Times are always changing and as Lake Martin Living columnist Lacey Howell wrote a few months back, so are styles.
It seems like just yesterday people were purchasing beautiful, old homes and buildings with massive amounts of character to turn around and rip it all out, turning what once was a lovely home into a monochromatic open floor plan scheme that screamed, “No, you may not eat ice cream on the sofa!”
But as of late, bare and boring has turned to lush and homey. First with farmhouse chic and now even more so with the emergence of grandmillennial style, the granny-chic flair that Howell raved about in her April column.
It appears as though the days of stark white paint and rigid, uncomfortable furniture are totally in the dust, despite the fact that style is cyclical and will inevitably come back around. For now, color and comfort abound in homes all around.
Wallpaper is resurfacing hugely, and most certainly antique-ish furniture is reemerging from the shadows. People are upcycling and antique shopping. Thrift stores have become the new and desired norm amongst many generations but primarily millennials, hence the term grandmillennial style, which is meant to be a twist on traditional home décor by those in their 20s to late 30s.
It appears to be a reunification of Aunt Ethels rattan table and uncle Burts Grecian bust that doubles as a plant pot, both of which should be surrounded by pops of color. The one requirement for a room is that the design must bring a feeling of nostalgia.
So in an attempt to see whats out there and learn how to choose stylish, yet granny-chic, décor for our homes, Lake Martin Living went to visit with some of the favorite antique procurement shops in Dadeville.
Walking into Off the Beaton Path is like stepping back into a craftsman-style, old-world showroom with soft but colorful edges. Nostalgia exemplifies each and every design element in the shop. Industrial clamps grace the walls as bookshelves and craft exquisitely large tables, similar to a grandmother's formal dining table, but so much cooler because of the upcycled twist on traditional style.
Bulgarian barn doors take center stage while unique chairs and pillows adorn the open space, creating a cozy atmosphere. Old European bread racks stand garnished with pots and pans or used as linen storage, which is practical because the wheels allow for quick and easy access and lend to a rollaway storage option. While incredibly stylish, these elements contribute to a wonderfully nostalgic vibe that could cause even the most well read scholar to pause and imagine what life must have been like in earlier centuries.
Perhaps this is the motivation behind the grandmillennial style? To feel something one has never experienced before, but also feel totally at home in the comfort of it, similar to what it must be like to relive childhood memories of Thanksgiving spent at Grandma’s house.
Andrea Beaton Mickaels, the owner and curator at Off the Beaton Path, is exponentially knowledgeable and creative when articulating furniture, styles and the people that will go with them.
“We started this store because I could not find the pieces that I was picturing in my mind,” Mickaels said. “Which has led us to make quite a few of our projects and to search for the elements that would create what I envision.”
While Mickaels and her husband Kirk try to limit the builds that they do in-house, some things just have to be created, she said.
“When we hit the road to shop, we can be gone for three days, and in that time, we travel about 2,000 miles,” Mickaels said. "It can be a lot, but we love it.
“We work primarily with seven vendors, and when we take to the road, we have a pretty good idea of what we are looking for in most cases. Although, if we are staging a home, there are times that we may veer off of our path and just stop to shop and look. But that doesn't happen often.”
Mickaels said that most of the vendors and private warehouses they frequent were discovered through relationships fostered by networking.
“We work with vendors from Broomfield to the Paris Flea Market. We purchase Turkish water pots and Kilim fabric pillows and purses from a group in Turkey. We also work with Hungarian and Belgium dealers and frequent private warehouses. Sometimes we go to the Atlanta Market to fill in empty spaces at the shop with new stuff. That place is incredible,” Mickaels said. “But I credit my husband for those relationships because it is his personality that allowed us to meet the right dealers through networking.”
But Mickaels said that it is not just shopping and socializing for her and Kirk. They do have to source out good quality antiques.
“When we walk into a 50- or 60,000-square-foot building that a dealer might have, Andi will go one way and I will go another,” Kirk said. “We do a sweep of the entire building. She will see things that I do not see and vice versa. And when we meet back in the middle, we have a discussion. We may walk the floor again. Together this time and point out what we like to each other. If we both like an item or see a vision for it, we will usually come home with it.”
Occasionally, though, the Mickaels get lucky.
“Sometimes, people who are moving or have acquired a house will come in and ask if we want to come to pick it,” Michaels said. "Those opportunities are the true treasures.
“We knew a couple that had been dealers for over 40 years. They had two barns, a large workshop and a large old house. They called us one day and asked us if we wanted to come to pick pieces because they were retiring. We were overjoyed. What an amazing treasure that was.”
Kim Shelton at Sweet Pick’ins in Dadeville also truly appreciates when her clients reach out for her to come and delve through their things.
“I have people call me when they get tired of paying for their storage units,” Shelton said. “I will go and search through them and take what I think I can up-cycle and resale. So it is always a blessing when I get those calls.”
Shelton loves to dig through storage units and old homes to find valuable pieces that can be upcycled. She frequents Facebook Marketplace, looks for curbside pickups and visits thrift stores, shops and yard sales in a quest to find perfectly nostalgic, timely furniture that her customers often look for in her shop.
Shelton joked that she opened her shop so that she could shop. And while Sweet Pick’ins does host an array of painted and upcycled buffets, tables and accent pieces that Shelton has purchased herself, she also takes special requests and works on private projects for her clients.
“If my customer comes in and wants something painted, I always ask for pictures of everything,” said Shelton, who has been stripping and painting furniture since she was 8 or 9 years old.
“I want to see the furniture that I am painting in its organic space so that I know what other types of styles and furniture will be sharing the design. These elements help me determine if the piece should be an accent piece that would add a pop of color to the room or if the furniture should be neutral, like white, gray or black to complement what they already have in the room.”
Shelton said that most vintage furniture is made of natural wood, which means it can be painted and repainted, or it can be stripped totally clean, and the client will still have a nice piece of furniture or a great accent piece to use in their home.
“I have taken entertainment centers that TVs do not fit in and turned them into coffee bars,” Shelton said. “Curio cabinets can become bookshelves, and footboards and headboards can become entryway benches. The possibilities are unlimited.”
However, according to Shelton, there have been times when she had a vision in mind, and the furniture just would not cooperate. She would then have to scrap her original idea and go in a totally different design direction.
“Have you ever heard a singer say ‘the song just spoke to me’ or an actor say ‘I was called to do take on this role. It called to me’? Well, furniture does that to me,” Shelton said. “Furniture calls to me. I just love it.”
So while Sweet Pick’ins and Off the Beaton Path may be completely different from the outside looking in, they both share a love for antiques and natural wood (even if Shelton prefers to paint it). They also enjoy creating beautiful, cozy spaces where their clients can unwind at the end of a long day.
So, whether grandmillennial is the style of the future or just a quick blip in the past, it is evident that nostalgic, colorful and comfortable living quarters are desired amongst many, not just millennials.