Flawed Pieces Get Star Treatment Here

Flawed Pieces Get Star Treatment Here

Ripped canvases, worn pencils, and a table no one else wanted enliven antiques dealer Lexi Joyall’s Richmond living room.

Lexi Joyall in her Richmond living room

From the January 2022 issue of Down East magazine

1. Portrait

Washington County native Lexi Joyall followed in the footsteps of her antiques-dealing grandmother, selling her first item — a $1 Barbie that fetched $50 on eBay — at age 9. Her fascination with the stories attached to abandoned objects led her to a job at Brunswick’s Cabot Mill Antiques, and, in 2016, she launched her pop-up vintage shop, the Rusticators Emporium — opening as a brick-and-mortar store in Hallowell this winter — which helps furnish her 1900 Richmond home. A favorite living-room piece: An 1800s portrait with a giant hole from a boy’s arrow; later, the grown-up boy’s son drummed on the repaired painting, reopening the hole. “It’s forever damaged, but it’s damaged by a story.”

2. Table and Pots

“Most antiques dealers will tell you there are some pieces that seem to follow you around,” says Lexi Joyall, who sells on Instagram and is looking for a retail space. She admired this mid-century wicker table for years before buying it from a friend’s roving booth, the Repurposed Coop. It displays ’50s-era hand-painted Italian pots from another friend’s Pine State Vintage pop-up shop.

3. Floral Painting

Joyall has a soft spot for “bad art” — “I don’t care about skill if I like it.” But this circa 1860s work, purchased from her friend’s pop-up For the Love of Cottage booth, is a step up. “It’s fairly good, and the frame is gorgeous. And it has this little rip that really got me.”

4. Pillows and Chair

The name of Joyall’s shop pays homage to 19th-century rusticators who mixed sophisticated pieces with “Maine cabiny things.” Here, she channels that high-low aesthetic with late-1800s kilim pillows — a celebratory gift she bought herself after striking out on her own — propped on a wicker egg chair from Target.

5. Nesting Dolls

Joyall has more than 130 Russian nesting dolls, most of them gifts from her husband. “They fascinate me — the colors and the childlike joy of a thing inside a thing.” She sticks to mid-century or older models. On later models, “the quality of the painting isn’t there and the wood is thin; they break easily.”

6. Pencils

“I buy out junk drawers, and pencils are a specialty.” She combines implements acquired at estate sales with ones from family members, like a Japanese pencil from a world-traveler uncle. “Each one holds a memory of a place and time for me and the previous owner.”

7. Coffee Table

Only a few hundred circa 1980s carousel tables like this one exist — and that’s all Joyall has been able to learn about it. “Everyone in this business kind of loves the mystery of, ‘Someday, I’ll figure this out.’ Whether we do or not is another question.”

8. Cactus

Even Joyall’s plants are vintage. This 30-plus-year-old Christmas cactus was a gift from a friend. “That she was willing to give me something she’d loved and taken care of for so long means a lot.”