We're thrilled to introduce Diane Rath as this week's guest curator. Diane is the founder and principal designer at the CT based interior design firm: The Rath Project. She and her team specialize in residential design with a collected and eclectic flair punctuated by bold bright colors and pattern play. It’s their goal to infuse each individual's unique personality into a home, while also creating a sense of cohesion, by finding the thread that ties together every family members' style and needs.
The Rath Project encourages clients and followers to see home challenges as design opportunities and is a strong proponent of beautiful spaces being accessible to all, no matter your budget or circumstance, and therefore illustrates projects of all sizes and budgets.
For a taste of Diane's bold and distinctive style, check out her picks from this week's auctions and follow her on Instagram at @therathproject.
AN: How would you describe your taste/style?
DR: I would say approachable modern eclectic with a splash of classicism and whimsy- so what I’m really trying to get at is that our design is completely eclectic lol! We like a true mix of styles and periods but are mindful of today’s needs and how interiors should allow a person or family to best function. Clean lines are aesthetically pleasing, but who doesn’t appreciate something funky, like a collection of bust planters on a sunroom console table or a gumball machine in your dining room for an after- dinner treat, or a grouping of oversized 3D beetles climbing up a wall in a play space!? It’s touches like this that make a house truly personal and fun to be in. Oh and let’s not forget color! A dose of bold rich paint colors and layers of complimentary patterns make hearts very full at The Rath Project!
AN: What got you interested in secondhand, vintage and antique items?
DR: I’ve never NOT been interested in second hand, vintage and antiques. When I was a little girl, my mother, sister and I frequented garage sales (out of necessity really because money was not abundant) and I can remember the thrill of finding little treasures that someone else no longer wanted or needed and now they were mine! I would even have an eye out on neighborhood trash days and grab anything that I considered valuable- I found my all time favorite big wheels bike with side brake that way! And the pieces that my mother valued, were items that I understood the importance of-the higher quality lamps, side tables and décor that she worked and saved so hard for. It was explained to me why these were HER treasures and why I should respect them. All of these behaviors and lessons stuck with me and I thankfully carried them into my adulthood. I trash picked on the Upper East Side when I was a NYer (you wouldn’t believe what amazing things people leave on the curb!), I mapped out the best vintage and antique stores near me, and I made whole days and sometimes weekends- little adventures- out of taking a trip the flea market. Then one day, while I was pregnant with my first child and barely able to move off the sofa, I discovered online auctions which opened up a whole new world of possibilities. I was immediately hooked and haven’t looked back since!
AN: What are the one or two things that you always find yourself bidding on?
DR: I love chairs (in sets) that look sturdy but could use a little “clean up.” Good lines, well made, but the upholstery is dingy or unattractive and the wood could use a polishing or painting. These are my favorites because I know that after some new fabric, you’ll have one of a kind beauties that you’d probably pay much, much more for otherwise. And let’s not forget art- I bid on all sorts of it for my own home and for projects- you’ll never ever find a space designed by us that doesn’t have awesome art.
AN: What's your favorite AuctionNinja purchase?
DR: Would you be surprised if I say it was a piece of art!? I found a beautiful black and white photograph that was matted and framed, and in great condition that depicted a 1930’s street scene at the Grand Union. After some research, I believe it was the hotel in Saratoga Springs prior to its demolition in the 50’s. Being an upstate NY girl and spending lots of summers in Saratoga, it resonated with me. Even the name itself, no matter if this was or was not the former hotel, brought back memories of shopping with my Aunt and Uncle at the Grand Union grocery stores (also a staple during my upstate childhood). Sometimes it’s the little things that tug at you.
AN: What's your absolute favorite item ever purchased through an estate sale or online auction? •
DR: Once again, Art! My all time favorite purchase was a HUGE Bugatti French advertising poster, measuring 5 ft x 6ft and full of magnificently rich colors. It resides in one of our projects- a Kips Bay townhouse- and is the only piece on an all white brick wall of the living room. It was honestly a once in a lifetime deal and my clients were more excited than I was to have acquired it.
AN: Any tips or advice for AuctionNinja newbies?
DR: As far as tips, I would recommend frequenting sales, online or in person, often, as you never know what someone has decided to part with. And just go for it- if something pulls you in, even if you don’t understand why, you’ll always be happy with that purchase and you’ll always find a home for it. Lastly, both budget and pedigree are something to be mindful of- set a price that you’re willing to pay and do research if time allows. If you find that the item is more valuable than you expected, adjust your budget accordingly, but never pay more than your comfortable with. You can always keep that piece in the back of your mind, and who knows maybe one day when your perusing an online auction or strolling down the aisle of a thrift store, you’ll come across it, understand its worth and scoop it up for a steal!