Announcing..."As Luck Would Have It" -- the Website!

FINALLY! The "As Luck Would Have It" Website has launched! Now, in addition to the offerings at Home Store Manassas, my carefully edited collection of vintage treasures are available thru Be sure to check it out daily, as there are many more pieces of inventory to be posted. And tell ALL your friends, family, co-workers, strangers you meet in bars....Trust me, they'll thank you for it! At least I will...!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chair-ished Friends

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, I was knee-deep in the middle of my traditional wait-til-the-last-minute-to-wrap-EVERYTHING routine. Of course, I was wired from caffeine overdose, HGTV was on in the background, and the kitties were in hiding so that they might avoid being hit by flying wrapping paper remnants. FA. LA. LA.

BFFs Sharona and Richard had phoned to ask if they could stop by. “Sure, if you don’t mind a frenzy of holiday madness!” At least they couldn’t say they hadn’t been warned. I would not be responsible for any collateral damage.

Soon there was a rapping at the door. In my holiday finest (completely disheveled in baggy sweats), I threw open the door to the sight of not Sharona and Richard, but a Martha Washington-style chair that I had last seen at Class and Trash weeks prior! While I was still dumbfounded by this unexpected vision, Sharona and Richard jumped out with hails of “Surprise!” and “Merry Christmas!”. Turns out, Richard remembered that I had become enamored with the MW chair when he and I had traveled to C&T for the Big Haul . When I had forgotten to claim the lovely piece in the midst of my standard bout of Vintage Vertigo, Richard had arranged with C&T owners Lisa and Kenny to hold the chair til he could travel back to Richmond to claim it as a holiday present for me. (Both he and Sharona insist they had decided to buy me this most thoughtful gift before we had all agreed not to exchange presents….I’ve chosen to believe them on this point, since I’m thrilled to have the chair!)

The chair is truly quite lovely. Of traditional lines, it is sturdy and in fine shape structurally. Although the fabric is a bit worn, the wood is unscarred. Nevermind about the upholstery, however; already the chair is planned to be restyled in some otherworldly combination of fabrics that will most assuredly send it into the couture décor stratosphere!

The chair currently resides in my boudoir, in the space formerly occupied by the pre-restyled 1970s-vintage moderne chair. Kitty Daisy has already claimed it as her own. However, being a stylish girl, when the time comes for the restyling I’m sure she’ll sacrifice her latest perch in the name of FABULOCITY!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thanks for the (Christmas) Memories

In all honesty, the Christmas holiday season is not my fave time of year.  I don’t like crowds, traffic sends me over the edge, and I despise cold weather.  (As you can imagine, the blizzard the Washington DC metro area received this weekend did nothing to help my holiday anxiety.) As a child, I tended to be sick every Christmas day.  My former career was in retail management and buying.  All combined, I do not do very well this time of year.  And don’t get me started about Christmas carols…. 

Anyone who has read just one posting of this Blog knows that I love decorating and shopping.  But not during the holidays.  Just say “NO NO NO” to the “HO HO HO”.  That’s not to say that I don’t have a section of the attic devoted to Christmas décor, just that everything tends to stay boxed up, year after year. 

One of the few exceptions to this is the small collection of ornaments handed down to me by my maternal grandmother, Mary.  I lived with my grandparents as a child, and one of the few family traditions was the yearly display of Christmas ornaments my grandmother had acquired when my mother and aunt were children.   Each Christmas, my grandmother would assemble the silver aluminum pom-pom tree and decorate it with a set of glass balls of a single color, alternating between beautiful shiny blue and bright pink.  Then there was the rotating color wheel, slowly projecting blue/yellow/red/green light on the metallic tree.  Pure holiday FABULOCITY

We would also have an evergreen tree, real or feaux, decorated with an assortment of ‘five-and-dime’ ornaments.  Among these were the spherical cage-like hollow balls containing ‘angel hair’ -- my absolute favorite!  I truly believed that they contained the fine white hair of actual angels, and I always looked forward to unearthing these from the cardboard boxes in which all the ornaments were stored.

But the most treasured of treasures was the nativity set.  Also purchased at the local five-and-dime for mere pennies, each piece was crafted of chalk and painted in vibrant colors.  There was, of course, the baby Jesus, along with four livestock animals: cow, donkey, sheep, and camel.  Even as a child, I found it fitting that only the animals were in attendance at our manger scene.

Purchased in the 1940s, only a handful of these treasures have successfully weathered the ensuing decades.  Somehow many of the ornaments of my childhood were broken or lost.  I consider myself fortunate to have several of the delicate solid blue glass balls, along with a red one with “Season’s Greetings” painted in white, and a blue globe with white stars.  And, even two of the angel hair-filled pieces are among my collection.  Except now, as I behold these globes many years after my grandmother’s passing, I recall the fine silver hair of my own guardian angel Mary.

The nativity set also survived, except the donkey is MIA and the cow lost an ear at some point.  A few years ago, during one of my DC Big Flea excursions with BFF Diana, I came across a vendor who was offering a mishmash of similar nativity pieces.  I learned that these chalkware items were very popular in the first half of the twentieth century, and were made by Italian and German immigrants.  Apparently, some of the later pieces were also made in Japan.  Carefully sifting through this vendor’s offerings, I selected several pieces that I thought would fit well into my treasured nativity:  an angel to watch over the baby Jesus; three wisemen to accompany the camel; and a Mary and Joseph pair.  These pieces of unknown history have now melded seamlessly into the nativity of my childhood, and the entire set is among the few holiday decorations I faithfully display each and every year.

So enamored was I of my grandmother’s set, this collection of the most modest of nativities, that I recall once telling her that it was the only thing I wished for her to bequeath to me.  I am blessed that I have these precious items to commemorate the childhood spent with my loving and caring grandparents.  However, as treasured as these ornaments are to me, I am most grateful for all the memories they invoke, for that past is my forever Christmas present.  And each year, at the close of the holiday season, I carefully wrap each jewel so that it might survive to be displayed another season. 

A few Christmases ago, I labeled the boxes containing this treasure with the names of my godsons.  Inside the boxes were notes addressed to the boys, explaining the heritage of these items, and instructing them to remember me and my family as the boys might someday display the ornaments as part of their own families’ holiday traditions.  Let this be my forever Christmas present to them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

China Syndrome

What’s a furniture addict to do when the all available storage runneth over?  In my case, I redirect my acquisition urges toward items that are considerably easier to warehouse:  tableware, knick-knacks, pictures, and all sorts of tschotskes.   The possibilities are endless in this category of vintage décor!

In my previous post , I let my Dear Readers in on the secret of the glorious thrift store Yesterday’s Rose.  On the Monday following my first visit there, which had resulted in the discovery of several lovely (and bulky) pieces of vintage furniture (now occupying valuable real estate in The Warehouse), I returned to transport the silk-covered Baker loveseat.  As previously mentioned, that day also happened to be “1/2 Off Everything Day”!  What a coincidence!

Considering that the loveseat required almost every square centimeter of space in the Passat’s cargo area, there were limits to what I could acquire on my second visit.  Fortunately, the Rose had a rather extensive offering of dishes and glassware.  Having perused the stacks of breakables the previous Saturday with BFF Diana the Lady D, there were a few items that I was hoping to locate once again among the piles.  However, there was one treasure first and foremost in my mind for this excursion:  a set of eleven china plates by Royal Albert.

