw her–but I was always charmed by her, and if and when I ever get a tattoo, I know exactly which margin-portrait I’d use! At a certain point, my great-grandmother made a 3-D rag doll version of Dimples, who was my main source of comfort as a small child and now presides over the apartment from the top of the bookshelf. I loved her very hard, but I think she looks all the wiser for it.

Lorin: This shaving mirror, a present from my mother and stepfather, belonged to my great-great grandfather Newbold. I used it more often when I cut my own hair (when I had more hair to cut). Now it mainly just hangs there next to the medicine cabinet, but I’ve always liked its simplicity, including my grandfather’s monogram, which is invisible unless you tilt the mirror and really, really look.

Sadie: My great-grandfather Singer was an immigrant who worked as a jeweler in the Bronx. This string of green glass beads is from his shop, via my grandmother, who died before I was born.

For Home Sweet Home, Curbed talked to 30 engaging personalities across a range of industries to learn about where they grew up and what home means to them. Follow The Paris Review on Twitter, and Sadie Stein on Instagram and Twitter.

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