Greene House Shops Antique Mall aims to keep Greene green

By Susan Gibbs

By now most people know that the Greene House Shops Antique Mall in Ruckersville is a gold mine for antiquers and collectors of both the small and the large.

The Greene House Shops Antique Mall is a gold mine for those who want to repurpose things

They know that the two-story Mall is home to more than 55 shops filled to their brims with furniture,  paintings, silver, china, quilts, jewelry, Civil War relics, ironworks, lace, primitives, coins, toys, crocks and much, much more.

But it is also a gold mine for those gifted with good taste but burdened with tight budgets, as well as for those who advocate going green – which, in décor-speak, says Greene House Shops Manager Gertrude Cox, translates into the “repurposing of things.”

Consider the following:

While reports are stating that the great recession is officially over and that the country is slowly recovering, they also show that the percentage of mothers in the workforce is slowly declining and that more and more people are holding on to their money.

Reports are also beginning to indicate that while this increase in the number of stay-at-home moms and new-found thriftiness is due more to chance than choice, people are beginning to cope.

USA Today has reported that thrift stores are thriving. The image of such stores has changed from dimly-lit repositories for the no-longer-useful to one of brightly lit, well-organized shops where hand-me-down designer clothes can be found for next-to-nothing prices.

Just as the image of thrift shops has changed, so is the image of antique shops changing. No longer considered a symbol of fuddyduddyness and old –fogeydom, they have become fashionable and trendy.

“Green is hot and antiques are green,” writes John Fiske, editor-in-chief of New England Antiques Journal.

Mall Manager Gertrude Cox is happy to help people achieve a comfortable, peaceful look in their homes

But they are more than hot – they fit an emerging American lifestyle, in which saving money is becoming a point of pride, decorators are saying. Antique and vintage items, repurposed or refurbished or not, reduce the need to purchase new items by being built to last for years. They can be used in new and creative ways when their original purpose is past, allowing their owners to take advantage of high-quality material while furnishing their homes with utility, beauty and historical interest.

While people are trending toward homes that are smaller, they want those homes to be laid-back and user-friendly, according to a recent American Institute of Architects survey.  Formal living rooms are out, while some combination of kitchens and great rooms are in. And those rooms are being used “intensely,” notes AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker.

Alongside this newfound enjoyment of their homes, families are re-discovering an appreciation for home décor that enhances their living spaces without busting their budgets.

“More than ever before, now is the time for people to be comfortable with themselves and their families in their homes,” says Cox, who spends much of her spare time pouring through magazines looking for new decorating ideas for old things that will achieve that end.

She recommends decorating according to individual personality with a variety of period antiques, primitives, and accessories that will achieve a Shabby Chic style – which she defines as the personality that turns an ordinary house into a warm and inviting home.

While the Shabby Chic decorating style started off in the early 1980s as a high-end evocation of the type of unassuming good taste found in large English country houses, it has evolved into a style that is about using repurposed things, coupled with creativity, leading to affordability.

Since the 1980s, the style has taken its inspiration from many forms of décor, becoming a timeless, casual look that blends worn wood furnishings with fabrics and colors to make one feel “comfortable, as well as peaceful,” says Cox.

The look, decorators say, encompasses, in addition to real wood furniture, wrought iron, tin, pottery, cotton, linen and lace – all of which can be found at the Greene House Shops.

Real wood furniture, quality accessories can be blended with linen and lace to create a Shabby Chic look

There, Cox and others can show customers how “green” mirrors can be used to decorate a room while creating a feeling of added space; how old spring loaded scales, once used on farms, can find new life attached to a ceiling and used to hold plants; how an old nail keg can be used as an umbrella holder; or how an old herb dryer can become a pot rack.

At the Greene House Shops people can learn how the creative reuse of shelves, benches, tables, dressers, and cabinets can give their homes a totally new look; how the earthy tones used in primitive décor make them feel relaxed; and that shabby, combined with primitive, adds a touch of elegance.

Take the kitchen area, for example: many interior designers encourage the use of furniture intended to show its age in kitchens filled with sleek modern appliances – and while new artificially “distressed” reproductions can be found in high-end furniture showrooms, the real thing can be found at the Greene House Shops for a fraction of the cost.

As can all the accessories to go with.

Decorators are saying that people are now looking for accessories, as well as furniture, that make the place where they take their family meals a gathering place, where they can linger around a table set in an inviting, peaceful fashion.

Before rushing off to buy something new people should stop by the Greene House Shops and go green by buying something old, Cox says.  There, they can find complete sets, or pieces to mix and match – which are not just green, but make for a healthier lifestyle.

All sorts of things can be found to mix and to match at the Greene House Shops

“Most of us were told to clean our plates when we were young, and many of us still feel that need,” says Cox. “But over the past few decades plate sizes have expanded – from nine inches to the current 12 inches — along with the portions placed upon them, so people are eating more.”

Health experts say that eating large portions is one of the biggest problems leading to staggeringly unhealthy weight gain. By placing meals on smaller surfaces, people automatically reduce their food consumption and excess calorie intake, thus achieving weight loss.

The Greene House Shops are chock full of the old nine inch plates, and all the appropriate glassware and flatware needed to compliment the rest of the décor in new, smaller, family-friendly homes – and all of it is “green.”

The Greene House Shops Antique Mall is located just 15 minutes north of Charlottesville and 15 minutes east of Skyline Drive, fronting the Gateway Market Center at the intersection of US 29 and 33in Ruckersville.

It is open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday from 10:30 am until 5:30 pm, and on Sundays from noon until 5 pm. For more information, call (434) 985-6053 or visit www.greenehouseshops.com.

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