Growing up, we moved quite a bit. No matter where we called home, though, one constant was my mom’s pair of blue velvet wingback chairs. At the time, I didn’t think much about them in regards to style or design. I was just a kid. For me they were simply the chairs my sister Meredith would jump onto to avoid the nipping of our always-angry Jack Russell.
My last memory of the set is as rich as that of a screaming Meredith and growling pup. We had moved back to Texas after a stint in Louisiana, and my mom was having a garage sale. Before putting the chairs on the driveway, she offered to keep them around if I thought I’d ever want them. Convinced their look would be too hard to decorate around, I encouraged her to sell both. I even remember what they went for: $25 a pop. Oh, the stellar rooms I could create today if I’d only realized their potential back then!
One designer with a much keener eye for potential than me is the founder of Dressing Rooms Interiors Studio, Ariene C. Bethea. Clients head to Ariene because of her knack for creating eclectic spaces that seamlessly mix hand-me-downs and pieces from different eras with modern finds. But the strategy isn’t only reserved for others. Her own Charlotte, NC home has become a showcase of how to beautifully live amongst treasures from the past. For example, she’s hung a piece of artwork passed down from her parents in one room, their old table serves as the command center for Ariene’s home office, and the sectional Ariene used to cuddle into as a child is currently the star of her living room.
You’d never know these items were as old as they are thanks to Ariene’s thoughtful designer hand. Today, she’s taken all she’s learned from decorating with them and put together a list of Creative Ways to Update Inherited Pieces. Her ideas have me super inspired (and dreaming about those chairs I let go). Scroll down to check out how each one was styled then and how Ariene has cleverly made them feel very “now.” Enjoy! —Garrett
Photography by Laura Sumrak