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Design ideas
House Tour: Falling for Vintage
Inspired upcycling ideas for your fall décor.
Written by Meryl Schoenbaum
Photography by Bret Gum
Styling by Amy Duncan and Jickie Torres
ANTIQUE GEM. Amy’s 1902 Victorian home is much the same as it looked originally. The front door was given a fresh coat of paint (Eddie Bauer paint in Balsam) that matches the front lawn and adds a distinctive pop of color.

Fall can be a challenge when it comes to decorating in style. The summer’s bright colors and casual accessories no longer look right, but it’s too early to break out the heavy textiles and dark colors of winter. When you think of fall décor, what comes to mind first? Chances are, gourds and pumpkins … lots of pumpkins. But you can be more creative than that, and this home will give you a hearty crop of ideas for decorating beyond the pumpkin.

COOK’S NOOK. This kitchen nook is both pretty and practical. Cookbooks provide colorful inspiration while pots of all sizes hang nearby, ready for work. Amy’s boyfriend, Monty, has a collection of over 300 cookbooks.

Amy Duncan’s décor exudes the ambience of fall, but not in the traditional ways. Amy takes vintage items you can find at flea markets or may already have at home and gives them a fresh look for the season by upcycling them as part of layered compositions and creative vignettes. She often documents them on her blog fourcornersdesign.blogspot.com.

HALL WALL. The front hallway under the stairs is not exempt from Amy’s eye for design. She made the drawer knobs on the black chest from old sewing-machine bobbins. The door is an architectural-salvage piece from an old house that was being torn down. The art Amy layered on the door is one of her photographic collages mounted on an old desk drawer. The art pieces above the chest were gifts from her artist friends. Amy found the ornate picture frame during a trip to Florence, Italy, with her sister.

Amy lives in a 1902 Victorian home in Everett, Washington. The décor reflects the down-home charm of the area and the building’s classic architecture. She finds decorating for fall to be a creative opportunity rather than a challenge.

SUITCASE STORAGE. On the other side of the dining room is a stack of vintage suitcases that function as stylish storage. Paris landmark postcards framed and hung on the wall were sent to Amy’s mother from a suitor many years ago.

FALL REFLECTIONS

“I see fall as a winding down after sum- mer, a time to slow down a bit, a pause before the holidays get crazy,” Amy says. “It’s a marker for the passage of time. I think vintage elements suit the season well as introspective throwbacks to an older time.”

UNIQUE UNIT. Against one wall of the dining room, Amy placed two matching cabinets on both ends of an old industrial shelving unit on casters. A maple-tree branch Amy found while walking is suspended from the ceiling with fishing line and adds a natural autumnal element to the wall.
But Amy doesn’t usually place her vintage items in their original form. As a multimedia collage artist, she looks for ways to repurpose and upcycle them, such as the vintage cardboard globe that she cut in half to become a ceiling light fixture and the old doorknob she uses as a stopper on an apothecary jar.
REST NEST. Amy’s bedroom is a restful place that reflects her affinity for birds and vintage items. The artwork is an Audubon print. A wicker basket holds her wool sweaters.

DISPLAYING COLLECTIONS

One of her favorite fall displays that has become popular—and for which she is con- sidered a pioneer—is a stack of vintage suitcases that she uses for storage in the brown, gold and tan colors of the season.

CREATIVE SEATING. This sitting area is on the side of the dining room. Amy found the cabinet on the side of the road, added shelves and painted it. The pillow on the chair sports a transfer of one of her art pieces.

“I love to travel, and vintage suitcases have a story to tell,” Amy says. “The different tones and textures all work together well.”

Amy likes to incorporate photography into her fall décor. “It’s a great time for photographing elements. Summer is bright and vivid, whereas fall becomes more subdued,” she says.

HOMEMADE DINNER. Amy created the dining-room table with barn wood she attached to an old cast-iron metal base that she had stored for 10 years. She fashioned the light fixture from a vintage wastepaper basket, which she turned upside-down and hung over a pendant light. The table runner is from the online shop Rough Linen.

Clocks are among Amy’s vintage collections. “The majority of them don’t work, but that doesn’t bother me,” she says. “I often repurpose the clock faces, keys, gears and workings.” She is attracted to the graphic quality of using numbers in her artwork, from clocks to rulers and tape measures. “I like objects of measurement that reflect the passage of time, measuring things,” she explains.

THE ART OF UPCYCLING. Where others see rusted metal as something to be discarded, Amy Duncan sees artistic possibilities. In her backyard garden area, Amy fashioned an impromptu potting bench from a wooden pallet. Old, rusty grates are the canvases for Amy’s garden artwork that includes old rake heads, handheld garden hoes and metal flowers.

GARDEN ART

Amy’s fall décor continues outside, in her backyard garden, where she has fashioned intricate vintage-industrial compositions using mundane elements. A rusted box spring is layered with a bicycle wheel, trashcan lid, bike gears and a faucet handle. On one wall hangs an iron grate with metal flowers and willow reeds, while another composition showcases fall gardening equipment, such as large and small rusted rake heads.

CLEAN ROOM. The master bath features a tub that Amy thinks may have been original to the house.

Next to the garden is the studio where Amy hosts creative-art classes. Her best advice for vintage decorating for fall: “Consider not just what something has been, but what it could be.”

EVERYTHING IS ARTFUL. Make craft storage more interesting by reusing old supplies. Here the shelves are filled with vintage apothecary and mason jars that contain old keys, Scrabble tiles, buttons, zippers and pegs.
COZY NICHE. At the top of stairs were a perfect-size nook for a dresser and a place for Amy to hang artwork that had been on her dining-room wall when she was a child.
For more information on artist/homeowner Amy Duncan, visit her blog, Four Corners Design, at fourcornersdesign.blogspot.com
Front door: Eddie Bauer paint in Balsam, visit lowes.com
Living-room print of eggs in bowl, kitchen bookshelves, butcher-block cart, wicker baskets, hanging light, front-hallway desk lamp, home-office light fixture, bookshelves, bedding: Ikea, visit ikea.com.  
Sofa and overstuffed chair: Ballard Designs, visit ballarddesigns.com.
Floor rugs: Flor, visit flor.com.
Sitting area in dining room, wicker chair: Pier 1, visit pier1.com
Dining-room table runner: Rough Linen, visit roughlinen.com
Art: Audubon Society, visit audubon.com.  
Industrial metal garage shelving: Lowes, visit lowes.com
Baskets: Michael’s, visit michaels.com.