Like many such afficionados, my interest in vintage furniture started partly by accident, partly out of necessity. More than 15 years ago, my now ex-partner and I moved into our first apartment in Alexandria, Virginia. Almost all the furniture for our one-bedroom third-floor walkup had traveled with me from Charlottesville via Richmond. However, one day the Ex discovered a discarded trestle dining table next to the complex’s dumpsters – our first rescued piece of furniture! He lovingly and painstakingly refinished the piece to a honey maple luster, and it became our dining table for many years. Other ‘found’ pieces followed: a bow-front dresser, a large shield mirror, and a fabulous cast aluminum patio table and chairs later identified as Brown-Jordan!
We also discovered the joys of estate sales. Our apartment complex was home to many elderly folk, and the unfortunate times when someone passed away or had to move to an elder care facility resulted in the need for their families to sell off their belongings. We were often amazed at the treasures to be found at these sales. The sofa pictured here (reupholstered several years ago in its current lotus flower-patterned damask) was one of our estate sale bargains. I’ve identified it as 1920’s, probably American, and it has the most wonderful grapevine carvings on the arms. For me, it is truly an heirloom piece.
Therein lies the most beautiful aspect of vintage furnishings: their history. My family had very few pieces of furniture that survived the years, or which were worth holding onto. Perhaps that’s why I’m so attracted to vintage décor; each piece has a story, a lineage that often may only be assumed, especially if the piece was discovered in a thrift store or as a result of “dumpster diving”. To me, that’s part of the thrill of discovery, and part of the daily pleasure a particularly treasured find provides. I love thinking about the period from which an item dates, and wondering about its provenance. By filling my home with unique vintage items, it’s as if I’m wrapping all that history around me….I’m surrounded by the stories each piece brings with it, and imagine that at some point someone else had a special fondness for each piece before it made its way into my life, into my personal story. And, I’d like to think that someday, perhaps my two godsons (who will eventually inherit all my wordly goods) will treasure these pieces, too, as part of their history.