An Eye For Beauty

By :  Mary Rae Hunter

I was out for a morning run and noticed a sofa that had been put by the curbside to be picked up - apparently no longer cherished by the owner, but ready to be taken home and refurbished as someone else's treasure.  Seeing this abandoned, but nifty piece of furniture triggered in my mind several possibilities of fabric combinations, then ideas for places that I could put this needy sofa. Perhaps I took notice of the sofa because, recently, the son of a close friend picked up two discarded chairs he came across on the road.  He refurbished them and now those chairs have become part of my friend's "retro" kitchen look.  The chairs really are not only unique, but they provide an insight into human ingenuity:  one person's junk transformed into an object of beauty.

Architectural Digest contains an article titled "A Gift for Thrift."  The article is about how interior designer, Roderick N. Shade, took to heart one of Benjamin Franklin's phrases:  "a penny saved is a penny earned." Normally, as with the abandoned couch or chairs I mentioned above, we think that we need to get rid of and replace the old with something new.  We find it difficult to keep the couch or chair, and, like the talented son of my friend, refurbish the worn out furniture into something of beauty - thereby also saving money.  Shade took Franklin's aphorism and applied it to a dilapidated Harlem apartment - a Cinderella, if you will.  Shade applied his designer magic to an otherwise humble, if not bleak and cramped space.  He turned the space into an aesthetic and captivating room.  While the New York apartment now looks regal, it cost a fortune less than a move to an upscale residence in Manhattan.

Part of what makes Durham unique is its population of creative minds.  We have around us many imaginative and resourceful people such as my friend's son, or Roderick Shade.  Do they see something that we don't?  Are they possessed of more talent than we ourselves?  Perhaps we give ourselves too little credit.  We each have our own ways of expressing creativity.  Recently, I asked several acquaintances about their favorite places to visit locally.  Here is a brief sample of the responses:

"I got an awesome mirror from Once and Again"

"I discovered a fabulous table at Classic Treasures"

"I found great yard art at Chelsea Antiques"

"I purchased an unusual rug at Fargo Hana in the discount room"

"I got lucky and picked up a rare chest at a yard sale"

All around us are numerous local second hand stores, consignment shops and antique stores offering treasures that, with some work and ingenuity, make our homes warm and our lives a touch more interesting.  All around us are numerous old homes, buildings and neighborhoods that, formerly abandoned or in deteriorated condition, have secured new life through the vision and efforts of our family, friends, and acquaintances.

Shades of magic, they are!