Out of the Blue Antiques

This Livingston, Montana, shop is not your grandmother’s antique store

Photography by Melanie Maganias Nashan

Forget what you know about antique stores. The musty smells. The dust-coated trinkets on rickety shelves. The haphazard stacks of mismatched china and sterling silver. Out of the Blue Antiques in Livingston, Montana, is a modern fusion of old and new.

The first hint comes from the sidewalk, where a nine-foot-tall, stainless-steel kinetic sculpture by Montana artist Gary Bates oscillates in Livingston’s infamous wind, and a vintage 1940s bulb-lit arrow sign topped with a star points to the entrance. Inside, the store is an ever-changing curation of whimsy. The newly remodeled building with soaring ceilings and a stark contemporary loft motif is a canvas for items that range from kooky to highly collectible.

The shop, located on Livingston’s Main Street, is an ever-changing curation of whimsy.

One wall features a 12-by-5-foot handmade American flag with only 45 stars, signed when Montana was a territory by Nelson Story, the pioneer of cattle ranching. A corner showcases a Victorian carriage that was featured in the film “A River Runs Through It.” On the more nuanced side is a 1912 Parisian room divider and a display of tintype photographs that stare with eerie poignance from one white wall.

A territorial flag from Montana’s original cattleman, Nelson Story, anchors a wall in the store. Its bold colors contrast playfully with the elegant stained-glass church window.

“I have always been passionate about old things,”  says owner Kathryn Bornemann, who has folded her experiences as an antiques dealer and estate sale manager into the store since purchasing it in 2013.

Owner Kathryn Bornemann and creative director Sarah Homans collaborate to present antique and vintage finds with creative curation.

Bornemann envisioned Out of the Blue Antiques as a place to find unexpected and whimsical furniture, jewelry, art and objects. She purchases estates and coordinates estate sales, which fosters a singular selection of inventory. The store showcases high-end antiques at reasonable prices, specializing in one-of-a-kind pieces, particularly from Montana. The store is a source for interior designers from the booming Bozeman and Big Sky areas as well as for discerning collectors.

Pairing the most unlikely objects in a way that highlights their uniqueness is a hallmark of Out of the Blue Antiques.

A significant part of the business is what creative director Sarah Homans calls “being a matchmaker of objects to people.” She and Bornemann keep a list of customers searching for unusual items. They develop relationships with return clients, local collectors and professional pickers.

“Some objects are so specific that it takes a special person to appreciate them,” explains Homans, who applies her background as a fine artist and gallery director to curate the store.

Objects in this collection range in age from the Victorian era to 1920s milk glass to contemporary candlesticks.

Outlandish displays are a signature theme at Out of the Blue. One vignette features a mannequin wearing a Victorian taffeta dress and leather chaps topped with a deer’s head. In a window a taxidermied black bear in a top hat leans over an antique bed with two teddy bears tucked under the covers. A huge vintage poster of Elvis in repeating pattern wearing an orange car mechanic jumpsuit hangs over a workbench.

“Sarah’s creativity has helped to make the store a destination in Livingston,” says Bornemann.

Thanks to Homans’ curation and Bornemann’s bold taste, twists of irony wind through the store along with humor and artistry, reshaping the impression of old things into refreshing time stamps.

As seen in the January/February 2020 issue

Categories: High-Country Communities