You know, there’s something that’s never made sense to me: why and how Sherlock has all this… stuff. Like, does he wander antique shops to look for silly obscure drawings? Does he randomly go to IKEA to buy lamps? And then go to more antique stores to buy more lamps? Does he seriously run errands to find just the right place to have carefully selected items properly framed or mounted professionally? Does he take time out of his day spent chasing murders, coming up with insane experiments and lolling about on his sofa in his Mind Palace to… put up curtains properly? With a double curtain rod?
Like, as a highly cerebral and lazy person who nevertheless likes unique and attractive surroundings, I’m here to tell you that this stuff takes both work and attention to keep up. Like, not just cleaning (which, let’s say Mrs. Hudson takes care of, though this is just at Baker Street, and all this stuff existed before he’d moved in, there on the first day). No, there’s fixing stuff, looking for and finding things that match stuff, organizing stuff and throwing out useless stuff, and so on. And some things aren’t even fun to shop for— like curtains, mirrors and rugs, for example. Or even sofas. Can you imagine Sherlock Holmes in a sofa emporium? No?
The thing is, I dunno what I’m supposed to take away from this. Because the traditional Baker Street rooms weren’t really decorated by Holmes in their entirety, and Mrs. Hudson really was their housekeeper. Even then, Holmes was a lot more of a socially adjusted individual than our Sherlock, more in line with conventional behavior (in his own way). Like, this sort of collection of bits and bobs takes years to amass, so it’s not something Sherlock could’ve built up only in the years he was sober. So, I mean, as much as he was Shezza in his twenties, he had to have been that guy who takes time out of his Sunday to shop for curtains and ducks into cute antique shops not just to interrogate the owners, but to snag a weird figurine, or a pair of binoculars, or… a pretty drawing. A pretty drawing he needed to go to a frame shop and find a suitable frame for, maybe a mat. He had to go to and pay people to cut mats for some of those pics; he had to hunt around for some of those frames, too, because they’re unusual sizes. And maybe he needed a new sofa, and he’d heard there was a sale across town.
To be honest, it looks like a professor’s flat, or the flat of a quirky and whimsical but successful adult professional. Certainly an intellectual, a naturalist perhaps, but definitely an adult. It’s… mature.
The tastes are mature, varied, sophisticated, with a sense of humor but also the stuffiness that comes with age, when people have ‘grown up’ and feel they need things like proper curtains and framed pictures instead of just posters stuck to the wall. Here, everything is framed. Let me put it this way: I’ve only started overwhelmingly framing things this year. I’m Sherlock’s age. Is he… more mature than I am?? haha
Contrast this to the way John’s bedsit looks:
It matches what we know of him precisely. He hasn’t added anything. The only thing he does is keep his bed neatly folded. Even if the room didn’t come furnished (which I’m sure it did), I can see John buying these things in one day, and saying ‘good enough’. But when I try to imagine Sherlock Holmes spending a Sunday afternoon carefully putting up those steel picture hangers (I know all about those), my mind draws a blank. However, it’s canon. I’m just saying it says something about Sherlock in a way even his impeccable suits do not. The suits are for show, to make an impression— his flat isn’t. It’s not the modern, streamlined and impeccable thing his suits would suggest: it’s quirky, cozy, eclectic, warm. Why does Sherlock have this flat?
That is a puzzle! It’s tempting to think that Mycroft ex machina (via his minions?) is responsible for the larger furnishings, as well as the hanging of the pictures and other items, but then would Sherlock want that interference?
I also wonder about the lack of CDs or vinyl, or a high end stereo system beyond the headphones on the skull (unless there is and I’ve missed them, which is certainly possible since I haven’t done a frame by frame search of 221B scenes looking for these items). I mean Sherlock is an accomplished violinist, trained well enough to play J.S. Bach and compose, so he has almost certainly a Western classical background. Even though he loves his tech, many classical musicians avoid mp3s (compression) and computer audio systems when doing serious listening. Why are there no CDs or records from Sherlock’s childhood and young adulthood? Are they at home? In storage? Were they given away? Does Sherlock only keep recordings on his computer? Or is his musical memory so good that he has placed a library of his favorite recordings in his memory palace? Certainly some very talented musicians like Mozart could remember a piece after hearing it once. Does Sherlock have that capability?
