Boston Home Winter 2010: Open House: Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent

By Sascha de Gersdorff | Boston Home |

"How many times can i say the words ‘yard sale’?" asks John Meyers. The answer: a lot. He and his wife, Linda, partners in the design firm Wary Meyers Decorative Arts, are explaining how their Portland, Maine, home came to be filled with décor from other people’s homes. Almost nothing in their two-story apartment was bought new—not the ’70s-era green sofa, not the pair of Pierre Paulin "Groovy" chairs, not the smattering of Bargello needlepoint pillows, not even most of the clothes in Linda’s closet. "Why would you go to a store to buy these things when they’re out there at flea markets and tag sales?" John wonders.

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The two haven’t always lived in Maine (they relocated from New York in 2004), but they’ve always been artsy, frugal, and extremely handy. A former Anthropologie store-display director and an advertising art director, respectively, John and Linda have an affinity for found and vintage furnishings—and the know-how to put them together. Their two-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot home is chock-full of mix-and-match pieces like leather and wood Eames chairs ($250 for two at a flea market) and a bright pink and purple midcentury woven rug ($10 at a yard sale), plus several items they built themselves. Thanks to careful placement and an aesthetic John describes as "bohemian-hippie-handmade," their home is quirky, comfortable, and surprisingly sophisticated.

John and Linda’s design studio occupies the first floor, where they transform reclaimed materials into cool pieces of furniture and artful accessories. The studio’s table is a prime example of the pair’s work: Built of weathered wooden planks, it has the look and feel of a picnic table. Upstairs in their living quarters, natural light streams through large windows into their robin’s-egg blue living room, colorful dining room, and kitchen. "We look for things that have some history and character to them," says John of the home’s eclectic groupings of wicker chairs, plastic tables, and offbeat pottery. "It’s kind of crowded, but every space is filled with something we love."

In addition to combing through Craigslist and the local papers for potential treasures, the pair often spend weekends driving around the area in their truck, trolling estate and tag sales for unique finds that they can transform for themselves and their clients. At home, they lounge in the living room, playing with their three cats and flipping through a large library of design books. They can now count one of their own among the collection: The couple recently published Wary Meyers’ Tossed & Found: Unconventional Design from Cast-offs, an illustrated tome that highlights some of their most inventive creations (with DIY instructions), including a funky lamp made from blue sewer-piping and a pig-shaped doorstop fashioned from a leather Louis Vuitton bag. Where did most of the materials in the book come from? Where else? "Yard sales," laughs John.