By Midori Yoshimura
For Rosemary Collins, the term “going green” holds a whole new meaning. “My walls are covered in unusual materials—I have navy blue cloth, faux pearls.” And, naturally, green paint.
Stepping inside the doorway of her home, one notes that Rosemary is all about change. Multiple lamps with innocent lampshades sit unknowingly on tabletops, waiting their turn to be beheaded and re-headed, then repositioned. When their home calls for a set change, Rosemary heads to her attic for ideas and materials, rather than to the nearest home décor outlet. There, she puts a multitude of R’s into practice: remembering (what she has), reviewing (where it is), reusing, refinishing, and resurfacing. To her, this is part of the “ethics of living.” She declares her motivations for such responsible methods: “one, the responsible use of stuff; two, I’m cheap; and three, I use this as my community volunteer task, my way of giving back.”
However, her enthusiasm for recycling is not limited to just her home; she also shares her skills with PUC. Her most recent renovation is communication chair Michelle Rai’s office, but her talents are most prominently on display in another gleaming project: the creation of the Teaching and Learning Center. With the help of Dan Brown and Plant Services, a team whom she describes as “incredibly cheerful and competent, as well as fun to work with,” the renovation began in the summer of 2003. By that fall, the TLC was reinvented from a run-down tin shed to the focus of academic support services it is today, with furnishings donated entirely from salvage operations.
What would a shopping trip with this budget-savvy decorator be like? Perhaps it would seem similar to a treasure hunt, a search for items that have already been tried and tested; in other words, second-hand. With Rosemary’s eclectic style, she discovers just what you will be looking for—and most likely, at 10 percent of the original price. “I look for quality, character, and artistic value,” she shares. Eventually, she combines it all in a brilliant, colorful mosaic of which one of her inspirations, modernist Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, would be proud.
Any style advice? “You can mix and match a variety of things if you’re careful with the colors,” Rosemary suggests. As for herself, she gleans ideas on long walks in major cities, surrounded by architectural masterpieces. At home in Angwin, she brings together a wide variety of sources to arrange to her own tastes—which she believes she inherited from her grandmother, along with her outdoor flowerpots.
Not everyone understands her whimsical design at first, Rosemary acknowledges. That’s fine. Chances are good that enlightenment will spark, once it’s all been sanded down, repainted, or cleaned up—and surprises you in your daily PUC path. As Rosemary puts it, “I want to reuse, reuse, reuse… and then give things away. I couldn’t do it any other way.”
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