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What's Old is New {Purple Leather Pants}

Hard + Soft. Black + White. Lacquer + Cowhide. Crystal + Burlap. Neon + Neutrals. A room feels complete to me when there is an element of opposition at play.

I know I have spoken about a room's "hmmm factor" before... that one thing that stands out and creates just enough tension in a room's design to make people say "hmmmm..." (in a good way) when they look at your finished room. My thoughts for today are along the same lines, but a little more specific.

Like, North Avenue in Garwood, specific. Like, if-I-wasn't-on-a-CrossFit-inspired-Paleo-diet-I-would-know-that-it's-directly-across-from-the-McDonald's, specific.

Sometimes you are given a completely blank slate to work with, and everything that comes into that room is new. New couch, new chairs, new lamps, new tables... new new new new new. Now, there is nothing wrong with that "new furniture" smell, in fact some would call it downright intoxicating. Most people would argue that they'd like to scrap everything they've got and start new. But personally, I feel that every room needs a little bit of "old" to make it feel more like a home and less like a showroom.

Which brings me to my design aesthetic, which I believe has been becoming clearer and more intentional over the last several months. In a word: Opposition. Hard and Soft. Black and White. Lacquer and Cowhide. Crystal and Burlap. Neon and Neutrals. A room feels complete to me when there is an element of opposition at play.  

I wouldn't recommend this for every client, or even for every room in my own house, but it's become a habit that I just don't want to kick.

In this particular case, I want to talk about Old and New.

Maybe it's the thrill of the chase, akin to the reason I love to shop a sale rack. Less options, more imagination, endless inspiration, not to mention more economical. I think I like the challenge of taking some {shirt, chair, stool, pair of purple leather pants} that apparently no one else was interested in, and finding a proper and novel place for them. Whether it be an outfit, a recipe ingredient, or an item in a room's design, the "purple leather pants" seem to always surface as the star - the thing that people notice first and comment on. 

Which brings me to this little secret of mine... sometimes in my time designated for grocery shopping (alone) when I can't make it to Ikea, I make a quick little stop in Garwood to find the interior design equivalent of a pair of purple leather pants.

Classic Antiques is not your typical antique store. It is way larger than it looks from its warehouse-style exterior, and it is packed to the brim with ever-changing inventory. As I was told when I attempted to haggle over a mirror, some 19th century horse drawings, and a rug, their wares are all hand-chosen by their proprietor, and most of them are shipped off nationwide and beyond by the truckload to auction houses, movie sets, collectors, and designers every week. Basically insinuating (in a not-so-subtle way) that they apparently didn't care enough about my $200 sale to haggle over $10, and if I liked it I better just agree to the price or get a move on (attempting impossibly to wriggle out of their one-way, miniature, might as well be a magician, thank goodness for my backup camera otherwise I would not be able to get) out of there. I was intrigued. I somehow felt like I was unearthing an even better find. And I was suddenly sure that if I didn't snap up this perfectly worn, lovely, ideally-sized area rug right at this moment (literally, was told by the owner's mother who was left in charge that I had to roll it up and cart it off myself) that it would make its next appearance on the set of Judd Apatow's next blockbuster. (Speaking of, have you seen the website www.hookedonhouses.net? It's seriously amazing - takes the best and most beautiful tv and movie homes and breaks them down for you. They recently did a feature on the house in the movie 'This is 40.' You can see it here. Anyway, that's where I pictured my finds if I hadn't snapped them up.)

So either I was the victim of a very good sales tactic and caved too soon, or I just scored BIG. Like Beyonce at the Superbowl BIG. (Was she not amazing?!) Honestly I don't really care either way... the rug (I also bought the pictures) looks amazing and the prices really were fair. I just felt like I would be doing a disservice to all my grandfather taught me about bargaining if I didn't at least attempt to make an offer.

I should point something out that makes this Old + New concept very relevant to what Mike and I do every day in the world of construction and renovations. It's something that I know Mike likes to emphasize with every client he speaks to, and I do also when I have the pleasure of working with them: Having an element of "old" in your home's architecture, layout, finishes, trimwork, etc. does not make your home flawed. Quite the opposite. Many clients strive to make their classic Colonial homes (we're in Westfield... that's pretty much the norm around here) feel brand new. We would argue that they should make it feel new to THEM, but to achieve that really special, lived in, stand-out, unique feeling, they need to work WITH their home's bones and quirks (many would call these "flaws" upon first inspection) to make their nearly new house a true home, and not another McMansion.  

Keep those slightly imperfectly shaped arches. Skip the skimcoating on your Tudor's textured walls. Enhance that dark stain on your ceiling's beams or floors instead of painting them Decorator's White. You never know, they might just become your home's purple leather pants.

PS- Follow me on Pinterest if you're interested in seeing more about what I mean about this "study in opposition." My "For the home" board is chock full of examples. Also, you may learn some things about life's burning questions, like how to properly fold a fitted sheet, and find a thing or two I'd like to find hanging in my closet. Just sayin'...

Ellie Mroz is the C.A.O. and Design Specialist for Michael Robert Construction, a Westfield-based Design/Build General Contractor. http://www.MichaelRobertConstruction.com

She can be reached at Ellie@MichaelRobertConstruction.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Michael Robert Construction, its affiliates, or its employees.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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