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What I Bought (& Didn’t Buy) At the Rose Bowl Flea Market


Meet old Emily. And by “old Emily,” I don’t mean old Emily. Let’s call her former Emily, who would spend her Sundays religiously (ha) at the flea market. Remember when I used to do that before my desire to hang with my little kids trumped my need to buy garbage that I don’t need? Well, I had a shoot at the Rose Bowl with my friend/soulmate Orlando Soria (and Real Simple magazine) last Sunday and I found some good stuff there and at the Pasadena Antique Mall that I’m about to show you.

Emily Henderson 2018 Flea Market 1

I didn’t find anything groundbreaking, but I think it’s pretty darn great stuff.

Emily And Orlando

This handsome guy and I (and the Real Simple crew, see below) had such a good time for 5 hours on a fall day in Pasadena remembering that style, for me, starts (and ends) with vintage. Vintage gives a room soul. Vintage gives a basic piece an elevated context.

Real Simple Team

It took me a while to break the seal and actually purchase anything because apparently I’ve gone into amateur status and forgot to get cash beforehand (it was Brian’s 40th that weekend so I had a lot on my mind). But the good news is that most vendors take Venmo now, and if not then a check. So once I broke the seal, it was easier to keep going.

Let’s first talk through what I almost bought but didn’t.

2x2 What I Almost Bought 2

Brian is newly into baseball (like playing once a week, batting at a park with friends because apparently, the smash of the bat against the ball does something for a grown man). As someone who is always attracted to worn leather, I want a collection of mitts, but not something to hoard.

That wood box (with the ball on top) was beautiful and something I would use over and over and over because it’s simple but special. It was $175 for two of them and the vendor wouldn’t break them up (which I thought was a mistake because we all agreed that having one made it feel more special and no one wants a pair of wood boxes).

The umbrella painting is something I regret not getting. The colors are so pretty. It reminds me of Oregon and it even has a bentwood chair in it. HOWEVER, it was $200 and I just couldn’t pull the trigger.

The wood train set is something I’ve bought over and over again and is a great prop but for obvious reasons, our kids aren’t into them so no, I didn’t get them.

2x2 What I Almost Bought

The little dresser had a bad finish, but the knobs/handles were so cute (these little half circle loops). If you painted it a color, it would be so great. I don’t really need it but now I’m thinking when do you not need a smallish dresser with simple character for $90? UGH. I hope someone who deserved her snagged her.

A good rug runner. I didn’t ask how much it was because I wasn’t feeling like splurging on a runner yet for the mountain house, but it is really very, very pretty and now I totally regret not getting that, too.

The triple blue pottery vase thing was also a great find but for $60 it was a bit spendier than I wanted to pay and it is rather bright for our current living room. It would have worked perfectly in our Glendale living room.

Lastly, I love anything apothecary in foreign languages. I use them for Q-tips, bandages, etc. This booth had so many great wood, porcelain and amber glass apothocary jars.

So let’s get into what I did buy, how much it was, and most importantly WHY???

Flea Market Finds

On your left, you’ll see a good deal. It’s a 10-inch weird architectural planter that cost $15. It’s GOOD. I like a footed object but this is less curvy and boxy, which is a new move in my vintage choreography. Orlando was jealous, but I spotted it first. You are only my friend/soulmate until we fight over a steal at the flea market and then you are my enemy.

On the right, you’ll find an amazing piece but FAR too expensive for the flea market. Orlando spotted it first, but once he found out how much it was he passed because frankly, it was overpriced. Weighing in at $250, it was probably a bad purchase, but an emotional one that I couldn’t stop. My brain sent the neuro sensors down my body into my arm, which reached into my purse and gave him my credit card (I would never have unloaded that kind of cash on that, but we all know the credit card is the gateway to financial irresponsibility). I rationalized it by thinking this would be $800 at Nickey Kehoe. And it would be. It’s a huge footed wood bowl with rounded legs that can sit next to a chair and catch newspapers or my unread collection of Kinfolk magazines.

Emily Henderson 2018 Flea Market 6

It may be overpriced, but it’s very cool (and huge, probably 20 inches wide). In order to make it worth it, I’m going to shoot the heck out of it so you’ll see her a lot this year.

