I suppose you could say that Deuxième Debut is an ode to my mother.
Mom was a strong-willed business woman. The kind of woman you’d call a lady; always elegant and perfectly put together, unflappable in her poise. She and my father were very much in love. So when Dad passed on, it was a huge blow. She held on for a couple of years, but then things seemed to fall apart in slow motion. She had reached the age where her friends were dying and it seemed that society no longer had any use for her. My once proud mother stopped caring for herself.
For a while, we were afraid we would lose her. She fought cancer, then suffered a stroke. Our family rallied around her, working hard to counter the message she seemed to be receiving from the rest of the world: “Old people are unnecessary.” As a woman of a certain age myself, I’ve begun to feel that cloak of invisibility around my own shoulders. In a culture that’s obsessed with youth, it sometimes becomes hard to remember that beauty (at least the kind that lasts) stems from character. My mother taught me that. And I’m happy to say she’s doing well. She’s in a wheelchair now, but she’s smiling again.
It was during those years of caring for Mom that I realized it’s not just people we discard thoughtlessly. In 1998, I left my job in finance in Toronto and moved to Montreal. We bought and renovated a 100 year-old-building and launched a 4-star B&B, now a vacation rental. Thing is, once we’d finished renovations, we realized we had a whole bunch of rooms to furnish, but precious little capital left. I had to think up creative (and inexpensive) ways to dress up the place. The prices of brand new dressers and armchairs made my hair curl, and it made me angry to be paying so much for items that were cheaply made and likely to fall apart within a few years. So I started buying old, discarded pieces and redoing them. Giving them a sort of “Deuxième Debut”, if you will.
What I ended up with was a series of rooms that are filled with charm and character, each piece bringing its own history and uniqueness to my space. And (though I realize this makes me sound old) I must say, they don’t make them like they used to. All Deuxième Debut pieces are solid in a way that you simply can’t buy brand new these days (at least for a reasonable sum).
The best part? Each time I find an old, discarded piece of furniture and spend time with it, getting to know its character and then transforming it, it’s like a part of myself comes alive again. And now, through Deuxième Debut, I can share this joy of discovery with you!