Atomic Age aesthetic

Forget Shabby Chic. These antiques harken to the future



Michael Hanlon

There  are  a  lot  of  turn-of-the-century houses   around   Rochester   where   a handcrafted  wood  antique  would  look just perfect. The patina of age, along with little chips and scratches, would make it all the more authentic. It’s easy to forget that there was a time when Americans rejected the craft of furniture as too old-fashioned. We  wanted  our  kitchen  tables  to  look like our cars: trimmed with chrome and upholstered with vinyl. Our appliances and cabinets should be milled in a factory and shipped to the Sears and Roebuck store— the Amazon.com of our grandparents.

ReHouse Retro, on West Ridge Road, is  an  architectural  salvage  showroom  of”

Atomic Age design, a tribute to Bakelite and Formica. Here, you can find a kitchen that comes all in one piece. Gleaming steel countertops, after all, are so much easier to polish than today’s trendy granite and marble. These are the kitchens Rochester dreamed  of  installing  in  the  stately foursquares  up  and  down  our  tree-lined streets, but they’re all too rare these days.

Across town at South Avenue Treasures (1992 South Ave.), you can step into the next decade. Wood trim is back, but the mid-century lines are sleek and geometric. This is the stuff Ikea is only pretending to be. And you’ll never find that exact vibrant hue  among  the  tastefully  muted  earth tones of today’s furniture stores.

Go ahead and embrace the avocado.You might  as  well  roll  back  the  clock  while the work crew installs the bomb shelter in your backyard.

If you’re not so brave, explore the rest of ReHouse for more conventional antiques and fixtures. This is where you’ll find that clawfoot bathtub you’ve always dreamed about. ReHouse also offers classes on how to  mix  knobs, hinges, braces, and  other hardware into your own objet d’arte.

 

Mark Gillespie is an avid fan of the region’s food, culture, and great outdoors.

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