Archive for May 2009

Chicago-A shopping haven

May 29, 2009

The long holiday weekend gave Greg the opportunity to take some time to shop for his clients, and himself. The first of many “flea-ing” weekends was held at the Randolph Street Market festival. Great weather provided the backdrop for the long list of dealers selling amazing one-of-a-kind pieces. There were so many great items to choose from that it was hard to keep to a budget.

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It must be summer
Greg is all ready for some shopping!
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Greg picked up an original “Like of Virgin” LP by Madonna (which was in excellent condition), as well as a Louis XVI style chair for a client. He also picked up a really cool old school desk used by students at Northwestern University many years ago. He looks forward to next month’s festival, as he is sure to pick up some additional unique pieces. If you are in the Chicago area, the festival runs the last Saturday of May through September.

Greg didn’t have any travel plans for the weekend, and dreaded getting in the car to fight the holiday traffic. He decided to stay local and explore the many wonderful shops in his own neighborhood, known as Andersonville. Greg took a walk around his neighborhood, and here is just a sampling of what he found.

Greg goes shopping!

Scout
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This mainstay is always a favorite of mine. Larry Vodak, the owner, is forever helpful, and definitely has an eye for clean lines with vintage appeal. The well-edited store often recovers 1960’s office chairs in wonderfully colorful plaids or stripes, and brings a freshness to metal and steel you just don’t see in larger furnishing stores. Metal cabinets from Midwestern pharmaceutical companies can often be found here with gleaming new coats of paint. By the way, they even sell Christopher’s dishes and glasses! I recommend that you go often, as merchandise changes frequently. Larry does a great job of replenishing items as they sell, but most are one of kind objects that may not be found again.

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5221 N Clark St, Chicago

Brimfield

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One of the newest editions to the neighborhood, owner Julie Fernstrom has found a niche with her nod to New England’s preppy and plaid ”good ole days“. You will find vintage pieces recovered in old flags, vintage blankets, luxurious Holland & Sherry fabrics (known in England for their suiting fabric), mixed with some newer pieces. Check out the large selection of flannel blankets, and you will be wishing for those cool days of autumn. The attention to detail is extraordinary; Julie’s keen eye for mixing and matching styles gives even the most timid designer wannabe the courage to try new ideas.

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5219 N Clark St, Chicago

George Lowell

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The designer George Lowell has recently moved from his Lincoln Avenue location to his much bigger digs. While there are mostly new items here, you will occasionally find a vintage piece mixed in for good measure. The prices are very reasonable, and the finds are unique enough, so you will want to stay a while. The larger space provides George the opportunity to create vignettes that were just not possible in his old location. Here you will find slick acrylic chairs next to oversized wing chairs, and beautifully framed bug models next to modern ceramic vases. There is something for everyone in this “not to be mistaken for a chain store”.

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5123 N Clark St, Chicago

Roost

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This store offers another rustic look at home furnishings, and focuses on those perfect items for your table. This down-to-earth store is where you may find table service for 8 or 12, along with the perfect tablecloth and silver to match… alongside a set of vintage leather bound books. Don’t get taken back by the initial “country” feel of the shop, as I would describe it more as urban rustic. The store is small, and sometimes overflows to the sidewalk, and merchandise turns over fairly quickly. So, if you are just browsing, and decide to pass on a purchase, don’t plan to go back later and find it still sitting on a shelf… it probably will be gone. Some other savvy shopper has probably already bought it.

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5634 N Clark St, Chicago

Foursided

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In my opinion, I don’t know why you would get anything framed anywhere else. The owner, Todd Mack, along with his staff, is knowledgeable and very helpful. This shop not only specializes in framing services at prices that are considerably fair, and relatively fast for professional framing services, but also has a large selection of gift ideas, cards and just plain fun “things”. Todd is always on the hunt for the unusual, and has a knack for finding the right piece. This is one shop you cannot miss, and, again you must plan to stay awhile. You are sure to get pulled into looking at, and touching every item. Whether you are looking for a baby gift, a father’s day card, or a treat for yourself, give Foursided a try.

