By Karen Parr-Moody
Worn wood has an earthy simplicity that fits in with modern décor. Today it is no longer relegated to the beach houses of Big Sur. Instead, it has become a proper member of cosmopolitan society, rubbing elbows with other items of décor in city lofts. With its silverly patina, it easily sits alongside the rustic metals and glass that define industrial style, for example. Alternately, worn wood fits into farmhouse chic or an eclectic decorating scheme. Old wood is recycled, reclaimed and simply ravishing.
The toy horse has been on the scene for hundreds of years. The current form, a horse on bow rockers, emerged in 18th-century England. Soon, the industrialization of the Victorian era, with its burgeoning middle class, sped up the production of the toy rocking horse until many children were trotting away on one.
The rocking horse in the photo, above right, is a simple wooden structure ($50; Booth B-2010). It was once painted a deep emerald green, but the paint has since peeled away in patches, revealing the silvery wood beneath. It would look fabulous in a baby's nursery done in a modern style, complete with chevron pattern curtains and pale grey walls.
Once upon a time people collected ocean-worn pieces of driftwood; the '70s era comes quickly to mind. Usually these unique, contorted bits of wood found their way into the outside landscaping, in rock gardens or on patios. But today, those who want to be true originals bring driftwood inside. The piece of driftwood in the photo, left, looks uniquely glamorous when placed in the center of a glass table ($18; Booth B-113).
Personally, I love to dream up unusual contrasts when having art framed. When I saw this collection of frames, I knew they were special. Several are made from decades-old barn wood that has been reclaimed and repurposed (photo, right; prices range from $39 to $54; Booth B-222). They retain such a simple style that I could easily imagine colorful paintings framed within for a striking contrast. In fact, I have an oil pastel of a fancy French lady wearing her most inflated pompadour; she could use a little barn wood for a modern look.
Cock-a-doodle-doo! Along with reclaimed barn wood being used for everything from frames to ceiling beams to tables, savvy decorators have moved on to reuse other farm finds. Nashville interior designer Jason Parker Counce, who operates a booth at GasLamp, has brought a chicken coop into his GasLamp booth (photo, left; $75; Booth B-309).
"Update the chicken coop to hold your precious items," Counce says. "Make it become a plant holder by filling it with ferns and succulent plants. Or use it in the bathroom to hold rolled-up towels. It would work on the wall, too."
If you've ever visited coastal Maine, maybe you will remember this phenomenon: It seems that every few houses there is a lobster cage on the lawn. Right now, there is one at a GasLamp booth, as seen in the photo at right ($120; Booth B-225). It is similar in design to the chicken coop, and to borrow Counce's ideas about succulents, it seems like this lobster cage would go hand in hand with the shapes and textures of those particular plants. The muted tones of this cage's wood would allow the succulents' colors to truly shine, as well.
There's inherent character in each piece of worn wood. Whether it came from a beach or a barn, whether it once held chickens or crustaceans, each bit of wood tells a tale of its former days. And at the same time, such pieces bring fresh style into modern homes.