Monday, August 23, 2010

Adaptive reuse ...

I’m attracted to a shop full of vintage goods like a magpie to a shiny object! These stores don’t require goods with antique pedigrees. I’m talking about the little shops that make witty use of found objects that inspire reflection. Show me an unexpected way to bring originality to a room, and I’m hooked. I’m so very drawn to things with a tactile patina – timeworn objects that have beauty beyond their function.


This architectural element makes a bold statement when
repurposed as a headboard.
For me, vintage is a design philosophy. Oh, I know some decorators and designers may disagree, but I’ll take spunky, bohemian style (you know that irresistible urge to marry past and present) over the stuffy, tried and true, coordinated room settings any day. It is this very homespun elegance that made Carol Bolton a nationally recognized designer. Her “looks-as-if-it’s-always-been-there” design aesthetic launched Homestead in Fredericksburg, TX many years ago, and I have been a fan of hers every since.

I think the appeal of pieces with imperfections is in their narrative – the story of their past. You just know that someone benefited from the service of this worn object, and now it is ready to retire to a life of intellect over convention – enriching our lives in the process.

I’m all about repurposing remnants of our past in fresh ways.


Saved magazines make a thoughful display in
guest rooms. Vintage statues convert beautifully
into lamp bases.
Even though Oscar Wilde said, “All beautiful things belong to the same age,” that does not mean bringing these diverse things together cohesively is easy. I’d agree with Bolton’s assessment: “It takes work to make something look this undecorated.” Certainly, selling her store gave her more time to 'undecorate' in her own home and in her clients' casas.

If you want an original look for your space, I found that you must give it your personal style. For me, that means I steer clear of the home accessory stores filled with the same inventory as every other store – really, how many Tuscan-style urns or giclĂ©e Parisian prints do they buy at market?

If you truly lived in Tuscany, almost everything you own would have been handed down from generations. And, Paris? Well, let's just say that from the very avant garde atelier to the most elegant appartement, a significant number of purchases come from the Les Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market. After all, trend-setting designers from around the world visit Les Fleas for visionary concepts in adaptive reuse.

I say out with the Stepford Wives decor! If anything, I’d rather have some Sanford & Son migrating into my design style.

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