Flea Market Art

Those two paintings are by the same painter. The artwork in my dining room and my old bedroom are also by him. I’m always super drawn to his work and I LOVE the colors on these paintings even though I don’t need them. They are both a good size (20″x24″) and he sold the one on the right for $30 and gave me the one on the left for free. Not sure why except he knows that I collect his work and I’ve been buying from that dealer for almost a decade. I don’t know where I’m putting them but it seemed crazy not to snag them. The colors are so pretty and the objects are weird. They are a hoard, but a cheap good hoard.

Emily Henderson 2018 Flea Market 4

Next up are two tables that I bought at the Pasadena Antique Mall for the mountain house.

Emily Henderson 2018 Flea Market 10

I LOVE that table. The sculptural root base is so beautiful, painted in a black lacquer. I love how heavy and sturdy it is, the kids can’t destroy it and it can’t topple over at all. It’s modern but totally fits in a mountain house. It was around $300 which I felt was a fair price. It would have been cheaper at the flea market but maybe not these days.

Emily Henderson 2018 Flea Market 2

Then I also bought this one, below.

Emily Henderson 2018 Flea Market 3

It’s also very sturdy and heavy and has this pretty detail on top.

Emily Henderson 2018 Flea Market 13

I don’t love the chrome legs so I’ll likely paint them black. I don’t remember the exact price but I think it was between $300 to $400. It’s pretty big and right now sits perfectly next to our sofa.

Emily Henderson 2018 Flea Market 1

I wish I were standing in this photo so you can get a sense of scale, but everything is pretty big. The side tables are both on the large side. I’ve been starting to collect furniture for the mountain house and these two really hit the marks that I want: unique, warm, solid, kid-friendly with a “modern mountain” bent. OH, and the last one is a “Don’t Give Up The Ship” flag that I thought could be fun in the kids’ room at the mountain house. It is on vintage indigo but it’s new and made by Cotton California who sells at the flea market.

So whaddya think? I know that some of these were splurges, but then I got such steals (painting and planter) so my adept retail rationalization skills deem it a general success and worth it. I know that many of you can’t get out to the flea market (or maybe it’s just not that good in your town) so we rounded up some cool vintage in a similar vibe to what I picked up that you can buy online.

1. ‘Don’t Give Up The Ship’ Flag | 2. Vintage Still Life Oil Painting on Canvas Fruit and Vinegar | 3. Ovis Bowl | 4. Vintage White Mid Century Modern Japanese Ikebana Vase | 5. Vintage Black Modernist Ikebana Vase | 6. Vintage Live Edge Coffee Table | 7. Vintage Alexander Abstract Still Life Bottles Painting | 8. Vintage Organic Root Side Table | 9. Mott Footed Bowl | 10. Cast Iron Footed Bowl | 11. Vintage Live Edge End Table With Hairpin Legs | 12. ‘Still Life with White Bud Vase’ by Nancy Tart

Let me know what you think in the comments, and if you’re interested in more posts like this from us (or other vintage furniture-focused content)! xx

*Emily’s Outfit: Jacket | Shirt | Jeans | Shoes (similar) 
Fin Mark


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Wow these flea market picks look so nice! I really love strolling around flea markets, you never know what you might find! To me its like a treasure hunt 😉

lots of love, Miri


So great, Emily! I love the black table the best and the leather gloves would have been hard to pass up. When my soul is weary from raising my boys and I find myself with an hour alone, you will always find me on a treasure hunt too. Welcome back…


That blue runner. Oh my god, that blue runner. It’s really beautiful. I’d regret not buying that, too, but I bet it was expensive. I love both the $15 planter and that huge wood footed bowl.

Reading this, now I wish I’d spent my Sunday at a flea market.


Same! That blue runner makes my heart stop. (It probably helps that I have no idea how expensive it is.) And I know just where I would put it too… sigh. I suppose it’s time to ditch my kiddo for a couple hours every few weekends to search for finds like that one!

UGH. now I really regret not getting it. It would have been around $800 (I would think but who knows). REGRETS!

Sherrie S

LOVE the blue runner. Need one just like it. in Florida. I need a 9′ runner. Where to buy or find????


Try for your runner, Sherrie. She can source you what you’re looking for and her prices are extremely reasonable. Good luck! x


I love flea markets and I’m definitely interested in more posts like this! They always inspire me to go vintage shopping and look for treasures. Love the wooden bowl you bought!


I like seeing what you shop for, it’s fun. My fave was the ship flag and the large footed bowl.