Weeks prior to my foray into the treasure-filled cavern that is Yesterday’s Rose, Lady D emailed me to express her glee over finding a beautiful china plate during one of her Rose trips.  She dubbed the item “The Faux Oyster Plate” because its bold yet delicate pattern reminded her of plates designed for such a function.  Although there had been a complete set of twelve of these exquisite dishes, Diana had chosen to purchase only one (convinced that she has an innate propensity to break things, she was fearful of being responsible for a whole dozen of china plates!).  Nonetheless, on her many follow-on trips to the Rose, she faithfully stopped by the case in which they were displayed to ensure no one else had acquired the remaining eleven.

What made these plates especially intriguing was the hint of their history indicated by a handwritten note attached to Lady D’s single dish.  Carefully written in a delicate script on a piece of tape placed on the plate’s surface was the statement, “Debbie, from Cowell & Hubbard…Very Expensive”.  Diana, the consummate Internet researcher, pulled this thread and discovered that Cowell and Hubbard was a jewelry store located in Cleveland, Ohio.  According to The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History ,

Cowell and Hubbard Co . is Cleveland's oldest jewelry store. The firm started in 1861 when Geo. Cowell and his son, Herbert, took control of the silversmith shop of Royal Cowles, which had opened in 1849 under the Weddell House at Superior Ave. and Bank (W. 6th) St. H. Cowell & Co. sold clocks, watches, silverware, lamps, fine jewelry, and notions.

Obviously, the previous owner of these delightful and delicate dishes desired that “Debbie” be fully aware that these plates had an extraordinary pedigree.  (Luckily, “Debbie” apparently couldn’t have cared less, and the Royal Albert plates ended up in a thrift store!)

The Lady D then set out to determine the plates’ vintage.  Sleuthing through the vast information store of the Internet, she came upon the definitive source for all things Royal Albert:  Here, she determined that the plates’ backstamp indicated that they were manufactured 1927-1935 (apparently a particularly prolific period for the Royal Albert Company!).

When Diana and I visited Yesterday’s Rose on that fateful Saturday in November, the remaining eleven Royal Albert plates still resided in their place of honor in the glass case near the shop’s entrance.  However, recognizing that a mere two days later the dishes would be included in the “1/2 Off Everything” event, I decided to tempt fate and wait until I returned to transport the Baker loveseat before purchasing them.  (You see, as desirous as I was to possess these fine plates, the fruit would be that much sweeter if I could get them at an even more remarkable low price!  Vintage shopping is multi-faceted endeavor.)

As I approached the Rose on “1/2 Off Monday” to retrieve the loveseat, I was guided tthough the cold rain by my determination to embrace the Royal Albert plates before they were claimed by some other less-deserving shopper.  But, because my trip to the Fairfax shop had been delayed by a long-standing doctor appointment (which I’d been sorely tempted to cancel), would the dishes still be available?  Walking (well, running, really) into the Rose I breathlessly approached the glass case….Yes Yes YES! the plates – ALL ELEVEN OF THEM – were still there!  Oh Fates, blessed Fates!  I immediately engaged the gentleman behind the counter and, after confirming that the dishes were included in the day’s sale event, I proceeded to carefully examine each one for damage.  I was delighted that all were in pristine condition, and instructed the clerk to consider them sold.

After ensuring my treasure was appropriately set aside for me, I proceeded to rummage through the piles of dishes precariously stacked on the open shelves on the shop’s selling floor.  And I was rewarded for my diligence:  added to my Royal Albert purchase were a 1953 calendar and zodiac plate by Homer Laughlin ; a 1950s-vintage plate with a stylized floral pattern in light blue and gold; and a set of three dinner plate with a large Mod daisy design in the center of each.  Each of these finds could serve as stunning wall hangings, especially the daisy plates when presented as a trio.

There was one near-disastrous moment:  having completed my transaction (with the Goth-Girl clerk manning the register), I attempted to place the box full of newfound bounty into the shopping cart for transport to the awaiting Passat.  !  My hand slipped, and the carton slammed into the bottom of the cart.  I was convinced that I had cracked at least a few of the treasured Royal Albert china plates.  However, upon my inspection back home, it was revealed that all items had survived my moment of clutziness.  I had miraculously evaded Lady D’s curse! 

Now, Diana and I are in negotiations regarding how The Eleven are to be divided; she insists that she should hand over her single plate in order to keep the set intact (and to escape their impending doom that being in her possession ensures).  I, however, contend that the vintage wealth should be distributed, and a set of eight would suffice for me.  Indeed, disposition of the dozen is a task best suited for King Soloman.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fave Source Alert: Yesterday’s Rose

Yet again, BFF Diana struck gold! The Lady D informed me of a most delightful trove for vintage treasures in Fairfax, Virginia: Yesterday’s Rose (doesn’t the name itself conjure lovely images of times gone by?) is a wondrously cavernous thrift shop located in a nondescript strip mall in NoVA. Diana, who has lived in the general vicinity for the better part of 30 years, had often passed by the shop’s location, but had only recently ventured in. And what a fortuitous visit it turned out to be!

A few weeks ago, the Lady D texted me pics of several glorious chairs; upon my immediate and exuberant response, she informed me that they had been discovered at the Rose. Even through the haziness of the low resolution photo, I could tell these were items that warranted closer inspection. However, I was unable to join Diana in a visit to the Rose til last Saturday – which just happened to be “1/2 off Furniture Day”!!!!

We arrived uncharacteristically early (for me, anyway), before the shop opened its doors. As we sat in the Passat (which had been de-cluttered for the occasion, in anticipation of filling it with newfound bounty) reading a décor magazine (naturally!), I happened to glance up and exclaimed to Diana, “Oh my God, people are lining up to get in!”. Hastily we bolted out of the cargo van (um, I mean ‘Passat’) and rushed to beat another wave of approaching vintage décor scavengers.

When the doors opened minutes later, it was as if we were shoppers at a Walmart Midnight Madness sale! Everyone pushed through the double doors, rushing to claim the pieces they’d apparently scoped out the day before. As we fought through the throng, Diana remembered to shout to me the rule of the day: “Tear off the tickets of any piece of furniture you want!”, which allows you to claim the item without having to drag it to the register. Following Diana’s lead, I started snatching tickets with wild abandon – until the suitably gruff elderly man working the floor informed us that we were to tear off only the lower portion of the tag, not the entire tag. Oops. We ended up losing precious moments trying to retrace our steps to reattach tickets. (We felt like such amateurs!)

Although some ground was lost, the Lady D’s early recon had mapped out the last known location of the targeted spoils: an amazing rattan and cane chair of generous proportions; a side table with birds-eye veneered top; and a delightfully comfortable rattan glider chair. Having claimed these items immediately as part of our potential haul, we were free to wander about and pick through the other assorted goods. I was truly fortunate to be standing near a lady when she decided not to purchase a most lovely find, and thus able to claim it as my own: a Baker loveseat with down cushions, covered in a plaid silk. Although the tattered arms indicated the piece had been favored by a feline companion of the previous owner, the rest of the upholstery as well as the overall structure were perfectly intact. MINE!

While the air of Yesterday’s Rose was so infused as to induce multiple bouts of Vintage Vertigo, there was one note of sadness….In a wide-open space between the linens (NOT on sale that day, BTW) and the children’s clothing, sat a faded lady: a Duncan-Phyfe sofa. Tattered and torn, springs exposed, yet majestic and commanding, the spectacular piece was patiently awaiting rescue. As I appropriately fawned over her, I was forced to consider the sheer size of the piece – was there any way in Hades that she would fit into the Passat? Armed with the ever-present tape measure, I proceeded to take detailed measurements from all angles. After several trips to-and-from the Passat, I once again had to acknowledge defeat – the Passat’s cargo space was woefully inadequate. Memories of the French Settee melodrama resurfaced.

