Wary Meyers Decorative Arts

Wary Meyers Decorative Arts, dresser

Linda and John Meyers of Wary Meyers Decorative Arts assemble these mod, chic, distinctly 1960s and 70s interiors almost entirely from furniture and objects they find in thrift and vintage sales. They’ve produced some great interior design projects for clients but shown here is their own house in Portland, Maine, which is by now quite well-known. I’m showing it rather than their other excellent projects because here they’re free to be the wildest and the most purely 60s. Their entertaining new blog documents their peripatetic treasure-hunt in what amounts to a decor road movie (photos at bottom are from the blog). There’s something really unerring about their  creative re-use and re-work of the past, their re-introduction of the 60s with its emphasis on pleasure and experience and its occasional psychedelia, and just generally their sense of adventure and adept historical juxtaposition. Much of their material is actually early modernist to midcentury modernist but the ultimate effect is the specific risk-taking quality of the post-50s era. I wish there were more members of this particular design army but it’s gratifying to see that their work is getting plenty of recognition. See the article in the NYT (or click below to read the text). 

Wary Meyers Decorative Arts, studio

Wary Meyers Decorative Arts, living room

Wary Meyers Decorative Arts, closet

Wary Meyers Decorative Arts, living room

Below, from the blog

Dansk salt & pepper, Wary Meyers Decorative Arts

Still life with Dansk salt and pepper shakers.

"Linda walking toward disappointment."

Above, “Linda walking toward disappointment.” Below, their post says “This worn old Le Corbusier Basculant chair was at a middle school’s sale on Saturday amidst piles of shin guards and Harry Potter books.” Further below, Gerald Thurston lamp. Photo at bottom is just captioned “dreamhouse.”

Le Corbusier Basculant chair by Wary Meyers Decorative Arts

gerald thurston lamp

Biddeford Pool, Maine by Wary Meyers

Lastly, “Waffles grabbed a bee.”

Waffles grabbed a bee, by Wary Meyers Decorative Arts


Shopping for Garage Sale Finds with Linda Wary and John Meyers


Published: August 13, 2008


FEELING CAREFREE Linda Wary and John Meyers say they are inspired by the ’60s and ’70s.

Shopping | Salvage Artists

MANY Americans attend garage sales as a summer pastime, but Linda Wary and John Meyers, a husband-and-wife team of interior designers, look to them as their bread and butter. Unlike typical decorators, who work with swatches and catalogs, Ms. Wary and Mr. Meyers get all of their materials from garage sales and flea markets in Maine. Mostly they seek midcentury modern and Danish-inspired furniture. “This is the last frontier for finding this stuff,” said Ms. Wary, 36, who used to work as a freelance art director in New York before forming Wary Meyers Decorative Arts in Portland with her husband four years ago. Sales in and around Portland, she said, are not nearly as picked over as those closer to New York.

All of their clients are in New York, but Ms. Wary and Mr. Meyers base themselves in Portland because of the cheaper rent, simpler lifestyle and, most important, the lucrative garage sales. From the beginning of summer until the first snow, they are on the hunt. What they find they store in their basement, keeping couches, chairs and picture frames on hand for future projects.

Their interiors are almost always inspired by the ’60s and ’70s. “We like the sort of carefree optimism” of that era, Ms. Wary said, “how nature and psychedelia mixed with design.”

The items they find are cleaned and sometimes refinished. Some pieces are remade through sanding and painting, and others are taken apart and reassembled with new hardware or bases. “We like to decorate with a sense of history, mixing in modern with wear and character,” said Mr. Meyers, 41, formerly the display director for Anthropologie, the chain of clothing and home furnishings stores.

On a recent foggy Saturday morning, with The Portland Press Herald’s garage sale listings open on Ms. Wary’s lap, the two made their way to the first stop of the day. “When it says sports cards and wicker baskets, our expectations are really low,” Ms. Wary said.

They split up, as they do at most sales, hunting and pecking through old jelly jars and kitchen utensils spread on card tables, reconvening to inspect an old trunk. Mr. Meyers liked the worn patina; Ms. Wary was partial to the lettering. The seller wanted $25. They offered $20, but the seller would not budge. The couple debated the trunk’s merits in a hushed discussion and agreed to give her the asking price.

Sometimes they find a piece that needs little work. Other times they buy parts: a tulip base from a worn vinyl chair bought for $1 at one sale, and at another, a wide, heavy slab of wood that they picked up for $5. Mr. Meyers loved the saw lines on the surface, saying the detail showed the labor it took to cut it. He planned to pair it with the base to make a side table.

For anyone seeking a great find at a garage sale, Ms. Wary and Mr. Meyers suggest a couple of rules to follow. Go to every sale advertised, they say, get there early, and follow signs posted on telephone poles to unadvertised sales. (Just a few weeks ago they found a Dansk teak desk in perfect condition for only $40 by following such a sign.)

After their Saturday of garage sales, they headed on Sunday to Arundel, Me., about 25 miles south of Portland, to visit an outdoor flea market and indoor antique mall. At the flea market’s first table, Mr. Meyers found an old leather vise, probably used for sewing harnesses at farms, the seller said. “I’d affix this with a dowel to a piece of Lucite or a wood block” to make an objet d’art, Mr. Meyers said. “The shape reminds me of Brancusi’s ‘Bird in Space’ sculpture.” The seller also had an old leather carriage seat. Mr. Meyers wanted to build a base for it to make an ottoman. The seller wanted $8 for the vise and $15 for the seat.

At one table, they found a Scandinavian vase, and at the antiques mall next door, a fruit basket made of wood.

While others might see only junk, they pick through every last piece. “

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4 Responses to “Wary Meyers Decorative Arts”

  1. Tim Bennett Says:

    Your picture “Waffles grabbed a bee” is on the popular list at Reddit.com today. Cute cat!

  2. Custom Woodworking Says:

    Very classic in design. I believe there would always be some infusions of the 60’s 70’s interior designs in today’s modern interiors.

  3. Kelly Says:

    I first learned of Wary Meyers here http://www.aliceindesignland.com/blog/designer-showcase-wary-meyers.html and now I can’t get enough of them. Their work is so inspirational.

  4. ma val Says:

    Breathtaking!!! You so inspired me!

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