Two takes on interior design in Asheville

CHEERS TO THAT: Sisters Julia, left, and Adrian Menapace catch up at The Regeneration Station, where old furnishings find new homes and castoff items take on completely different forms — such as this van front refashioned as a bar, which was recently featured in a Natural Born Leaders video. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Home is, it has been said, where the heart is. And when it comes to furnishing and decorating an abode, Ashevilleans run the gamut of taste and style. Tiny homes require minimalist chic while bungalows embody funky individuality. Airbnbs seek to convey quirky ambiance to out-of-towners, mountain houses offer comfort to vacationers. Xpress looked at two sources for decor inspiration: a secondhand supplier and a local design company.

Repurpose with a purpose

Though it might be difficult to pinpoint the elements of Asheville decorating style, DIY likely tops many lists. “If you like going to Pinterest looking for ideas, this is a good place to get your base piece,” says Olesya Moon, marketing manager and event coordinator of The Regeneration Station.

The warehouse space houses all manner of furnishings and decor in rows of booths, organized much like an antiques mall. But, while many items from bygone eras are on offer, the idea behind The Regeneration Station is to repurpose preloved goods from every decade. Currently popular, says Moon, are Danish midcentury pieces, wood slabs, Shabby Chic and Farmhouse styles. Airbnb owners frequent The Regeneration Station, as do restaurateurs looking to decorate their eateries and out-of-town visitors in search of good deals.

Besides its consignment business, The Regeneration Station also offers a junk removal service. “The goal is to keep at least 85% of what comes off our trucks out of the landfill,” Moon explains.

Used furniture can be resold or reenvisioned. More challenging pieces — such as mattresses, which can’t be resold in North Carolina, unless they’re certified sanitized — receive innovative treatment. “If a mattress isn’t too bad, we’ll get it and keep the springs,” says Moon. “People use them for their DIY projects, like planters.” From other unsalvageable items, the hardware is removed for resale.

More than 70 permanent vendors plus artists keep the space stocked. Vendors and employees have access to The Regeneration Station’s workshop, where they can access tools and space to refinish or rework a piece of furniture. The business also offers workshops, led by merchants, on upcycling techniques. One booth doubles as an official vendor of Fusion mineral paints. “We’re not only here to sell; we’re here to [help] the community move from buying [new] things that break in a year to mending things,” says Moon. “When you go the extra mile, a piece feels more personal.”

The Regeneration Station also stocks local artwork, vintage clothing, electronics, vinyl and much more. “It’s such a big playground,” says Moon. The same piece can inspire two shoppers in very different ways: “It’s extremely cool to see what people do with the pieces they get from us.”

Looking ahead

From indie craft to heritage craft, elements of artistry speak both to Western North Carolina’s roots and creative culture. “We see the house itself as a handmade object that has the opportunity to reflect on and address how we live our lives,” says Karie Reinertson of Asheville-based Shelter Design Studio. “We prefer this to seeing a home strictly as a commodity or an object that goes in and out of fashion. Incorporating the handmade, whether it’s in custom details or custom furniture, is paramount to our practice.”

ACE OF SPACE: Rob Maddox, left, and Karie Reinertson of Shelter Design Studio pause in the East Fork Pottery retail location, which they designed. Photo by Mike Belleme

Reinertson (a visual artist and maker) and her husband, Rob Maddox (a designer with a background in architecture), moved to Asheville nearly a decade ago and opened a since-shuttered brick-and-mortar location in 2013. That retail shop sold bags made by Reinertson alongside items from a number of indie makers.

That early iteration of Shelter expressed Reinertson’s and Maddox’s aesthetic, which they continued to cultivate through Instagram, craft events, partnerships and, more recently, design projects for other spaces, such as East Fork Pottery’s Lexington Avenue retail location. “We connect with the contemporary practice of craft here in Asheville, both as craftspeople ourselves and as designers who work with craftspeople,” Reinertson says. “We find it especially compelling when people use established techniques but are considering unique and forward-thinking ways to approach their work and how that fits into the broader context of design, art and craft.”

When working with a client, she says, the most important quality that person or group can bring to a project is an excitement to participate in the design process. “Asheville is wonderful because there is room here for all sorts of styles. There are so many people with rich backgrounds and varied tastes in this area — we love that we get to know them and be inspired by them through our work and that there is truly something for everyone.”

Shelter has designed three local residential properties from the ground up, Reinertson says, as well as a local interiors project. The couple also took on a well-documented residential project in Martha’s Vineyard last year, two other locations in Massachusetts and “one interiors project in Brooklyn, N.Y., that is in concept phase.”

The Shelter style feels spacious and clean without skewing impersonal. Natural materials like weathered wood and leather, Southwestern motifs and Danish modern are touchstones, if not ingredients. From social media platforms to pop-ups, Shelter has always felt both familiar and wholly unique — likely why Reinertson’s and Maddox’s combined talents are in high demand. “We are currently working on a commercial project in West Asheville, a large residential interior design project for a beautiful home on Town Mountain, a new-build house in West Asheville, a reading lounge for the new Center for Craft building and a really exciting commercial project downtown,” says Reinertson. “Stay tuned!”

The Regeneration Station is at 26 Glendale Ave. Learn more at regenerationstation.com. Find the Shelter Design Studio online at shelterprotectsyou.com.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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