Like a Well-Aged Wine…Vintage Furnishings are Being Uncorked by Kimberly Reuther

We’re finally catching on…albeit slowly

For centuries, our contemporaries around the world have been perfectly content living in vintage buildings and homes.  With peeling plaster walls, dramatic moldings and herringbone wood floors, these interiors are reminiscent of previous decades and remain intact for new generations to appreciate and enjoy.  Americans, however, have long favored the “new” versus keeping or reinventing the “old”…It was, after all, how we were discovered and founded that instilled this behavior in our culture.  Maybe the term “New World” was on too many advertisements back in the 1700’s!

Not all bad, remember, it was our determination to mass produce things more efficiently that allowed Henry Ford to popularize the assembly line for the model T.  To this day, food, clothing, electronics, furnishings, to name a few, are still produced in a similar fashion.

In recent years, Americans are starting to realize the impact of our global “footprint” on the rest of the world.  Combine that awareness with a crippled economy and we are witnessing a “light bulb” moment in American homeowners with more diligent spending and a furniture perspective in which “vintage” just became “new.”

Here are a few tips for incorporating this design aesthetic into your home:

1.  Reuse what you have  – Fashion a slipcover on an aging sofa, give an old dresser a fresh coat of paint or turn a few unworn clothing pieces into pillows.  Collect unused furniture from relatives and friends to reuse in your home.  Display a collection of mis-matched plates as art.  Recycle old work equipment into colorful cocktail tables.  Vintage looks don’t have to be drab or stuffy; add punches of color to offset the aged pieces.

2.  Expect things to age gracefully – Marble, wood, cotton, limestone, bamboo, granite, wool are all natural materials and will not look the same in 15 or 30 years as they did when they were purchased  That doesn’t mean they need to be thrown away or replaced.  Think of the “scars” on your kitchen island as war wounds that should be proudly displayed to neighbors.  Keep in mind, these materials have been used for centuries and will last as long as you will.

3.  Purchase furniture as an investment – The value of antique furniture is endurance.  Does IKEA have endurance?  Seek out quality and you won’t have to re-purchase all your furniture every 4 years.  This is especially true for upholstery and casegoods.  Upholstered pieces can be recovered, restuffed and reborn.  Wood pieces can be refinished numerous times.  Do your homework and take care of your furniture to enjoy for decades.

4.   Add architectural elements, better yet, buy an antique…house.  St. Louis is fortunate to have a lot of beautiful homes with stunning architectural features inside and out.  Why try to reinvent the wheel by building a brand new home?  The amount of charm and character in an older home can far outweigh the costs of renovations if you choose wisely.  If you are looking to add details to an existing home, crown moulding and door casings are the first place to start.

5.  Last but not least, uncork a bottle & toast to your accomplishments!

Previously written by Kimberly for St. Louis AT HOME’s website.  Read more of Kimberly’s work and view her portfolio at



DIY – Chevron Pattern Dresser – Kimberly Reuther

Those who know me best are well aware of my ability to envision possibilities in almost any space and are always pleased with the finished product. However, knowing my visionary ability means they are also cognizant of my low tolerance for detail work and executing these visions myself.

Therefore, when I conceptualized transforming this drab dresser into a modern classic a mere 2 weeks before my Habitat for Humanity deadline, I received a lot of eyebrow raises and not a lot of paintbrushes raised. Which is not quite what I had hoped, as I am also acutely aware of my shortcomings. But alas, I couldn’t let my weakness (nor sleep) stand in the way of my imagination.

See before shots of the dresser and a pillow which provided inspiration (and most of the eyebrow raises, I confess).

before shot


inspiration photo

Luckily, my dad was willing to help with the basecoat of paint and then turned it over, in his words “you’re on your own, kid”. He didn’t want to touch that chevon pattern with a ten foot pole. Neither did my aunt, the queen of DIY projects, who I thought would surely have some sage advice.

So, I guess it really was up to me…hmmm, where to begin? On top of my habitat project, I had quite a few other things on my plate and didn’t have a lot of time to devote to getting this completed. The first few evenings were spent trying to get the dimensions of the chevron pattern down and figure out a template to apply the contrasting color. I painted the drawers white and was using the orange as the contratst. I would give you pointers but I honestly don’t know how I figured it out and I threw away the paint-crusted template as soon as I was done. I got so frustrated at one point that I almost gave up. The template moved while I tried to apply the orange paint which required 6 hours of touching up the white and creating “edges” where there were none. My dad came back on the project to apply the clear coats and the handles since I had run out of time & energy!


chocolate paint coat applied

chevron pattern on drawers!

After all the work, I am very happy with how the dresser turned out. The homeowner is extremely pleased as well. I don’t know that I would attempt it again but I feel proud that I was able to execute my vision on my own. I now have a much greater respect for other DIY-ers and especially my dad. Thank you for the help!

finished product - voila!

Originally written by Kimberly for St. Louis AT HOME’s website.  View the post here.  You can see more of Kimberly’s work here.

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