Gen Sohr is a featured Stylemaker in the September 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Here, Gen shares tips for choosing and using vintage pieces.
Hi! I’m Gen Sohr, and I love all things vintage, from Bertoia chairs to Bakelite bracelets. I’m the co-founder (with my darling husband Benjamin) and creative principal for Pencil & Paper Development Co., in Nashville. We renovate old houses, build new ones, and even remake retail stores—anything in need of some creative reimagining.
Here are my favorite rules for when you should go vintage—and when it’s best to buy new. I don’t ever want my spaces to feel like a museum, or as if I am trying to recreate a particular era. It’s about the mix: Old and new together is what I find most interesting.
Truly, I am addicted to the hunt! Nothing compares to spending the day scouring a good flea market and then coming home and cleaning up your treasures. But the thing about vintage is … it finds you. It’s not usually the piece you were hunting for to complete a particular room. But often, it IS the piece that makes the room!
You have to buy what you love when you find it. I never pass up something that speaks to me simply because I don’t need it. I am a believer in buying things as they find me.
Since I have a retail background, where I was in charge of customer experience in stores like Old Navy and Victoria’s Secret, I start by “merchandising” my vintage pieces. I put them in the best, most visible spots in a room. Then I fill in with new pieces where function dictates (and to keep my spaces from feeling like an actual thrift store).
In our master bedroom, I started with a pair of vintage Asian-inspired Lane bedside tables (in my favorite tomato-red). They are the heroes! I love the mix of these vintage finds with the modern Tolomeo desk lamp for bedside reading. For the bed, I wanted something upholstered for comfort, and I didn’t want to break the bank. We opted to keep it simple with this new neutral linen headboard from West Elm.
I think every room needs something that just speaks to you. This is my master closet. I wanted the space to be super clean, white, and functional with great natural sunlight. The simple architecture and well-organized cabinetry is the canvas for this space, but it’s the amazing vintage side table and pair of cut-glass mirrors that make it sing! I rarely buy tables or mirrors that are not vintage treasures because I can get a one-of-a-kind look with them. But for window treatments, I choose something simple, unfussy, and new. This Roman shade allows the vintage pieces to stand out. I often use graphic pattern fabrics in fun colors because they keep my vintage finds feeling fresh and young.
Usually, I recommend purchasing new sofas—both for comfort and sanitary reasons. But sometimes a very special vintage sofa just calls your name, and you have to break the rules. This chrome-framed beauty is such an occasion. I had it recovered in a neutral geometric pattern and had the cushions re-wrapped. Now it’s better than new!
When it comes to vintage clothing, I usually keep mine reserved for special occasions. And, like my vintage furniture, I am not scared to tweak the design of the pieces to feel more current (and figure-flattering). The great thing about buying vintage is that it allows you to become part designer, too. When I wear a vintage dress, I always pair it with a modern clean shoe silhouette (new of course) and some great chunky modern jewelry. Again, it’s always about the mix of new and old together.
And sometimes it is just plain OK to fall more on the vintage side of things. In my children’s desk nook, the desks, chairs, and lamps are all flea-market scores, which could be retro overload! But somehow with the introduction of bright modern art pieces and graphic window treatments, it all just works.
That’s the fun of using vintage pieces in your home and wardrobe: There really are NO Rules! Simply follow your heart and have fun!
If I’m obsessed with anything, it’s campaign furniture. I grew up surrounded by some pretty amazing campaign pieces, and now as I’ve been decorating my own home, I love to track them down. Rooted in military campaign history, these pieces were designed to be easy to transport (think stackable!). Traditionally the hardware was recessed to allow for easy carrying and stowing. In more recent design, you see them mostly as dressers, side tables, and desks.
Happy Friday, Stylespotters! I’ve shared posts with you in the past that are centered around simplicity and nature–this week we’ll do completely the opposite. Get ready for the glamorous, the elegant, the charming, and the sophisticated.
This birdcage succulent planter on Craftberry Bush creates a gorgeous and unique way to display some green in your garden or home. I love the cottage-charm feel, and its versatility would lend well to any room or style in the house.
Among various other trends, I really can’t get enough of glittered anything. I’m happy to admit I was the little girl who wore her Dorothy-style red slippers everywhere, had sparkly notebooks, pencils, and pens during school, and generously sprinkled glitter straight from the jar all over my mom’s living room (side note–glitter is much harder to get out of carpet than just about anything). So when I spotted these DIY glitter shoes on A Beautiful Mess, obviously I had to share.
