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Re: Invention

A decorator’s commitment to repurposed interior design and upcycled decor helps reduce consumption and create intriguing spaces.

| May/June 2017

  • An avid cook, Tif thumbs through a cookbook in her eclectic living room, which centers around a coffee table she built out of two trash-day finds: a poured concrete slab and retro hairpin legs.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Tif created this headboard from an ornate screen, finishing it by mounting rustic lanterns on each side.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • The historic home’s front porch gives visitors a preview of the fun inside. The “throw” on the bamboo couch from Bali is a fabric shower curtain that acts as a furniture cover during bad weather.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • The entire house is washed in a soft white paint to better show off the colorful accents in artwork and textiles from Guatemala and other places Tif has traveled.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • The exposed shelving in the kitchen is handcrafted from reclaimed pine planks. Below the poured concrete counters, Mason jars filled with nonperishables are stored on rolling carts. Tif says open shelving encourages simplification.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • The undercounter storage in the kitchen is an assortment of found pieces: A weathered wooden cabinet pulled from an old barn holds the kitchen sink, a scarred metal workbench is the kitchen island and a metal toolbox next to the stove holds odds and ends.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Tif made the light fixtures in the dining room and entry from found objects—an old basket, a metal bucket and wire hangers. She snagged the library ladder from a bookstore that was going out of business.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • When a tree across the street fell, Tif harvested a branch, sawed it into rounds, and uses them as labels for baskets of clothing in her bedroom.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Instead of paying top dollar for a copper basin for her DIY wet bar, Tif crafted the sink from a $20 copper bowl she found at an antique mall.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Tif constructed this unique master bath vanity out of about $50 in materials. She poured the concrete counter herself and mounted it on drawers salvaged from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. An assortment of baskets provides beautiful storage.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • When it’s party time, this old cooler holds drinks and—topped with a reclaimed metal tabletop—doubles as a serving table.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • The home’s previous owners left a cracked chimenea, so Tif turned it into a planter.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • A loft apartment above the detached garage welcomes visitors. A murphy bed hides behind a painting Tif made in college.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Made from concrete blocks and a reclaimed plank and topped with pillows from a street market in Guatemala, the outdoor bench is always ready to hold a table full for dinner.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie

Wednesday is trash day in Tiffany Francis’ neighborhood. And that means her morning run is really more of a recon mission. Rather than focusing on her pace as she pounds out the miles, she can’t help rubbernecking as she sprints by each house to see if any of the items dragged to the curb are salvageable supplies for the decorating projects she’s working on for her home or for her clients.

“I find stuff, hide it in the bushes so the trash collectors don’t take it, then go back with the car and pick it up,” Tif says, laughing at how creepy that sounds. But she can’t help herself. Everywhere she turns, from resale shops to rummage sales, Tif sees materials that can be salvaged, reimagined and turned into chic home furnishings. She has an uncanny ability to see the potential in castoffs, looking beyond the rust, dents and chips, and give them a second life.

Reducing Consumption, One Client at a Time

A design consultant hired by businesses and individuals to reimagine interior and exterior spaces, Tif’s work is driven by her passion to live a sustainable lifestyle by reducing personal consumption. Her design tools are often objects destined for a landfill, which she transforms into furnishings, accents and artwork. Her finished designs masterfully celebrate the uniqueness of the people who dwell there by sharing their history and spotlighting their passions.

Tif’s quiet form of environmental activism started out as necessity. When she got married 28 years ago, she and her then-husband got by on a teacher’s salary. So she challenged herself to decorate their home in a fresh, vibrant style on a shoestring budget.

Armed with a degree in fine arts from Louisiana State University, she used her artist’s eye to rethink what was possible when it came to interior design. She discovered how to blend together mementos from her travels to places like Bali and Guatemala with natural elements, such as wood and water, and salvaged objects to make spaces that were richly layered and intriguing.

“I get a high on finding a bargain, a gem,” she says. “You don’t have to spend a fortune to get something that looks good.”

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