Grayson and the Teak Antiques

published Aug 7, 2015
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(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Name: Grayson Smith
Location: Baxter Neighborhood; Grand Rapids, MI
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; Rented

I park on the street and walk up the front steps of the duplex where Grayson lives. The porch on the left side of the duplex has a stereotypical college appearance: it’s covered with empty beer cans and a few plastic lawn chairs. Luckily I’m knocking on the duplex’s right side door. Grayson opens the door as I’m looking to the left. “Just ignore that side,” he says with a laugh, as he welcomes me into his tailored yet airy apartment. Each furniture piece has clean lines and the accessories are thoughtfully styled, from wire pyramids on a wall to Kim Kardashian West’s book of selfies on a side table. There is a clear view and path to the bright dining room. Music from The Smiths and Lana Del Rey floats up from the basement through the floor vents, creating surround sound as we tour his carefully curated home.

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Grayson and I follow each other on Instagram. As his profile states, he is a “student / bartender / aesthetic enthusiast.” He refers to himself as an “aesthetic enthusiast” again during our photo shoot, and it’s an accurate title. I’ve never met a 22-year-old college student with such a well-put-together apartment and distinct aesthetic. Grayson is studying Communications with minors in Business and Studio Art, and he appreciates mid-century modern designs and tribal patterns. He is an avid photographer and his eye for art and design is showcased throughout the apartment. He has two roommates, but he has done most of the decorating. Mid-century pieces (vintage and inspired new builds) are seen in each room. Tribal patterns, plants, graphic wall art, and geometric accessories are layered with the Mid-century designs.

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My style is best described as Mid-century modern in harmony with an eclectic mix of tribal art, patterns, and carvings. Each object is carefully curated and must be beautiful or serve a purpose. When these two factors converge, that is where you find true style.

I buy and sell furniture so there are always new things coming in and out of the apartment. It is not uncommon to rearrange the living room at 2 A.M.

Inspiration: I am inspired by the many cultures of our world. I incorporate many different types of art from wooden carvings to woven baskets. Nearly everything in my apartment is vintage, except for the pieces by Guild Nines. Grand Rapids is often called Furniture City and exploring and searching for gorgeous vintage furniture is easy. It makes me happy to think that I own furniture that someone else loved before I did.

Favorite Element: My favorite element would have to be the original hardwood floors throughout the house, excluding the dining room, much to my disdain. Apparently there was a fire in the house at some point and the hardwood in the dining room was damaged beyond repair. The floor’s beautiful variance and neutral color create the perfect blank canvas.

Biggest Challenge: The lack of outlets in the apartment makes for some challenges about where I can place a lamp, television, record player, etc. The configuration of the living room was reworked MANY times to attempt to accommodate a television. The problem was settled by getting rid of the television. When a living space is not focused around a screen, it makes for better socialization.

What Friends Say: Friends like it. Most 22-year-olds don’t care about what their apartment looks like, and it is a struggle to find people my age who truly appreciate aesthetics.

Biggest Embarrassment: The carpet in the dining room that I’m stuck with!

Proudest DIY: The walnut dresser in my bedroom was in rough shape when I got it. I put new wood veneer around the edge of the top to finish it, then stained it to match the top.

When I found the grey/beige fiberglass Eames chair for my bedroom, it was stained and dingy from water sitting on the seat for years. After refinishing the fiberglass, I ordered new shock mounts and reattached the H base.

Biggest Indulgence: My biggest indulgences are the Guild Nines Litebox Credenza in walnut and the four-foot Rift Bench in walnut and stainless steel. These were splurge pieces for sure. All Guild Nines furniture is made in Grand Rapids from stunning selections of wood and many different metal finishes. All of their parts are custom-made and hand-finished. The company has amazing craftsmanship and attention to detail. These are pieces that I will have for the rest of my life. And maybe in 100 years, someone else will find them and love them as much as I do.

Best Advice: When shopping for furniture or decorations, do not make the mistake of buying something just for the sake of buying something. If an item is not beautiful or does not serve a purpose, there is no need for it. Do not let your home fill up with clutter that is not an accurate representation of the style or aesthetic you are trying to execute.

Dream Sources: Hunt & Gather in Grand Rapids, Moroccan textiles, Tate Modern in London, Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Charles & Ray Eames, Taliesin West by Frank Lloyd Wright, Guild Nines Showroom.


(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Living room: Ancient Wonder by Valspar
  • All other rooms: “landlord white”
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Tufted green couch: Eastown Antiques
  • End table with “floating” drawers: Ed Wormley for Drexel
  • Yellow tufted Naugahyde chair: vintage
  • Assorted lamps: vintage
  • Cyborg Club Armchairs in black: Magis by Marcel Wanders
  • Noguchi coffee table in black: Herman Miller
  • Rug: Target
  • Brass floor lamp: Vintage
  • Print of Portrait of Dora Maar, 1937: by Pablo Picasso
  • Inverted color Einstein portrait: artist unknown
  • Original cubist painting: artist unknown
  • Original white-washed landscape: artist unknown
  • Duck print: artist unknown
  • Geometrical wall sculptures: from Wealthy at Charles.
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Credenza in walnut: Guild Nines, made in Grand Rapids
  • Primitive white hutch: vintage
  • Solid oak dining table: a gift from Grayson’s parents
  • Dining chairs: vintage circa 1960s
  • Bamboo shelf: vintage
  • Black plastic Eames arm chairs, custom mounted on vintage bases: Herman Miller via Lost & Found Antiques
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Pebble table: Herman Miller
  • Chair: Herman Miller black plastic side chair with Eiffel base
  • Handmade rug: vintage
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • 48” Rift Bench in walnut and stainless: Guild Nines, made in Grand Rapids
  • Credenza: vintage via Lost & Found Antiques
  • Headboard: vintage
  • Desk: vintage
  • Side chairs: Herman Miller
  • Bedding: Isaac Mizrahi New York
  • Various original screen prints and wood block prints by James Nantelle
  • Monster painting by Will Greeley
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Rattan table: vintage
  • Corner shelf: Target
  • Assorted planters throughout the apartment: Crate & Barrel, Anthropologie, Wealthy at Charles
  • Sunflowers print: by Vincent van Gogh
  • Mixed media collage in the style of Mondrian: by Grayson
  • Rug and towels: HomeGoods

  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)

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    Thanks, Grayson!