For salvage stylist Amy Hughes, it’s all about the hunt. Hughes scours flea markets, estate sales and auctions to find unique home furnishings. Some of her discoveries end up in Salvage Style, her vintage-furniture store in Maplewood. But some are just too appealing to let go. She gives these a new home in her own home.
Hughes has a thing for vivid colors. She’s particularly fond of Hollywood Regency designs, but is also a sucker for mid-century modern. She’s crazy about Lucite. And she loves a bargain. “I’m always out hunting,” says Hughes. “I look for nicely made pieces that have great style.”
Hughes’s sense of style is evident in Salvage Style. The store is the anchor tenant within Maplewood Mercantile, a 3,000-square-foot cooperative marketplace she launched in April 2017. Salvage Style offers reclaimed items, some classic, some mid-century modern. Hughes refinishes and/or reupholsters some items; others are already in pristine condition.
Her eclectic blending of old and new is also seen in every room of the 1916 Colonial Revival house in Maplewood she shares with husband Jonathan Schuppe and their two children, Vivienne, 11, and Nicholas, 5. When they moved in a year ago, the house—designed by noted Maplewood architect Kenneth Dalzell—looked nothing like it does now. “It was blah and beige,” says Hughes. “That’s my nemesis.”
Nothing in the home is too precious. “We have two kids, two pets,” says Hughes. “We really live in this house. I can’t have perfect.” Case in point: the Italian leather sofa in the living room she found “dirt cheap” in a thrift shop in Asbury Park. “It’s the Holy Grail for me,” she jokes. “I looked for it for about 20 years.” The perfectly imperfect sofa is very worn, she claims. “It’s really well worn; it’s like an old football helmet. The dog sits on the couch and I don’t care.”
The coffee table is another prime example. It has an original Saarinen tulip base (by the renowned Finnish architect and designer) with a replacement marble top. Hughes found it “as is” eight years ago for $200 in a Brooklyn thrift shop. It still serves its purpose while looking fresh and hip. “I like to have a license to not worry,” Hughes says. “We beat it up and don’t worry about it.”
Similarly, the dining room table, made of Lucite, was discovered at an auction for a whopping $100. Dining room chairs, also a bargain, were reupholstered in a playful Marimekko fabric, adding color to the room.
The kitchen is a study in repurposing and refreshing. The narrow layout felt cramped, with bulky upper cabinets and an oversized valance over the sink. “There were corner cabinets jutting out over the countertop,” says Hughes. “I kept bumping my head!” So she replaced the upper cabinets with open shelving. “I gave the narrow galley an airier feel and opened up the counter area,” she says. She hired a carpenter to create a new coffee counter on an open wall in the adjacent breakfast room using pieces of old cabinets. “We painted it to match the kitchen cabinets and added more open shelving above to boost storage and reinforce the connection between the two rooms,” explains Hughes.
Hughes found the breakfast-room table on sale at Restoration Hardware. She loved the base, but the original reclaimed elm barnwood top was problematic. “The rough-hewn surface gave us splinters,” she says. Her carpenter refinished the surface, then filled in the chips and voids with resin topped by three coats of a clear, food-grade finish. It’s now a warm honey color that matches the open shelving. “It serves as a combo prep table and breakfast bar,” says Hughes.
Most of the artwork displayed throughout the home was found on the cheap. For example, she discovered the colorful painting in the kitchen at a church rummage sale for $4. “It became my inspiration for the colors in the kitchen,” she says. Most walls in the home have been painted in Simply White by Benjamin Moore. That puts the focus on the artwork and accessories.
The home remains a work in progress. “I’m always on the road looking for something that makes me smile,” she says. “This house is never done.”
Resources: Salvage Style in Maplewood, 201-921-5112.