Designer Files: Find. Repurpose. Repeat.
Fabulous style, on a budget. It’s the answer I hear each time I ask a new client what they are hoping to achieve when working with our design firm, A Good Chick To Know.
The trick to creating a chic, unique space is finding a few one-off pieces that can be used in an unconventional way, and mix those in with stellar finds from traditional retailers.
When considering a repurposed item, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Like, way outside the box. For the most part, the less likely it seems, the more potential for success it has. In nearly every project our team works on, we bring in interesting “found” items and use them for unsuspecting decor solutions. Sometimes they are super simple tricks, and other times the items require modification before becoming an ultra-cool standout piece.
Here are some of my fave repurposed finds from projects past:
• This one solved both a decor and a spatial issue for us at The Vue display suite in North Vancouver. As with many condos, we were dealing with finding pieces that suit small space living; for the bedroom, we found a full-frame bed, complete with footboard, so needed to source a headboard that took up little to no room. We were also faced with finding bedroom artwork that would make a statement and avoid reading as generic. We had mixed vintage with new in the furnishings and needed a third element of design to pull it altogether, so we opted for our go-to, industrial. Sourced from the team over at Union Wood Co., this was a simple piece of weathered metal cut to size and mounted on the wall – it became our salvage-style headboard and artwork all in one.
• Lighting is our favourite way to bring personalized style. This custom pendant, courtesy of Clint at Space Lab, was a total statement piece created out of a found brass horn. It added an element of vintage and at the same time created ambient lighting with the Edison filament bulb. The best part about this one? It’s a one of a kind piece that will attract attention for our client’s bachelor pad for years to come.
• First impressions last, so for the entrance of this False Creek space we wanted to create personality from the get-go. The entire condo was a fabulous blend of retro and traditional, pulled together in a bright palette. To invite the vibe to the front door, we chose a vintage bar cart from ReFind Home Furnishings, rather than the usually sought after console table, and topped it off with prettier ceramics and blown glass. The vintage art above tied in the aesthetic of the same era and brightened up the darker cart.
• Found items don’t always have to be transformed into something else to serve their purpose. As with this space: these antique oars (scored at Space Lab) were mounted to fill an awkward nook within a new development. High ceilings and oversized windows highlighted the alcove, making it the perfect place to add a cool decor element. They added a sense of story to the space, created the perfect solution to an otherwise out-of-place nook and acted as an artistic addition to the overall design of the room. Depending on your personal interests, these could have been swapped out for old school skis or snowshoes, a slick vintage surfboard or, as would suit my own taste, stellar old motorcycle elements (as you can see in fab local joints like Vancouver's motorcycle hub, The Shop).
• Storage is always an issue with condo life, so to show people visiting the On Que for Rize Alliance display home how to create additional space in a stylish way, we brought shelving right out in the open. We wanted to let people know that you don’t have to hide your items in order to store them; you just have to stash them in a way that looks intentional and creative. Again looking to an industrial find, we used a dead space at the entrance to bring in open shoe shelving (one of the hardest things to create within small spaces is shoe/coat storage). This one didn’t even take a hunt – we found it down in the depths of the Rize furniture storage! Similar pieces can be snagged at local salvage yards or vintage shops.
• We've all seen – and probably loved – the trend of vintage stacked suitcases for both decor and storage; this one takes that to the next level. Vintage steamer trunks are a callout to old fashioned travel and have more commonly been seen used as coffee tables or end-of-the-bed furniture. In this case we inserted an awesome old trunk horizontally within the lower level of industrial shelving to create a custom media centre for a record player and amp (utilizing the metal shelves above to store the records). To keep it styled, we added in bits of interest like a found skull and feminine vases, but overall it's the patina and history visible on the found trunk (a thrift store find) that makes the real decor statement.