Decorating with Yard Sales Treasures, Antiques & Family Hand-me-downs
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Decorating with Yard Sales Treasures, Antiques & Family Hand-me-downs

Decorating with family treasures, yard sale finds and antiques can be more whimsical than purposeful. One of the most memorable montages at Sue and Jeff Churchill’s cabin is an old garage door mounted on an outside wall complete with corrugated metal overhang. Dressed up with an outdoor light fixture, window box and antique reel mower, it’s a real attention-getter.

“We have had more fun with that crazy garage door, as it really throws people off,” says Sue.

But fun can be functional. Decorator Ann Stillman O’Leary, author of Rustic Revisited: Innovative Design for Cabin, Camp, and Lodge, will find a piece that speaks to her and then will later redeploy it in a whole new way. An example of an O’Leary creation: A small chest gets marine varnish on its top, has a sink dropped in it and is transformed into a vanity.

Often, small changes can really bring out the unexpected in pieces. O’Leary says, “Paint, stain, faux-finish tools and interesting pulls can transform an item. I have often bought pieces that I would categorize as country, but the finishes were bad.
I sanded and painted over them and lightly sanded areas of wear and then stained the whole piece topped with a number of coats of urethane ... voilà! You have a terrific-looking folk piece.”

Also, she cautions buyers to keep notes with your cabin’s dimensions in the car. “So you can be prepared to jump on something should it fit the bill,” says O’Leary.

You never know what you’re going to find and how it might liven up your cabin décor. Just ask the people with the interior garage door.

Sue and Jeff Churchill’s lakehome, as featured on pp. 50-54 of this issue, is filled with family treasures and great auction finds. The photo below shows the old sorting rack from the days when Jeff’s dad was a rural mail carrier. It still has the names of all the family’s old neighbors.
Steve Umland / styling by Xan Churchill Nelson

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