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Last year, he figures he saved 4,100 pounds of furniture. He knows, because he has to weigh it for shipping — 80 percent of his furniture is sold out of state.
Averbeck’s loft is a real loft — not a new facsimile — in an ancient industrial building without an elevator, just a dark, creaky flight of stairs. He bought into the loft, part of a cooperative, 15 years ago, when the Warehouse District was gritty and less glamorous than it is today. “Everybody thought I was crazy,” he recalled. “The area was a ghost town for a while, and it’s near Sex World.”
But Averbeck needed a proper studio. “At my old house, I did everything in the basement,” he recalled. “It was dark and dank. I’d have to roll things up, take them outside in the light and roll them out to see them.” The loft offered lots of space (2,500 square feet) and lots of windows, and he knew he could make it work.
He found out later that the 19th-century building was originally home to a furniture manufacturer. “It’s hilarious, because that’s what I do,” he said.
He raised the loft’s floors and added insulation. “You could hear your neighbor breathe.” And he redid the “crap-tacular kitchen,” which consisted of a sink, a stove with two burners and “a college refrigerator, with stickers all over the place.”
He redesigned his kitchen to add built-in storage, which he clad in textured panels made from recycled milk jugs. He covered his new, full-sized refrigerator with chalkboard paint, so he can jot down phone numbers or reminders. “It’s better than a Post-it note,” he said. Today, the refrigerator also displays a poem. “I wrote it for my New Year’s cards and never erased it.”
The rest of the loft is an eclectic mix of styles and eras, plus pieces from his travels, such as the African masks he picked up in London, that now hang on the wall of his den. Averbeck freely mixes high-end modern classics with Ikea pieces and Craigslist finds. “It’s that mix that makes things interesting,” he said. “If people have multilayered personalities, and we all do, your house should reflect that as well.”
He has no favorite era. “I like them all. There’s good design from all eras.”
Even the much-maligned ’80s? “You know how big the ’80s are with young people?” he replied. “Mauve and brass are coming back. Midcentury modern has run its course on the coasts. It’s scarce, high-priced, and it’s been done. Even ‘Mad Men’ is closing its run. Everything is cyclical. I base the shop on different eras, so I don’t become one-note.”
Not likely, not as long as his creative impulses keep inspiring him to transform old vases into light fixtures — or dip chairs in rubber.
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784