Don't Throw Away Your Treasures: My Favorite Transformation

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: the most well-appointed homes feel personal. There’s nothing more disappointing than walking into a house that feels like its owners have bought into every HGTV troupe under the sun. Does everyone really love succulents displayed in little hexagonal terrariums?

Good designers, decorators and architects will sit down with their clients and learn about the personal objects they hold near and dear. Even if they don’t immediately know where these treasures will land in the final scheme, they’ll consider them as springboards that have the potential to set the mood of an entire project.

I’m finishing up a little remodel for a retired single woman right now. Hers has been one of my favorite projects because she came to the table with so many beautiful, if not particularly valuable things she had accumulated over the years, but admitted she had no idea how to make them look nice together. There was almost nothing she said we had to keep, but her budget dictated that we would have to make some of the big stuff work in whatever new context we created. We incorporated the 1920’s era Chippendale reproduction dining table and chairs she inherited from her parents, an old red metal metronome she’d used as a child while she played piano, and reupholstered a bench with baldacchino style legs to use as an ottoman for a new sofa.

I think the best use we made of her old stuff was the alteration of two hideous plaster pineapple lamps she had. They must have been made in the very early 90’s and had that faux copper green patina that nobody likes anymore. We painted them white so they really looked like plaster sculpture and put red drum lampshades on them. It’s a simultaneously more classic and daring look that totally completes her living room. When we began the project, we both felt sure we would throw them out. Now they’re the best thing in the whole house. Don’t try to wipe everything out and start with a clean slate. Ordering a dumpster at the end of your project will allow you a couple of happy accidents along the way.

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