I was walking by a large building that was being cleared out. Men were making piles with the “rubbish” that was coming out of the building to be burned. In the piles were amazing architectual columns, mantles, windows and porch balustrates from turn of the century homes. They had multiple layers of paint crackled in many colors. As they brought out the gas to start the fire I began yelling “stop, don’t do that these have great value!” I heard a voice of one of the workers say “it’s rubbish, they have no value”. I woke up from this dream some 15+ years ago with a “knowing” that it had a meaning.
As I pondered this dream I saw a parallel with the the architectual salvage and people. Life’s hurdles and circumstances can cripple us. We get tattered, stressed and cracked and we cover them up with clothes, makeup, surgery, booze, drugs and unhealthy relationships only to find that another layer is needed. We some times see these cracks in others and fail to see their value.
As I understand, God is madly in love with his creation. He is so for us that the cracks don’t disqualify or devalue us. In fact with a little TLC, nurturing and creative love the cracks become character and details that increase value in people and antiques.
I have always loved “natural, time-worn antique surfaces.” Basically, it’s the natural wear on an antique that comes from use and love over a long period of time and turns a piece from drab to fabulous. I’ve always admired the grannies that painted, repainted and painted furniture again to give it a fresh look. Time, elements and natural wear transformed many of their furniture items into one-of-a-kind pieces of art.
When Rachel Ashwell released her book “Shabby Chic” in 1996, it stirred up an appreciation for time-worn decor and real antiques that had some loss (chipped, missing or slightly damaged but completely functional). Kirk Albert, a friend in Seattle who coined the phrase “perfect imperfections,” has an amazing curated shop which has a personality all its own, and contains unique, rare and sought after antiques and vintage objects.
Do-it-yourselfers like Martha Stewart, have helped teach millions to try and get “the look” of natural worn antiques by using paint, sand paper, steel wool and power sanders on random pieces of furniture. The results of such efforts is similar to the “knock-off Gucci purses” bought on the streets. Some folks are happy with the outcome, but the value of these pieces is not lasting and the savvy will always recognize that they are not real. There are plenty of foreign manufacturers that reproduce “the look”. Savvy collectors and designers recognize reproduction and steer clear.
It all comes down to taste. At Splurge, we search high and low to find the best of the best in antique and real, time-worn furnishings. If you are seeking authentic, make sure it’s original.
I stumbled into this business while hunting furniture for our 1st home 20 years ago. While frequenting antique stores, estate sales and garage sales I started putting names to the familiar faces that I was seeing each week. Once our home was furnished, I still had an urge to hunt for treasures. I soon learned that you can’t sleep in on Fridays and Saturdays or my new friends would find the treasures first and I would find the leftovers that were old and cheap and typically brown. I began filling the garage with my weekly finds and would invite my new friends to come and buy from me.
The unique and rare would sell! The ugly old, brown, cheap and common pieces began to take up residency in the garage forcing the wife’s jeep out.
Lesson learned. What happened was, I would see potential in a piece and think “all you need to do is” and I would buy it. Over time, that piece would have an extended stay in the garage or a storage unit and would ultimately become crap that no one wanted. If you’ve been antiquing, you have probably seen shops, malls, flea markets and antique shows that are full of these ugly, old, brown common pieces that nobody wants.
I have learned over the last 20 years that the rare, unusual, sought-out treasures that I “splurge” on are the first things that sell. I will continue to hold out for the pieces that spaces are designed around and that have stories.