vintage lighting love: behind the scenes at rejuvenation

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I’m a huge fan of the vintage-style lighting of Rejuvenation, so when the company’s PR director Nicole Curcio invited me to take a “backstage tour” the next time I found myself in Portland, I couldn’t resist. Read on to learn what makes this company amazing and unique — and be sure to visit Shelterrific’s Facebook page for way, way, WAY more photos! — Mary T.

My husband and I arrived at Rejuvenation HQ on a typically drizzly Northwest day — I say “HQ” because the word “factory” is not one I’d use for this place. No clanging machinery, no industrial assembly lines. Instead a few dozen workers painting, polishing and assembling lights by hand, an enormous jumble of the best vintage lights and parts a decor geek could ever hope to see, and a ton of weird odds and ends. In short, my husband and I were in heaven.

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We started the tour in an office space shared by pretty much everyone — reseplaceers, designers, marketers — and we quickly decided that Rejuvenation’s industrial designer Tim Wetzel has the world’s best job. Tim’s desk was adorned with cool looking vintage task lights, plus an array of interesting fixtures that he was contemplating as inspiration for future designs. (We weren’t allowed to photograph those — I felt downright in-the-know.)

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Tim spends his time reseplaceing what’s popular in decor, finding vintage fixtures that are out of production, and coming up with new fixtures that would look right at home in a period house, but are made of modern materials. For instance, in a product like the mid-century modern-inspired designs above, heavy cast iron might be replaced by lightweight aluminum.

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We went downstairs to the main floor of the HQ, and this is where the fun really began. I had no idea just how much vintage lighting is a part of Rejuvenation. Not only do they acquire vintage fixtures for ideas, the staff restores vintage fixtures and sells them online and in the Rejuvenation stores (one in Portland, one in Seattle, and a just-announced store soon to open in LA). We lingered so long in a storage room stacked to the ceiling with vintage fixtures that we started to apologize for wasting time. Nicole quickly put a stop to that — it seems that the folks who work at Rejuvenation welcome the geekiest of lighting geek-outs.

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Compare the vintage fixtures with the new lighting just above — do they look like they have a bit in common?

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Then we took a tour of the shop floor, where I was honestly blown away by the attention to detail that each fixture receives. Though Rejuvenation contracts with companies to make individual parts — glass-blowers for shades, metal casters for fittings — every part makes its way individually to the HQ, where lights are assembled, drilled, wired, painted, finished, and shined up to order. That’s right — every single order is custom made, by hand. As a final, extra-cool touch, each light comes with the signature of the worker who added the last elements! See more shop photos and works in progress on Shelterrific’s Facebook page.

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I’m going to say right here: yes, I love this place. And no, I got absolutely nothing in return for writing this except a free tour. I really liked it that much!

Some things I love at Rejuvenation:
- This Selma wall-mounted light with green porcelain base
- This Classic 10″ Opal Schoolhouse Shade — all painted by hand!
- This Classic Globe Chandelier — the glass is huge in person! This Old House named it the light fixture of the year for 2010.
- And of course, the entire freaking Mid-Century Modern Lighting Collection.

Click for a few more of my favorites from the Rejuvenation store:

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The Rejuvenation store is curated for those who are truly enthusiastic about their vintage restorations. There are outside lights, mailboxes, house numbers, even porcelain light switch covers in vintage-friendly colors. There is also a terrific selection of little accents like these cast-iron bottle openers in the shape of an orca whale. (Yes, I took one home.)

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This amazing and enormous vintage modern chandelier was for sale in the store. If only we had the ceilings for it!

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Here’s the bat Nicole is holding at the top of the post in its finished state.

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Upstairs next to the clearance section of the store (home of serious bargains!) is the office of Bo Sullivan, Rejuvenation’s Architectural Historian and proprietor of Arcalus Period Design. Mark this as the second-best job ever, because the anteroom to his office was loaded with vintage design books, advertising circulars, and trade catalogs dating all the way back to the 1800s. All the books serve as the starting point for more Rejuvenation designs. I could have spent all day paging through them, and just a cursory glance, again, made me go gaga. So click to see way more vintagey goodness on Shelterrific’s Facebook page. And thank you so much, Nicole and all our new friends at Rejuvenation, for the tour!

You enthusiasm is clear, and contagious. I am amazed by the Mid-century Modern Collection. I love the look of it all and I’m excited to use them in one of my new projects coming up. I’m glad I came across this blog, thank you.

Megan B

I really need to head down to SODO and browse. I’ve seen most of the mid-century collection online, but I bet in person, it’s something else. Our kitchen is screaming for the perfect fixture over the sink…

Sarah C.

What a fun tour! Thanks for sharing Mary & Nicole!!

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