Lines in the Carpet

You can’t have a blog about mid-century furniture and not run the risk of coming across as superficial. I was reminded of this when reading a friends random post on Facebook. My own worst critic, it got me to thinking….am I placing too much importance on the things of this world rather than the people in it? Answer: abso-freaking-lutely not.

My purpose, and I hope that it comes across in all my rantings is to create a place for myself and my family; a home – that is uniquely ours where we can all be comfortable and enjoy each other. A home where some of my family’s heirlooms have pride of place and their back stories are known and shared. I think mid-century allows for that more than any other design. It’s simple, it’s minimalist…it allows you to be the focus. The other day, my husband said jokingly, “Ah… but we can’t use this because it’s mid-century.”(You don’t think he’s tired of my obsession do you?) I quickly reminded him that I don’t buy anything that which isn’t actually used. Make no mistake, if I can’t use it, it’s not coming home with me. I’ll leave that to you hoarders. (Shudder) My best friend will tell you that I get absolutely giddy when I think about having a garage sale and ridding myself of clutter and things that just do not see the light of day.  She’s been many a co-host to my spontaneous sales. “Can’t stand it, won’t have it, get rid of it! WEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!”

My mother has said that my grandmother “Nana” used to vacuum lines in the carpet, and tell the kids to stay out of the living room. She would know when she came home if they had disobeyed because she’d be able to see the footprints. Let it be known that my grandmother was an amazing woman and I hope you’ll continue to read my blogs where I can share more positive things with you about her. However, if there is one thing Nana didn’t mess around with it was her “stuff.”

Now, we can take this example and learn from it, as my mother did. Do we want our kids growing up and telling their kids about how living with us was like living in an internment camp? I think not. What kind of memories do you want to make? What’s more important? I think for me, all the mid-century “stuff” is something I’m passionate about and want to share with my family, friends and like-minded people. I get excited when I find something for a steal that I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to get my hands on. But that something is going to be shared and used – and damn it, I’m going to make good memories on it, with it or around it. I want my home to be somewhere people can be comfortable and let loose; where the furniture is just as quirky and colorful as I am, not where people are afraid to step on the lines in the carpet. (Because I WILL cut you.)

I’m only kidding. Just try me. What? You heard me.

Now in all seriousness here is a perfect example of use. My so-ugly-they’re-cute dogs. They’re frenchies. They’re adorable, but they stink. They stink, they snore, they drool, they fart. And yes, I let them on my furniture. Because I love them more than the furniture.

Pearl on Pearsall
Bedtime Stories for Pig

Please note, the Pearsall chair that Pearl is happily sleeping on is my one and only designer piece of furniture. I had to have it. Vintage, Original tweed. Adrian Pearsall. Look him up. Probably one of the most influential designers of the time; also a very dead designer. Dead and gone…just like I will be one day. And when I get to heaven I want Pearl to walk up to me and say in her very dainty voice, “Hey…thanks for letting me catch some Z’s on that Pearsall chair. That thing was AWESOME! And so were you.”

The moral of the story here is love it, use it, share it with the people (and animals) you love.

She’s Thrifty Thrifty Thrifty!

This week I’ll be featuring a few local thrift shops that will make your heart stop. Thrifting is one of the BEST ways to find completely unique pieces. Obviously you have to be selective or your home will end up looking more like a junk yard than a reflection of you; but the idea is to find things that give you a slight heart attack as you rip them off the shelf before anyone else spies your glorious find. Is it just me or does anyone else get that feeling? Just check out this space age lamp I got for $19.99 at the Goodwill. I actually- hand on my heart like something out of a film – inhaled loudly as I rounded the corner and it stood on the floor in front of me. This lamp stopped me in my tracks both literally and figuratively. It was love at first sight. Something inside of me knows it’s completely hideous, but on the other hand it’s beautiful. Does that make any sense? Hello!!?!?!?? The base lights up too! WHAT?

Inspired by my recent find I asked my very witty and spontaneous friend, Senta to be my guide on a tour of local Inland Empire thrift shops as I am still relatively new to the area. Knowing her penchant for a good laugh and her desire to find antique ceramics, Senta was going to be the right woman for the job. My girl came through! Our tour began at a yard sale in Menifee. I have to be honest; I was ready to drive right by as I haven’t had the best of luck with yard or garage sales in the past. Complete waste of time in my experience. No, I do not want your dirty kid’s stained teddy bear for $.50. I would NOT like to bring home bed bugs with me today, thank you very much. But I digress.

At this particular yard sale, we found what I’d only hoped to find someday but hadn’t uttered my wish out loud because it seemed so unlikely: I’d hoped to find a vintage school desk for my son. I invisioned him in our office with me, coloring or doing his little kid puzzles as I typed my next post…there I go again. Anyway, this beaut is what we walked up to when we greeted the yard sale in Menifee. I stand corrected: $25 bucks later, I was carting this sweet little thing to my trunk. It came complete with one single piece of petrified gum stuck underneath the desk. Vintage gum.

