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July 1, 2023 – Published in Design & Decor Spring-Summer 2023 issue

Vintage Ages – Transforming preloved furniture into extraordinary creations for your home

Photography Matthew Mirabelli

The décor of Rosalie’s traditional townhouse is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and sustainability. Every item of furniture within its walls was passed on from other homes, and she carefully restored and embellished them to be reused as the perfect complement to her 1950s house.

“I am extremely grateful that my parents always supported my interest in learning new things,” said Rosalie. “When I was young, I enrolled in various interior design and art courses, including unusual classes in caricature drawing, fretwork, and gilding. My creative side was also piqued whenever I spent time with my dad, watching him tinkering with his tools in the garage.”

“In reality, however, I only started restoring furniture when searching for period items for the house. Additionally, I was lucky to acquire some Maltese floor tiles from a friend who was renovating her own home. During this time, I rediscovered my passion for painting while using different media. When space became a problem, I worked on a couple of items for friends and then decided to start putting my creations up for sale.”

In 2016, the initial spark from her home restoration led to the establishment of Vintage Ages.

“The idea is simple,” Rosalie said of her innovative venture. “Go greener, buy cheaper, choose vintage. 

My aim is to encourage people to buy less new commodities and reuse furniture that is already available. All the items I reimagine are stylish products that can be easily integrated into various spaces. No two pieces are the same, and each comes with its own story. I still remember most of the people from whom I obtained the furniture. Some were downsizing or remodelling; others were moving abroad.”

Vintage Ages helps reduce waste in landfills as well as the resources required for new products, which only generate more pollution and waste. Rosalie procures unwanted furniture from house and garage sales, auctions, and online. She knows what to look for in terms of quality and mostly opts for items made from solid wood, which can last a lifetime and may even be passed on from one generation to the next. Rosalie goes for vintage pieces that motivate her to restore or completely reinvent them.

“I do all my work by hand, down to the tiniest details,” explained Rosalie. “I do not offer commissions, but prefer to let the inspiration flow. My style can be described as eclectic, drawing from my personal experience with local elements, nature, and several backpacking adventures abroad. I adopt designs from minimalist lines to Art Nouveau curves, from Bohemian flair to steampunk aesthetics, from mid-century retro to ethnic patterns.”

Rosalie explained the various techniques and materials utilised during the makeover process.

“The first thing I do is clean the piece thoroughly, while checking for factors needing fixing or replacing, such as holes or broken parts. Then, I sand it and clean off the dust to prepare it for painting. Some wood, such as mahogany and pine, requires a primer to seal in the tannins that would, otherwise, bleed through the paint. Afterwards, I apply the required coats of paint and plan out the specific design. The final step is applying wax or a sealing coat to protect the finished surfaces.”

Rosalie uses high-quality, water-based supplies to remove the need for toxic spirits to clean her brushes. The chalk paint is eco- and child-friendly, with no VOCs or pungent smells.

An assortment of techniques help embellish the furniture and highlight details. Apart from blending paints for different effects, Rosalie uses image transfers, stamps, and stencilling, as well as decoupage, where a piece of paper or fabric is stuck to the wood.

The earth-friendly products from Vintage Ages are visually stunning!

Rosalie transformed a plain wooden desk using black paint and red floral transfers. She stamped the outer sides of the two drawers with an inked scroll and lined the inner parts with loose pages she found at a market.

“No books were harmed in the making of these drawers!” laughed Rosalie. “The text is very interesting, though, as it was written using old Maltese spelling.”

A wooden trunk was painted in emerald green with an ethnic pattern for decoration, while a small hanging cabinet with an old-fashioned advert decoupaged on its rear panel is being spruced up with a lick of paint. Two side tables from the high-end 1970s brand, G Plan, were styled with a minimalistic pattern to match their simplistic design. Another set of side tables sit on the side of Rosalie’s workshop, waiting for her artistic touch to prolong their life and find them a forever home.

The ‘Grow 10 Trees’ Project is supported every time an item of furniture is rehomed.

Vintage Ages makes a donation in exchange for tree saplings with every finalised sale, so as to give something back to nature, especially since all the restored pieces are made from the same wood that was once a living tree. The saplings are, consequently, planted by this NGO during local events.

“We need to protect our planet!” Rosalie emphasised. “Be mindful of what you buy. If you don’t need it, it’s not a bargain. If you do purchase a product, choose local, and go for handmade and second-hand items.”

For the past few years, Rosalie has exhibited her beautifully restored furniture at The Vintage Pop-Up Shop at the Ethnic Market during the popular Earth Garden Festival. She is looking forward to showcasing her latest work at the next edition of the festival between 2nd-4th June 2023.

Rosalie is excited about being endorsed by Design & Décor magazine. “I still have a collection of old editions in my library, which prompted several ideas when I was renovating my townhouse. It feels amazing that my passion has come full circle – from feeling inspired by the magazine to being featured in it!” 

Contact Rosalie for an appointment, or visit The Vintage Pop-Up Shop at Earth Garden’s Ethnic Market to view her ingeniously redesigned furniture.

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