After several hours in Yesterday’s Rose (and having claimed several other miscellany), Diana and I proceeded to load a portion of the day’s bounty into the Passat (sadly, sans Duncan-Phyfe). And while I had successfully claimed the lovely Baker loveseat, I was forced to leave it behind til it could be retrieved a few days later (many measurements indicated that this piece could indeed be accommodated by le Passat). However, this slight inconvenience did not cause consternation….After all, the following Monday was the last day of the month, which at Yesterday’s Rose means the entire store is HALF-OFF!!! Stay tuned for details of that excursion!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Big Haul

Recently, BFF Richard bravely agreed to accompany me to Richmond to bring back a plethora of vintage treasures.  The part of this effort that required real fortitude:  Richard was in charge of driving the moving van that had been provided by the self-storage company where my ‘warehouse’ is located.  Not having ever driven one of these behemoths myself, I was thrilled when he made the offer.    BFF Sharona had planned to join us, but alas the truck had bucket seats that could only accommodate two persons.  I’d graciously offered to let her and Richard manage the move, but Sharona demurred. 

The truck itself was….well, functional.  It was one of those 12-foot box things, built strictly for utilitarian purposes.  Comfort certainly never entered the equation.  Nonetheless, I positively drooled over the prospect of owning one for The Shop!  However, recognizing my endless trepidation at driving such a vehicle, I’ve decided that one of those ubiquitous white cargo vans is a slightly more realistic target for my eventual business transport needs.

The trip to Richmond was extraordinarily uneventful.   Even with the constant rattling and the bone-jarring suspension, Richard and I enjoyed a quick and easy journey south on Interstate 95.    Since we had use of the moving van just until mid-afternoon, there were only two stops on our itinerary:  Class and Trash (of course!), and my mother’s house in Ashland (a few miles north of Richmond), where I had over the past year stored many pieces of my collection.  Based solely on logistics, C&T was at the top of the short list of stops.  (The fact that C&T’s ever-changing inventory might yield a whole new crop of vintage bounty had absolutely nothing to do with making them our priority!)

Oh, Dear Readers, imagine my glee at driving up to C&T with an empty moving van!  It was as if I were a famished infant being offered its mother’s milk-laden breast.  (OK, I’ve officially crossed over into The Land of Bad Analogies.  Mea culpa, mea culpa.)  Suddenly the possibilities were endless (well, the limits of my credit cards did place some restrictions on my impending shopping experience).   For the first time, my choices were not bound by the space limitations of the Passat!  Couches and tables and beds, oh my!

This being Richard’s foray into the land of Class and Trash, he began by idly wandering around the first floor.  Meanwhile, I embarked on my typically manic initial survey of the shop’s current offerings.  As a Soldier of Vintage Fortunes, I have honed my skill at targeting the most desirable items on C&T’s floor within minutes of entering the front door….Dark brown 1960s vintage swivel chairs at 10 o’clock, check.   French-style rectangular dining table dead-ahead -- Roger that.  Vintage Martha Washington armchair on the left, just around the corner…LOCK ‘N LOAD!

Having successfully completed the first round of recon, I escorted Richard to the second floor of the C&T emporium.  Here, Kenny and Lisa allow other vendors to display their wares in loosely bordered areas.  (To a less seasoned C&T shopper, it’s not immediately apparent where one vendor’s space ends and another begins.  I, however, have mentally mapped the second floor terrain, and therefore have a feel for the key areas on which to focus.)

My quick yet efficient survey of the top floor soon yielded one of the most unique curiosities I’ve every found there:  a pair of 1950s-vintage highly stylized porcelain dog figurines.  I literally gasped at the cleverness and artistry with which these canines were fabricated!  Complete with tiny foil labels which declared them as being manufactured by “Norleans, Japan”, I scooped up these treasures before any other vintage décor hunter could claim them.   Richard, who in the meantime had been exploring the less glorious collectibles, appeared somewhat perplexed at my excitement over these objects.  Cretan.

Back now to the wondrous furnishings awaiting me on Floor One.   Mindful of the clock (we had only a few hours before truck return time), I began to feel pressured to select from among the glorious pieces of vintage finery positively screaming to be chosen for my already saturated collection.   Vintage Vertigo coupled with time constraints is a deadly combination!  And, as Lisa and Kenny (and their new comrade Richard) kept reminding me, there was an empty moving van in the parking lot!  All that space, and all these pretty pretty things!  The voices in my head had reached a crescendo!

STOP.  Take deep breath.  Exhale.  OK….now try to think clearly, Howard.  I was able to regain some semblance of control and began to make thoughtful choices from among the delights surrounding me.  The French-style dining table, for its graceful lines and subtly bleached finish.  Yes, that would be the piece for this day (after all, two dining tables, four dining chairs, and an antique farm table purchased on previous visits were already stacked together outside awaiting loading).  But, what about that pair of ‘60s swivel chairs, delightfully covered in dark brown velour?  Aren’t they the embodiment of FABULOCITY?!?  Just as I was about to walk away from these hip iconic pieces, Larry (C&T’s houseman of sorts) innocently asked if the matching pair was to be loaded into the awaiting van.  I broke.  My resolve crumbled.  Witnessing my display of anguish/ecstasy, Larry decided it was best to abscond with the swivel set before I could veer into another lane of emotions.  Yes, Dear Readers, the chairs are mine.

By the time I’d euphorically completed my transaction, Larry and Kenny had loaded up the day’s booty into the box truck.  Richard and I had spent all our allotted Richmond time at C&T (it took him forever to decide on two vintage prints and a frame!), so we decided that it would be prudent to forego the trip to Ashland.  After all, most of the items housed there could make their way to The Warehouse piecemeal in the Passat.  Although, as you can see from this pic, there was room aplenty in the van’s box to fit many more monolithic pieces vintage furnishings.  I showed such restraint, did I not?!?

With the northbound traffic moving uncharacteristically swiftly, we made it back to the storage facility with time to spare.  This allowed us to thoughtfully unload the latest additions to my collection, so as to plan out the most effective use of my quickly dwindling storage space.  Hoping that no other space leasers needed to access the units adjoining mine, we hauled the day’s bounty to the second floor, and lined the corridor leading to my space with a multitude of tables and chairs.  OMG, would everything fit?!? 

Once again, Richard proved his worth by strategically planning how to best utilize the available space.  Pausing to artistically photograph each item before it was placed in The Warehouse, we managed to fit in all of them.  Granted, I’ll need a cherry picker to access some pieces now located in the hinterlands of the storage unit, but fiddle-dee-dee, I’ll worry ‘bout that tomorrow.

Many, many thanks to Richard for all his assistance.  And, I’m sure all the other I-95 travelers that day praised him for keeping me from behind the wheel of that big ol’ butch truck!  Howard driving a moving van….What a frightening thought!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dream Redo for Two

What does a dream look like?

Many of my Dear Readers know (or have ascertained) my desire for my vintage décor fanaticism to become more than simply an avocation.   Oh, to be sure, the hunt-and-find aspect of my addiction is most fulfilling; to lay hands on and actually possess a particularly appealing piece of vintage treasure is satisfaction defined.  Indeed, the euphoria experienced during a fit of Vintage Vertigo is a reward in and of itself. 

However, over the years, as my diverse collection of vintage furnishings has grown exponentially, an idea became implanted into my subconscious and has grown/fermented/festered into a dream.  I now have a fervent wish to not only collect all these delightful and decorous vestiges of the past, but to also share them (and my own unique tastes) with others via a vintage décor boutique.

