Matthew's Eclectic Park Avenue Pad

Green Tour

Name: Matthew Mirarchi
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Size: About 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 5 Months

While it doesn't sit on the Park Avenue of the Upper East Side, Matthew's 1901 downtown Raleigh duplex achieves a level of grown-up sophistication that would make even the stuffiest of Chanel wearing grandmothers beam with pride. The catch? Filled with a hodgepodge of original hand-painted art, salvaged vintage furniture, and turn-of-the century sought-after gems like love-worn wood floors and prismatic glass doorknobs, the result is a carefree, whimsical atmosphere that inspires coloring outside of the lines–and maybe right over Grandma's Chanel. The truth is, almost no era of yore gets ignored in Matthew's stunningly eclectic décor, where old often meets... older. All tastefully rehabilitated, of course.


By embracing worn relics that were once deemed gaudy by the next generation's encroach upon the last, Matthew effortlessly combines Art Deco dressers, Mid-Century seating, and other quirky pieces from bygone eras. While most people would be nervous about inviting friends from different social circles to the same mixer for fear they might clash, Matthew leaps head-first into the frey and somehow makes it work. Just don't spill a drink from your 1980's tumbler onto his Mid-Century loveseat.

And, while several pieces serve their original intended functions or stand alone as interesting visual displays, Matthew has taken his venture in repurposing to a whole new level, using his finds in clever ways to provide maximum style and functionality in his space. Narrow, wooden skis find new life as chic photo ledges in the guest room to display his collection of photography. Old kitchen wall cabinets, originally destined for a junk yard, get repainted to serve as unique room dividers/kitchen pantries. Wooden crates, original bottling and bread company advertising still mostly intact, act as storage caddies for magazines, paints, and other items that need corralling.

By carefully and eco-consciously selecting items from the various islands of misfit furniture around town, Matthew has created a vibrant, breathable, rule-breaking space - a quirky museum that puts the "deco" back into décor.

Re-Nest Survey:

My style: Primo-Deco: the love child of an Art Deco sideboard and an American Primitive toolbox, whose fairy godfather is a Mid-Century Lafer loveseat. Rough and formal, all in one.

Inspiration: Reflecting my personality by balancing my penchant for clean asymmetry with controlled, solid pieces that exhibit decades' worth of character. I gravitate toward spaces with history and architectural interest, which is why this quirky 1901 duplex struck an aesthetic chord. I decided to pare-down the dust-attracting kitsch in lieu of decorative, functional accents that complement the space. Art is crucial; each piece, save one ("Trombones"–kitchen), is mine and acts as a small piece of a collective life-portrait. As I strip years' worth of paint off the woodwork, and map on my own history in the process, I feel a remarkable sense of place here--what I've dubbed "Weathering Heights."

Favorite Element: The original hardwood floors. I despise carpet, which is why I have intentionally left my floors bare. It might be a bit louder for my downstairs neighbors (sorry!) and colder in the autumn, but I think area rugs would be more burdensome than useful. Plus, the floors reflect the light beautifully.

Biggest Challenge: Sourcing a dining room table that would actually fit up my awkward entry staircase and seat at least six. In the end, the table I chose was not one I would have ever envisioned myself having. But it completely transforms the space; it acts as the room's whimsical anchor and amplifies colorful local pottery and plants.

What Friends Say: "So, you have OCD?" Yes. Don't judge me!

Proudest DIY: Breathing new life into the lounge's mirrored sideboard. I bought it at my favorite Alabama flea market several years ago, and was told it had been salvaged from an historic home slated for demolition. Dried-out, crammed with creepy children's toys, devoid of hardware, and spray-painted by vandals, it had seen better days. It took a long time to bring it back, but it was worth every bit of blood and sweat I expended.

Biggest Indulgence: The Mission-style cabinet in the dining room. When I first laid eyes on it, I knew I had to have it. It just took a few payments!

Best Advice: Own it, go for it, and be proud. Think about your space, but don't hesitate about snagging something that immediately grabs you, even if you think you might not have a spot for it. I have always been able to design around objects or furniture I cherish. Doing so makes for a happier space.

Green Elements/Initiatives: Recycling old into new is always a good place to start any design. Ninety-nine percent of everything in my place is a family piece (heirlooming is green!), or something I found at a local antique store or flea market. Whenever possible, I buy local–carbon footprint minimized, social ties strengthened, community economically enriched. Luckily for me, the Triangle has a lot of great eco-conscious shops that afford me the comfort of buying something new that is quality-made and environmentally sustainable (e.g., twig in Chapel Hill). And even though roadside finds have sometimes led to disaster (cat pee shelf, I remember you), others have traveled with me from place to place (my lounge's Art Deco cabinet)–one less thing to end up in the landfill. Much to my relief, my industrious downstairs neighbors constructed a compost bin outside our duplex before I moved in, so all veggie byproducts (and I eat a ton of salad) find a temporary home in my small composting can before making the short trip outside. And when I finish emptying all that out, I can let my car sit in the driveway and walk downtown to some of my local haunts, enjoy local food and coffee (like Café Helios, the organic garden for which is just a short walk from the back door—or The Borough, another local foodie hangout).

Resources:

Furniture:

  • Dining Room – Table and chairs: twigs & rags (Sanford, NC); Mission-style cabinet, Art Deco sideboard and mirrors: Sanford Antique Mall (Sanford, NC); Mid-Century chair: Father and Son Antiques (Raleigh, NC); Arts and Crafts display cabinet: Oddities & Such (Carrboro, NC)
  • Lounge – Percival Lafer loveseat and industrial cart: Father and Son Antiques (Raleigh, NC)
  • Master Bedroom – Art Deco side table with open bottom and Bakelite handle: Sanford Antique Mall (Sanford, NC)
  • Bathroom – Red cart: Father and Son Antiques (Raleigh, NC)

Accessories:

  • Dining Room – American Primitive "No Smoking" sign and toolboxes: Sanford Antique Mall (Sanford, NC); Yellow decanter: Father and Son Antiques (Raleigh, NC); "Vodka" and "Gin" decanters: Angel's Antique Mall (Opelika, AL)
  • Kitchen – Mid-Century "Coffee/Tea/Flour/Sugar" containers, and bread trays: Sanford Antique Mall (Sanford, NC)
  • Lounge – Vornado fan: Father and Son Antiques (Raleigh, NC)
  • Master Bedroom – Jewelry: artemis17 handmade jewelry, Convoluted Notions
  • Bathroom: Glass medical containers: Father and Son Antiques (Raleigh, NC)

North Carolina Potteries/Potters represented: Lyn Morrow Pottery, Stone-Crow Pottery, Cole's Pottery; North Cole Pottery; Boalick Pottery; Corinne Fox; Lantern Hill; Seagrove Stoneware Pottery; Dorothy Hubbard; Michelle Dowdall; Jugtown Pottery; Triple C Pottery; David L. Edwards, The Pottery Garden; Crystal King Pottery; McCanless Pottery; DirtWorks Pottery; D.K. Clay Pottery; Holly Hill Pottery; Uwharrie Crystalline Pottery; Phil Morgan Pottery; Fat Beagle Pottery; White Oak Pottery; McQueeney Pottery

Artwork: "Trombones" in the kitchen by Don Stewart, everything else by Matthew Mirarchi

(Thanks, Matthew!)

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(Images: Katie Gard)