LIVE LOCAL! REPORT
What’s old is new, at least when it comes to home decor. And all over Tampa Bay, local shops are focusing on reused, recycled and repurposed pieces.
Designer Dustin Van Fleet is one of the local experts embracing this revival movement. Two years ago Van Fleet and his business partner, Dean Liston, opened FUNK Living, a custom-painted furniture collection to go along with Van Fleet’s Van der Fleet Rug Collection. Both lines are carried at Central Oddities, a shop Liston co-owns in St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District.
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Van Fleet shares some of the latest trends in decorating:
Painted furniture: “The look is absolutely huge,” he says. “Painted furniture is the first thing you see if you open any of the top interior design magazines.” But the once-popular “shabby chic” look, old and chippy look and with paint falling off of the pieces, is now passe, he says. Now the look people want is vintage, but also glamorous, polished and “anything but shabby chic,” he says. Van Fleet is a big fan of a furniture paint line called Maison Blanche, which he carries at Central Oddities, 2055 Central Ave. “This paint is so simple to use. No sanding, no priming and no striping is required. Just clean your piece and begin your transformation.”
Weathered pieces: “Vintage, slightly worn and weathered furniture is chic,” says Van Fleet, who also owns a home restoration and design company. The distressed look is still popular, but these days most people prefer the piece waxed and hand-buffed to a glamorous sheen, he says. “Hand-painted and distressed vintage furniture can be dressed up in a formal setting or have a simple country look,” he says.
Downsizing: People are looking to downsize and maximize what they already have, or what they can find for a great price, Van Fleet says. “What better way to downsize and maximize your personal collection then to re-imagine your existing pieces of furniture?” he asks, adding that people shouldn’t be afraid to try DIY furniture rehabs. “Imperfections add to the character and story of our distressed vintage furniture,” he says. “Up-cycled pieces aren’t intended to be perfect. In fact, the charm of our collection comes from the imperfections.”
Colors, textures & pattern: “Proper distressing techniques instantly adds depth, texture and a vintage character of yesteryear,” Van Fleet says. “ The key is distressing pieces of furniture to look realistic as if they were worn and weathered by time and use, not by a sanding block.”
Industrial & Steampunk: The look, once thought of as too cold and overly masculine, has been redefined into a softer but still edgy look that appeals to men and women, Van Fleet says.
“Home decor shops, restaurants and boutiques across Tampa Bay are scurrying to incorporate chic Industrial and Steampunk elements into their window displays,” he says.
“Giving a new life to vintage furniture is extremely therapeutic,” Van Fleet says. “The economic downturn was the perfect time to demonstrate that people can re-purpose, reuse and up-cycle what they already have.”
Live Local! is a publication of LocalShops1, Tampa Bay's leading advocate for small businesses.