Surely even those who are not intimately familiar with my myriad of personal quirks saw this coming; after all, even the most ardent of collectors might show some restraint prior to reaching the point of actually having to rent storage space for the objects of their desires!  And, as you’ve seen since the commencement of this Blog, my acquisition activities have reached a fever pitch.  To let you in on a little secret:  I’ve justified the majority of my purchases in the last couple years by proclaiming that they were being acquired on behalf of The Shop.

The dream:  a small and tasteful shop offering a well-edited selection of vintage décor home-and-garden furnishings, from the 1920s thru the ‘80s, selected for their uniqueness, quality, and style, or simply because I find them appealing.  I’ve recently refined my concept to reflect my other passion, fashion -- as in clothes, both haute couture and high-end ready-to-wear.  I wish to restyle pieces of my collection to reflect fashion trends of the season, but in such a way as to render them timeless.  I want to offer a collection of sophisticated yet edgy and quirky furnishings that expresses my particular viewpoint, and that encourages others to embrace the beauty of vintage and individuality. 

So, what does a dream look like? If you’re Furniture Addict Howard, it starts out looking like these two chairs.  Both items are vintage:  the wing chair, discovered last summer among the cacophony of delights at Class and Trash , dates from the 1920s; the more contemporary one was rescued during one of my now famous “911” missions, and is of 1970s vintage.  Both pieces appealed to me because of their overall aesthetics, as well as their sturdiness, craftsmanship, and comfort.  However, you can see from the “Before” pictures that each chair was in dire need of a makeover.  While the wing chair appeared to have been professionally reupholstered (probably in the 1930s, based upon the use of a quilted nylon fabric that was de rigueur back in the day), this lady was faded and worn.  The other chair, tattered and torn, had been tossed to the curb (most literally) presumably because its previous owner had determined it to be past its useful life.  Mistake.  BIG mistake.

From the point when I had claimed each of these unique items, it had been my intention to restyle them in some unique way.  However, it was not until I ventured into a local fabric store that the crucible of my creativity was uncovered; as I maniacally tore through the mounds of upholstery remnants, visions began to take shape in my mind’s eye.  Not being content with any singular textile, I instead started piecing together coordinating patterns, textures, and colors into distinct viewpoints.  Guided by my awareness and understanding of current and future fashion trends (I’d just reviewed online videos of the Fall/Winter 2009 and Spring/Summer 2010 runways!) I was able to down-select from the piles of fabrics I’d collected and create palettes of 3-5 fabrics that I could envision for specific pieces in my vault of vintage.

Behold, the two chairs representing the first instantiation of my dream.   From its shape, you can see that form and function are the only remaining tangible characteristics of the wing chair.  Gone is the seafoam green nylon upholstery; it is now resplendent in a symphony of white tiger print (accented with gold), black-and-white boucle’, and black faux Persian lamb, trimmed in chocolate brown velvet cording.  The mahogany Chippendale-style legs remain as they were when I’d first claimed the chair, complete with the nicks and imperfections that serve as a nod to the piece’s undocumented (but undoubtedly colorful) history.

The second chair, its shape a nod to French moderne, resided in my boudoir from the moment it was rescued.  Although I’d hidden its imperfections (tattered upholstery and worn seat cushion) with a handcrafted throw, for years it begged for a dramatic redo.  And finally, a wish fulfilled: the front is a textured silver-grey, the back is luxurious in faux Persian lamb, and the buttons reflect the seat’s front and box, covered in a nubby plum.  But the most dramatic accent to this chair, now painted in a Ralph Lauren saddle black semi-gloss:  11/16” nickel-plated pyramid nailheads highlighting the elegant line of the back.   TOTAL.FABULOCITY.  And, true to my concept, these pieces now reflect a clothing fashion trend; the colors, textures, and details embody the spirit of Rocker Chic .  Rock on!

So, what’s next? The Rocker Chic collection will be completed with a number of pieces currently in-process: tables and accessories in black and metallics.   Other collections are also taking shape, including a group of tables and chairs designed for an idyllic life by the sea, and inspired by Ralph Lauren’s Spring/Summer 2010 nod to the simpler and austere life of the 1930s.

And for The Shop?  In case you were wondering, the name that I’ve had in mind:  As Luck Would Have It.  A Website is in the works (Frank and Nelson, if you’re reading this, GET TO WORK!) which will serve as an informational portal to my edited and restyled inventory of vintage furnishings.  Then, I hope to convince realtors in the DC metro area that pop-up shops are a retail trend worth latching onto in this market abundant with vacant commercial space.  And beyond that?  Well, that’s what dreams are for, right?!?

What does a dream look like?  If you’ve been reading this blog, you see a dream every time you go to the URL.  And by doing so, you are sharing in my dream.  Thanks for being a part of it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The King of Wings

Might you happen to recall from a previous post the message I got from Diana the Lady D while I was out partying with Sharona and crew?  To refresh your memory:  while at a local hookah bar celebrating Sharona’s new job, I received an urgent text message from Lady D containing a photo of two ginormous wing chairs and matching ottoman.  She’d come across these lovely items while visiting one of our fave thrift stores in NoVA, and just knew I’d fall hard for them.  Well, that evening she purchased the ottoman on my behalf, but even after visiting the two delightful (and, did I mention, gi-NOR-mous) chairs, I somehow managed to forego them.  (Although, as I mentioned in my earlier post, I wasn’t able to get the attention of the…um… ‘ladies’ who worked there, so I couldn’t negotiate the price.  Details.)

As so often happens when I walk away from an undeniably special find, I was haunted for weeks by thoughts of possessing them.  Ah, those substantial ornately carved cabriole legs, the stately silhouette….Oh, I tried to overcome my hunger; I told myself repeatedly that the need was not there, tried to console myself with the ottoman that I possessed.  However, the ottoman was but a constant reminder of those left behind.  Even after I’d selected the fabric with which to restyle the ottoman, I obsessed (I know, hard to believe, isn’t it?!?) over the massive wing chairs.  After all, when would I ever again find a chair that would complement the ottoman as well as its matching counterparts? 

Then, when I was blessed with the discovery of the Harden  club chair , I knew, Dear Readers, that it was divine intervention!  After all, the wings and ottoman were also  Harden creations!  I knew then that at least one of the massive wing chairs was meant to be mine.  But, it was weeks before when Lady D had first seen them….Surely they were spoken for by now?!?  Ah, but Diana had been making daily pilgrimages to the thrift store to check on the chairs’ status.  Often she would arrive just as the doors had been locked for the evening, and she would be forced to peer thru the windows in search of the lovelies, all the while having to endure the proclamations by the ‘ladies’ inside, “We’re closed! Come back tomorrow!”.  But the Lady D is made of sterner stuff, and she continued her vigilance day in and day out.

Finally, when I could no longer control my craving, I left my office one evening fully intending to purchase one of the chairs.  But Diana had not laid eyes upon them for over twenty-four hours; would it not be fate’s cruelty to have finally accepted my need only to have the object of my desire snatched away before I could claim it?  (I should mentioned that I had already purchased a beautiful set of fabric with which to restyle this chair the day before….I was most definitely counting my chickens, was I not?)

Having called Lady D on my way to the thrift store, I had learned that she had not been by the store that afternoon on her way home, and therefore could not verify that the chairs were still there.  Nonetheless, I fought NoVA traffic in pursuit of my treasure, hoping beyond hope.  As I pulled into the store’s parking lot, who should be waiting for me but LADY D!  She just had to witness the impending procurement for herself!

