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Get Organized: Refined Storage Solutions

Repurpose antiques and heirlooms as unique storage solutions that give rooms a little something extra. Let some of our favorite ideas—both refined and rustic—inspire you.

Written and produced by Debra Steilen
  • Eric Roth

    Keeping rooms organized is a key part of showing off your distinctive personal style. After all, no one can fully appreciate a gorgeous interior whose horizontal surfaces are cluttered with clothing, paperwork, and dishes. Take your quest for a clutter-free lifestyle a step forward by repurposing beautiful heirlooms as storage solutions. 

    Designers George Nunno and Jon Maroto (co-owners of Flair New York in SoHo) collaborated to decorate Jon’s Cape Cod house with an understated mix of antiques, imports, local art, and furnishings from Flair. In one of the bedrooms, a centuries-old Directoire-style secretary—that came from a Paris flea market—serves as a dresser. The “Pyramide” lamp is from Flair and the untitled artwork is by Alexander Liberman. 

    Design: George Nunno and Jon Maroto

    Tour more rooms in this Cape Cod getaway.

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  • John Bessler

    Dining Decor

    Homeowner and designer Jane Forman personalized her dining area by using a vintage blue-painted breakfront to house mochaware on open shelves. On top? Some of Jane’s favorite collectibles: heirloom baskets and an antique wool sorter made of wood. BTW: Cabinetry and the walnut-top island base were painted creamy white, to make sure Jane’s folk art finds would remain in the spotlight.

    Design: Jane Forman

    See more of this Nantucket summer home.

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  • Tria Giovan

    Sommelier Style

    This unfitted French Country kitchen is enlivened by a vintage French wine cage with metal shelves that now store tableware. “Freestanding antiques have so much more character than conventional built-ins,” says homeowner and designer Donna Temple Brown. “I want my pieces to look as though they’ve been assembled over time.” See another room in Donna’s house on the next slide.

    Design: Donna Temple Brown

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  • Tria Giovan

    Passion for Patina

    Donna Temple Brown prefers the unfitted charm of antique furniture to the look and feel of custom built-ins, as evidenced in her kitchen. “I’d rather store my dishes in an armoire or wine rack than cabinetry,” says the designer. Among her many character-laden choices is a 19th-century English baker’s counter that corrals culinary supplies inside and vintage pottery holding utensils on top. Suspended above the domestic scene is an 18th-century painting salvaged from an antique trumeau mirror.

    Design: Donna Temple Brown

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  • Brie Williams

    Family-Room Finery

    Homeowner Laurie Milani, who lives in New Orleans, gravitates toward antiques because of their beautiful patina. The two-piece Louis XV buffet deux corps in her family room wears a hand-painted palette of creams and pale blues—gracefully hiding whichever modern-day necessities are stored inside. “To me, the piece evokes serenity and calm,” Laurie says. “It just makes me feel good.”

    Design: Alix Rico

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  • Werner Straube

    Historical Fiction

    Incorporating architectural antiques in a room design, as well as heirloom-quality furniture, is how homeowner and designer Sarah West adds history to a new home. “I love mixing worn patinas with rustic finishes,” she says. In this evocative guest bedroom, a blanket chest from a small village in France stands ready to store everything from bed linens to reading material and remotes. The bed’s headboard is fashioned from an old gate. See Sarah’s kitchen on the next slide.

    Design: Sarah West

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  • Werner Straube

    Heirloom Appeal

    Despite the modern appliances, this kitchen—which resembles a French patisserie—boasts an old soul. That’s because the room’s aesthetic appeal comes from the use of salvaged pieces. The massive island is actually a repurposed French linen press topped with honed white marble. The bottom offers yards of storage potential, thanks to a massive basket for ingredients and room to stack supersized mixing bowls and crocks. Behind the island, reclaimed French cabinets flank a centuries-old stone farm sink with a timeworn surface. Plaster walls complement all the aged surfaces. “The subtle texture and color provides the perfect canvas for architectural antiques,” Sarah says.

    Design: Sarah West

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  • Tria Giovan

    Serving Up Storage

    Once a built-in bookcase, this dining room’s alcove now embraces a 19th-century French server that holds linens and stereo equipment. The server also provides display storage for a miniature 18th-century Italian chest and other decorative pieces. The artful alcove is enclosed by timeworn 18th-century French shutters. “I don’t worry about things matching,” says homeowner Donna Temple Brown. “I just assemble what I like.”

    Design: Donna Temple Brown

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  • Emily Followill

    Coastal Character

    “Our family home in Louisiana is filled with antiques,” says homeowner Frankie Harris. “So we decided to bring French and Louisiana influences to the beach.” As a result, the vacation home he and wife, Charon, built in Florida features reclaimed black-walnut flooring and other aged materials to provide patina as a backdrop to decor. In the master bedroom, an antique French door with its original finish opens to reveal a peeling-paint antique chest—paired with a weathered mirror—that takes the place of a new dresser. Contemporary art, which coordinates with the bedding, adds another layer of interest. 

