Inventive Vintage: A Peek Inside Junk Love Cottage
Welcome to “Junk Love Cottage.” The house is 1,100 square feet — if you round up. It’s filled with tarnished silver, chipped paint, hand-me-down artwork and other people’s old furniture. And it’s just about the grooviest, coziest home you’ll find east of the Cumberland here in scenic Nashville, Tennessee.
Homeowner and self-taught designer Natalie Katzenbach affectionately and irreverently named her home in homage to an adoration for flea market finds, recycled décor and furniture in distress. The “junk” that Natalie loves adorns her East Nashville cottage artfully, tastefully, even gracefully, as proof that one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.
“I don’t see the point in shelling out an insane amount of cash for new furniture that is mass-produced when I can find one-of-a-kind pieces for a fraction of the price,” Katzenbach remarks.
The Junk Love Cottage living room is a prime example. Here, old is truly new again. Only a few items in the space aren’t vintage or reclaimed, such as the upholstered sofa (purchased proudly from The $399 Sofa Store). It blends in comfortably with antique touches such as the architectural grouping on the back wall and a photograph of a horse — taken by Natalie during her summer wrangling horses on a Wyoming dude ranch a few years back — framed in a salvaged window sash. A distressed wood chest with an ethereal wash of paint serves as both coffee table and storage, and a set of fashion drawings done by Natalie’s grandmother in high school adorns the wall near the front door.
Though small in scale, the space could be called “the living-and-breathing room” thanks to its fresh, faded-photo color palette, judicious furniture arrangement and eye-catching, sparing use of décor. All told, Natalie brought the living room to life within a $1,200 budget by putting a new spin on lots of old stuff.
“When I shop for home décor, I go treasure hunting!” Katzenbach says. “Because I’m not a trained designer, there are no rules. I just buy what I love.”
Though she may be unconstrained by rules, Natalie does have some suggestions for dressing up the house:
• Go for one-of-a-kind finds over mass-produced trends.
• Avoid being “matchy-matchy”; let spaces come together organically to avoid an over-coordinated look that smacks of trying too hard.
• Create your own art by dressing up a favorite photo with a unique frame or arranging found objects in large groupings on a wall.
• Stress the distressed. Welcome imperfect pieces into even the most contemporary, sleek spaces to bring a touch of casual familiarity and interest to the room.
• Don’t budge the budget. Search yard sales, flea markets, consignment shops and the attic to find the furniture and decorative touches needed to make a home sweet home.
“I dreamt my whole life about being a mother,” says Heidi Jellison. “I never dreamt about a big wedding, honestly never even dreamt about the husband part.” Jellison, a 35-year-old concert harpist and harp teacher, laughs at this last bit, but then her face settles into a quiet solemnity.
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