As the trend toward ornate bathrooms suggests, any note of ostentation is largely confined these days to private or intimate spaces (and even then it's mostly a surface extravagance tempered by the use of sustainable materials and energy-conserving technologies). In higher-traffic living areas where socializing and entertaining take place, an earthier, more lived-in look prevails, as illustrated by this chicly unpretentious room in an eco-friendly house by Toronto's Levitt Goodman Architects. "Anything reclaimed, rustic or vintage is all the rage in our living spaces," interior designer Karen Sealy of Sealy Design Inc. says. "I'm loving the second-life rug I purchased recently; it's an area rug made from patches of much older, often damaged rugs that have been sewn together in a patchwork fashion and then vat-dyed in a more current colour to create a vintage piece with a fashion-forward feel." Other popular accents, Sealy says, include old globes and trophies, antique maps or nautical charts, distressed-leather items such as old baseball gloves and anything else that seems to have a story to tell." In other words, history with a modern twist is today's decorative rallying cry.
A number of North American studios, from Propellor Design in Vancouver to Uhuru in New York, specialize in the kind of salvage chic spotlighted by Karen Sealy. This sculptural chaise longue, called Back to the Drafting Board, is by Toronto's Brothers Dressler, whose design ethos is founded on sustainable practices. The chair's rotating adjustment hardware, for instance, was salvaged from an old drafting board. It was also constructed so that, at the end of its life cycle, its components can be disassembled for re-use or recycling. Made to order through www.brothersdressler.com .
ADVENTURES IN RENOVATING
Dos and don'ts from Style editor Danny Sinopoli, recent renovator
Don't… buy a sofa with tufting on the seat. Although I love the vintage look of my new 1960s-style couch, at least three of the buttons on the long tufted seat cushion have popped off already. Get me to an upholsterer.
Do… invest in a beautiful reclaimed-wood table designed by Tom Bina. The lumber for the tables - peroba wood salvaged from derelict houses and barns in the Brazilian state of Paraná - is typically 70 to 100 years old, giving each piece a unique weathered look. Parker coffee table, $1,040 at Barrymore.