It is a special person who finds beauty in a threadbare rug or a weatherworn rocking chair. They view items from our past as sturdier, more well-crafted and more beautiful than their modern counterparts—as “reminders of the talent and artistry of yesteryear.”
If your interest lies in antique furniture and architectural elements, or perhaps simply punctuating an ultra modern interior with a vintage light fixture, then Brian D. Coleman’s “Extraordinary Interiors, Decorating with Architectural Salvage and Antiques” is a good reference guide to inspire your imagination and enliven your environment.
Set up into 15 different interiors projects from a West Village pied-à-terre to an East Hampton modern to a gorgeous 1897 Victorian home in downtown San Francisco, Coleman discusses the owner’s inspirations, dreams for their homes and how well those dreams became reality. One couple divulges that they began buying architectural salvage 15 years prior to having a home of their own—everything from door knobs to oversized windows—and then laugh at themselves, saying that when they discovered the monthly storage fees for their treasures were more than a monthly mortgage they knew it was time to buckle down and build.
One might also be mistaken in believing that all architectural salvage is time worn. Witness, then, the 1930s glamour of Mark Fields’ and Greg Ventura’s Greenwich Village home, an eye-popping combination of high polished silver and gleaming alabaster.
DISAPPOINTMENTS ARE POSSIBLE
In paging through this book, however, one must realize that many of these pieces are one of a kind. For example, consider that the beautiful soapstone mantel one salvage junkie found—was in a dumpster in 22 separate pieces, and then painstakingly reassembled.
Too, like many antiques collectors, often the rooms seem overstuffed and kitschy. Whatever happened to less is more? Tchotchkes line the countertops and bookcases, old Orange Julep dispensers, logos intact, are upended and turned into lighting fixtures, details upon details upon details are layered over each other, creating a cacophony of riotous color and pattern. Like a woman who has accessorized herself so much that you no longer see her beauty, some of the interiors are far-removed from the boundaries of good taste.
Additionally, it would have been interesting for the author to explore a “before and after” concept so the reader could envision how an interior is transformed through the use of period goods.
For those wishing to embark on a restoration project or wish to add architectural salvage to an existing interior, there is a very handy source guide at the back of the book. Companies are listed by name and are also sorted by geographical location.
I won’t take the time to discuss the design of the book’s interior; I will just caution you that as riotously colorful and cluttered as some of the interiors are, you will find the typography only adds to the problem.
This is a book worth a read, however, if not for inspiration, then to enjoy the beauty that antiques and architectural salvage can bring to an interior.
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis, MN. She is a former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions magazine and is the author of the recently published Dream Floors, Hundreds of Ideas for Every Type of Floor, and the upcoming Dream Windows: Historical Perspectives, Classic Designs, Contemporary Creations. Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and trend information at email@example.com.