Distressed … When It’s At Home
Over the past few decades gently used and abused furnishings have been very successfully marketed as ‘rustic’, ‘shabby chic’, ‘retro’, ‘vintage’ and—my all-time favourite—‘distressed’. People have gone to great lengths to take perfectly good furniture and assault it with chains, crackling and rough sanding to develop something that will look older, well-worn and cost more!
My theory about this attraction to the less-than-perfect is that eventually there comes a time in a person’s life when all that is new and shiny seems shallow and, as we mature, we are drawn to objects and furnishings that, like us, appear to have lived a little.
As a child growing up surrounded by furniture from the 1700s and beyond, I craved all things modern once I left home. But, like many of us, I eventually found my way back to the comfort and familiarity of my roots. Since a fine piece of meticulously carved furniture from 1685 is not something we come across very often—particularly in North America—we substitute items that appear old, even if they aren’t.
The recent return to valuing things/people that are older is also, I believe, a reaction to the decades that we, the aging boomers, grew up in. Having lived through the shiny vinyl years of the 50s and 60s, the faux-almost-everything decade of the 70s, the disposable years with its ready-to-assemble furniture and the modern era of industrial-looking glass and chrome, we are seeking something more substantial and comforting. (Perhaps, as we grow more accepting of our own wrinkles and frailties, we find it reassuring to surround ourselves with similarly looking furniture too!)
I have discovered numerous inspiring and creative people and sites since dipping my toes into social media. Most recently, I came upon a Facebook site called ‘Distressed Nest’ and was soon scrolling through—and wanting to ‘like’—almost every carefully staged and charmingly posed vignette of ‘distressed’ furniture and accessories. Even though I know that few of the items in the photographs are the ‘genuine’ thing, I found each image so inviting that I wanted to insert myself into the scene and sit on the rickety chair sipping my tea from a slightly cracked teacup. I’m not saying I’d want my entire house to look like a rescued garage sale, but I enjoy a few pieces of it mixed in with everything else. It’s furniture one can live with; it doesn’t demand to be dusted and polished every day and it doesn’t scream out at us if we inadvertently leave a coffee cup ring on its surface.
I plan to spend a fair bit of time living in the virtual sets featured at ‘Distressed Nest’. If you’d like to join me at Distressed Nest.
Photo: Courtesy Distressed Nest