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Perfect Pairing

When designers Lucy Findlay and Valla Rogers put their heads together with a client, the sky is the limit. Can you say pneumatic elevator? Plus, you never know what you'll find at Spence's Bazaar in Dover.

by Mark Nardone

Lucy Findlay (left) and Valla Rogers are the partners behind Partners in Design of Dover. Photograph by Jared CastaldiThe design world has its meaning of the idea of eclectic. Designers Lucy Findlay and Valla Rogers have their own. “We think of it as combining styles in a comfortable way,” Rogers says.

That means uniting furniture and accessories through shape, color, pattern and texture and arrangement in a way that makes the room look like the space evolved organically, “not like it was designed,” Findlay says. “It also means mixing traditional or inherited pieces with other things.”

Findlay and Rogers are the partners behind Partners in Design of Dover. Yet there are other partners: their clients. When one approaches with a design problem, the pair asks them to identify one item they really love. The process of design starts there.

For Findlay, that one item was a painting of peonies that once belonged to her mother-in-law. “I just always loved it,” she says. She picked the colors of the sofa and carpet to work with the painting. The trend continues in other parts of her home. “My house is a showcase for artwork I’ve framed.”

For Rogers, the one thing was color. “I love color, so I’ve used fairly vibrant ones in my home. It’s just what I like.”

For one longtime client, the one thing was two things: a Danish Modern sofa and chair. The Partners found a local craftsman to make a matching loveseat and ottoman, all were upholstered or reupholstered with a contemporary fabric, and the design proceeded from there.

On the slate at present: a green home that combines traditional style with modern technology and materials. That one thing: a pneumatic elevator. Picture a clear cylindrical tube with a clear car, like an enlarged version of the tube at the drive-through window of the bank. Immediately visible upon entering the home, it stands under a 22-foot high ceiling covered in cedar. Accessories bridge rustic and contemporary styles. A Big Ass Fan (that’s a real brand name), a somewhat industrial looking piece that nonetheless works with the rustic and contemporary elements, hangs from the ceiling. “It all goes together,” Rogers says.

Bordering on eclectic is the notion of “neo-traditional” style, especially among a younger generation of clients. “They have a bit of tradition in them, but they want to express it in a new way,” Rogers says.

Such was the case with the heirloom chair that one recent client inherited. It was too out of date to fit her current style and too sentimentally valuable to toss in some half-forgotten corner, so The Partners steered the client toward a contemporary fabric. The reupholstered piece became the One Thing.

“That space should be your space,” Findlay says. “You should smile every time you walk into the room.”
 

Page 2: The Need to Spence |  You never know what you’ll find at Spence’s Bazaar in Dover.

 

The Need to Spence

You never know what you’ll find at Spence’s Bazaar in Dover.

If you’re searching for a stereo to play the copy of The Partridge Family’s “Up to Date” that you scored at Vintage Records, Computer Tech can help. You’ll find a Technics SL-BL3 turntable ($175) to connect to a Pioneer SA9500II amplifier ($225) and power pair of outsized Fisher speakers—big mid-range, big woofers, refrigerator-sized cabinets—for $200.

Sure, you could spend half that $600 on a decent Aiwa bookshelf system at Best Buy, but you wouldn’t get all the hissing, popping and crackling that comes with spinning a well-loved copy of Roy Clark’s “Heart to Heart” on 100-percent genuine vinyl.

And that’s the beauty of Spence’s Bazaar, the biggest flea market in all of Kent: You may or may not find the very thing you’re looking for, but you’ll certainly find something you just have to have.

Among the aforementioned Spence’s vendors, count Elsie’s Stuff, where you’ll find used Rubbermaid containers, new Royal Crown 600-thread count bed sheets and Genie’s Deluxe 10-Piece Knife Set (“As Seen On TV”); Betty’s Books, with its inventory of $1 and $2 paperback romances and mysteries; Bygone’s well-sourced collection of decorative lamps and cut-glass tableware; Memorabilia, which offers country crafts and quilts; Phyllis’s Die-Cast Collectibles, with tables full of John Deere golf balls, collectible salt and pepper shakers, and faux Delftware; Virgil’s Oils for paintings on velvet; and Blake’s Furniture, where you could fill a house with every piece you need.

Known locally as The Sale—”My grandfather started calling it that,” says manager Jack Scott—Spence’s started as a livestock auction in 1933. “It’s just a nickname.” Spence’s is open Tuesday and Friday 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturday 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Plug 550 S. New St., Dover, into your GPS, or call 734-3441. —Mark Nardone