The old, the new and the utterly unique

This city is home to a variety of unique home furnishing stores, one for almost every home and personality. The Southwest Journal shopped around this summer to find these four diverse home decorating destinations:

City Salvage
507 1st Ave. NE

For a taste of history walk into City Salvage, a little brick building that is bigger on the inside than it would appear from its small storefront. City Salvage has a touch of old-time flair with its multiple glass chandeliers hanging above lamps of pharaohs, genies and matadors that light up the interior from their positions on countertops.

City Salvage has been in the same location for 12 of its 20 years, maintaining a reputation for dealing in architectural antiques from the late-nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century.

“After 1960 and 1970 there really isn’t anything worthwhile,” said owner John Eckley. “The ’80s were horrible, the ’90s got a little better [and] I can see in 20 years everyone is going to be bringing in IKEA pieces.”

A recent addition to the shop’s collection is an original 1890 mantle salvaged from the home of William McNair, who served as Hennepin County attorney from 1861 to 1865. Made of gleaming Cuban mahogany, it stands over eight feet tall and contains well-formed cabinets, secure shelves and an aged mirror.

“It was in really rough shape when we got the mantel,” Eckley said. “People took it out of the mansion and had it stored for almost 40 or 50 years. We got it from them nearly a month ago and we restored it.”

Since strict conservation laws protect Cuban mahogany, the rare wood is almost exclusively available in antique pieces like the mantel.

“The biggest appeal is that no one makes stuff like this anymore,” Eckley said. “A mantle like this, to be made, would cost you $50,000 dollars — if you could find the wood.”

City Salvage appeals to architects, designers and the shoppers who stop in to explore its array of historical furnishings. Many pieces have a quality that is hard to find in modern furnishings.

“I think that people who appreciate good, quality things — and fine cars, and fine antiques — that they find quality in this place,” Eckley said.

Piccadilly Prairie
5014 Xerxes Ave. S.

In contrast to City Salvage, Piccadilly Prairie, run by Lacey Brooker, takes the old, the decrepit and the nearly falling apart and creates something new.

The store gives the impression of a building falling down around your ears. The paint peeling off the walls is intentional, as are the man-made holes in the ceiling. The look reflects Brooker’s skill of turning the dilapidated into something of value.

“Half is what I find, and what strikes me … while half is people who come to me and they want something specific,” Brooker said. “I really like using quality materials and designing, seeing something that everyone else sees as a piece of garbage and I see some other vision with it.”

Two old chicken incubators are an example of this.

One that now stands at about shin height was cleaned, sanded and stained a darker color, then sealed with a glossy finish before it was ready for sale. Its original legs were replaced with shorter legs from a 1960s-era teachers desk, turning it into a perfect coffee table.

Brooker kept other incubator about waist height, as it was to begin with. Narrower than the coffee-table incubator, this one was simply cleaned and sealed to complete its transformation into a small desk.

“The doors open where they put the eggs, which are great for seasonal display, or to put books in for the coffee table, or store desk supplies in,” Brooker said. “We really specialize in finding things that were in bad disrepair, and not necessarily just refinishing them or redoing them the way some places do, but repurposing them into completely different items.”

Artsy Digs
4760 Grand Ave. S.

If the antique, industrial or repurposed doesn’t do it for you, maybe Artsy Digs — with its chic, artsy pieces — will.

Artsy Digs doesn’t just sell unique, newer pieces but also classic, nearly untouched farm furniture, as well. It’s a mixture of a gift shop and a furnishing store offering both classic designs and newer designs meant to mirror the classics.

A mirror framed with pieces of old pop cans hangs from a wall. “Happy Days” mugs and old lunch boxes sit on a vintage bookcase. Elsewhere, an old potting table holds jasmine chai tea and shea butter soap, while a vintage vanity sits off to the side with some old school desks.

“A lot of these things come from people’s childhoods,” said Artsy Digs owner Lisa Gilroyed. “If I had a dollar for every day somebody said ‘I had something like this when I was little.’

“It brings back a lot of memories, things you forget about and then you see it and remember,” Gilroyed continued. “It’s a way to have a piece of childhood
but yet function in your house
as an adult.”

Two lawn chairs sit off to the side; they look like kid’s chairs until you take in the size of them. Made of wooden hockey sticks, the different widths, colors and brands add a lot of personality to the Adirondack chairs’ design.

Handmade by an artist in Connecticut, the chairs are sold exclusively at Artsy Digs in the Twin Cities. Gilroyed said she swears by them and almost hates to part with them when they sell.

“I actually have four of them in my house I love them,” she declared. “I gave one to my husband when we were dating, and the whole time I was pregnant I sat in them. They are very sturdy and very comfortable.”

Casa Verde Design
911 W. 50th St.

If you are looking for something more stylish and classy you might try Casa Verde Design. Casa Verde is a kitchen and bath showroom that not only introduces remodeling concepts but also invites customers to browse possible furnishings, some designed in-house.

“People who come in here for the kitchen and bath design discover the accessories, and people who come in for the accessories discover the kitchen and bath design,” co-founder Susan Jacobs said.

The showroom transitions from kitchen to sitting room to dining room and back again. Rich neutral colors mix with a variety of different textures and materials.

A Casa Verde-designed white oak table was crafted from wood salvaged from a cabin near Hutchinson built by Finnish immigrants. The cabin was torn down a few years ago, and at that time the wood was at least 200 years old. The table is beautifully made, and the design follows the grain of the wood.

“The cabinetmakers, when they made this table for us, left in some of the old-fashioned square nails from 200 years ago,” Jacobs pointed out. “They kept a lot of the character and filled in the knotholes with wood.”

If a table of 200-year-old wood isn’t what you’re looking for, Casa Verde also sells a line of furniture called Casa Midy. It’s a mixture of a Spanish and French style, reflecting the heritages of the husband-and-wife team behind Casa Midy.

Manufactured in Mexico, the Casa Midy pieces are exclusive to Casa Verde.

“You can customize them a lot in their colors and finishes and even in their designs of the table tops or upholstery,” Jacobs said.

A wrought iron mirror table is a focal point in the show room, with its mirror top and whimsical wrought iron legs. Sturdy, yet elegant, the table is coupled with opera chairs made of the same iron and finished in light white upholstery to complete the clean, classic look.