As we both ran to the store in anticipation, we kept trying to see through the windows if the chairs were still there.  YES!  There they both were!  And they were both still available!  But, showing a modicum of restraint, I convinced myself that I had to acquire only one to satisfy my need.  Also, there was no way two could fit into the Passat.  In fact, I wasn’t convinced that one of these massive items could fit!  So, armed with my ever-present tape measure, I carefully measured one of the chairs from every angle, and checked the measurements against the Passat’s cargo hold.  Yes, it would fit, but only barely!

After overcoming the challenge of removing it from amidst all the other furniture on the selling floor (with the help of ‘Sean’, the store’s charming and able-bodied assistant), it was time to finally place the chair into its awaiting chariot.  My fears, previously calmed by the multitude of measurements, were once again raised:  IT.DID.NOT.FIT.  By mere centimeters!  As I was trying to determine what manner of clothing I could tear apart in order to tie down the Passat’s rear hatch, The able-bodied Sean proved that he was more than just a pretty face:  he ingeniously suggested turning the beast (the chair, that is, not moi) around and placing it legs-first.  And, lo ‘n behold, IT.FIT!!!

So, the most wonderfully huge wing chair (pictured here with the most elegant Lady D in repose) is now holding court in The Warehouse, awaiting its royal transition to total FABULOCITY.  Yes, look at all the glorious fabrics that are its destiny!  Teal and fuchsia and pewter OH MY!  It will be pure insanity, and I cannot wait!  But fear not – you, Dear Readers, will bear witness!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weekend Wonders: Friday

It was a weekend of fabulous finds and vintage delights!  After all, the opportunities were aplenty:  it as the first Saturday of the month, which was accompanied not only by my neighborhood’s “exchange” program, but also by the Arlington Civitan Flea ; and, as if that weren’t sufficient activity to throw one into a fit of Vintage Vertigo, the DC Big Flea was also in town!  My oh my oh my….

On Friday, having spent several festive hours of happiness with Sharona and Richard at Richard’s new bachelor pad, I hurried off to join Sig-O and godsons for a quick bite to eat near my office.  Afterwards, the godsons were excited to take a tour of The Warehouse, as I’ve come to call the storage unit housing my furniture overflow.  I was so pleased that they were almost as enamored with my collection as I am! They had great fun trying out the many chairs that sit in the storage unit, awaiting their eventual debut in someone’s home.

Once the trio departed to return to Cap Hill, I drove back to my own home.  As soon as I entered the ‘hood, it suddenly dawned on me that it was Exchange Night !  As any avid reader of this Blog knows, the first Saturday of the month is officially ‘bulk trash pick-up’ day (eeww…there’s that ugly term again!).  The residents, however, have dubbed the Friday evening before “The Exchange Night”, since it is a glorious time to wander the streets in search of others’ cast-off treasures.  In the past, my late night searches have been rewarded with vintage dressers, wooden beach chairs, and various wicker items.    Naturally, like a slot machine devotee, I was anxious to see what the payoff of tonight’s spin of the wheel would be!

Well, dear readers, I did not have to prowl through the meandering streets for more than a few moments before being generously rewarded!  Soon after turning onto the tree lined street approaching my court, my car’s headlights shown on a massive rectangular object.  Placed on the curb among various bits of debris was a most lovely Chippendale-style garden bench!  As I came to a screeching halt, I simultaneously bolted out of the front seat to claim my find, as if demons from Hell were on my heels.  Upon a cursory inspection (my vision was dimmed not only by the sudden onset of vertigo but also by the lack of adequate illumination from the streetlights), the bench appeared to be in fine shape.  Granted, the paint was peeling, but imagine what a fresh coat (or two or three) of glossy latex would do for it!

There was but one problem:  in a bout of forgetfulness, the previous night I had filled the Passat with non-furniture related items.  Where was I to put my most recent delightful discovery?  And, equally perplexing, how was I to load it into the Passat (assuming it would even fit)?  Again, avid readers know that I seldom succumb to such trivialities (the French settee notwithstanding.  Will I EVER live that down?!?).  So, as I quickly rearranged the detritus of my life that was being hauled around in the Passat, I continuously glanced around to ensure no one tried to abscond with my prize. (There was one moment of extreme paranoia when I threw myself across the bench as a passing car slowed to stare. Their envy was quite apparent!)

After much finagling, I was finally able to make sufficient room for the bench.  Then I was faced with the challenge of actually loading it into the Passat.  This was no mean feat, let me tell you.  Nonetheless, a few splinters and smashed fingers later, the wooden structure was safely ensconced in the car’s rear compartment.  Once again, the Passat came through!  As I made my way the rest of the distance home, I called Sig-O to see if he might be interested in having the lovely bench for his front lawn; he was indeed, and the next day (after unloading and reloading the poor thing several times, to make room for hauling godson V to a birthday party and other precious items to The Warehouse) the bench was set in its new place of honor on Capital Hill.  And to think it was left only hours prior for transport to some landfill!  Another worthy item of fine furniture snatched from the jaws of the garbage truck.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Foraging for Storage

Through this Blog, you’ve all witnessed my ‘intensive’ (manic?) vintage décor collection activities. It was inevitable that I’d eventually run out of space to put it all. Even the Taj Mahal has its storage limitations, I suppose! So, what’s an insatiable Furniture Addict to do when the walls of his abode are bursting at the seams?

And thus began the dreaded search for a viable storage unit. . Having virtually dipped my toes in the vast world of self-storage facilities via online searches, I cringed at the thought of having to expend the resources on such an expensive proposition. (After all, that’s money that could be spent on vintage finds!) And beyond the expense, there’s the commitment. A yearlong lease? AURGH! Most of my romances have been of shorter duration!

Nonetheless, reality bitched-slapped me into turning my attention away from the pleasurable activities of foraging for treasure and toward trudging around Northern Virginia in search of a suitable (and affordable) repository. After combing through numerous Websites for the major self-storage companies, I narrowed my list down to less than 10 potential locations. Naturally, my preference was for a secure, clean, climate-controlled space of warehouse-sized proportions, convenient to home and office, all within my meager budget. HA!

Armed with my list of locations and a well planned itinerary, I set out one Monday morning determined to conquer my storage limitations. I had decided to start at locations further out from DC proper, figuring that those closest to the city (and hence closer to my home) would be the most expensive. However, I had to temper my budget constraints with convenience; keeping in mind the traffic patterns in the metro area (an region clogged with traffic 24/7/365), I had already down-selected from several of the more suburban areas simply because the times I could easily visit my treasures in lock-up would be severely curtailed.

After visiting several of the first locations on my list, I was convinced that I would not be able to find a facility that would meet most of my needs. (I didn’t think I was being TOO unreasonable with my requirements!) Most places that advertised ‘rate specials’ suddenly did not have any qualifying units available, and the unit size that even came close to my budget – 10’x10’ – would be filled within minutes by only a portion of my existing inventory. I must say, however, that I was pleasantly surprised about one thing: without exception, all the folks working at these storage facilities were polite, friendly, and extremely helpful. I was prepared to deal with the exact opposite!

I happened upon one location that offered a (relatively) great rate, but I knew I’d have difficulty getting to-and-from the site (and with the bounty of vintage booty in my possession, I anticipate many many hauls!). Eventually, the self-storage gods smiled upon me: I found a very secure facility quite convenient to both my home and office, and the delightful sales rep worked diligently with her manager to obtain a good rate. And, they offered a fantastic bonus: the use of their moving truck for a day! (BFFs Richard and Sharona have already been recruited to assist in hauling a truckload of treasures from Richmond!) 