Vintage School Desk

The next stop of the Thrift-tastic adventure was the Menifee Valley Community Cupboard in Sun City. There were some pretty cool things here and they were very reasonably priced. I purchased a tea tin from Ireland for my Paddy husband for $1.  If you’re looking for kitchewares, glasses, ceramics or housewares, this is your kind of place. I also spied some really cool vintagey hand-made quilts in the back. In addition, there is an entire room dedicated to furniture.

From Sun City we headed to Lake Elsinore. Lake Elsinore is like a mecca for thriftgoers. There were 3 thrift stores on Riverside Drive alone. There was so much to do and see, we never even got past Riverside Drive. Thrifting here is not for the faint of heart. Bring your A game folks, because there’s a LOT to sift through. Our first stop in L.E. was The Lord’s Closet. It was a kind of hole in the wall place and I chuckled to myself thinking in jest, “certainly the Lord has something for me too.” And so he did! Ask and ye shall receive. Here’s the thrifty treasure I found at the Lord’s Closet!!!! I can’t wait to hang it in my master bedroom. It will grace the wall above Nana’s credenza.

Not only that, the gal behind the counter was positively delightful. She was so friendly and struck up a conversation with us. I will definitely be returning to this place! (Just a post-script here. Had I purchased this same item at a flea market, it would have easily cost 5 times what I paid for it.) And the people said, “Thanks be to God.”

The main destination in Lake Elsinore has to be Thriftique. They are so popular that they even have a Facebook page with 173 likes; pretty good for a Thrift store in the middle of nowhere.!/Thriftique.LE The aptly named Thriftique is more like a shabby chic boutique that is a veritable wall to wall feast for the eyes. Thriftique was bursting with really cool collectibles. I didn’t see very many mid-century vintage pieces, but if I were a fan of french country or shabby chic, this place would be a definite gold mine. Thriftique did have an excellent vintage book collection that I will have to go back for. By this point in the day, we were starving and Senta started eyeing me like I might be good eatin’. Before we left to seek out some grub, I did score this mid-century serving platter for $3.50. Excellent deals to be had here.

Serving Platter

From what I understand, Thriftique is gearing up to open a sister shop in September, just next door to be called Vintique. I spoke with someone at Thriftique and they’ll have all sorts of different vendors and thus, all different types of wares. I get excited just thinking about it!

And so you see, some of the least likely places are the very best ones to investigate. I probably wouldn’t have ventured into Lake Elsinore for the purpose of thrifting, but thanks to my street-wise Senta, I’ve since determined it is one of the best places in the area to go! Keep an open mind…treasures are everywhere just waiting to be discovered.

P.S. Bring good shoes, light clothes and bottled water. This time of year, it’s scorching hot in the Inland Empire. Should you get to feeling hungry, be sure to stop by the Nana’s Pizza on Riverside Drive. My gal pal and I wolfed down the most delicious freshly made calzones we’ve ever tasted. Slap your Mama kinda stuff. I actually thought about rubbing the doughy crust on my face and trying to inhale the bread through my nose. It was that good.

I see dead people…

Let’s talk Estate Sales! Tasteless, tacky, but really true: you can’t take it with you, so I’m going to buy it!

Before you write me off as completely insensitive…stay with me for a second. I have “dead people” in my life too. My blog is dedicated to my late grandmother. We’ll call her Nana. In my very first post, I alluded to the fact that her personal life was a bit messy….and that it affected her fabulous furniture, some of which I now own. And I’ll tell you….I’m torn. The bedroom suite that started it all – my obsession with Mid-Century – it’s actually damaged by the hand of my grandfather whom I’ve never met; during a drunken rage. Fasten your seatbelts for a tale of drama, people! My mom says he took his pocket knife and sliced giant X’s in Nana’s velvet couch as well as lines down the front facing of the bedroom suite because he knew that was the way to get to her. The neighbors called the police because of a glow coming from the inside of the house. It was my grandmother’s entire wardrobe. Furs, gowns and sequins were all in the process of being incinerated in the fireplace. I don’t have a picture of the fire or the couch sliced with X’s, but I do have an aftermath picture of the kitchen and I know what you’re thinking: Nice stool, right? You know the ones with the little step stand? Gosh, they really don’t make things like they used to.

Admit it, MCM isn’t just an obsession, it’s a syndrome that we share.

As for the credenza, I’ve thought about refinishing it myself, or having it re-finished. You know what? I don’t think I have the heart to.  Because every time I see the lines in that beautiful credenza, I’m reminded of how much my grandmother endured, and how she came out on the other end a stronger person. Sure, there’s a couple cigarette burns in the top of the end tables. So what? Each time my eye is drawn to it, I can picture her holding a Belair between her those long fingers and her always perfectly manicured nails. I know she’d love to know how much I value the things that she did and that I embrace the beauty, warts and all. And that’s the reason why I love estate sales. I like to think that every piece that I acquire has a story and perhaps a very interesting dead person behind it. I know that somebody’s beloved something will live on in my home and hopefully someday grace the home of my son, or someone else who will appreciate it for what it is: Beautifully crafted things bought, sold or traded through time creating a story all their own.

