Guest Style Spotter
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!
Hi, Everyone. My name is Danielle Driscoll and I blog over at Finding Silver Pennies. I live in a coastal New England town with my English husband, two little boys and our rescue dog. The blog is dedicated to our life by the sea, redoing our historic home, treasure hunting at the beach & yard sales and fun family ideas. When I’m not running after my little guys then you can be sure I’m down in the basement painting furniture. It was a dream come true to be featured in Better Homes & Gardens. All the more special that my sons, John & Conor, could take part in the fun.
From a very early age I got hooked on Yard Sale-ing and antiquing. Since before I could walk my mom had me by her side looking for treasures. Most weekends you can find us out sale-ing before we hit the beach.
We discovered the drawing table I created for my boys at a friend’s yard sale. The table is quite big and super sturdy. I absolutely love the turned legs, and oak paints so nicely because of the grain of the wood. BUT I almost passed on it thinking it was just too big!
How could I resist the bargain of a $5 table?!?
My sons LOVE to draw and I thought what better way to repurpose an old and unwanted table for years (and I mean years) of enjoyment?!? We completed this table back in September 2012 and it is still going strong and has provided many, many hours of fun for our whole family.
I shared the tutorial on my blog here. My oldest son had just started kindergarten and both Conor and I missed him so much. We decided to paint the table together to pass the time. Here is the before:
I first sanded down the surface because there were scratches, and then I painted the top in Valspar chalkboard paint I had left from another project. I applied three coats with a Purdy XL Glide brush. You can also use a paint roller. The vibrant green is Antibes Green Chalk Paint®, decorative paint by Annie Sloan. I applied two coats of the green and did two coats of clear wax to seal it (no wax on the chalkboard top).
As you can see, Conor started young with Chalk Paint®. Here he is painting at the age of 3!
He was so proud of himself, carefully brushing the paint on. He kept saying, “Mommy, John is going to be so proud of me. He’s going to be really surprised.” I guess it goes to show that you’re never too young or too old to breath new life into an old piece.
I hope you can pop by my blog to say hello and see some of the other painted pieces.
I’ve also shared a behind the scenes post of BHG visiting my home. This photo was taken while the crew was setting up and the kids were drawing:
The crew came through a blizzard! The snow was falling and the kids were drawing but you’d never know from the image in the magazine that the weather was so bad. Thank you to BHG for including our fun project in the magazine and on this blog!
This season on #DreamBuilders we’ve seen our competitors reach for their highest creative limits, and the headline of that is that the best is yet to come, and YOU arrived to the party just in time to catch it! We’ve watched them brave the elements, and then each other, all while pulling off the BIGGEST home transformations I’ve ever seen on Prime Time TV…and you know what, I’m loving every minute of it — not because I’m the host, but because it’s design at its inspired best returned to TV!
This week our contestants face what most of you contend with everyday…SPACE or lack thereof. Divided into four teams of two, they were each issued a modular home and given one direction: get as much style into this small space as you can. And guess what? They delivered BIG time. Along the way they found real small space innovations and inspired ideas that we can all takeaway at home. One being that real-sized furniture works best even in a small space. Small scale makes the room even smaller.
On top of that, for this episode we up’ed the ante by welcoming the BH&G editors on set to give their input and pick a space to feature in the pages of the magazine. Make no mistake, four editors staring you down made the stress even more palpable. To say the least, our contestants were definitely feeling the pressure!
With spring and summer months ahead of us I am looking forward to the longer daylight hours and the opportunity to entertain outdoors again! Setting a simple but colorful spring table is easy with a few mismatched linens, bright flowers, and these Gilded Seashell Candle Holders. A couple coats of paint will transform average seashells into custom tea light dishes painted to match your tablescape. I painted these tea lights with a teal outside and metallic gold inside to reflect the flicker of candlelight. At dusk your gilded shells will light up the table and give a whimsical glow to surrounding place settings. – Leah Bergman, Freutcake
Large sea shells- available at most craft stores
Krylon ColorMaster Spray Paint (indoor-outdoor)- white & sea glass
Martha Stewart Metallic Gold Craft Paint
Sponge Paint Brush
1. Scrub inside and outside of seashells with soap and water to remove any sand or residue. Allow to dry completely before moving on.
2. Arrange shells face down on a piece of newspaper outside. Spray paint the outside of shells with two coats of sea glass teal spray paint allowing shells to dry between each coat.
3. Turn over dried shells and spray paint insides with one coat of white paint. This will give a good base for the gold paint in step 4. Allow to dry completely.
4. With a sponge or paintbrush paint inside of shells with two coats of metallic gold craft paint allowing to dry between coats.
