Growing up, Meg Kimball spent a lot of time around antique stores—just not inside them. “My mother was an antique addict,” Kimball says. “We couldn’t drive past an antique store without stopping the car. She’d make the kids sit in the car, and we’d all moan.” But after she started working at her family’s real estate development business, her taste slowly changed. “I started shopping my mother’s house for things,” she admits. “I started saying, ‘Oh, I actually see why you like that now.’ ”
That affinity only grew as she pursued her own career as an interior designer, tackling projects ranging from renovations of local high-end homes to a three-block rooftop garden—and amassing quite the collection of antiques along the way. “It gets to the point where you need to have a place to put it all,” she half jokes. Now that place is Modern Relik, the recently debuted 5,000-square-foot showroom in Waltham where contemporary furnishings mingle with her scavenged treasures, like Jeff Messerschmidt-signed Lucite and suede chairs from the ’70s and a 1950s Brookline furniture maker’s credenza she updated with a glossy deep-green finish. “If you go into a room that’s all new furniture,” she says, “everything looks so homogeneous.” So even her brand-new pieces tend to have an old soul—think Billy Baldwin-esque slipper chairs and a deep, low-back Hollywood Regency-style sofa that makes loungers “kind of want to have a cocktail.”
The place is also packed with funky-yet-chic odds and ends, like hand-painted pillows to plop on chaises and Moroccan wedding blankets to drape on beds, serpent bookends, mounted ostrich eggs, 18th-century church vases topped with conch shells and decorative poodles hand-beaded by South African women. Kimball, who’s fond of setting an elaborate spread at home, has devoted one nook to tabletop accessories: Portuguese plates fashioned after blue-and-white tiles, golden placemats hand-woven with hyacinth, geodes and topiary balls turned napkin rings, and koi chopstick holders she picked up thinking they’d work with name cards, not to mention a rare complete set of plates from Los Angeles-based midcentury ceramicist Sascha Brastoff.
The inventory will get refreshed a couple of times per season, and Kimball expects to add more lighting fixtures soon; in the fall, she’ll stock wallpaper with bold designs from Australian icon Florence Broadhurst. But it seems she’s already well on her way to carrying out her vision of mixing classic and modern sensibilities, given one recent customer’s comment. “She paid me the best compliment: ‘I can’t tell what’s old and what’s new.’ ”
Modern Relik 96 Clematis Ave., Waltham (617-513-3336) modernrelik.com