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DECOR SCORE- Furniture Whose Time Has Come — Again PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rose Bennett Gilbert   
Thursday, 10 January 2013 03:01


Like love, furniture can be better the second time around. Rebuilt/reupholstered pieces are also a good investment.

Q: We kinda ran out of funds after we bought our new-to-us house last fall, and we are having to ditch our grand plans for new furniture, too. The trouble is, we gave away most of our old stuff before we moved. Any ideas on how to fill in the blanks will be appreciated.

A: Actually, you may have done yourselves a favor: our recycling-savvy century is rich with second-hand furniture that was made in the middle of the last — and made to last, much of it from native American woods.

Prowl through resale shops and charity catch-alls, such as Good Will and the Salvation Army. Chances are good you'll find everything you need to furnish and furbish your house, from beds to chairs, tables, bookcases and storage pieces. The trick is to shop with foresight: don't focus on the furniture's current condition. Envision how it will look refinished, repainted, repaired and reupholstered to look and wear like new.

Then when you do the math, you'll see how recycling can be as kind to your budget as it is attractive to live with. But don't take just my word for it. In the clean, open and inviting room we show here, award-winning New York interior designer Drew McGurkin puts "used" furniture to great reuse.

The sofa and two chairs, now orange, were already in the client's life when Drew and his team took on the renovation of her house in the Hamptons. Rebuilt and reupholstered, the "old" furniture is enjoying a smart second life in her second home.

Ditto the coffee table. The designers simply replaced its old top with a new one made of glass. They also added the coffered ceiling — "the room was long and needed more architectural interest" — and added stone to give the fireplace more gravitas.

Thought for 2013: Recycling is not only kind to budget and landfills, it's the next wave in the professional design industry. Many design professionals are refinishing, repainting, repairing and reupholstering "previously owned' pieces into newly prized possessions for their clients. Speaking of prizes, Drew McGurkin has won a number, including the 2012 Rising Star Award from the International Furnishings and Design Association. (IFDA). See more of his young, smart, and sensible ideas at

Q: I had open shelves put in my kitchen when we did it over two years ago, and I regret it now. I really don't like looking at all my stuff all the time. Short of hiring a carpenter to make doors, is there any kind of cover-up I could use?

A: Consider roller shades. Have them cut to fit the width and height of the cabinets, and install them on top of each cabinet, reverse-roll for a neater finish.

Roller shades come in colors and interesting designs and fabrics. Even better: look into custom-mades, where you could use your choice of patterns. Maybe even match your wallpaper or dishes or dishtowels. And since they're going to live in a kitchen, it's worth the extra cost to have the shades laminated or treated to be wipe-clean easy.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the coauthor of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 03:05