5. Arrange dried shells along the center of your table and fill each with a tea light candle. Light and enjoy!
photos & tutorial by Leah Bergman / Freutcake
The first thing people ask me when they see me, or on my Facebook page, is…Nate, please come to my house! Because how we live really matters. Period, the end. It’s about living with what you love, in a space that reflects who you truly are. This show is about bringing high design back to television…design that I hope inspires people to think about their spaces in a new way. And that’s what you see on the show. Talented, passionate designers who are fighting for their point of view. Some of the choices you will love, some you won’t. And that’s the thing with design, it should always be about what feels good, about what speaks to you. That being said, there are rules…things that can help turn an okay space into a room that really feels special.
I love this living room transformation from last week’s episode. The mistake people often make is thinking they need 20 pieces in a room. But the thing is, if it’s well-chosen and edited, fewer pieces are fine. In this space they edited the book case and left only a few curated objects. I might not have made that choice but it certainly hits home the fact that more than books can live on your shelves. In fact, that’s one of the take aways for me doing this show; sometimes less really is more. People also think that they have to be adventurous with paint. If that’s what you love, I say do it. But freshly painted white walls will never go out of fashion. Keep to the same hues when you add color, like the grey and purple accents here. And don’t forget lighting. People, I can’t say it often enough…it’s one of the most important things to think about. Go flea market shopping and pick up vintage sconces or brass lamps. These are the details that will bring the room together. That will make it feel layered. And like a room you love to come home to.
How great is this wallpaper! Absolutely perfect for a kid’s room…that was my greatest takeaway here. It feels fresh, fun…but also chic. And a space that they can grow into. That’s important. You want your child’s room to evolve with them. I also love the seating area. A place they can do homework, or read a book. It’s about creating a beautiful space, yes. But also, is this practical…does this space serve us? This is actually a pretty small room. But proof that you don’t need a lot of space to live well.
I can’t wait for you all to tune in and watch the second episode of American Dream Builders on Sunday night at 8/7c on NBC. I would love to hear what your favorite rooms are; what you’d love to recreate and why.
Guest Style Spotter, Style Spotters | Tags:
American Dream Builders, bedroom, Better Homes and Gardens, color, Decor, decorating, Design, Kids Room, Living Room, nate berkus, wallpaper
Hi everyone! My name’s Lauren Liess and I write the blog Pure Style Home. I’m a decorator with a shop in Great Falls, Virginia and today, I’d love to share a few tips with you on mixing patterns effectively.
1. Vary the scale of the patterns: To keep a mix of patterns from feeling busy, use patterns of different scales together. Multiple large patterns will compete with one another, but combining large, medium and small patterns allows the patterns to work together instead of competing. If you do use patterns of the same scale, try to vary the pattern itself. (I.e. an oversized ikat with an oversized floral can work well together.)
2. Mix different types of patterns: I love to combine different types of patterns to keep things interesting and relaxed-feeling. A floral, a stripe and a graphic pattern, for example, can work together beautifully, whereas three florals might feel like flower-power overkill or three graphic patterns or stripes might feel a bit intense and repetitive.
3. Be aware of your pattern to solid ratio: We all have different preferences for how much pattern we like in a room. Figure out your pattern to solid ratio by looking at photos of rooms you love and seeing what’s been done in those rooms. If the sofas and chairs are typically solid in the rooms you love, and the curtains are patterned and the pillows are a mix of solid and patterns, you can create a similar feeling in your own home. You’ll notice right away whether you’re drawn to rooms with more solids or patterns or those with an equal balance. (My personal pattern to solid ratio changes with my moods so it’s easy to add more pattern in accents like pillows and/or throw blankets… but I do typically like an airy and relaxed-feeling room which typically has some large solid elements to keep things from feeling too noisy. )
4. Don’t forget about walls, artwork and rugs: Every element in a room can read as pattern, whether it’s an actual textile or not. Patterned rugs and wallpapers are usually on the radar when mixing patterns, but artwork is often overlooked. It can calm a room down or wake it up just like patterns. Having more or less movement and a mix of colors causes it to read as a pattern and have an effect on a space just like a pattern would. If you want to add more pattern to a room, and have done all you can with fabrics, consider your artwork. Add pieces in with more movement and energy to make it feel like there is more going on in the room, or add a solid piece to calm it down. Treat artwork like another pattern and consider your desired solid to pattern ratio when selecting it.
5. Don’t be afraid to break any rules. If you love something and it goes against conventional design wisdom, do it anyway. (For example, maybe you feel you can never mix too many florals and that there’s no such things as flower-power overkill, then go for it. Do what makes you smile when you come home. Tips and “rules” are just guidelines for you and the very best homes are those that surprise and are extremely personal, which always requires a little rule-breaking.
Thanks so much to BHG for inviting me to be a part of their blog. It’s been fun!! Have a great day & take care,