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5061 N Clark St, Chicago

While Andersonville is a one-of-a-kind neighborhood, we dare you to go out on your own, and find those unique places that your town or city has. Check out those little, off-the-beaten-path stores, and we bet you’ll be surprised.

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Design Brothers this week:
Christopher’s recyled plates are featured in the latest issue of BoHo Magazine. His paintings are being shown at the Alta Loft Gallery space all month, in Phoenix.
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Until next week

— Greg & Christopher

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Ah summer.

May 22, 2009

With this weekend, the unofficial start of summer has begun. When we were kids, summer was a huge event… almost as big as Christmas. Northern Indiana is notorious for it’s long winters and it’s brutal tornado season. So the day that we were finally out of school, with nothing to do but hang out at the beach, catch lightning bugs, eat watermelon, and have the entire neighborhood as our playground was worth the wait. Alright… maybe an exaggeration, but like Christmas, the expectations were high. One thing for certain… no more cold days until Labor Day!

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A time before everything was slipcovered in plastic, Christopher enjoyed it all. There are many things that we wish we had from our grandparent’s house… including those great lamps, the TV and what about those terrific socks!
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During those summers, we were often dropped off, to spend the day with our Grandpa and Grandma Jagmin. Now, normally we didn’t really enjoy going to their house. They had a huge duplex home that was packed with furniture, smelled like mothballs, and had plastic covering, not only on the furniture, but on the pathways through the house. The interior was not a welcoming place, but was very kid safe. We found out later that they were not big fans of little kids, and the plastic was put on for our benefit (or their benefit, more likely).

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At our grandparent’s (our father’s parents) home. We always remember grandpa [1] (Marion) wearing a t-shirt, while grandma [2] (Bella) dressed up a bit more. Christopher [3] and Greg [4] wore ties and jackets, while St. Christopher (above Bella’s head) was always encased in plastic.
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We usually just went to their home for holidays, or family events. So, that always meant that us boys were dressed up in our little suits, with neck-choking ties, while the girls wore their frilliest dresses, with ribbons in their curled hair. The day before we would visit, we remember our father spending an evening polishing and buffing our shoes. We were perfect little ladies and gentlemen during the time we spent there. It was brutal, and we couldn’t wait to get into our car for a loud ride home. Our pent up energy couldn’t wait to be released!

But summers were much different at our grandparent’s home, and we were given more freedom. If we were outside the house, or stayed in the kitchen, we could do whatever we wanted! We could spend the day running around the yard, away from all of the moth-free plastic. They had a great big swing that we could play on. They also had a small garden with green onions, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes that we could pick and eat right out of the ground. It was very different from our house. We never knew anyone else who had an actual garden in their backyard. It was all so exotic.

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Reminiscing at our Grandma Jurek’s (our mother’s mom) home. Grandma Jagmin [2] looking at photos while Jeff [3] and Greg [1] look on.
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Now, Greg doesn’t really remember this, but, our grandmother Bella, would have a yard sale at least once a week during the summer. It didn’t matter if it was a weekend or not, because she had them any day she felt like. In the second apartment of the duplex, she kept all the items to sell ready by the door for the next sale. She never ran out of items to sell, because she always bought new merchandise.

Looking back, we realize that Grandma Jagmin was a little eccentric. She was an avid shopper at K-Mart, and followed the blue light specials around. At the time, K-Mart would move around a flashing blue light to an area where there would be a spontaneous sale. She would keep an eye for the flashing light, and be ready to dart to that location in an instant.

Grandma loved those sales. She would find the oddest things, but if she thought they were a good price, she would buy anything. After she had died, we found that the duplex apartment was filled with boxes and boxes of K-Mart (and other stores that were well-represented) items still in original packaging, with receipts from ten and fifteen years earlier. There were hundreds of dollars of merchandise in that apartment… all in original condition.

Time for a yard sale

It was great fun to hang out with her at her yard sale, and we would spend a few hours in the morning taking everything outside. Then we would set up tables and clotheslines to display all of the clothing. There were other items besides clothing, but she would mostly buy t-shirts, bras, shirts, and underwear. She would charge fifty cents or a quarter, for something that costs her much, much more, with the price tag as proof. There were some good deals there! We don’t remember setting up any signs on the street, but people would come from everywhere. We are sure that people would drive around the neighborhood to wait for those tables to go up.

