Everything old is new again

Integrating nostalgic elements into your décor can do more than just tap into memories.

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There’s a lot to be said for minimalism, and while I enjoy the simple, stripped-down look — in theory — as someone who lives alone, there’s something a little lonely about it.

It just doesn’t evoke any emotion; to me, at least.

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Vintage-inspired colours, patterns, materials and textures on the other hand, have the power to transport me to another era; to a golden age. They bring back old memories, remind me of people long forgotten and evoke a feeling of nostalgia that is, to be honest, quite comforting.

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According to interior designers, integrating nostalgic elements into your décor can do more than just tap into memories, they can evoke a sense of warmth, familiarity and comfort.

Take Snowdon Theatre Condos, on Décarie Blvd., for example. Along with MAA and Gatsby, it’s just one of many new condo developments that’s taking its design and décor cues from the past.

Originally designed in 1936 by Emmanuel Briffa, the landmark movie theatre was recently restored to provide 62 contemporary condos in a building that blends the styles of two eras; even incorporating the original theatre’s marquee as well as a Briffa-inspired lobby.

The result is a project that has a lot of meaning, both for the old neighbourhood that surrounds it and the new residents that call it home.

These days, an increasing number of people are calling upon the past and renowned design styles like Art Deco and mid-century modern to add a touch of nostalgia to their own homes, and one of the places they’re going to find these one-of-a-kind pieces is the Stanstead Bazar.

Located in the Eastern Townships, close to the Vermont border, Stanstead is a town with just one grocery store but two vintage shops; one of them being a major bazaar that houses over 40 exhibitors.

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“I have always been drawn to Scandinavian pieces, specifically pieces made by certain designers. I lived in Africa for 25 years and when I came back to Quebec, I needed to create a new life for myself, so I focused on design. At the time, there was a lot of mid-century modern teak furniture that was popular and selling in the western United States, but not here in Quebec,” explains Robert Théorêt, whose Mid-Century Showroom booth draws visitors from near and wide.

“Historically in Quebec, we had many artisans and woodworkers, but they mostly worked with pine, oak, ash and maple, and the types of pieces they made are what’s now referred to as antique. While there were some Scandinavian pieces to be found, it was mostly in the west of Montreal, amongst the predominantly anglophone community.”

Pre-pandemic, Théorêt had a shop in Magog that attracted a lot of younger people who were discovering the style, and teak, for the first time.

Stanstead Bazar
Lisa La Brocanteuse has a booth full of what she calls relooked, or upcycled, furniture at the Stanstead Bazar. Photo by SUPPLIED

“I’m most drawn to pieces that are made of teak,” he says, “and it seems to be what’s most popular with clients as well. What’s really interesting is mixing styles and eras. So, taking a teak Cesca chair that was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1928 and mixing it with super modern pieces, or putting it in an ultra-modern condo, because it has the same vibe.”

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Théorêt, who sources many of his pieces in Ontario as well as the western United States and Pennsylvania, says what’s most popular now, in terms of mid-century modern furnishings, is lighting. Records players are also making a comeback, as are radios and old-school rotary phones.

“A teenager came in one day and didn’t know how they worked,” says Lisa Gauthier, who’s known as Lisa La Brocanteuse and has a booth full of what she calls relooked, or upcycled, furniture at the Stanstead Bazar.

“We’re in a period where recycling is really important and where waste is discouraged, which is how the business started. My goal is to give a second life to pieces of furniture that have potential but would otherwise be disregarded. I repair them and relook them.”

As a former florist, Gauthier, who mostly works with wood, is drawn to playful colours that make people smile; colours that were trending in the sixties and seventies, like yellow, lime and orange.

“Some of the popular pieces that I’ve worked on are a kitchen set that I painted turquoise and coral, with four different coloured chairs, as well as a clothing dresser that I transformed into a bar,” she says.

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“What I like most is working with a lot of colour. It creates a joyous atmosphere.”

To transform her pieces, Gauthier uses a Canadian-made, mineral-based paint that she also sells at the bazar, for people who are interested in transforming their own vintage items into something new.

While many bazaars are known for their chaotic atmosphere, the Stanstead Bazar is as organized as it is clean, making it a great place to wander through and get inspired by. With the holidays fast approaching, it’s also the ideal location to stock up on antique ornaments that spark all the memories and emotions of holidays past.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division.

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