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What’s Old is New Again on the North Fork

During the last two years of pandemic living, “home” came to mean so much more than where you slept at night: home had become the multipurpose, multifunctional family hub for work, school and play. By necessity in many homes, functionality trumped form. Without foregoing function, 2022 reintroduces the idea that decor can be elegant, unique and personal — by mixing old with new. It’s the move to “newstalgia”. 

Newstalgia is all about freshening up retro furnishings and decor with contemporary accents and new technologies. It harkens back to your past, giving you the warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia with the comforts of modern-day tech. Buzzy references to “upcycling”, “reclaiming” and “repurposing” are different approaches to newstalgia — incorporating secondhand, vintage and antique items to create a personalized home space that is unique, interesting and not matchy-matchy. The look is driven by a desire for every item in your home to have character and reveal a bit about you and your interests. Mixing old and new creates spaces that feel personal and look like they’ve grown naturally and organically over time.

Not just a decor trend, newstalgia makes ecological sense. With so many global supply chains snarled, delayed shipments are the norm for new furniture; lead times are often 4 to 6 months or more. Purchasing second-hand or vintage items solves the timing issue while easing supply chain stress. Vintage or repurposed items are often much more affordable and durable than newer items — to say nothing of eco-friendly and sustainable. Upcycling and reclaiming items promotes responsible environmental behavior inside the home, putting less pressure on landfills. Opting to recycle and repurpose is kind to our planet, which is already stressed by global warming and other environmental calamities. Vintage, also planet-friendly, makes use of existing items while embracing quality and durability. There is so much stuff already in the world, why not repurpose it or give it new life instead of buying something new? Investing in meaningless furniture and accessories is a thing of the pre-pandemic past. 

So what’s the trick to creating the newstalgia look without looking too “thrift store granny”?  

Change Function. First, look to change the function of a piece. An old side table can become a base for a dining table just by adding a circular top. An unusual decorative object can be wired to be the base of the lamp by taking it to a local electrician. A good coat of paint will completely change the look of a piece and allow you to fit it into a new space.

Change Placement. Don’t forget that furniture can be moved. An old dresser becomes a “statement piece” once moved to an entry and accessorized with a more contemporary display of flowers; a pair of old end tables placed side by side make an entertainment center or dining room buffet.

Keep It Simple. When hunting for new furniture, look for strong, simple shapes that will combine with other pieces. Items which are timeworn and eclectic add a story to the interior design of your home — who doesn’t love a good story of a funky, found piece? But don’t overdo it — pick just one or two statement pieces. Keep the things you love and find a way to make them work in your space. 

Going newstalgia has never been easier — Facebook Marketplace, Etsy and Craigslist are treasure troves of found items looking for new homes. Aside from the usual church and hospital thrift shops, the North Fork boasts some of the best vintage/reclaimed/repurposed shops around! Some of our favorites:

5570 Sound Avenue, Jamesport

LUMBER+Salt is like falling down the rabbit hole of vintage items just waiting to be upcycled and repurposed. Spend hours wandering the main building and attached greenhouse, chock-filled with antique decorative items, furniture, architectural and industrial salvage, vintage floorboards, barnwood and objets d’art. Other items include antique machines, farm tools, signage and reclaimed roadside architecture. Owner John Mazur and creative director Brooke Cantone will help re-envision your space by reclaiming found objects, repurposing unique material and reimagining interiors and exteriors in a whole new way.

Privet’s Consignment Warehouse
54 East Main Street, Riverhead

Privet’s Consignment Warehouse

Privet’s Consignment Warehouse showcases antique furniture, rugs, artwork and bric-a-brac. Wander through two floors packed with tables, chairs, sofas and unique and unusual furniture items. New inventory weekly; check their Facebook page for listings:

In The Attic Too
10200 Main Road, Mattituck

In The Attic Too

Family owned and operated on the North Fork for 12 years, In the Attic Too specializes in handcrafting beautiful furniture from reclaimed items, barnwood and other materials as well as refinishing furniture to specification. Need a special piece but can’t find exactly what you want? Speak with designers/builder/proprietors Heather and Dan to special order. Browse hand poured soy wax candles, one-of-a-kind gifts and bric-a-brac.