The funny thing about her sales is that at around noon, we would bring everything back in the house, so she could watch her “stories”. Then we would eat a sandwich, chips, and drink Coke while watching a soap opera or two. We don’t remember ever being offered a soda in her house, except on these occasions, so it was really a very special event. After her stories would end, we would head back outside with everything until it got too hot, or it rained. Sometimes we would be out there until dark. There never seemed to be a hurry back then. And, that is what summer should be.

To this day, we both are big fans of yard sales, and are always looking for those great deals to be had. We know there is someone like our grandmother who has some great stuff available. If you see the lamps shown in the above photo (of their house), let us know! We are always looking.

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This week with the Design Brothers
We wish you all a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend.
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Another busy week… in Dallas!

May 15, 2009

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Smile for the camera With our grandmother’s house as the backdrop, Greg [1], and Janine [2] are happy it is spring.
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Big D!
This past weekend Greg was down in Dallas putting together the final pieces to a client’s living room and master bedroom (pictures will be coming soon!), while Christopher was closing up his show at the Eye Lounge Gallery. He even sold a few paintings. We both have been putting in some extraordinarily long hours, but we are enjoying the experiences.

Greg: I, along with my client, had the opportunity to explore several antique and vintage furniture stores in Dallas. Not knowing the area very well, I did do a bit of research before the trip to get a feel for the area, so we were not lost. While the search garnered some interesting stores, the better stores were found by just asking around. The locals, as southern hospitality would dictate, were very helpful (with a slight drawl for effect).

Much to my surprise (not sure why it surprised me so much given the size of Dallas), I found quite a few great sources for furniture, accessories and art. So if you find yourself in the heart of Texas, I strongly recommend that you check the following places out.

Stella Dallas
Owner Amber Davidson recently opened this (mostly) vintage furniture store. Mixed with newer pieces, including vintage looking lamps by Shine Porcelian, and the latest Missoni throws, you can’t go wrong shopping for the perfect gift for that special friend. Stella Dallas also has a line of in-house designed pillows that may have to find a place in your home. One part Palm beach, and one part mid-century modern, everything in this store has a certain sparkle. Check it out at 4346 Lovers Lane in Dallas.

Stella Dallas

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Clean, bright and cheerful best describe StellaDallas.
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Dulce
This interior consignment and art store, appears to serve as a repository for the wealthy families of Dallas who drop their old belongings here. Some of the prices can be high, but all things are negotiable at Dulce, and are worth any price. On my visit, the store was a bit cramped (which I always enjoy), so you might want to make sure you have a fair amount of time to browse through every item. If you are looking for a particular piece, the owner Micheline is helpful, and delightful as well (those southerners are always smiling). Below are a few examples of items that I thought were very interesting (and may purchase myself). Dulce is found at 2914 Oak Lawn Avenue in Dallas.

French chair

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Pair of antique Louis XVI chairs with Ralph Lauren fabric – $ 2,160
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“SEGMENT I & II”- Lacquered acrylic art on board – Diptych 16″ x 16″ (x 2) $ 900
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This interior consignment shop has a great mix of vintage French pieces, mid-century modern, and pieces from some of the Dallas area’s best emerging artists. Take your time browsing, as there is a lot to see. If you are not careful, you could miss something spectacular.

Again & Again, and Again Designs
Leslie Pritchard started Again & Again several years ago and stocks everything from shabby chic, to mid-century modern pieces. She also mixes a variety of French and English antiques. She has an amazing eye, and paints and revitalizes slightly worn pieces, so that they feel fresh all over again. Most of the pieces are reasonably priced. There is enough to offer those just starting out in their new homes, as well as established collectors. Everyone can find something to suit their atheistic tastes.

Several blocks away, Leslie recently opened up another location that has a slightly more upscale feel, and has undertones of past legendary decorators such as Dorothy Draper and Tony Duquette. Although you will still find painted pieces, the stores’ exquisite editing, and attention to detail in fabric choices and vintage lamps makes this store a jewel. Talk about eye candy!!