Now I have a 10’x 15’ climate-controlled space BEGGING to be filled with all sorts of vintage décor! In fact, I’m so enamored with the space that I’ve already carried in enough furnishings for a studio apartment! By the end of the month, once I’ve brought in all the latest Class and Trash finds, I’ll need to install a cherry picker to access it all! In the meantime, I make daily trips to clear out the pieces that have accumulated in my Arlington home (the Passat is working overtime). No longer am I living in an obstacle course. Lord only knows what I’ll do once I’ve filled the storage unit to the brim! But we’re many vintage décor discoveries (and related Blog postings) away from that…I hope!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Finds of the Fab Kind

Recently, I took a step back and re-read all my previous Furniture Addict entries.  It occurred to me that my writings truly illustrate the anatomy of an addict:  the dizzying highs, the plummeting lows, and (oh so rarely) enlightening philosophical musings.  And I must apologize, Dear Readers:  my last entry was, oh, a bit dark, was it not?  Insightful, yes.  Perhaps even rather engrossing (humor me, please).  But where was the gayety, the giddiness, the joy of discovery??  Most certainly, not in that last entry.  Well, let’s change that direction, shall we?  (Yes, I know I promised you a tale of “Foraging for Storage”, but you’ll just have to wait for that one.  Honestly, that whole episode is rather bland.  A necessary segment of my addiction story, yes, but I’d prefer to play on the manic side of the street tonight!)

Although I’ve been delinquent in my postings lately, have no fear – the Fabulocity continues!  Dear Readers, there has been a plethora of incredible furniture and décor finds this past week!  They’ve fallen into my lap (or, more accurately, I’ve almost literally fallen over them!)  Indeed, there’s been some kind of cosmic alignment:  I seem to have become a magnet for wayward furnishings.  Let us start this chapter with a most fortuitous exit from my office parking garage….

Over the past couple of weeks, Arlington Virginia has been vying with Seattle in the rainy-and-chilly category.  One thing we have most definitely not suffered is a drought.    Just when we seemed to be on brink of respite, the drizzle recommenced.  Such was the case late one afternoon as I was leaving The-Job-That-Finances-My-Furniture-Addiction.  When departing our parking garage, I must travel behind a hi-rise condo building.  It just so happens that one area I pass by is the spot where the occupants deposit their outcasts for ‘bulk trash pick-up’ (you know how distasteful I find that term!).   Let me tell you, more than once my daily scouting of that location has yielded great treasure.  And on this day, I was rewarded once again!  There, barely protected from the elements by an overhang, sat a tufted club chair of substantial size, upholstered in a slightly tattered floral fabric.  Of course, I immediately swerved the Passat into the adjacent parking area (I am blessed with remarkably quick reflexes in such instances) and jumped out to assess my find. 

Well, in a temporary lapse of judgment that I can only blame on (a) the weather, and (b) caffeine crash, I just could not get very excited about the piece.  Besides, the Passat already was carrying the amazing extendable dining table described in my previous post; this time, the poor table was on its way from my house to an “undisclosed location”  (you’ll have to wait for the “Foraging” posting for more details on that!).  So, I left the poor club chair behind and proceeded to deposit the table in its new (and hopefully temporary) home. 

Having emptied the Passat of its cargo, I proceeded to run a few mundane errands.  But fate intervened; I received a text from Diana, containing a picture of a club chair!  No, no, not the one I’d left behind; the Lady D had come upon a lovely upholstered piece on display at one of our fave fabric stores.  Having recently foraged there myself, I instantly recognized the piece and quickly called her to see if she’d found any particularly fabulous fabrics. 

Naturally, as I was driving home I had to relate to Diana the story of the discarded chair.   As I’m describing the piece, the fog that had clouded my judgment suddenly lifted, and I knew I had to have it!!  As I raced back to its location, I made sure Diana stayed on the phone; I intended to text her a pic of the chair, so she could validate my desire to claim it.

Fortunately, the chair was still sitting where I’d left it.  However, the Seattle-like rains had started in earnest, and I feared that the chair was getting drenched.  Although it was a bit damp, it remained relatively unscathed.  Upon further inspection, I determined that not only was the chair in quite decent shape, it also just happened to be of the same brand (Harden ) as the two chairs Diana had texted me about the week prior.  (As you may recall, Diana had come upon two gargantuan wing chairs and a matching ottoman in our fave thrift store, and alerted me of them while I was partying with Sharona at the hookah bar.)  We found this coincidence incredibly humorous, prompting Diana to research the Harden Furniture Company in great detail.

So, with Diana’s blessing, I lugged my latest discovery into the now empty Passat, and immediately transported it to reside alongside the amazing expandable table in the “undisclosed location”.   It will need a facelift to make it presentable to polite society, but the Lady D and I have already found an amazing retro-inspired flamestitch-patterned fabric remnant that will immediately elevate the chair from frumpy to fabulous!

And rest assured, Dear Readers, that I will soon regale you with more stories of recent Fab Finds….Good Lord, I’m stumbling upon them faster than I can write!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Livin' in the Projects

Drowning.  Overwhelmed.  In over my head.  That pretty much describes how I’m feeling this week about the state of my furniture addiction.  Devotees of this blog have an idea of how frantic my quests for the Next Great Vintage Find have been lately.  You’ve traveled with me as I’ve scoured antique/thrift/junk shops and flea markets, joined me in haunting the streets of my Arlington neighborhood, and read of my endless Craigslist cruisings (of the Free/Furniture/Antiques kind, that is).  Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the lovingly-snapped pictures of the fruits of my labor.  Other times, you may have shed tears of empathy for my missed opportunities (remember the French settee ? ).

But now, as I struggle to maneuver around my tiny home in Arlington, the sheer weight of the work that lies before me threatens to send me into the antithesis of Vintage Vertigo:  Fix-it Phobia.   Those of you who can relate to the thrill of finding a discarded or neglected piece of vintage décor treasure can most certainly understand the approach/avoidance phenomenon of such pursuits.  Like the woman who is convinced she can change the shortcomings of her boyfriend, we vintage junkies are sure there is silk to be made from the sow’s ear.  Such confidence (delusion?) often results in an endless list of To Do’s:  scraping, sanding, gluing, painting, staining, caning, stapling, upholstering….The great number of tasks required to elevate the trash to treasure eventually seems insurmountable.

And that’s where I am at this point in our journey.  Even before this most recent period of manic acquisition, my List runneth over:  the ripped cane back of Windsor chair purchased years ago at an estate sale; the rusted Homecraft glider sans cushion; the distressed teardrop-backed iron ‘50s-vintage garden chairs; the ragged channel-back upholstered chair with the marred ball-and-claw feet; and on and on and on…. On the bright side, I am making some inroads.  Two chairs are in the hands of an upholsterer (and if I must say so myself, my design incorporating a cacophony of fabrics and trims will positively wreak of Fabulocity!).  And two other pieces are, well, in some state of refurbishing (thanks to the “Furniture Repair and Refinishing” class , which will resume in January). 

Nonetheless, the attic is collapsing under the weight of my passion.  The small bedroom in the basement has been dubbed “The Chair Room”, in honor of the seven pieces that fill the Tom Thumb-sized space.  And, thanks to three newly acquired tables, reaching my kitchen once I wearily crawl downstairs each morning has become an exercise not unlike an obstacle course better suited for a Marine recruit.

