We take pride in customizing homes for our clients’ aesthetic and functional needs, and we love partnering with Bay Area interior design professionals who do the same. Amy Frederickson is one of them. Her boutique firm, Revitaliste, specializes in antique furnishings restored and customized for the modern home. She calls on the best local artisans in each phase of the furniture restoration process for a beautiful and well-crafted product. Whether restoring your grandmother’s china cabinet or finding that perfect flea market side table, Amy and her team will leave you with a one of a kind piece that tells a story. Keep reading to get inspired about the value of vintage and how to incorporate the old and new in your next Bay Area interior design project.
Q&A: Bay Area Interior Design Firm, Revitaliste
How did you develop the Revitaliste concept and what makes you crazy about vintage?
I love unique things. To furnish my home, I have always sought out diamond-in-the-rough furniture at flea markets, thrift shops or while traveling abroad that I can revitalize to fit my personal aesthetic. These pieces have fantastic stories that I love to share with people when they come into my home. Over the course of nearly 20 years in New York, I developed a network of skilled artisans in every area of furniture revitalization. When we moved to SF several years ago, I had no artisan Rolodex so I relied on Yelp and personal recommendations with some rather disastrous results. It was these negative experiences coupled with the incredibly inefficient process associated with revitalizing furniture that propelled me to build a company that makes it super simple to revitalize furniture with a network of the highest quality artisans.
How do you identify good bones and high quality craftsmanship in vintage furniture; in other words something worth the investment to bring back to life?
There are no hard and fast rules about what is worthy of revitalization. However, we always start discussions with clients by asking if a piece really speaks to them. My point of view is that if you adore it, then it is worthwhile to revitalize it. Adoring a piece can of course result from loving its lines or having a sentimental attachment but it can also result from a piece perfectly suiting your needs, such as its functionality or scale. I personally look for unique shapes or details, timeless lines and pieces with provenance. Furniture manufactured before the advent of mass-production or newer pieces manufactured by venerable brands (Baker, Hickory Chair, etc) are built for revitalization again and again. After being revitalized, it’s like a new piece structurally and aesthetically.
To help people make decisions about what to revitalize, we made a fun decision tree. It has been one of our most popular blog posts!
In your opinion, why put in the time and effort to rescue old pieces when there’s plenty of brand new furniture available?
First and foremost, uniqueness. Having a one-of-a-kind piece is an expression of your individuality and gives character and richness to a home. Taking an existing piece of furniture and transforming it to fit your style is the ultimate in up-cycled decor. Rather than manufacturing overseas and shipping great distances, revitalized pieces are customized locally; this is doubly beneficial as local production has a lower carbon footprint and supports local artisans.
In the past it was effortful to rescue and revitalize a beloved piece. Revitaliste’s service makes the revitalization process a snap: we’ve streamlined the process by eliminating the onerous parts (finding the right artisan, delivery logistics, getting a firm quote) so clients can just focus on the exciting part…designing a uniquely beautiful piece!
How do you hope your pieces will inspire clients and add to their living environment in terms of texture, history and aesthetics?
A revitalized piece is an expression of one’s individuality and personal style; it brings character and authenticity into a home. And these pieces are soulful: whether they’re family heirlooms, purchased at a flea market, found by the curb or simply well loved, they have lived other lives and have a history to tell. Our clients find it gratifying to have a one-of-kind piece and share the story of how it came into their life and how they transformed it; infinitely more interesting than ordering a model number through an online catalogue!
Let’s talk money. What do you tell Bay Area interior design clients about budget expectations, especially in comparison to the retail market?
Comparing a revitalized piece to a retail piece of furniture is an apples-to-oranges comparison.
While the cost to revitalize a piece is similar to (or occasionally more than) the cost to purchase a new retail piece, the end product is vastly different. Revitalization is customization; the end product is a bespoke object. There is an intangible value to having a one-of-a-kind treasure. An apples-to-apples cost comparison would be between a revitalized piece and a custom-built piece of furniture. When making this comparison, revitalization is in fact a more economical option.
It’s important to avoid the temptation to take shortcuts in revitalizing a piece: it may lower the cost in the short term but will be more expensive in the long term. For example, don’t upholster over existing fabrics or lacquer over old finishes. Likewise, it is important to invest in quality fabrics and finishes that are appropriate for the piece’s intended use; a young family should not upholster a high-use sofa in cotton sateen or light linen, for instance.
When it comes to furniture restoration, what does good craftsmanship mean to you?
Revitaliste’s artisan network is the backbone of our business model. We are committed to providing the highest level of craftsmanship in furniture revitalization. Each artisan we work with has years of experience, passion for their trade, acute attention to detail, strong communication, commitment to customer satisfaction and never takes shortcuts. We view our artisans as partners and, quite simply, true artists.
Give us a quick fabric 101. What should homeowners consider in texture, comfort, durability and cleaning?
We work with a lot of young families who don’t want to sacrifice style for usability. Today there are many amazingly chic indoor/outdoor fabrics that are equally stain-resistant and durable as they are stylish. And the price points are hard to beat.
Linen and cotton upholstery fabric is very popular mainly because of the vast selection of beautiful patterns and colors. The choices are limitless!
Leather and faux-leathers are incredibly durable and easy to clean. But these fabrics are easily marked with scratches (especially by the claws of four-legged friends).
How do you help clients choose the perfect paint type and color, taking into consideration usage and style?
Some clients simply need a little inspiration. Our blog, before/after portfolio and curated fabric pages may be all it takes to design their dream piece. For clients who seek more assistance, we offer online design guidance. Clients complete a quick questionnaire and Revitaliste presents several design options.
Get more inspiration for your Bay Area interior design project at Revitaliste.