Sparkles aside, who doesn’t enjoy a good pampering every so often? These three DIY tropical body scrubs from Henry Happened are the perfect way to wind down after a long day at the office. Sink into a bubble bath, grab a glass of wine, and let the smell of tropical fruit whisk you away to your own exotic paradise.
Next time you’re looking to revamp your home, try adding some bright color to the walls, furniture, and floors to create a room that’s full of life and excitement. I’m crazy about the style of these happy homes from The Inspired Room.
And lastly, if you’re like me, you need all the help you can get to make your hair look good. Not only is mine thick and untamed most of the time, I’m awful at styling it in anything more than a messy bun. So for those of us out there who need some help, try these mermaid pearl hairpins from This is Glamorous to add some elegance to your up-do.
Now go get your glam on! Until next week!
Trend: 10 Fantastic DIY Shelves
We’ve been busy over at The Paper Mama home. For one of our projects we’re building shelves and it’s been quite the adventure. There’s so much inspiration out there in the blog world, so I’ve decided to share my favorites. Check them out below!
DIY Ladder Shelves, from A Beautiful Mess.
Painted Shelves, from Design Love Fest.
Recycled Leather & Wood Shelves, from Design Sponge.
DIY Honeycomb Shelves, from Subtle Takeover.
Mountain Shelf DIY, from Carnets Parisiens.
DIY Rustic Pallet Shelves, from I Love You More Than Carrots.
Corner Shelves made from Doors, from Craftaholics Anonymous.
DIY Shelves (made from old drawers), from Saving The Family Money.
DIY Planter Shelves, from on Man Made DIY.
DIY Triangle Shelves, from Beholden.
Happy shelf building!
- Chelsey, The Paper Mama
Who doesn’t love a good stripe?? If you are like me, stripes have been a big part of your look this summer. They are fun, flattering, and timeless. The perfect combination for all things fabulous, yes?! Get excited because all those great stripes you’ve been shopping are not going anywhere any time soon. In fact look for them to evolve into fresh innovative patterns, full of movement and great color! Here are some stripe trends to look out for and some fun products to get you inspired to be bold!
How fun is this DIY striped head board? Learn how to make it happen here.
I love these looks don’t you? Time to rethink your definition of a stripe. Stripes can be so much more than two colors, even and straight. These garments use stripes to contour the body, create interesting shapes and create a sense of movement. These gorgeous pieces for home accomplish the same by keeping your eye moving. Somehow they are bold and subtle at the same time – that perfect mix of unbalanced, balance. Love!
We love that earthy, ranch southwestern feeling. It is warm and inviting and somehow always feels very familiar. This take on stripes goes far beyond the poncho look. These feel fresh and new and really convey that handmade organic feeling. What is great about pieces like this is that you don’t have to go full on ranch hand to make a bit of a statement. All of these would work as interesting accents in a variety of styles including contemporary and more modern spaces.
In my book, the bolder, the better, who’s with me?! These stripes definitely do not disappoint. These bold classic stripe layouts are great because they always have a timeless feel. It is the color of the stripe that can serve to make it feel up to date and fresh. These bold stripes look great as upholstery, area rugs, wall coverings and wall art – really just about any creative use you can come up with! Strong stripes are sure to make a big impact in any space.
What is your favorite way to incorporate fun stripes in your space?
Tis the season to score some amazing deals on vintage & gently used furniture. The summer & fall is my favorite time of year on the east coast for a few reasons, one being the plentitude of tag, estate & yard sales, the others being the beautiful coastline & all of the amazing outdoor activities. I have actually managed to make my thrifting excursions an actual outdoor activity in itself. I love to wake up early on a Friday or Saturday and head to the country where beautiful historic homes & farm stands are everywhere you turn, not to mention the best furniture steals and deals on the planet. It is a great way to find unique treasures for your home without breaking your budget. These days with all the incredible inspiration online I can honestly say that anything can be turned into something beautiful. Check out these 12 fabulous furniture trends that will be sure to inspire your next makeover….
1. File Fancy
2. Coral Craze
3. Overlays & Molding Details
4. The Brighter the Better
5. Campaign Influence
6. Painted Rattan
7. Chippy Goodness
8. Dipped Legs
9. Anything Herringbone
10. Painted Inlays & Details
11. Painted Upholstery
12. Two Toned
Hopefully you are all charged up & ready to hit the next flea market or yard sale! Grab some friends or even your partner in crime and have fun, remember everything has potential, especially at the right price.