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Spaced Out Furnishing specializes in classically niche design styles

Barbara Arnold, photos by Kelsey Smith |

Susan “Sue” Derfus has been passionate about furniture, living spaces, and putting them together with style since she was a child. She is the perfect example of the lifelong learner. From her early education in graphic design, she was called to write, and then to create and conduct professional training workshops. She also raised three children – now in their 20s – and followed her husband’s physician career.

All these experiences have led her to current calling – creating Spaced Out Furnishings, which launched online with her blog and an Etsy site about six months ago. Now she is considering a brick-and-mortar space in the Eau Claire area because of the sheer volume of furniture and home décor she has in storage. She specializes in the niche interior design areas of vintage industrial and mid-century modern:

Vintage industrial is the term for pieces originally designed for a work environment that are now being adapted and re-purposed for use in the home. The time period covered is typically the 1900s to the 1960s. The identifying feature of this type of furniture and décor is metal – a lot of it and hefty – and wood. Think gears, pulleys, carts, casters, and articulated lighting.

Midcentury modern pieces are streamlined with experimental and unusual forms. The time period covered is the mid-1930s to the 1960s. The trademark of midcentury modern is the array of new materials available to designers then, such as acrylic, plastics, polymers, and laminates. Designers would make furniture into unexpected forms. The colors are typically either bold or plain and neutral. Many people associate this time period with what would be called Scandinavian design but it’s so much more than that – much, much more. Think Mad Men meets The Jetsons.

Instead of consigning for these items, Sue prefers to source on her own from family and friends, as well as from estate, garage, and thrift sales. Some pieces require clean-up; others are in need of light refinishing, which she does herself. She has periodically held sales – her last one was over Memorial Day weekend – and sells items outright with a slight mark-up for her time and energy spent.

Although she has enthusiastic customers from every age and stage of life, Sue finds that most of her customers are “Millennials who are becoming established, as they grow from dorm to home – whether an apartment or single family.”
She adds: “As they start out and move in their careers, so do their styles and tastes, and I’m there to help them create their own sense of style as well as let them know it’s OK to combine items from different time periods.”

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