Out with the Shabby-Chic and In with the Sophisticated Antiques at this West Seattle Home

How to use old pieces to give a room a new attitude
Posted August 26, 2013
The mantle now hosts several appealing antique pieces, including mirrors from Susan Wheeler Home. A shabby-chic ottoman was recovered in dark brown cowhide (what could be more manly?)

As with most people, there comes a time when a room is just spoiling for a makeover. 

Such was the case for the living room inside the lovely 1913 Craftsman-style West Seattle home of two young professionals, their 10-year-old son and their Rhodesian ridgeback. It was a perfectly functional gathering spot, but, after 12 years, it was due for a modernizing lift, not to mention some masculinization.

The room’s original shabby-chic styling (think pink throw pillows) didn’t exactly say welcome to the males of the household (dog included). What was called for was a more gender-neutral, sophisticated scheme that was still family friendly. By importing some less ladylike antique and vintage pieces, which by their very timelessness can give a room instant gravitas, it’s fairly easy to make a room more handsome. Color palettes are always a key change agent. We traded in tones of pink and pale red used for throw pillows and covers for rich browns, blacks and touches of brilliant yellow. 

Of course, a few furniture shifts also bring big results. For example, in this living room, an oversized sofa was replaced with a smaller-scale, contemporary couch from Restoration Hardware (restorationhardware.com), slip-covered in crisp white linen (not pictured). Two overstuffed chairs in shabby-chic linen made way for two midcentury modern chairs reupholstered in a heavy-weight vintage French linen and studded with irregular French antiqued nailheads. (Reworking a piece of furniture is a great way of bringing original flair to a room. We often will buy a chair frame that has good classic lines and is comfortable, then give it a twist, add some interesting nailheads or maybe take away the tufting. Once we retie the springs, replace the cushions and update them with beautiful new fabric, they will last another 50 years, and they are something that will be unique to your home.) Between these sleek seats, which are set against a large window, we rested a French antique iron-and-marble-topped table, replacing a pale, painted shabby-chic table, and positioned two mounted antique animal horns on either side of the window. 

Finally, an oversized shabby-chic ottoman was redesigned, reupholstered in dark brown cowhide (what could be more manly?) with a distinct auburn stripe running down its center. Its newly flat surface makes it a stylish host for either a board game or a tray of drinks. And it’s become a favorite spot upon which to put up one’s feet at the end of the day. A very welcome home, indeed. 

Susan Wheeler is proprietor of Georgetown’s unique vintage-filled shop Susan Wheeler Home (susanwheelerhome.com).