How much did you say you want for those glass grapes?!?!

One of the things I love most about HGTV now is that show The High/Low Project where they feature for example a 20K designer room, and then they recreate it for whatever the homeowners budget is. Sometimes they have to do a lot of searching, but it seems like every time, they manage to come very close to an exact match of the designer room and often they improve on the original.

Part of my sharing the “Adventures of a Retro Re-Deco” with the world is to serve as a reminder to my readers that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your hands on some really beautiful and unique vintage pieces. I’m on a very tight budget myself.  I have to redecorate by selling items I already own.  As I mentioned in my first blog, I have found almost every one of my pieces from a flea market, Craigslist, or Goodwill.  If you look at this photo of my formal living room, it’s essentially a mix of old and new….

The Brass Cats? They were purchased for $9 dollars at Goodwill. When I researched some comparables on EBay, I found an uglier version of just two cats for $99. Can you say, SCORE!!!?!?

The Teal Couch is vintage and I nearly soiled myself when I found it on Craigslist. Sometimes when I’m by myself, I sit and just caress it’s wooly exterior. Not really, but sort of. I do.

The colorful painting on the wall was only $50 as part of a deal for buying a desk from the same vendor at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

The Green Chairs? They were a bit of a splurge, but I found them at Long Beach Veterans Stadium Flea Market. I’m told this is one of the best places to get antique and MCM furniture and accessories in SoCal. As my Mom and I carried them out, people were actually stopping us asking where we found them and how much we paid. Okay, okay…..I’ll tell you….gulp…..$500. A splurge for someone on a budget like mine, but a priceless find as far as I’m concerned. The arms are SOOO curvy and comfy and the lime green? Hello! TO DIE FOR. One woman actually pulled on her friends arm, nodded to us and said; “Now THAT’S the PERFECT find.” I nearly floated out of there.

The Big Dipper Arc Floor Lamp from CB2 I bought used on Craigslist for ½ of its retail value.

Morganton Nesting Tables? Under $150 including shipping for a set of 3 on EBay.

The wooden dolphin was a thrift store find, and the glass pieces and sheepskin were Ikea and Target. I actually spied the green piece on my favorite MCM blog, Mid-Century Modern Love.  But I waited until it was on clearance at Target and got it for under $10.

So patience is the key. Wait until you find the right thing. If it takes your breath away, by all means go for it. In my experience however, if you just wait it out, something within your budget will reveal itself to you with a little persistence and patience. Case in point, the aforementioned glass grapes. What is the deal with the glass grapes anyway? Even as I learn the ropes of flea marketing and bargaining, I am astonished by how much some of these Mid-Century favorites cost. $50 for a bunch of glass grapes? Have you been drinking??? It’s GLASS, not GOLD!

So I have held onto my glass grapes cash and waited patiently.  Low and behold, as I was “treasure hunting” with my son at the Goodwill this week I spied these babies. They’re green….part of my color scheme…in all their hideous glory, they were…..wait for it…… wait for it….$5.99. That’s all crusty old glass grapes from the 50’s should cost in my estimation..but what do I know?

Happy Hunting Friends!

Hello MCM Family!

Midcenturyobsession. That’s the best way I can illustrate what has in such a short time, completely taken me over. I’ll explain it by way of blame, which is what my generation is so well known for….

I recently inherited my Grandmother’s vintage writing desk and bedroom suite. I’d always loved clean lines, but hadn’t had the inclination to go Mid Century Modern on my own. That was, until I got “Nana’s” totally hip stuff. It got me thinking, “I wonder if there are some accessories to go with all this wood?” I hit Ebay, Craigslist, and discovered this whole world, nay- this movement I didn’t even know existed. A little about me: I don’t have a decorator’s background- My degree is in HGTV. My lineage however, is steeped in tragically hip. “Nana” as we called her, or “Fairy Faye” had exquisite taste in fashion and furniture. Her personal life was a mess…which ultimately affected her furniture but that’s another story and we’ll get to that later.

In the past few months, my husband, son and I have been waiting for our home in California to close. We relocated to California to be closer to family. We’ve finally moved in, and I’ve decided to re-decorate. My husband thinks I’m completely nuts. In fairness, I think he’s actually catching the fever – and he’s encouraged me to think about starting a business centered around the buying and selling of Mid Century Modern furniture, which I will henceforward refer to as MCM.  Annnnnnddd why not? He’s seen how much I’m willing to spend on it! Certainly there are other crazy people just like me out there, obsessed with MCM!

I even have my own consultant….my mother, who has a good eye and has marveled with me about just how much an ugly ceramic Siamese Cat will go for on Ebay. Ceramic cats that she grew up with, and subsequently were thrown away.  She often says when we’re walking a flea market together, or perusing the web for treasures, “I wish Nana was here with us. She’d LOVE THIS.”

So on the day of her birthday, August 18th I finally figured out what my blog would be about, and to whom I would dedicate it. As the song goes,” Fare thee well my Fairy Faye.”