Salvaging the Past

Cunning Mantiques creates authentic vintage home decor and furniture

Mantiques Airdrie

Todd Cunningham

If you walk into Todd Cunningham’s garage, you may find an old trombone hanging from the rafters, a beat-up tailgate leaning against a wall, or a rusty tricycle that has sat unused for decades.

Though antiques like these might be junk to some, the owner of Cunning Mantiques sees their value. Cunningham spends much of his free time finding vintage material and repurposes it into unique and rustic furniture or home decor.

“My favourite colour is rust,” he laughs.

More than two years ago, Cunningham began tinkering with some old antiques for something to do while recovering from surgery.

After building up a collection of finished products, he started selling his creations on Facebook and the business took off.

Mantiques Airdrie“At first it was just a labour of love, until I had a bunch of things that I knew I couldn’t keep,” he says. “The hardest part is not falling in love with everything.”

An electrician by day, Cunningham spends his evenings and weekends scouring farm yards for unique items to add to his collection. After negotiating a deal with the farmer, he puts his art background to good use by repurposing each item.

Mantiques Airdrie“My first inspiration, going back a couple years, was the difficulty in finding something unique and affordable that’s suitable for a space that’s a little bit rustic like a man cave or garage,” he says. “It’s so hard to find pieces that don’t look cheesy or brand new, made to look old.”

Cunningham loves the story behind every new find and always passes on a bit of its history to the new owner. Whenever he comes across a new antique, he tries to salvage a bit of authentic hardware, vintage nails or old barn boards from the same property to preserve a slice of the past.

Mantiques Airdrie“You’re doing what you think is right to save something before it falls apart or gets buried in the ground or thrown away,” says Cunningham. “These represent memories of the past that people cling to. They might have a little bit of nostalgia when they see an object that reminds them of a place or person so that’s really what I’m keying into.”

Though Cunningham comes up with the ideas for many of his designs himself, he also takes custom orders when clients bring in their own material.

He says working on new pieces gives him an outlet to be creative and allows him to be himself.

“I’ve dealt with depression for a long time and this is one of the aspects of my life that makes me really happy,” says Cunningham. “This gives me that little bit of freedom, a little bit of power and a little bit of personal space, and that’s exactly what I need.”

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