By Mary Courtney
With the natural setting of vineyards and hills all around us and the still strong sense of history that infuses this area, our homes reflect timelessness and a connection to nature.
There are many things that we can do for our homes to make them more naturally beautiful. Salvage yards and antique shops are great places to hunt for some of the elements that will add character to the home. Hunting for natural materials like stone, wood, iron and plants and including them in your “décor” will bring a pleasing element to both your home and garden. And, as we are continually reminded, we consider the sustainability and conservation in everything we do.
By adding a few antique, old, or used pieces to a “new” home we create instant credibility of age. The re-use of these will give them a new life, while adding a patina and a bit of history to the home as they show the marks of wear from years of use. Think of touching a worn wooden door or a table, how many hands have been there before you, what is the story of that piece? You might be able to find the history of what you buy and then you will add your own to that.
No matter how simple or elegant a home is, or how large or small, looking at ways to add some older and natural elements will bring a satisfaction and grounding. You may do no more than simply refinishing an old chest or table, or, reupholstering a family chair, to bring new life to those pieces and in doing so you are bridging the past with the present and extending into the future. The mixing of old and new, contemporary and classic, fine finishes with handcrafted, creates a dynamic and most interesting space.
There also are many great products now on the market that have been created from re-cycled and sustainable materials. They are practical, beautiful, affordable, and keep us healthier by keeping our environment healthier.
Consider using Venetian plaster on walls and ceilings with the muted colors imbedded in the plaster. Smooth, polished concrete floors and trim in subtle shades of color with radiant heat installed beneath that will keep the warmth of the home consistent. Re-cycled and re-claimed woods can be artfully used to create many of the doors, ceiling beams, floors, and trims. Dramatic light fixtures, many of them handmade from found and recycled pieces of metal and wood can be used throughout the home.
Both cork and bamboo products are durable, sustainable, affordable, practical and beautiful. Look for these when you need to replace flooring, special finishes or some furnishings. They have their own natural pattern and texture and are excellent and long lasting. Some fabrics now are made from bamboo, hemp, and other natural fibers creating soft and elegant materials for the home.
Recycled glass tiles and countertops can easily be found. Pre-cast concrete used for counters, sinks, and accessories is another fine product that will last almost forever and polished concrete floors acquire a patina that only enhances its beauty. Many flooring manufacturers can now offer a wide selection of rugs and carpeting made from re-cycled and sustainable materials. Wool is a sustainable natural material. As long as we have sheep, we will have their wool to use.
I am a firm believer of shopping, either for services or for furnishings, within my local community whenever it is possible. There is a very personal connection that can be made with the one who creates part of your home, the person whose talent becomes integrated within your environment. The craftspeople that I know take a great deal of pride in their work. And, yes, they are doing their “job” but it is much more than that.
Within our community we have the opportunity to find much of what we need to furnish our homes and so I have compiled a list of services and products available in our immediate area and would be happy to send it to you, just contact me through my website.