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There are endless ways to personalize your home and make it stand out from the crowd. Sometimes you have to take a step back and consider the contents. Just ask Krista Nye Nicholas, one of two partners and principal interior designers along with Tami Ramsay in Ann Arbor-based Cloth & Kind. Their firm aims to create spaces with history and heart that have substance and tell a specific story.

What you have can lead the way, like family heirlooms. Vintage and antique pieces add character and you’re not necessarily dropping a pretty penny, says Nicholas, who raids clients’ homes for inherited gems they might not have considered for their new spaces.

“We start there first,” she says. “They’re free and they have great meaning when you’re trying to put a thoughtful space together. It can be a piece of art, an old chest or Grandma’s china. When there’s family history, there’s a story that goes along with it.”

One-of-a-kind treasures from flea markets and antiques stores can also tell a special tale. “Find whatever moves you or speaks to you,” says Nicholas. “The fact that you can negotiate adds a whole different level of personal attachment; now there’s a story that you went to this flea market in the pouring rain…”

For her clients in Northville who didn’t have any family heirlooms, a fresh start was in order. “They wanted a really layered look with pieces they could pass down to their kids. We were able to curate some awesome vintage art and accessories and they were highly involved,” says Nicholas, who encourages others to get creative. “The world is your oyster with vintage finds.”

Their projects have featured everything from glass cracker bins turned light fixtures for a front porch, to colorful fringe on a white frame for texture and depth.

Cloth & Kind recently opened a shop in Ann Arbor (with some items sold online). As Nicholas explains, they wanted to make great design accessible for those who are not working with a designer. A team of designers at the shop can help customers put a personal stamp on their environment. “We don’t design with trends in mind,” says Nicholas. “We design with the person and the family in mind.”

While she says there’s nothing wrong with buying home goods from mass retailers, Nicholas encourages people to mix it up when decorating a space. Rather than rely on one source, give yourself the flexibility to shop around for secondhand finds and other unique pieces. “It’s in the imperfections,” she says. “You might have to wait and be patient to find what you want, but the right piece will always appear at the right time.”

Cost can be another benefit to broadening your horizons. For instance, art can be very affordable, especially when you consider vintage works or local artists. It can also add major impact and color.

Even ceramics can make a statement. “There are so many amazing ceramicists today with a huge variety of price points,” says Nicholas. “They add depth and texture and they’re beautiful to style a bookshelf.”

For information, go to clothandkind.com.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

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