So, dear readers, I’ve finally been forced to face this detrimental aspect of my otherwise exceedingly satisfying addiction.  Yes, I must now answer The Question That Should Never Be Asked: “But where will I put it?”.

I’ve been avoiding this for years.  The solution has been tickling the deepest recesses of my mind, always present but repressed – til now.   But alas, Dear Readers, I must ask you to wait for our next episode, “Foraging for Storage”.  Be forewarned: it ain’t a pretty journey.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Weak....In Review.

Your fave addict experienced a serious bout of acquisition mania last week.  The onslaught of a nasty cold, combined with dreadful weather, must have put me in a particularly weakened state.  The defenses were down, and I was especially susceptible to the wiles of vintage furnishings.

Saturday:  This prolonged episode of Vertigo started with a trip to that bastion of vintage booty, Class and Trash .  Godson "V" accompanied me on a chilly and rainy morning on the trip south (godson "D" had a soccer game – in 43 degrees and pouring rain!  What madness!).  Actually, in my defense, I had a legitimate reason for visiting C&T (as if I need an excuse!):  a fantastic ‘30s vintage Chippendale-style wing chair that I had asked Lisa and Kenny to hold for me awaited a redesign.  Armed with a bag full of fabric, I was on my way to label the chair with swatches as a way of informing my upholsterer Blanca on how to proceed with turning the chair from frumpy to total Fabulocity!

Upon arriving at C&T, Vidic and I were greeted by Lisa and Kenny’s assistant Tammy – and a most interesting table that was sitting just inside the store.  I swear, Kenny placed this delightful and unique (though a bit marred and scarred) item right where I would immediately become enamored with it (he’s so evil that way).  Of course, in typical C&T manner, there were many other pieces of décor sitting on and around the table, requiring me to engage both Tammy and godson in unearthing the beckoning relic.  Upon digging out my find, it still presented a puzzle; while it initially appeared to be simply a console table (with wonderfully carved legs ending in perfectly intact and beautifully detailed ball-and-claw feet), it was apparent that the table somehow was meant to expand into something more.  Perhaps a game table?  After flipping the top, we discovered that the two halves actually pulled apart; the two leaves sitting nearby belonged to this amazing piece and, once the hidden support legs were unfolded, could be easily inserted to convert this console into a dining table sufficiently large to seat six!  Needless to say, this treasure was claimed in the name of Howard.

Wednesday:  Having driven back to and around town for four days with the aforementioned console/dining table in the back of the Passat (clearly visible for all the jealous gawkers), I was still flying from the high of my discovery when I ventured into the virtual ghetto of Craigslist .  No sooner had I started perusing the day’s offerings when I happened upon a listing for a “Queen Anne Desk” available in Capitol Hill – for a seemingly quite reasonable price.  Although the picture included in the ad was of an intriguing piece of furniture, it most certainly did not show anything resembling the Queen Anne style; nonetheless, I felt compelled to inquire into the availability of the piece.

After some email traffic between me and the offeror, I finally succumbed to the Siren’s call once again, and arranged to stop by the Cap Hill home to visit the desk on my way to have dinner with Sig-O and family.  That evening, before venturing into the Hill, I had to stop in Arlington to unload the table from C&T to make room for the impending purchase.  (You see, although I had not overtly committed to the desk, I knew that I would be too weak to say ‘no, thank you’ once I had it within my grasp.  I am nothing if not insightful.)

I was greeted at the door of the desk’s residence by the husband of the lady with whom I had negotiated via email.  A most affable man from Kentucky, he told me a charming tale of finding the desk during one of his many antiquing trips around Manassas, Virginia.  Well, dear readers, I guess I was in a particularly weakened state; I agreed to purchase the desk for the asking price, although upon close inspection the desk appeared to be neither Queen Anne nor antique.  Indeed, I would not be surprised if the item was actually made in a high school woodshop (though perhaps by someone’s now elderly father, which I suppose would at least make it ‘vintage’!).  Ah, but still it is a lovely piece, and I’m sure I can find a place for it among my collection.  I’m discriminating, but hate to discriminate. Oh well, perhaps I was expecting too much honesty from a Hill politico.  And, perhaps feeling a bit guilty for attempting to lead me astray with his tale of antiques, the seller did throw in a non-vintage yet lovely sconce as well as a large wall map for the godsons. 

Thursday:  Less than twenty-four hours later, and with the Hill desk having taken the place of the C&T table in the cargo-hold of my Passat, I found myself in one of our local hookah bars toasting Sharona at a Happy Hour fest wishing her well on her new job.  About an hour into the festivities, I receive a text from Diana, the Lady D; the message only contained a picture of two massive wing chairs and a matching ottoman!  I immediately ran outside into the cool, quiet night to call Lady D.  Visiting a local Falls Church thrift shop, she had come upon these items and of course had to signal me of their presence.  After some detailed descriptions, we finally decided that I must at least have the ottoman; Diana handled the transaction, and offered to transport the ottoman in her vehicle for me to pick up the next day at the office.  Diana also felt that I really should see the chairs, so I eventually excused myself from Sharona’s fete and rushed to the thrift store in hopes of not becoming instantly enamored with two large chairs which I would have no way of transporting.

Upon arriving at the shop, I quickly homed in on the objects of my search.  They were indeed as large and enticing as the Lady Di had described!  Although not terribly vintage (mid-‘80s?), they appeared to be in good structural condition, and the upholstery, though a tad outdated, was pristine.  The Queen Anne-style legs (yes, REALLY Q-A style this time!) were ornately carved, and the winged sides included unique armrests.  However, the handwritten tag attached to each showed a price significantly higher than that which Diana had quoted over the phone.  A quick call to her revealed that the shop’s workers had apparently decided that the chairs were more valuable than originally thought.  And, since the ladies manning the store during my time there seemed less than willing to discuss the chairs with me, my disgust overwhelmed my interest and I chose to leave the shop sans wing chairs.

By the end of the next day (Friday), Diana and I had successfully completed our ottoman transaction.  Now, days later, I have (1) an “antique Queen Anne” desk and (2) a chairless ottoman being transported hither and yon in the back of the furniture-weary Passat.  Both my wallet and I are drained by my extended bout of Vintage Vertigo, and I can’t bring myself to carry yet another piece of furniture into my already cramped home.  Yet, the Lady D called me earlier to inform me that the thrift store has assured her they would (probably) honor the original quoted price on the massive wing chairs.  Damn.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Postette: SophistiCATed Lady

Had the pleasure of having dinner with my dear friend J.L. at her home in Springfield, Virginia.  J.L., now semi-retired, formerly had an interior decorating practice.  I’ve always admired her sophisticated eye and ability to carefully edit a room’s decor.  For years, her spacious townhome has been cheerfully swathed in pink and white with accents of green, with comfortable and chic furnishings.  I've always enjoyed visiting with her, and marveling at her innate sense of style and hospitality.
After a delicious dinner of roasted peppered beef, butternut squash, and asparagus, J. L. delighted me with fabric and wallpaper swatches she’d selected for her extensive redecorating project.  Having foraged through the showrooms of the DC Design Center , she was armed with sumptuous brocades and damasks for her living room’s down-cushioned Chippendale-style sofa and French chairs.  Over a warm berry dessert, we also had great fun with wallpaper samples for her dining room, selecting a glamorous Donghia grasscloth that will positively shimmer in the glow of her new crystal chandelier.  And, she plans to accent her kitchen’s sitting area with framed prints of her amazing nature photos, which have a textural quality that will beautifully compliment the overall elegance of the revamped space.  (I also had the opportunity to once again admire her lovely McGuire  chairs and table, which I threatened to confiscate if ever given half a chance!)

