One of my post-covid fantasies, what I miss more than maybe anything, is thrifting and going to the flea market. Sure I’ve saved money this year from not being able to (there are only like 2 thrift stores up here, anyway) but when we move to Portland it will be back on my weekly schedule (oh how I’ll forever miss the Rose Bowl flea market). I found an old photo the other day of my Blimp art before I framed it and I thought it would be a fun post to show you all of my favorite vintage before and afters. Some were thrifted, some more investment pieces that are vintage. And some I ended up selling, but still miss.
THE Blimp Art
Hands down my favorite piece of art ever. My realtor recently nicely asked if I wanted to sell it and I gasped. Not offended, but almost. It would be like asking if you could buy one of my dogs – like NO. In case you don’t know the story, I stalked this piece weekly at the flea market in New York when I was a young stylist, 24 years old I think. I finally got them down to a price I could afford, $200, and rode with it home on the subway. I shipped it out here when we moved to LA and years later I finally had the budget to properly frame it. The frame job was close to $900 due to its size, but it’s perfect.
GOOD TO KNOW: Modern simple frames (especially float mounted) can take vintage pieces like this and make them next level, turn them more into a contemporary piece of art, even though it was just a vintage find.
The LA Chaise Lounge
This piece I got from Jayson Home (on their antiques section). I LOVE the shape and at the time I loved the age of the fabric and fringe. But as the velvet started ripping I realized that it wasn’t exactly fulfilling my fantasies – but in this floral, it sure would. I shopped for a long time for the right pattern – florals are HARD and it is just so unbelievably good. I am begging Brian to let me cover a sectional at the mountain house with a different House of Hackney fabric, but he’s understandably nervous. I love this piece so much that I can’t decide which room it’s going to go in next.
GOOD TO KNOW: Once again this proves my theory that you can’t change the shape or size, but you can always change the finish (fabric, paint color, etc) so choose shape over color for vintage pieces.
The Glendale Sofa
This piece I got from Amsterdam Modern and was obviously drawn to it by the leather strapping in the back.
I had cushions reupholstered in white Sunbrella fabric so you could see the straps so much more and LOVED it. But when we moved to our more traditional English Tudor it didn’t feel right (nor was it big enough for that room). I sold it and don’t regret the sale, but sure do still love the piece.
GOOD TO KNOW: If you are buying a vintage upholstered piece, if the cushions are removable it’s WAAY more affordable than if they have to upholster on the piece. The seat and back were just a couple hundred dollars to be made, and since we left the original leather arms we just brought the cushions to our upholsterer, rather than transporting the whole piece (therefore saving costs both ways).
The LA Dining Table
This table took me forever to find and I eventually got on Etsy, in the midwest. I loved it for the shape of the base and of course the general farm vibe. Once I got it I realized It was way too orange and shiny so we had it stripped. Everyone would recommend that you have it sealed, but I never did because I didn’t want to change the tone of the wood and you know what? It’s fine. I actually love how it patinas over time.
The new buyers of the house want to buy it and I hesitate because I do love it and it’s irreplaceable. However, it’s too small for our new farm dining room (we want to seat 8) so I’m still deciding… 🙂
GOOD TO KNOW: Stripping flat surfaces is actually so easy to do on your own. Now if I had to have the legs done, that would be a different thing and would have cost more. The tabletop was the only thing that needed stripping and sanding which cost $300. If I could go back now I would for sure just do myself.
The LA Cherner Chairs
These dining chairs give me both so much love and some stress. They are so beautiful, so classic, so sculptural. I had wanted them for years and found them at the rose bowl for an incredible price. Six upholstered pretzel chairs are RIDICULOUSLY hard to find. Then I had them upholstered in beautiful Cryton caramel leather and they are simply STUNNING.
They do, however, still creak a bit and Brian would rather have something more solid, less delicate. I could sell them for a lot (a set of 6 armchairs could go for $8k) but I will never be able to buy them again. I know they would be STUNNING in our new dining room and it’s not going to be where we eat every meal (we have a separate breakfast nook for family meals). We’d have to either buy two more or mix two different chairs in there. I feel like I need to try them before I sell them because these I won’t ever be able to get again.
GOOD TO KNOW: I fretted about the upholstery. The original blue was so fun actually, but I’m so glad I chose the tone of the wood, making them more seamless and showing off the shape rather than a poppy color of fabric. I feel like I made a real timeless choice.
The Mountain House Sectional
I remember when I found this sectional (vintage from the ’70s, via Chairish from a store in LA called Gallery L7) I thought it was THE PERFECT sectional for this house. It’s low and wide, loungey and modern. It didn’t make a huge statement but the curve of the corner was so pretty. It was in terrycloth which was in a way kinda awesome (but it felt gross). I reupholstered it in Crypton linen and it’s holding up fine but the fabric is more slippery so as you’ve read before, I have to put velcro tape to keep the modular pieces together. I go back and forth all the time on whether to bring up the article sectional that we have in storage and sell this one, especially since when we move to Portland we’ll be renting this house out (we think). And most guys don’t find the back supportive enough because its so low unless you are lounging in the corner you might not feel as supported. But it still looks so darn good in here and I love sitting in the corner.
GOOD TO KNOW: If I could go back in time I would have redone it in a nubbier fabric – like a mohair or boucle, something with just more texture to hopefully grip more and stay in place (and a dense mohair feels of the era in a good way).
The Mountain House Pine Nightstands
I found these on Chairish and the wood finish was pretty orange but the shape, the shape is soooo good. I had them stripped and sanded and they turned out SO beautiful. They aren’t sealed so I really shouldn’t put my glasses of water on them but no major marks yet.
GOOD TO KNOW: Without a stain or seal the drawers are super hard to open and close. It needs that slickness, that shine to make them more functional but I like the finish enough that it’s ok (plus the kids can’t snoop through our nightstands :))
I’ve redone a million pieces over time and for the farm, I want to try to collect as many as possible. The only bummer is I have found that contemporary sofas are more ergonomic and you can control all the proportions so much more than vintage ones. So while I’d love a vintage sectional and sofa in our farm family rooms we are going to be pretty picky on making sure it’s one that we all really want to sit on (and not one that grandparents will avoid like the one in the mountain house). But I’m on the hunt nevertheless and on Portland’s Craigslist every weekend. Have a lovely one!
Opening Photo Credit: Photo by Tessa Neustadt