By Becca Bober
If decorating with used furniture conjures images of your first apartment after college, it’s time to reconsider. Embracing this trendy concept for your next home-decorating project can save you money—and boost your efforts to live a sustainable lifestyle.
Lauren Rosenberg, the owner of Scottsdale’s Lauren Rosenberg Interior Design, has lots of ideas for incorporating repurposed items into home décor. Rosenberg grew up in the interior design industry and gives credit to her mother, Elaine Ryan, a Scottsdale veteran interior designer, for her inspiration. Rosenberg specializes in helping clients build a “collected look” that creates a worldly feel of warmth and character. Often, she uses consignment items to help her clients get that at a fraction of the cost of retail.
What is Rosenberg’s number-one tip for decorating with repurposed items? “Just because it’s a deal, that doesn’t mean you should own it,” she says, laughing. “Check with your designer before he or she purchases something on your behalf,” she says more seriously, “There’s no return policy on consignment. Make sure it’s a quality item, but don’t let minor defects stop you from getting the right piece. If it’s repurposed, a little damage can add character.”
Recently, she says, “I worked with a well-traveled and sophisticated woman who wanted to decorate her small condo in a way that reflected her tastes and lifestyle. She was also very eco-friendly and had to stick to a smaller budget.”
Rosenberg, who describes herself as an expert shopper, put her bargain-hunting skills to work. She combined some of her client’s heirloom pieces with a few select furniture items and accents that perfectly fit the compact space. The results are stunning. The rooms feel like a world traveler’s home, decorated with unique curios as a reminder of her adventures.
“My inspiration piece was a gorgeous hand-painted cinnabar and yellow-colored lamp table, which helped determine the color palette of the living room. I also found a sofa with great upholstery, although I re-covered the pillows,” Rosenberg says, describing her approach.” You can’t tell, but the couch is solid wood construction. It’s really a quality piece. I reupholstered the chairs to match the sofa, and placed my client’s heirloom chest in the fireplace niche – a very unlikely spot for a wooden chest, but one that worked great! My client is very visual, so I found a beautiful set of botanical prints for the wall.”
How do you decide if the cost of restoring a consignment piece is worth paying?
Rosenberg’s advice: “Look at the bottom-line costs of restoring an item versus getting a new piece. It’s really a unique decision in every situation that depends upon your goals.”
But what about the extra time it takes to shop for the perfect consignment item? Rosenberg bases her fees on the amount of time she estimates it will take to finish the product.
“My clients probably spend around 50 to 70 percent less for their projects by using consignment items.”
One of the challenges of decorating with consignment items is that selection is limited to what’s available at that time. Rosenberg recommends shopping at estate sales in addition to consignment shops to find the best bargains.
“I love what I do,” she says. “Most people don’t consider consignment when they’re decorating, but it is a great way to save money, create a beautiful space and live more sustainably. I hope to help more people decorate with consignment items as they learn what a great choice it is.”
To see more of Rosenberg’s work and get a better sense of what consignment design can do, visit lr-id.com.
Becca Bober has an MBA with an emphasis on sustainability leadership. She has directed a number of corporate sustainability projects and currently produces educational content for online learning systems. She lives in Carefree, Arizona.
Find more interior design articles at greenlivingaz.com/interiordesign