One clue is the Memory Palace sequence in THoB, in which we briefly hear a bit of Elvis’s cover of “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog”. That does suggest Sherlock might have a library of music in the MP, not all of it Western classical/art music. But what isn’t clear is how extensive an MP!music library is. Is it an ad hoc collection of music he’s learned as a violinist plus music he’s needed for cases, something similar to the eclectic collection of items he keeps in his flat? Or does he include any piece he’s ever enjoyed? Or does all music get swept in, whether he likes it or not (poor Sherlock, the earworms could be quite annoying)?
Also: did he enlarge his music collection during the Hiatus, taking in at least some of the music he encountered abroad? It’s no surprise I like this last idea, since I collaborated with emmadelosnardos and a few other fans to create a series of fanmixes of music Sherlock might have heard in AfroGeekGoddess’s version of Sherlock’s hiatus travels.
I’m going to think about this more and do some rewatching, but I welcome additions and thoughts.
Oh these are wonderful questions to ask!
To be honest I don’t see Sherlock carefully selecting pieces, whether in IKEA or in antique shops.
I think Mrs Hudson is responsible for the wallpaper, curtains and rugs, either because she put it up herself in a distant past or because they were left by a previous tennant. The same might be the case for the general furnishing (sofa, table and chairs, cupboards). I say that for two reasons: first because the wallpaper in the rest of the house is lighter but in an equally bold style that I can relate to Mrs Hudson, and second because I assumed from ASiP that Sherlock had just moved in and the curtains and rugs blend in with the flat in a way that to me says old and dusty and never moved in a decade.
The furnishing looks sort of spontaneously acquired, if that makes sense; like Sherlock (in his previous lodging) suddenly thought “I need a lamp” and then just did whatever necessary to get a lamp there, whether that’s ordering online from IKEA and having it delived the next day, or visiting the second-hand shop on the street corner. Same with the mirror, the cupboards, possibly the fan.
As for all the knick-knacks, I have the headcanon that he acquired them by either of two different means: Either because they were necessary for a case, and after he just didn’t get rid of it. Or, and I like this one, he has the habit of pilfering things he likes from crime scenes in a sort of running bet with himself that none of the other police officers would notice anything gone. Paintings and statuettes and headphones and one day he even managed to abscond with an entire mounted sword (or epee or whatever it is) without anyone noticing. He had to stop it when Lestrade finally catched on, but stealing the ashtray from Buckingham Palace for John was a last personal victory. I might need to fic this.
Anyway, the music. There is an expensive 6 CD sound system in his bedroom if I’m not mistaken, so I’d wager there is a CD collection somewhere, but we haven’t seen it yet (or the sound system is obtained the same way as above; he needed a CD player and bought the first he saw, never mind that it’s a couple thousand pounds).
I like the idea of an entire mind palace music collection though, and I think the Hound Dog snippet might point to that. Maybe it’s not in a separate mind palace room, but woven in with everything, since he seems to make mental connections through associations. It wouldn’t surprise me if he indeed is able to immediately mentally record and store any music he hears, and a storage system based on associations might be a big factor in doing so.
Besides, he could also be the kind of musician to scoff at any interpretation that isn’t his own (in the case of classical music) and therefore does not have any CDs, but prefers to form his own interpretation by studying the score himself, and keeps that internal sound in his mind palace.
After getting a look at the family home, which has the slightly cluttered but very personal, lived-in look of a country home, I can envision a somewhat different scenario. I can see Mummy, happy that Sherlock is going to have a nice central London flat with a friend, loading up the car (or maybe demanding a pick-up from Mycroft and ending up with his minions) and bustling off to town to help him get “settled in” after combing his old room as well as the attics for things that she knows he’ll like or want. Which of course means that she goes around and directs the setting up of the furniture and hanging of pictures, and Sherlock dumps his files and working stuff anyplace they might have space to land. Can’t you hear the back-and-forth as that’s going on? And by the end of the day, it’s in the shape John first sees in SiP.