Leslie offers re-upholstery services as well, and custom makes pieces of furniture to order. This store is a must see for those just passing through, as well as for those living in the city. I never wanted to leave! Again & Again is at 5207 Bonita, while Again Design Studio is at 2003 Henderson. Both are in Dallas.

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Again & Again Don’t be afraid of the “kitschy” feel, as you will find wonderfully painted vintage furniture and re-upholstered pieces at very reasonable prices
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Again design Studio

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Again Design Studio A slightly more upscale version of Leslie’s other store.
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Sputnik Modern
Always a sucker for mid-century modern, I instantly fell in love with Chris Thurman’s vintage modern store. I found an eight piece vintage rosewood dining table with chairs that was in perfect condition, and at a price that was even better. Again, editing was key in the way Chris presented all of his pieces. You actually felt like you stepped inside his home. For those in love with classic clean-lined pieces, make sure to stop by this small but wonderful store. Sputnik Modern is a 1901 North Henderson, in Dallas.
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Greg could not stop looking at this 1960’s Venini Chandelier, and was trying to figure out how to get it into his suitcase for the trip home.
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A “Sarried” brass chest found at Sputnik Modern
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Nick Brock Antiques
For the upscale shopper — don’t miss Nick Brock’s antique store. The prices here are a bit more, but the antiques are real, and unbelievably beautiful. Although I did not personally meet Nick, his staff was helpful and considerate… answering any and all questions. The shop is huge so plan to spend some time. You can find it at 2909 North Henderson, in Dallas

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One of the many room settings at Nick Brock Antiques
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Mid-Georgian gilt wood over mantel mirror, with a pair of robust Phoenix birds anchoring it’s width. Chinese Chippendale, c. 1780 from Nick Brock’s beautiful store.
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If you have any places that you love in the Dallas area, please be sure to let us know about them. We will be writing future articles about both of our home towns, as well as other places we visit. So we will check out any recommendations, or try to make note of your favorites in future articles.

Until next week
— Greg & Christopher

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This week with the Design Brothers
If you are a mom, or don’t have a lot of time to cook, check out: Mommy Can Cook. The writer, Caroline, is a friend of Christopher’s.
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Chicken Soup for the Soul

May 8, 2009

This week was exhausting! Both of us were overextended with work projects, and commitments. On top of that, we both were not feeling well. Thankfully, it was not swine flu, although it did cross our minds. TGIF!

What we needed this week was mom, and a good bowl of chicken soup. Now, we don’t think that our mother ever made homemade chicken soup in her life, but Campbell’s was always fine when we were kids. She is always there when we need her, and sometimes when we don’t. That is what mother’s do. And we love her all the same.

We will not be able to see her this Mother’s Day, and so we wanted to honor her, and a couple of other Mother’s in our life, by telling a little bit about these great women.

“There was never a great man who had not a great mother — it is hardly an exaggeration.” —Olive Schreiner

The Motherlode

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Time for the bunny suit Mom [1], Christopher [2], and Dad’s shadow [3] at our Aunt Pat’s house.
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Our mother, Barbara had her hands full. By the time she was thirty, she had seven kids in tow, with a husband (our father, Marion) who traveled most of the week. When we were all young, she was a stay at home mom who was on the PTA, a room mother, a “Fun Fair” organizer and devoted baker for annual cake walks.

Talk about overextending herself… she fed us all breakfast in the mornings, packed our lunches (and we all wanted something different… for instance Christopher had scrambled egg sandwiches every day, while Greg needed bologna and mustard), then she hauled us off to school.

Mom always had snacks for us when we got home, always made a hot meal (She always tried to be creative, and one of our favorites were crepes with grape jelly!), and helped us with homework, and science projects. On top of all of this, we were the crazy house on the block. You know the one… where all of neighbor kids hang out, wreck havoc, and continually run in and out of the house. A Kool-Aid break was always on hand… courtesy of Mom.

Even though she was our personal chef, butler, and driver, we know that her resume is more than just as our personal assistant to us. After all, she was the youngest of eight children herself and worked part time as a local model, and full time at a paint store. There is much more to her than being a mother. But, we know that is the job that she loves most.

Now in her seventh decade, she still is a strong and amazing woman. She has tackled many struggles, personal demons and the death of our father. As we continue this blog, we will write more about her amazing life… that inspires us both.

