Decorating with historic materials

Artitalia, an Arizona furniture company, crafts furniture using wood poles that were once part of the support structure for Venice, Italy.
Artitalia, an Arizona furniture company, crafts furniture using wood poles that were once part of the support structure for Venice, Italy.

The Charlotte Observer

Great houses are decorated with history. It can take years to furnish a home in a way that builds a personal story with ties to the past, but the time you invest surely will be worth it.

Some of the pieces you find will have a story to tell based on the way they were produced or manufactured. That was the case when I was searching for flooring for my home. I discovered a wonderful new olive-wood flooring product from Italy.

Italians love their olive trees. In fact, farmers are not allowed to prune theirs without government permission. The olive groves are carefully monitored through satellite imagery and inspections. Older trees that have stopped producing fruit, some as old as 350 to 700 years, are carefully pruned so new growth can return and once again yield fruit. This harvested wood is then documented and sold to certified lumber mills for kiln drying and processing.

Specified Flooring is one of a few companies in the world that turn this wood into flooring. The result is a beautiful surface that is three times harder than oak with a spectacular grain pattern.

A special historic wood is used in furniture built by Artitalia Group out of Scottsdale, Ariz.. The company was founded by an Italian, Marco Felicioli. Growing up in Rome provided him with a wonderful opportunity to experience the true beauty that can come only from history. After settling in America, he began importing finely crafted pieces from Italy for designers and homeowners. This love of connecting people with history led Artitalia to develop furniture from wood that has a fascinating story.

If you have visited Venice, you know that the city is built on wood poles driven into the sandy sea bottom. These posts are harvested as they decay and replaced with new wood or even plastic poles. Artitalia has created multiple furniture pieces incorporating wood from the harvested posts. As these wood posts diminish in numbers, it’s really quite exquisite to have a piece of this history. Each piece comes with a certificate that identifies the artifact’s location and date of recovery.

Imagine having dinner on a table made from this wood and the wonderful story you’d have to share. Build on the story by setting the table with your grandmother’s china and serve your sister’s favorite family recipe. Light the room with a chandelier that you bought for just a few dollars during an antiquing trip with your best friends. Now you have a wonderful room filled with history and fascinating stories.

This is how houses become great, interesting homes. It’s not about having a decorator shop for you and filling your house with matching accessories and furniture pieces. It’s about sharing who you are through your own story. So get out that wonderful collection of baseball cards and your signed Yankee baseball. Put them on the shelf or in a frame and make them part of your everyday life and your story.

Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at ForYourHome.com.

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