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!
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!
Hello again, friends! This week I wanted to share some ideas for re-purposed wood projects, because I think those kinds of pieces are some of the coolest ones out there. It’s cheap, it’s creative, it’s fun, and it’s hard to beat that mix of old style and new flair.
Take a look at these amazingly easy dyed bamboo placemats from The Homesteady next time you’ve got a half hour to spare. I love their bright, simple, earthy look, and so will all of your dinner guests.
If you’re looking for some extra storage options around the house and have an old ladder hanging around in the garage, try this ladder shelf idea I pulled off of Refresh Restyle. It puts a fresh twist on an old piece of hardware almost everyone has handy but never uses.
For a more creative project idea–and one your kids will love–grab some branches from the yard and make some of Tonya Staab’s tree art. It’ll be a fun afternoon for the kids, and a piece of their art you’ll want to keep forever.
I think these repurposed wood cut-outs from Primitive and Proper are super fun and full of character. If you’ve got the right tools and a decent drawing hand, customizing different shapes or outlines would be a cinch!
And finally, can we just talk about how absolutely awesome this tree house from Say Yes is?? I’m convinced I should probably build one ASAP (cue handy husbands/boyfriends/significant others everywhere). Who decided adults were too old for tree houses, anyway?
Get building while these crazy summer days last!
Hi there! I’m Rachel Shingleton, and I am the creative director and blogger at Pencil Shavings Studio. I am so excited to be here contributing as a Style Spotter for BHG. I love design in all its forms, and I’m especially crazy about color. I can’t wait to share some of my favorite tips and tricks with the BHG community.
I’m a lifelong bookworm and I love nothing more than having my favorite reads around me. But it’s a slippery slope when keeping all those books organized and still be part of my decor. Whether your home has built-ins or freestanding shelves, styling those bookshelves may take a little more time and thought than you might have expected.
Start with a clean slate of completely empty shelves. Prep a selection of books that you want to display. I’m currently in love with collecting redesigned hardcover classic books from the Penguin Drop Caps series and other publishers who’ve hired some pretty fantastic graphic artists to create gorgeous covers. I’m always interested in colorful books on interior design, fashion, textiles, travel, and photography to add to my library, but consider the overall look you want to create. Do you want a eclectic multicolored collection or something more monochromatic?
Bookshelves look best when not completely overcrowded. In fact, having a decent amount of unfilled or “blank” space will help your items to pop and look more intentional. Don’t be afraid of blank space. It will give your eye a place to rest so it doesn’t look cluttered or overwhelming. Experiment with arranging books both horizontally and vertically. But remember – group items together going from smallest to largest, especially when stacking them.
Definitely plan on spending some time arranging and rearranging until you get just the right look. And remember – those shelves aren’t just for books. Create more visual interest by sourcing fun decor items such as frames, candles, pottery, brass objets, vintage china, small clocks, lacquered boxes, bookends, statues, clocks, small plants, or magazine boxes. The sky’s the limit on what you can create!
I love the bold pops of chartreuse and citrus in these built-ins. The pale grey paint is neutral but still enough contrast to make even white look stellar.
With a damask wallpapered backdrop, these bookshelves have a homey and eclectic aesthetic. Family photos share the space with favorite books and found objects.
Repetition is a great way to make a statement with your shelves. By stacking all the books and keeping the heights the same, everything feels planned and intentional.
- Penguin Classics Drop Cap Series
- Yellow Vase
- Happy Chic nesting boxes
- Dwell Studio Antelope sculpture
- Jonathan Adler Dachshund bookends
- Geo Terrarium
- Adeco Red Vase
Happy Fourth of July, everyone! This has always been one of my favorite holidays, and I hope your long weekend is full of laughs, food, fireworks, friends, and family! Before you’re too busy enjoying all of the festivities, whatever they might be, take a look at these cuties:
This USA Cake from Oh Happy Day might just be the most adorable (and geographically accurate) cake I’ve ever seen. This sweet dessert is definitely a crowd-pleaser that’s easy enough to make for even the most baking-illiterate of us.
I love the summery, sophisticated look of this laced back dress featured on Stripes & Sequins. Add a pair of flashy red heels and a couple red accessories, and you’ve automatically got an outfit that screams July Fourth.
If you’ve always wanted a hammock (like me), and live somewhere with a couple good trees to tie one up to (unlike me), let this Simple Summer Hammock DIY from Design Sponge inspire you to get to work! A couple yards of flashy fabric will add even more color to a blooming garden, and a space for you to relax and enjoy the summer days!
If you’re throwing a party over the weekend and need a last-minute red, white, and blue decoration idea, try this bright blue Seashell Vase I spotted on Brewed Together. Patriotic enough to stand out for the Fourth, but subtle enough to earn a permanent place in any room.
Hi! I’m Erin. I’m a small-town girl with a sweet eight-month-old baby girl and a husband who spoils me by letting me be a stay-at-home mama. I’m an English teacher by trade and a blogger, aspiring photographer and eater of way too much ice cream by…whatever the opposite of “trade” is. Baby girl and I typically spend our days reenacting scenes from Enchanted and frolicking in grassy knolls like this:
Okay, so there might sometimes be avocado down my shirt, and she might sometimes be eating cat fur, and we (or at least those among us that have hair) might not brush our hair. And we might not actually ever pretend to be from Enchanted, mainly because we can’t agree on who has to be Prince Edward.
Sometimes I have to brush my hair, though, like on those totally run-of-the-mill days when Better Homes & Gardens sends a camera crew and stylist to my house to take pictures of my daughter’s nursery.
Kristine the wonderfully down-to-earth stylist also made me wear lipstick. I don’t even own lipstick. Magazine people these days, you know? Expecting you to, like, look like you aren’t the bride of Frankenstein and stuff. The nerve. ;)
I know you’re dying to hear more about my cosmetic unfitness for being in this publication, but let me distract you from my weirdness by instead telling you what inspired the raindrops that landed us an email from Kit Selzer at BHG. The short answer: my aging stash of Oracal adhesive vinyl was threatening an uprising of Katniss caliber if it had to sit and stare at my equally abandoned collection of scrapbook paper for ONE MORE SECOND. So after fiddling around a bit in Photoshop to see which colors I wanted to use and get an arrangement I liked, I enlisted my Cricut to cut out the raindrops…and the rest, as someone in history once said, was history: my daughter had 187 raindrops falling on her sweet little head later that day.
You wouldn’t think of raindrops as being cheery, but these are absolutely the exception. I see them and feel all warm and fuzzy. (Or maybe that feeling is just yesterday’s avocado creeping across my navel?)
Either way, I love how those colorful raindrops brighten up her wall and just make the whole space not take itself too seriously. Perfect for a little girl who makes faces like this.
A face that could only be loved by a mother who doesn’t brush her hair, am I right? :)
To read more about the nursery, the day of the photo shoot, and the antics of our everyday life (like the time a herd of gazelle ambushed our wall-to-wall carpet), I’d love for you to come visit us at my blog, His & Hers. You don’t even have to brush your hair or wear lipstick! Promise.