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Here’s our mom, Barbara
2004 on a visit to Phoenix.

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Happy Birthday toast Our sister, Beth [1] has a birthday on May 8th! Her daughter, Zoe [2] just wants to celebrate!
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Two of our sister’s live back in Indiana, the place where we all grew up. Kelly and Beth both have families and as mothers they have many more commitments than the two of us will ever know. We don’t get to see them as much as we would like so phone calls are sometimes all we get. It is always amazing to hear how their kids are growing up, and we are looking forward to seeing them all soon. Going back to South Bend, and hanging out with all of them always feels like home.

Our sister, Beth, and her husband Kevin have been married for ten years now and have a daughter; Zoe. Kevin works too much as a Mishawaka police officer so Beth and Zoe hold down the fort along with their crazy dogs. Beth loves to bake, and dreams of owning her own bakery at some point. Their house is similiar to the one we grew up in… lots of fun chaos (watch out for the dogs.. they’ll run you over!), and amazing aromas in the kitchen.

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Some of Beth’s wedding party Abbie [1], Kelly [2], and her kids Abbie [1], and Alex [3], ten years ago.

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Kelly amazes us. She is a single working mom with the best sense of humor ever! Her laugh is infectious, and she has the capacity to laugh off the worst of times. We don’t know if she even realizes how she can light up a room.

She is hooked on gardening, and can grow a great-tasting vegetable. There is nothing better than going to one of Kelly’s bbq’s in the summer, eating her food (she cooks like a Southerner… hearty and decadent food!), and listening to her hilarious stories.

We are now feeling a bit homesick for the people that we love. We had a tiring week, but we can’t even imagine being a mom. Wishing all those mothers out there, including our friends; Sue, Barri, Joan and Elaine, a wonderful day! Happy Mother’s Day.

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Design Brothers in the News: Christopher was interviewed at his painting show the other night. The show closes on Saturday.
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What’s Old is New Again

May 1, 2009

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November, 1968 In our Grandmother’s (Dora) living room, we sit on one of the three, sage-green, sectional pieces. In November, it could have been for Cindy’s [5] or our dad’s birthday (always the photographer). Jeff [1], Greg [2], Janine [3], Jeff [4], and Christopher [6] are all huddled together, while Beth [7] is outta there!
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Taking photos of our friends or family with our digital cameras, will demand four or five clicks with the same poses, to get that perfect shot. Someone blinks. Someone turns their head for just a moment. So, we can conveniently delete the previous shots to make room for more perfect pictures. Everyone is an art director behind a camera… placing judgment on that perfect shot. We like our dad’s photography… it stands the test of time!

With camera technology, it is hard to truly miss those old cameras. You know the kind… you take the shot from the small viewfinders that you put up your eye, and then have to wait for the film to be developed. At times, the inside of the camera got some light through to the film, so there would be a streak of weird color (like above on the right), or the composition is not at all what was imagined (again, see above). But, there was something quite charming about that not-so-perfect pose.

We have loved going through all of the not so perfect shots and originally cropped them to make them “prettier”, no longer. There is something very authentic about those shots. Life is not always so perfect, but that is what makes it more interesting.
There is an old expression “that everything old is new again” and in the design world that has, and will forever be true. Things that were discarded 20 years ago are again popular, especially true with particularly iconic items. Design Within Reach makes its’ money selling iconic items that have been re-issued. Brand new business’ start up every day “re-imaging” an old product, such as Classic Louis style chairs made up in wrought iron. Casamidy, out of Mexico City, offers great examples of these updated and re-imaged classic designs.

We (the Design Brothers) love vintage items, not only for their nostalgic feel but also because of their simplicity, and practicality. We love mixing old with new. Greg constantly tries to find ways to add antiques or vintage items to totally modern interiors (or visa versa), and Christopher has come out with a line of tableware that uses “recycled” plates.