    Design: Courtney Dickey

    Store more in your small bedroom. Here’s how.

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  • Michael Partenio

    Industrial Elan

    Designer Jill Brown lives in a 1959 ranch-style home in Houston. But instead of filling it up with sleek midcentury-modern furnishings, Jill (a scavenger since childhood) relied on a vast assortment of cast-off treasures to give her home its unique sense of history. In this room, she uses galvanized-steel office file cabinets to house books, magazines, and linens—as well as showcasing animal art and vintage encyclopedias. “I like pretty things,” Jill says, “but they don’t have to be rare or expensive.”

    Design: Jill Brown

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  • Brie Williams

    Century-Old Charm

    Furniture-style details give new cream-color cabinetry a vintage personality in Selena Merrit’s remodeled kitchen. But it’s the rebuilt century-old hutch (original to the early 20th-century home) that plays a starring role in the kitchen’s storage plan. The handsome piece supplies display space for dishes as well as ample storage just steps from the range and island. “Our cabinetmaker retrofitted the interior with modern fittings,” Selena says. “It turned out to be the most beautiful piece in the kitchen.”

    Design: Kathi Davis

    Nab some great kitchen storage ideas.

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  • John Granen

    Elegant Simplicity

    An 18th-century cupboard with its original paint adds color and pattern to this great-room’s hushed palette, while doing its part to keep clutter to a minimum. Magazines, newspapers, and electronics can hide out inside the piece until family members return to linger in front of a French-inspired molded limestone fireplace. A reclaimed barnwood ceiling, raw linen Roman shade, and contemporary sisal rug provide top-to-bottom texture. “I like the juxtaposition of rough and refined,” says designer Desiree Ashworth. “We wanted the whimsy of a country house, and to embrace the imperfection of things.” 

    Design: Desiree Ashworth

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  • Jenifer Jordan

    Prime Example

    Designer Charles Faudree is known for repurposing antiques and architectural salvage in order to create the ambiance of a French farmhouse. So it’s not surprising that he collaborated with homeowner Linda James to make space for a charming French butcher’s shop table in the corner of her North Carolina kitchen. “I bought that butcher’s table at a shop in Dallas because I loved it,” Linda recalls. “I wasn’t even sure where I was going to put it.” Today the ornate piece, which includes a wood backsplash embellished with carved cows’ heads, provides workspace and storage for linens and other dining necessities. A simple shelf above the table showcases antique serving pieces as well as Linda’s collection of copper saucepans.

    Design: Charles Faudree

    Check out this elegantly rustic North Carolina cabin. 

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  • Brie Williams

    Sophisticated Study

    Majestic antiques anchor every room of this New Orleans home, including homeowner Lauri Milani’s study. Here, a Louis XVI walnut armoire makes everyday office storage look stylish—by hiding supplies and reference books behind closed doors. Lauri’s leather-top Louis XV writing desk is flanked by Italian chairs; a Directoire mirror overlooks the serene scene. “The home’s key pieces are true antiques,” says designer Alix Rico. “They are old; their surfaces reflect the dignity of being utilized daily. They’re not for show, but for use.”

    Design: Alix Rico

    Tour another Louisiana home that mixes old and new.

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  • Michael Partenio

    Master Bath Melange

    Although their Texas home is new, Linda O’Neal and Rob Rosenbaum have made sure it looks as though it comes with an interesting history. Salvaged ceiling beams, century-old doors, and intriguing pieces from nearby antiques fairs add to the mystique. In the master bath, a 20th-century buffet creates a distinctive vanity in which to store grooming gear, thanks to Linda’s skill at distressing. The sinks came from a Turkish bathhouse. Plank flooring was salvaged from an Iowa barn. “We use everything,” Linda says. “The more banged up something gets, the better it looks.”

    Design: Linda O’Neal

    Gather some storage ideas for small bathrooms.

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  • Michael Partenio

    Easy as Pie

    As a kid, Jill Brown attended auctions and flea markets with a mom who collected American folk art. So it’s not surprising that Jill grew up scavenging for treasures to use as decor. Today her family room is furnished with objects that are useful, practical, and beautiful—the standard she uses for objects sold in her Houston lighting and antiques store, called, naturally enough, Brown. A vintage pie safe with pierced galvanized-steel panels is perfect for keeping books, magazines, DVDs, and other cultural ephemera organized and ready to be enjoyed. Jill paired the American classic with a hooked rug, framed Belgian map, and lamps made from dolls she found at a flea market in Europe.

    Design: Jill Brown

     

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  • Michael Garland

    Dog-Gone Clever

    Neither rustic nor defined, the idea of using dog crates as part of a partner’s desk was too enticing to overlook in a discussion about storage. “We decided to simply add a glass top to the crates and move them to the middle of the room,” says homeowner and designer Ryan White. “It’s ingenious, really. The dogs always wanted to be at our feet anyway.” Labrador retrievers Wriley and Cooper feel right at home in this West Hollywood office.

    Design: Ryan White

    See more of this designer’s fresh, classic style.

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  • Ed Gohlich