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An embroidery studio, an art gallery, a Roberto Cavalli location—these were the past lives of the two-floor space that’s now a burgeoning downtown New York City store called Club Vintage. But it was owner-designer Anna Gray’s turn to make the place feel like her own—along with the homewares and clothing from 46 vintage dealers.

The curation of preloved home and fashion goodies from the 19th century to the space age draw you in the old glass-paned doors. In the front room, a rattan floor lamp is nestled next to a Bauhaus chrome tubular leather daybed. Alongside another wall sit cherry red Henry Massonnet cocktail tables that host vases from the 1960s. And just like a home, Gray knew that with a few low-budget projects she could amp up the wow factor ever further. 

“It’s always been in my nature to reconfigure my surroundings,” Gray says. “My parents took our house down to the studs and rebuilt it, so I grew up seeing that spatial change is possible and normal. Adding improvements or making holes in walls or painting are methods of self-expression. So while a white box is nice, it can always be weirder—I’m pro ‘make spaces that are instantly recognizable.’”

A Fleet of Lantern Clouds

“Walking into the Noguchi Museum’s lantern-filled room feels surreal, meditative, and just so perfectly peaceful, so I was like, screw it, I want that feeling here, too,” says Gray. Since having a collection of Isamu Noguchi’s lights above a display area upstairs was not in her just-opened budget, she headed to Pearl River Mart to get a whole fleet of oversize rice paper pendants in various sizes plus some string. “The whole project came to roughly $60,” she notes.

With 15 hung from the rafters, she achieved a cloud effect that helps the second level stand out from the first—without taking up any real estate. (The grouping would look just as good above a dining table or even a crib.) Pro tip: Steer clear of cooler, fluorescent bulbs in order to lean into the warm and moody dreamlike feel.

A Hardware Store Room Divider

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on a vintage 1950s Eames plywood privet, all power to you. But Gray brought the look into her Club Vintage world for less with simply fabricated plywood from a local Home Depot. “My friend and person-of-all-trades Jonah Peterschild and I used a CNC machine to drill the hole size we wanted, but we could have just as readily used a circular hole saw attached to a drill,” she explains. 

At home, it can delineate an open-concept room or hide your junk in a corner, but Gray went a step further to use hers to creatively hang clothes. “I worked in retail for a very long time, and a neatly folded denim pile is not something people always love to sift through,” she says. “So to make shoppers ever-so-slightly more comfortable at Club Vintage, we hung clothing in an unconventional way.” 

High-Contrast Floors

“With all the foot traffic in the front of the space, we couldn’t keep the all-white gallery floors due to tedious cleans,” says Gray. Her swap: a glossy primary blue. “I was trying to get as close as I could to Yves Klein Blue and an ocean blue without having to go with a custom mix of paint, as it wasn’t in the budget.” She landed on Evening Blue by Benjamin Moore and used an epoxy finish. It’s most practical for withstanding heavy use, reflecting light, and looking top-notch in photographs—perhaps exactly what you need for your own entryway.

Maximized Microwave Shelves

One of Gray’s favorite items to repurpose in her own apartment is, believe it or not, restaurant-quality microwave shelves. “I have one as my entryway catchall where I toss my keys. They’re just beautiful aluminum shelves that easily screw into the wall with drywall anchors. They float, which I like a whole lot better than a proper console table, because console tables visually and physically take up square footage.” So, of course, she purchased a few for the shop, too. At a foot deep, they currently display an assortment of quirky-cool Vada World sunglasses and vintage shoes.

Rebar, Repurposed

“While walking down the aisles of Home Depot with Jonah, I was like, ‘What are those?’” recalls Gray. They were standing in front of rebar material coated in a shockingly nice shade of green. “He said they’re actually made for pouring concrete flooring sometimes called rebar mesh.” But together they cut out sections of squares and later hung them on the wall above a table-and-chairs set. “It looks like art, but it cost me $30,” Gray adds.