Several hours later, filled with delicious food and warmed by great company, I departed J.L.’s home with the delightful gift of a GlamKat doll ("Esperanza"), seen here posing in one of a pair of Victorian chairs (purchased years ago at DC’s St. Peter’s Catholic School’s annual yard sale) in my Arlington house.    Seated in her permanent space at the bottom of my stairs, Esperanza is the purrfect reminder of my splendid friend and fellow décor junkie!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sale-ing Along the Potomac

The godsons and I had an early Saturday morning yard sale-ing date.  The previous weekend, we’d seen signs advertising several such events around Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market  area.  My youngest godson, “V”, shares my enthusiasm for trash digging, so it’s only natural that we would enjoy the innate thrills of searching for treasures among other people’s belongings (albeit while they watch!).  And, older godson “D” is just as happy to join in the melee.

Once again, I set my alarm for 6 AM Saturday morning, just so we could be among the early birds (hey – I can always sleep-in during the off-season months).  True to form, V was awake and dressed and met me at the door when I arrived at Sig-O’s Cap Hill home less than two hours later.  (‘D’ was still basking in Dreamland, so V and I decided to do reconnaissance at our first scheduled stop of the day: the annual “Trash to Treasure” yard sale at 6th and I Streets SE; doesn’t it just sound divine?!?).  Imagine our overwhelming disappointment when, after rushing to get to the Promisedland, we discover that the T2T sale had been postponed to NEXT Saturday, all because of the threat of rain!  AMATEURS!  V and I weren’t afraid of a few potential raindrops!  Not about to let this turn of events derail us from our saling quest, we drove back to Sig-O’s house to regroup.

By this time, D was out of bed, but still draggin’.  So, while he finished pulling himself together V and I walked the few blocks to Eastern Market to hunt for signs of other sales.  With notebook in hand, the eight year-old V made a list of potential homes to visit; once they had been prioritized and mapped out for maximum logistical efficiency, we went back to pick up D in hope of finding a grand variety of must-haves.

The first stop on our newly prioritized list turned out to be most fortuitous (and costly!).  The signs directing us this garage sale indicated there would be VINTAGE FURNITURE!  Rushing the godsons down the now slightly wet brick sidewalks along North Carolina Avenue towards the Hill’s Lincoln Park, we spotted our destination a block away:  there, sitting on the sidewalk, were several substantial pieces of furniture and home decor.  Already this sale hinted at being the mother lode! 

The closer we got to the home, the more shallow my breathing became….Two gentlemen were in the process of setting up for the sale, dragging more and more pieces of finery out of a garage that seemed built solely for the purpose of housing décor overflow.  Although we were arriving a few minutes before the designated start time, the sale was already in full swing.  A table sitting on the tiny lawn along the drive immediately caught my attention:  a rectangular rattan base painted orangey yellow, with a cream laminate top.  At first glance, it appeared that there was a folding laminate screen had been placed on top of the base.  However, further investigation (and a query to one of the sale’s sponsors) uncovered that the laminate actually unfolded and slid across the bases, converting the piece from a sofa table to a dining table!  Details included brass fittings along the top’s edges and the feet.  Though not terribly vintage (late ‘80s?), the table’s vibe was quite chic and functional.

While D and V were searching through the detritus of a neighboring yard sale, many other pieces from the gentlemen’s collection struggled for my attention:  an oak rolltop desk, a column rescued from a period Cap Hill home, and an Empire-style keyhole desk.  However, a set of black painted dining chairs placed near the garage’s opening kept issuing the Siren’s Call.  The six (five side- and one arm-chair) humbly sat along the yard’s edge, without seat bottoms.  I noticed one of the gentlemen in the garage, armed with a staplegun and hastily covering a wooden seat with red twill; might this be for the chairs currently in my sight? 

Twirling amongst the bounty of this locale, I recognized that I was beginning to get swept into the Vintage Vertigo vortex.  Breathing deeply, I extracted myself enough to (1) locate D&V, who were negotiating the purchase of a cookbook next door, and (2) step back from the delicious décor lying before me in order to make some semblance of a calm and rational buying decision.  The owner of all these treasures (who, as it turns out, had moved to the Hill two years ago from Savannah and felt the need to downsize his extensive décor collection) became keenly aware of my interest and strolled over, ready to strike a deal.  We discussed several of the pieces, but my attention kept getting drawn to the unique slide-top table.  However, I managed to tear myself away, with the intent of pondering all the possibilities before me while checking out other sales on our list (and heading back to the Passat to measure the wagon’s maximum cargo capacity!).

Along the way, D&V picked up several treasures of their own:  a world globe sitting on a wooden stand, a pair of cut-glass votives, and – OMG! – a trio of disco ball keychains (for godson V, of course!).  Knowing that Sig-O (whose parting words to me that morning were, “PLEASE don’t let the boys buy a lot of junk!”) would go into cardiac arrest once he saw the boys’ box of booty, I nonetheless accompanied D&V back to their house, globe in hand like the mighty Atlas.  (To his credit, when Sig-O greeted us at the door, he simply sighed heavily and left for a dogwalk.)  After unloading from Round 1, the boys assisted me with measuring the Passat’s interior, and we headed back to the garage sale; I was now armed with the knowledge of my transport limitations, and the resolve to purchase ONLY the chic table – and ONLY if its measurements proved to be Passat-compliant.

A block away from our destination, we saw Sig-O and pup walking towards us; they happened to be directly in front of the garage sale at that very moment!  Commanding Sig-O to stay put, my cohorts and I crossed the street and began to engage him in examining our potential purchases. (While I was concerned with Sig-O’s thoughts on the folding-top table, D&V accosted their dad with the merits of a stuffed Flying Monkey being offered for $2.  We all have our obsessions.)   Sig-O, typically less enthusiastic about the object of my desire (I had low expectations going in!), asked the ridiculous “Where Are You Going to Put It” question, then continued on his dogwalk.  However, before he had gotten very far, another guy strolled up and greeted us both.  “Kevin” recognizing us from Results gym, engaged in friendly banter while I simultaneously began negotiating the garage sale’s host for the folding-top table.  While I was bemoaning the fact that I had no way to transport (much less store!) all the pieces offered as part of his initial deal (the table, six dining chairs, AND the Empire desk), our rediscovered acquaintance Kevin graciously offered to assist with the transport dilemma – his pickup truck was parked only a few feet way!  OK, now it was decision time:  in an effort to compromise on my desires, I finally negotiated a fair price for the table and the dining chairs.  It was arranged that Kevin would carry the chairs (and godson D) back to Sig-O’s house, and I would come back later in the day to claim the table.

Hoping beyond hope that Sig-O would have left for his gym workout before a truckload of chairs arrived at his doorstep, V and I hurried back to the house.  But of course, Sig-O was there to greet us and my newfound treasures.  He agreed to let me temporarily store them in his garage.  However, sensing that the thought of having any of my finds cramping his space was enough to induce cardiac infarction, once he left I managed to fit the six chairs and the two godsons into the Passat, and off we went back to Arlington to unload (and have a well-earned Mickey D’s breakfast).

Within a couple of hours, the dining chairs were in the already cramped (I mean, ‘cozy’) Chateau d’ Howard, D&V were returned to Cap Hill, and the chicest-of-chic rattan table was loaded into the Passat/delivery truck (where, BTW, it still resides).    We didn’t make it to ALL the sales on V’s list, but I think we did a commendable job anyway.  And, we still have the Trash-to-Treasures Yard Sale coming up!