Friday, October 8, 2010


Look at this...

After several hours it looks like this:

After a couple days it looks like this:

Who's the magician you ask? Read on...

Theresa Smith of Time Worn Interiors is sick. I swear, that’s what she told me. Here are her exact words:

“I think it’s some kind of sickness…”

She was referring to her habit of sorting through trash, hauling it back to her house and working her fingers to the bone to make it into treasure.

She (along with her husband, Craig) strip, sand, weld, paint, hammer, and screw every bit they pick up. Then they take it on the road, designing jaw-dropping vignettes from all that upcycled treasure. After all the work they drive 1,000 miles or more from their home in Kentucky to sell at venues like Brimfield in Massachusetts and the Marburger show in Texas.

I think she may be right; this must be some kind of sickness…

Having set up and sold at Brimfield (the July 2010 was my 15th show) I can attest to the amount of work. It is brutal, back breaking work…and if you do the job perfectly, you’ll end up selling the things you put your heart and soul into, things that you’re a bit sad to see leave.

Why would anyone work that hard making something so special, only to watch it snapped up by some eager customer, carried off to someone else’s house…

That does sound sick doesn’t it?

Twenty years ago, when my husband and I set up housekeeping, we did what we-as a young New England couple-were “supposed” to do. We bought lovely antiques, a mahogany dining set, upholstered furniture and oriental carpets.  The dining room was papered in hand-blocked English wallpaper, the rest of the house painted after consultation with a “colorist.” It was all very “grown up,” very sedate… Oh yea, and very boring.

I knew something was amiss when I realized my favorite room was a storeroom in the basement. It housed a collection of shabby and chipped, mostly light colored-not a stick of mahogany in sight-stuff. Piles of antique papers, hundreds of buttons, childrens books with tattered and worn covers and wobbly furniture…the flotsam and jetsam of life. A letter, dating from the early 1900’s that began with the sentance “I have so missed the society of your pen…”

Throngs of people wait at the gate on opening day at Brimfield’s New England Motel, many of them run straight to Time Worn Interiors jam packed booth.

She is a design magician and her vignettes never disappoint. Trays piled high with buttons grace dressers that proudly show their worn paint and soft edges. Bits of lace trail over the top of an ancient mirror, old books pages soft and well worn piled high.  An iron gate, leftover from a fence, stood atop a table with framed pictures and mirrors attached, rings of skeleton keys dangling. Shiny industrial tables, once cast offs, artfully mixed side by side with chippy painted furniture. Lights that look like they came from Jetsons deftly combine with crystal chandeliers.

In the center, a portico, faded white paint showing signs of age, that had once graced the area above the front door of someone’s home, now used decoratively over a settee…the mailbox still attached.

“There’s still mail in that box” Theresa said, in her soft Kentucky accent” I just couldn’t bring myself to take it out.”

When I walked into Theresa and Craig Smiths booth (at Brimfield) it hit me like a ton of bricks. I can actually live with the things I love!

Where some people see trash, Theresa and Craig, see treasure. They see possibilities in the torn and frayed, the worn and thrown out. Do you see the round light in the center of the photo above? Right by the number 6, yes, that one...I think that used to be a fan!

A babydolls head in a belle jar??? And it looks great (you can bet I'll have a baby head in a belle jar in my place soon:)!

At the end of the day, their tent is filled with “SOLD” signs. On more than one occasion Theresa and Craig have left the show early-because they sold out.
 Although I wouldn’t call it a sickness, I do believe that what Theresa has is inborn, a talent that cannot be taught, something that drives her (like all artists.) It reminds me of something my ballet teacher said when I asked why she chose ballet…”I had no choice, I had to dance.” Dancing was a part of her the same way her arms or her legs were a part of her.

And that, I suppose, is the artist…the person born with creativity seeping out their pores, they have no choice, it’s like eye color or the lilt of ones voice, it’s simply who they are.

Theresa and Craig taught me that elegance can be time worn, that taste and style are subjective-not to be found in magazines, but in one’s heart. I don’t have to live with stuffy mahogany and heavy carpets. I can live in a house full of chipped and cracked, lovingly used objects, things that echo a history and tell a story worth hearing.

Theresa and Craig Smith’s magic can be found at:

All photos property of Time Worn Interiors


  1. I'm always happy to see that all the junk I put out for bulk garbage day is gone before the garbage truck gets there.

  2. You are so right girl...TOT and Craig are the bomb, two of the sweetest peeps you'll ever meet. I don't get to see them as much as I'd like, but each time is a joy...AND a hoot!

    I'll post a plug right now...thanks for the heads up and hopefully some day we'll get to meet too!


  3. You're right about Time Worn Interiors; I've visited their booth at Brimfield. Theresa is an artist!

    "I have so missed the society of your pen ..." I just love that.

  4. Thanks for the sweet words Jackie! We love what we do!

  5. Then please stay sick, the vignettes are wonderful!