Conversation Starters: The White Elephants in the Room

Conversation Starters: The White Elephants in the Room


So, I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs yesterday and came across THIS. A post by Young House Love and Sherry’s crazy dream about a new trend designers were promoting: elephants in every room.

It was a funny post (I totally have crazy decorating dreams all the time so I could relate), but while I was laughing on the outside, I was also hiding a big secret. I thought I better fess up.

Conversation Starters: The White Elephants in the Room

Dun dun dun…..I  have a white elephant in MY room. In fact, I have a whole stack of white elephants in my living room.

Now you know.

I’ve had these elephants for years, they were my mom’s and then she gave them to me. Since I’ve done a lot of traveling myself, and my extended family has traveled to places like Africa and my dad lived in Thailand, we are blessed to have so many unique pieces from around the world in our home.

Conversation Starters: The White Elephants in the Room

That black Chinoiserie cabinet (sorry the pic is a bit blurry) actually came from Thailand (my grandpa was a Lieutenant Colonel in the army and traveled oversees), so I really do have a great mix of pieces from around the world. The elephants feel right at home next to that cabinet. They belong together. I LOVE the gold ship detailing and all the carving! The ships make me think about adventures at sea!

I am pretty sure my stack of elephants were purchased here in the U.S., but still, it was inspired by real travel experiences. I love incorporating items that offer a sense of real history and life experience into our home.

Conversation Starters: The White Elephants in the Room

Nevertheless, even though I might have my reasons for having elephants, they sometimes strike me as a very random thing to have in my living room.

I mean, who has a four foot tall elephant statue in their coastal/farmhouse/cottage/eclectic NW style craftsman house in Seattle? Who DOES that? And really, who has a coastal/farmhouse/cottage/eclectic NW style craftsman house in the first place? Don’t say Crazy People. Who?


Do you have any funny random “elephants” in your room?

I actually love having a few quirky, unexpected things in my home that just make me smile (or make my friends scratch their head and wonder WHY?!). It is fun to incorporate unique and interesting conversation starters.

Conversation Starters: The White Elephants in the Room


  1. I don’t have elephants but I wish I did! Those are wonderful!

  2. This is so gorgeous..are the elephants made of marble? definitely a ice breaker or a conversation starter!!!

  3. No elephants! But I saw that post and loved it!! Hilarious!! I love elephants and often wish I did have some! :) I just think they are gorgeous creatures. My fave animal! I really like yours. Maybe I need one in white…hmmmm… White elephants in farmhouse style…works right?? :) There is an elephant sanctuary close to me so that should work! :)

  4. My husband grew up in West Africa, so we have elephants, rhinos, and my favorite: a rocking hippo! Just like a rocking horse for children, but it’s a hippo, made out of teak wood and I love it!

  5. No elephants, but I do have a wooden giraffe sitting upright with his legs dangling over a shelf in our family room. It was a gift from my friend who was living in South Africa. He’s an interesting little guy, and the kids love him.

    I love your elephants! I may need to rename our gift exchange after seeing them :)

  6. Yes! I LOVE having interesting things on our home, too! they ARE great conversation starters!

    I have a vintage cake topper collection…and I found one with the bride wearing a RED dress! That’s a conversation starter. ;) Wouldn’t you love to meet that bride?

  7. Franki Parde says:

    You know it’s FOR THAT REASON (and many more) that I follow your blog…it’s quirky, cottage, beachy, etc. and just makes one “feel good.” Right on! franki

  8. Hee hee … I love your white elephants in your living room! That would totally make me smile everytime I saw them.

  9. My family has black elephants carved from ebony with real tusks for the small tusks. They are quite old, but not very politically correct. They are bookends and their trunks are down, which I was always told signified bad luck, if one believes in such things. I rather like your eclectic look and your white elephants!

    • Melissa says:

      My grandparents used to have all sorts of marble, ebony, jade etc elephants and things of that sort. Not really sure where they all went, but they were beautiful!

  10. Hi Melissa-
    My grandmother had quite a collection of elephants in her home – ceramic, wood, plastic. It used to be thought to bring good luck into the home. Not sure if it still does, but that is why she always had them in her home. Maybe I should go get myself one.

    My best- Diane

  11. I love this story and your elephants, Melissa! I have two elephants in my home. The one in the living room is a cream glazed elephant that resides on the fireplace hearth, think those garden stools. The other reminds me of the bottom elephant in your stack of elephants only mine is stained a very dark brown and has white tusks. He’s in the family room used as a side table.

    Like you, I’ve had these two elephants for years. I believe my youngest child was in a stroller when I got them. He’s in college now.

  12. I do have elephants in my home. I collected elephants, beginning in about the 9th grade and still have a few cherished ones. My elephant statue is very similar, smaller and wooden. It sits on a shelf in our family room. My very first elephant sits on a chest in the hallway to our bedroom. It was the only item I could afford in my friends’ parent’s antique shop and I always admired it so they gave it to me for my 14th birthday.

