Whether they will admit it or not, everybody has a little bit of dumpster diver in them. This is not to say that people like digging through refuse heaps for scraps of food and half-empty vodka bottles, but rather that they have an interest in salvaging items that others no longer want but that can presumably be turned into useful and attractive things with the right attitude and a little bit of elbow grease. Just as a skinny kitten rescued from the alley or a Charlie Brown Christmas tree calls out to us, so does the abandoned stuff of others cry out to us for rescue and revivification.
Furnishing your own place in shabby chic furniture is both an adventure and an exercise in creativity. There are a number of steps that ordinarily have to be followed in order to achieve the paramount effect.
- Acquisition is the first phase of turning trash into treasure. College neighborhoods are a great place to pick up free stuff, especially right after graduation. Many students simply dump their four-year accumulation of stuff on the lawn before heading back home for the final time. Cragislist is well known for its curb alerts where people advertise the availability of all sorts of household items on a come-and-get-it basis.
- Inoculation is the next part of the puzzle. You don't necessarily know where the furniture came from, so a certain degree of scrubbing is generally a good idea. In addition to cleansing it of unwanted grime and germs, scrubbing often scrapes away all or part of the finish of the rescued item, which gives it an especially enchanting aura that cannot be duplicated by any planned activity.
- Modification is another facet of furniture resurrection. Many of the most interesting and original pieces come from modifying an item so that it performs a function apart from its originally intended use. Take an old steamer trunk and turn it into a cleverly-concealed bar, or transplant the legs from a chair onto the base of an aquarium and then add a mirrored top for a completely original lamp table.
- Restoration comes for those pieces which are simply too good to be believed. While funkiness plays a huge role, there is also a place for an elegant piece that was quite literally rescued from the scrapheap and restored to its ancient beauty.
- Combination is the final touch of the shabby chic artiste. In all their mis-assorted glory, the pieces are presented as a holistic record of what has been gleaned and glamorized. This is, in many ways, the hardest part of the entire enterprise since it requires the most delicate recognition not only of what is enough but also of what is too much.
The purpose is not to create a sort of mixed-up museum but to invent a creative living space that tastefully blends the old and the new, the sedately proper with the jauntily offbeat, and ends up serving as an understated reflection not of the furniture but of the creative vision of the individual.
About Author: This is a guest post written by Gila Cohen.