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Three designs… endless possibilities Christopher loves to rummage through thrift shops for inspiration, and find an almost endless supply of beautiful tableware orphans. He has a local company make the three designs; [1] yeah!, [2] Trudy in 24K gold, and [3] Spike. They, then place the art on these porcelain or stoneware treasures, and then fires them for an updated look. There are more designs coming soon. Go to ChristopherJagmin.com for more information.
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Merchandise Mart—this weekend The mix of antiques, with modern elements helps this room to come alive. 19c. Italian faux marble bookcases [4] in the background with a George III style giltwood mirror [5] and a Louis style armchair covered n black fabric with yellow trim [6] (all from Richard Norton Antiques), bring out the black and gold hexagon pattern in the Lee Jofa wallpaper [1]. Front and center is a Saarinen table from Knoll studios [2] with Lucite Obilisks from William Switzer [3].
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As we go to “press” this week Greg will be a part of the International Antiques Fair at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. He was asked by Chicago Home and Garden magazine (one of the editors is a great friend), along with 2 other designers who have a penchant for mixing old with new, to design a vignette to help showcase some of the dealers as well as some of the showrooms within the “Mart”.

Mixing design styles for some designers and most homeowners can be difficult, as furniture and belongings are purchased over time, passed on from parents or grandparents, or combined through cohabitation. There is no real cohesiveness.

Certain decorators want you to throw everything away and start over, which can be extremely costly, as well hard to do for sentimental reasons. True, some items may need to be edited out of the scheme, but the truly talented are willing to work with those pieces and mix them together for a fresh and interesting look. The key here is editing not eliminating completely. First decide; “am I trying to create a modern space with vintage or antique accents, or I am going for a more traditional look with a fresher take?”

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Simply elegant A work almost completed using bold fabric choices for pillows and rugs, simple console and cocktail tables with beautiful old French pieces.
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For instance, if you inherited an old farm house table — try mixing it with some modern touches, perhaps a Saarinen or Panton chair… or even some simple chairs from Ikea if you have a smaller budget. Maybe you have a sleek modern glass, or chrome table. Try it with a classic Louis style or a Klismos chair. Again, if you have a limited budget, go to flea markets or yard sales, and look around. You might find two chairs that need a little work. Then, mix it up with some simple school house chairs that you paint to match the upholstery. Or how about a small bench, or little sofa? It might just work. It’s worth a try.

There are too many ways to mix a room, and it can be overwhelming. Greg suggests using contrasts in a room. For every hard edge, soften it with a something curved (like a Knoll sofa with a round cocktail table). A plain traditional chair can be livened with a bold geometric fabric, or placed next to something very untraditional. A grand traditional table can look unique with a modern, untraditional chandelier.

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Mostly old, and some new Christopher’s living room has a pair of chairs
[3] that he purchased for $10 each, with updated upholstery. A newer pillow from Macy’s, with a pillow bought in Italy for $15 (US) sit on the chair. A side-board [2] (found in a basement of a Boston home, that was going to be thrown out… with the original 1921 sales receipt still on the back), with updated pull handles, and a drawing [1] by Boston-artist, Steven Muller.
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Christopher likes to place an oversized modern piece in the middle of some small traditional pieces. “I love how furniture was on a much smaller scale a few decades back. I think that American homes have gotten so big, and people just want to fill up the place as quickly as possible.” A larger room can still look great without using big pieces. It is about making a few larger vignettes with many pieces. Place a couple of antique or found chairs together with a small table. Behind those pieces, place a huge art piece, so that it becomes the focus. Now your large room becomes a place with smaller little areas for living.

What’s the hurry ?
Take your time when you are placing your pieces together. Think about the pieces that you already have. You bought them for a reason. You must like them. There is no rush to get the perfect room. That will never happen, as there is always something new (or old) that you would like to have. Move pieces around the room, or bring something new in the room, live with it for a bit, and see how it works.

As brothers and mutual admirers, we respect each other’s design. But, what might work for one of us, may not work for the other. We both have different ideas about the way we live. And we realize that our ideas are not for everyone. We all have our own style that reflects our personalities. We just hope that you have fun when you redecorate, or hire someone to redesign a room. In future issues, we will give you some more thoughts about designing spaces, and would also love to know your ideas.

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Design Brothers this week: While Greg is showing his room at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Christopher is showing his encaustic paintings at the Eye Lounge in Phoenix.
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Until next week,
— Greg and Christopher