  13. I have cat hair – that’s my special white elephant – and it’s ok w me.

  14. Elephants! I have quite a collection of elephants. I started with just a few tiny 1/2 to 2 inch ones that I bought on our honeymoon. Then, suddenly, my husband and mother-in-law assumed that I collected elephants! So that Christmas, I got lots more elephant-themed things. They’re currently in a box in the basement. I may pull out one or two for the shelves in my son’s room though.

  15. Love the elephants. We don’t have any but have some little donkeys I inherited from my grandmother and some little turtles we inherited from my mother-in-law. They may seem weird but they have special meaning to us and it all seems to fit in together :)

    • Melissa says:

      I think that is wonderful!! Having things with meaning is so much better than having a current “trendy animal” for no reason at all :-)

  16. I have a ceramic little duck and a wood chicken in my family room. they have nothing to do with the room, I just love them so!

  17. Someone once gave me an elephant candle as a gift (think that person who sits in the next cubicle from you that you’re not really friends with but with whom you have to exchange holiday gifts!). It came with an explanation that elephants in the home should be positioned near the front door to help attract wisdom and power to the home. He’s now on my hall table. And it turns out it’s not a bunch of malarkey: See Feng Shui Crazy at

  18. When I first read the title I thought “Young House Love JUST posted about elephants, how weird is that?!” Haha

  19. Tersa S. says:

    I love this post! I smiled as I was reading because I,too, have some major randomness to the untrained eye! My hubby and I know the history of the items, and they are all reminders of God’s faithfulness in all our moves (we are military). A few of my faves… a hand painted turtle that is actually an ashtray bought in Guam, two rustic drums, one is passed down from the in-laws and was bought in Honduras, the other was bought as a surprise gift for my (then) fiance while in Pisa. LOVE IT!

  20. I have wooden giraffes. Two of them – one is almost 8’tall, the other is more than 3′. They sit in corners of the dining / living room and are the topic of conversation whenever someone new comes in the house.

  21. I have one white elephant that I display on the built-in shelves in my dining room:

    There isn’t any history behind my elephant, I just wanted something to add to my white ceramics collection :)

  22. Melissa,
    LOL! My mom used to have a collection of elephants, all fairly small. Like the ‘only child’ brat I’ve probably always been, I told her in no uncertain terms that I didn’t want them. I regret that now! Mom passed away in May of 2010 and I wish I had one or two of her little elephants to remind me of her collection. I have other items but I do wish I had “an elephant in the room”.

  23. well, You have your ‘random’ stack of white elephants.
    I have a random– RED Frog, he is a floral vase, like say an ivy may have come planted in him. It was in my father in laws office before they turned it into a second bathroom– and he stayed in there too. I love him!
    He is quirky,VINTAGE (probably ’70-ies’) and RED!
    …now we’re both ‘fessed up’…

    love reading your blog, Pat

  24. I have one. Not an elephant, but a boomerang. I spent two months in Tasmania, Australia the summer before my senior year of college, and of course I brought back stuff from there. My stuffed animals (one made with kangaroo fur) are in the playroom, as are my maps, postcards, key chains, etc, etc. I wear the black heart sassafras earrings, and the wooden bowl someone gave me for my birthday (yes, I spent my 21st birthday Down Under. How cool is THAT???) fits beautifully in my decor. But the boomerang, with its aboriginal art on the front of it, just…well…doesn’t go with the rest of my stuff. I would LOVE to display it somewhere, I just don’t know where or how. Think, think…think, think. :)

  25. Lovely! I have a black elephant teapot that I fell in love with years ago and had to bring home… it’s usually on my kitchen counter or stove and even though it doesn’t really “go” with the rest of the house it works and is so me!

  26. I totally have a white elephant too! It’s more abstract than your tower of pachyderms. Check it out:

    I love him. So much.

  27. It was never an intentional design trend, but I have a set of elephants on one of my windowsills. After I saw your post today I had to post a picture of them.
    My in-laws got them for us in Niger when they were visiting my sister-in-law while she was in the Peace Corps.

  28. pretty much everything in my house is hand-me-down, mismatched and quirky. so i’m totally with you on that not being crazy thing :)

  29. Do I have elephants????!!!! I SURE DO!!!! My FIL was a pilot and a SHOPPER! He brought back gorgeous elephants from Vietnam, which are in my living room. I have a set of elephants from Africa on my mantle, another elephant from Ghana in the guest room and several more in other rooms! I LOVE elephants. Would love for you to come over to my blog to see them! XO, Pinky We also have many inherited pieces: a gorgeous screen from Japan, many items from Africa and India etc.

  30. I too have elephants around my house, roughly one in each room or so. I hadn’t been doing it on purpose as a collection but every now and then I saw one and just thought it was cute. I realized about a year or so ago how many I have and I thought it was pretty funny.

  31. Lorraine says:

    LOVE Little elephants! My family is from Ecuador and there is an old wives tale about having three elephants in your home- all with their butts facing the door. You are supposed to buy your first elephant, you steal one from someone, and the third is given to you as a gift. The three are to be placed together to bring your home good luck :)
    I am currently looking for inspiration for my new home and can’t wait to start my own collection of elephants.

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