Large bird prints make for a striking focal point in this vignette,
where an oversize traditional wing chair is balanced by a pair of smaller modern chairs.
Mary Garvey James’s new Lincoln Park shop Classic Remix is brimming with ideas for reinventing vintage pieces (reupholster a boring metal-framed office chair with a furry hide), combining old and new (put a contemporary sofa near a rustic factory-cart coffee table), and working with both very big and very small pieces in one space. We asked her to share her decorating secrets.
WHAT DOES EVERY ROOM NEED FROM THE GET-GO? One big piece—a coffee table, an armoire, a chandelier—to serve as an anchor.
WHAT’S THE NEXT LAYER? The other items should relate in scale to the anchor piece. Let’s say you have a French armoire—you could add two large modern chairs with a nonchunky table between them. If you have a big chandelier, you could use that to anchor a grouping of furniture that’s smaller in scale. But you can’t have a tiny chandelier with big furniture.
James stands between two bold lamps.
WHERE DO SMALL ITEMS FIT IN? With a large coffee table, use a tray to group a few diminutive things and then add another big object, like a big bowl or a decorative box, to the other part of the table. If the coffee table is antique, use some clean-lined items on top, vice versa if the table is modern. If you want to feature a small prized possession, place it on a stack of antique books.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH COLOR? Wall color should serve as a backdrop. The biggest mistake people make is choosing a wall color because they love it. Reserve colors you love for pillows and other accessories!
WHAT ARE SOME QUICK FIXES FOR A BLAH ROOM?
A few vintage or antique pieces will add personality to a space. Also, great lamps can make a room. Make sure every comfortable chair has a lamp next to it for reading.
SUMMARIZE THE RECIPE FOR A CLASSIC REMIX. Keep your backgrounds neutral, and find the right combination —and scale—of furniture, art, and decorative items from different eras to create an interesting home that reflects your personal style.
The classic remix is at play in this seating arrangement, featuring a de rigueur large coffee table.
Classic Remix, 1015 W. Webster Ave., 773-661-6796,
Photography: Eric Hausman