Garden Decor

A Showplace Made From Secondhand Finds

A Showplace Made From Secondhand Finds

The moment Dan Gazzana walks into his 1910 California Craftsman in Racine, he realizes he’s found his home. “The first time I walked into this house, I was incredibly overwhelmed by its beauty,” he says. “By the time I got to the attic, I knew I wanted it.”

That was 11 years ago, and Gazzana has since transformed the spacious property into a showcase for elegance, sophistication and extraordinary comfort. The 10-room home has 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a welcoming sunroom, and a cozy spot that any homeowner would envy.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the home is the thousands of subtle details in the décor. From exquisitely restored antique furniture and multiple collections of china and crystal (all on display) to original artwork and miniature figurines, the house truly is a feast for the eyes. Each element is placed with museum-like care and thought in terms of light, color, texture and how it complements the area around it.

“The den is a great example of what you can do in a small space,” says Gazzana. “My realtor told me it was originally used as a gentlemen’s cigar and brandy lounge. I added several touches that layer on texture, giving the room a little depth. It’s a great place to settle in on cold nights, especially when the fireplace is roaring.”

When Ghazana is asked his secret to displaying items without making a mess, he laughs. “Doesn’t it sound cluttered to you? But seriously, it can be hard to craft vignettes that are interesting. You have to take your time with them. Many of my guests ask if they could walk home just to take in everything. I take that as a compliment.” .

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Restore Resale Finds

What a guest doesn’t realize is that the majority of home furnishings, accents, and arts came from antique stores, estate sales, and resale stores. “I would say 95 percent of the items you see come from second-hand sources,” Gazzana says.

“When I first moved in, bargain shopping was a must. I needed to be frugal and realized I could find high-end items at a fraction of the retail cost. I can’t explain the happiness I feel when I discover artwork, silver, or Crystal for nothing. My favorite find was a grandfather watch for $25.”

Gazzana quickly became a pro at restoring pieces, and this gorgeous dining room chandelier is a shining example of his restoration expertise. “I came across a chandelier for $50, but it was missing about half of the crystals,” he explains. “I later found another chandelier and bought it for $25. I dried crystal from less expensive fixtures and filled in the missing pieces in the chandelier I wanted for the dining room.” The end result created a stunning focal point for a room that would likely sell for hundreds higher.

passive success

Decorating with recycled items can be tricky, and the homeowner has some tips for those new to antiques. “Try to have a plan before you shop,” recommends Gazzana. Know what you’re looking for and take your time. Try not to rush into a buying decision.

“Look at your cart and think about your purchases before heading to the cashier, or else you could end up with buyer’s remorse. I have a whole attic full of regret,” he laughs.

“Today, reaching out to local resale stores has become a hobby for me,” Gazzana says. “I still collect Haeger pottery, slag glass lamps and antique barware, but I don’t shop nearly as often as I used to. The house is as beautiful as it is.”

Gazzana’s guests will likely agree. Based on its beauty, intense detailing, and extraordinary interest, there is little that could be added to make this home more impressive than it already is.

Mark Hagen

Mark Hagen is an award-winning gardener, former caterer, and Milwaukee lover. His work has appeared in Birds & Blooms and Home and Your Family magazines.

Read more Mark Hagen

January 14, 2022

10:27 AM


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