Ask A Designer: Timeless Vintage?

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Ask A Designer – Timeless Vintage?

Q. We have had a house built for us that has some nice upgrades, but it isn’t our dream home. I insisted we hold back on the construction cost so I could decorate it nicely. Now, I’m shopping and I’m disappointed at all the neutral furniture and rustic decor that I see.

I considered some custom upholstery, but the pricing was 4 times higher than what I can buy in the store. How can I make my house distinctive without spending that much? Should I include rustic things? I’m really torn about the style because it isn’t a small house, and I don’t want to lessen its value.—A.F.

A. It sounds like you are very good at planning, so reaching your goals won’t be hard at all. There are a few trends affecting what you see at stores. Through automation, manufacturers achieved the pinacle of consistency and quality soon after the industrial revolution. By now, everyone has seen perfectly square glass tables or similar things, and we are no longer impressed. A personal touch seems more valuable. At the same time, custom work, no matter what the item, is much, much higher priced than manufactured items.
Homeowners are tending to spend their money in ways that will last. Upholstery is something that wears out faster than all other furnishings, so neutral fabric is an easy solution. Furniture companies are interested in moving volume, so they avoid colorful, patterned fabrics all together. I recommend strategic purchases of lighting, custom window treatments, (possibly) wall covering, pillows, and area rugs to achieve style.
Lighting is more creative than ever before and fabrics are available in every color. Rugs can be found at any price point. You should know, though, that vintage and rustic finishes are so popular that they are are prevalent in every style group. That doesn’t mean you have to use metal with actual rust. You can choose what level of perfection you like. I do recommend looking at the range of finishes in the other homes in your subdivision and staying close to the range. The concept that seems to matter most to homeowners is having “real” materials. Real wood, real granite, and solid metal feel good to everybody. Avoid rustic when it means “shabby” or imperfectly put together. Go with only things that look approachable and potentially cherishable for generations.

Note: We welcome all questions related to home design—ask us about color, room arrangement, planning for a new home, selecting furnishings, lighting, flooring, and more.    Answers provided by Tanna Espy Miller, B.F.A., M.B.A., who has operated her award winning interior design practice for 26 years. You   may also contact Tanna at 615/ 601-0552.

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