On the subject of furniture design, great design does not always have to carry an expensive price tag, particularly if you are prepared to spend a little time sourcing. Lose your fear of flying and spend some time in auction houses both in person and on line. Many auctions post the realized values so you can become comfortable with pricing before you ever have to pay for anything. There will be a few impulse purchases and missteps no matter what you do. Get over it. Besides its too cold to go out anyway.
My uncle was an interior designer. He acquired only things he really liked. He had a great eye for design; but first and foremost things had to be useful before they were pretty. Good design would always win out. He mixed old with new.
Trendy, impulse furniture purchases are often discarded by the next generation. Sofas upholstered in flowery fabric, outdated lamps and wooden kitchen chairs are sometimes objects of derision and consigned to the heap as too outdated to work in contemporary surroundings. My uncle saw the beauty in items others did not. Change the upholstery, add contemporary lampshades, find a new table and leave the wooden chairs alone would have been his advice. Live with things for a bit and recognize mistake purchases. Kick them to the curb if you have to. Live with what you love. Build a home. Very wise man.
Auction houses are filled with the unappreciated belongings of others. The upside is that so much of this stuff, with minimal effort can be made to work again. You can furnish your home with items you will love for a lifetime at great prices. Sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration.
I spent many hours at auction houses with my uncle who had the vision to appreciate good design in the most battered item on the floor. He furnished his house with auction finds which resulted in a handsome and much lived in home.
We still have, courtesy of my uncle, a set of original Hans Wegner/Carl Hansen wishbone chairs, a pair of 1960s Maurice Burke Arkana chairs and some fabulous, if not anonymous artwork. Vintage Hans Wegner chairs now carry a very high price tag. The Maurice Burke chairs are fairly inexpensive but very stylish considering they are 60 years old. Knowing my uncle, he would have made very frugal purchases. He loved a good deal. Good design however, would always win out over cost. Here I sit in one of those Maurice Burke chairs, which just happens to be one of my favourite things. So for the purposes of this post I decided to warm the seat of my Arkana chair and let my fingers do the shopping to see what possibilities surface.
A person does, however need a little inspiration. Here are a few re-imagined pieces. You have to admit, although these may not appeal to everyone’s sense of style, but great design prevails and they do set the tone for everything that follows.
I can hear you asking… how much? Well, for the better part of $3,000.00, plus shipping costs, you can have any one of these pieces delivered to your door. For your money you get colour… great colour, mint condition furniture with classic style and perhaps a designer name.
Even if a great find just happens to follow a person home not everyone has the resources to reinvent furniture on this scale. Most of us can handle a simple paint job which, sometimes is all that is needed to keep a good piece current.