Moving from the arid climes of Arizona to bustling Nashville, Tennessee, Melissa Lewis, interior designer and owner of Found Interiors, was happy to discover the city’s many flea markets.
“It wasn’t easy finding antiques in the deserts of Arizona,” she admits, recalling with a laugh how she carefully boxed her treasures for the move. Nothing was left behind, especially not her cherished chandelier. “I was afraid potential buyers would think it came with the house!” The chandelier fits her aesthetic of gilt accents and shabby elegance.
But it was in Franklin, a suburb just outside Nashville, where Melissa embraced her passion for flea-market finds. From historic bricks reassembled to adorn her fireplace to antique lanterns hanging above her kitchen table, her décor embraces a mix of old and new. “It’s hard having your house look like a model home, where people are afraid to touch anything or sit down,” she says. “The old and imperfect pieces make people feel more comfortable.”
Piecing It All Together
Many of the unique fixtures and antiques in Melissa’s home have their own stories to tell. The kitchen’s exquisite lanterns, for example, hail from New Orleans, where Melissa had discovered them in a tiny, humble shop off the beaten track. “It made no sense to buy them. They weren’t even electrified! I just knew I wanted to bring them back to life,” she says.
One of the home’s most striking design features is a once-bare wall leading to the basement that was revived with a hodgepodge of gorgeous paper cut silhouette portraits. Displaying a collection together, Melissa says, creates a powerful vibe.
But in many ways, her home also celebrates incomplete items in various states of disrepair. A lone Corinthian column leans in a corner of the house, while in the same room pieces of discarded crystals from chandeliers long gone rest in an ornate silver cup. Hanging on the wall in the dining room, a broken mirror charms many a guest to the home.
Melissa had seen the mirror crack and break one day, as it tumbled down off a shelf in a flea market. She repurposed the frame by attaching it to a section of barn wood. “I enjoy seeing two pieces not meant to be together suddenly brought together,” she says. “If something really speaks to me, I’ll find a place for it and a way to use it.”
Sprinkled throughout her home, numerous gilt frames and vintage sign holders in tarnished silver add pops of understated elegance. Sometimes the sign holders feature old book pages and postcards from Melissa’s adventures. Other times, they are left empty on purpose.
In the dining room, an elegant mirror frame has been attached to some barn wood to create a beautiful display. Sometimes ornate frames can be more interesting than the art, Melissa says.
Atop a low chest of drawers in her bedroom, empty picture frames seem more enchanting than the art work they might display. Meanwhile a large bookshelf houses several old metal sign holders, which came in a box full of similar items Melissa bought from a flea market for only five dollars. Unique pieces add character to a home, she says.
A New Life
With her own home, Melissa tries to think outside the box, and many of the items in her home she has repurposed, fixed or made herself. An old sack meant for grain covers an antique bench in her master bedroom. Meanwhile, vintage metal signs now feature old book pages and postcards she collected on her adventures. And a table, once another color, is now white. “I liked its silhouette and lines,” she says, but the original paint job failed to complement the home’s color scheme—white, black, gold and silver. “Paint is your best friend! It’s amazing what can be done with it!”
“Don’t be afraid to break the rules,” Melissa says of decorating. Besides, she insists, repurposed pieces add character to a home. “I never settle for something as is.”