Excuse me, ma’m, but are you wearing a MILF t-shirt?


Lol! I assumed the shirt said “Emily” but with just those three letters showing it could also be smile or millimeter or millennial. Or probably vermilion.

HAHA. it says SMILE. Which is hilarious because I also just bought a shirt the other day that says ‘Don’t tell me to smile’ not realizing that I have a shirt that screams SMILE at you. Its from Sundry. xx


Please show us the “don’t tell me to smile” shirt!

Ha. its from Wild Fang. It has a kitten on it. its hilarious.


Loooove this post! I’m in Minneapolis and sadly we don’t really have a flea market (thanks 6 months of cold weather)! Happy to live vicariously through your trips and visit the flea when I’m home in Florida.


Not true – they have them on rural areas all summer and in shakopee a few times a year.


Personally, I wouldn’t paint the side table because I like it the way it is. Some great stuff! Love the paintings especially.


The “Dont Give Up the Ship” flag has great historical significance for the US Navy. The original is on display at the United States Naval Academy museum.

Cris S.

Oh my goodness! Thank you thank you thank you! I love the flea market posts (its how I found you many many years ago after searching “Rose Bowl Flea Market blog” before our yearly trip out to see family, but really to shop at the flea market) and every time you guys ask for feedback I say that is what I miss on the blog. Its like getting to shop, but I don’t spend any money. I’m loving Emily being back!!!

ah thank you 🙂 its GREAT to have an excuse. I didn’t go yesterday because I stupidly forgot to charge my phone and it was dead and then I promised Brian he could go golfing for his birthday, but next week!


Yes to the vintage/flea related content!


Yes!!! More posts like this one! I miss these from the old blog❤️


Love, love, love these types of posts. Still remember your Craigslist posts so fondly. I’m in love with that wood box with the ball on top, too bad the vendor wouldn’t split the pair up. And the blue runner is a stunner!


I love posts like these. I love vintage, but I’m not always confident in my purchases. It’s educational and fun to not only see what you buy, but WHY you buy it. I find so interesting to see why you do (or don’t) buy a quirky painting or some bizarre object. And this feels more accessible. Not saying that you shouldn’t still post your higher-end decisions, but I like how you threw this post in as well. The “old Emily” indeed!

Monique Wright Interior Design

Maybe it’s just the fact that the market was in Pasadena but those prices seem really high to me! I do love that wood bowl though. Finding new old treasures is the best! I hope that vendor that wouldn’t split up the wood bowls with the balls on top reads this post! Don’t they know who you are?!! ?

Paula Carr

Yeah, California in general (but especially Southern California) has higher flea market prices than a lot other places. Main Street in Ventura used to have a ton of really interesting (and relatively non-pricey) vintage shops. My older sister lives in Ventura, so I’d always want a side trip there for shopping. Sadly, it’s gotten very gentrified and yuppified over the years…with a lot of chain stores. So depressing!


Actually there are no chain stores down there now at all! They all moved out. Also Ventura has a flea every weds at the fair grounds and last Sunday of the month.

Amy Madeline

I am dying about your vintage paintings score, and loving how you have been able to collect these paintings from the same artist. I recently picked up a seascape from the Goodwill, then went back a week later and got two more, all from the same artist. All three a little bit funky but but very appealing.
Looking forward to seeing the mega footed wood bowl In its many future appearances!

Cheryl Kohan

My favorite things that you bought are the paintings and the tree tables. I love the blue runner, too, and can totally see why you regret not buying it.

I’m a flea market and consignment store junkie. When I moved to Phoenix from Minnesota, I hardly brought any furniture with. So my whole new little house (1100 sq ft) is furnished with things I found on Craigslist and consignment stores. Haven’t found a good flea market, yet. Everyone loves my house.


I love these kinds of posts! It’s so interesting to see what you buy and what you pass on. It also feels more approachable to me as someone who doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on decor. It helps me know what kinds of things to look for when I’m out thrifting.


I can’t go to the flea market because I have no self-control and would come home with a garage-worth of stuff, so it’s fun to visit vicariously through you. Great finds! You have such a good eye.


Definitely interested in more of your thoughts on vintage!! I agree with your take on it completely and love reading your thoughts on what you bought, why, and how you’ll use it! — Especially after seeing you filming at the market, and wondering what you’d leave with!


I need that flag! I’m from Erie, Pa and that flag has a lot of meaning to our town and Lake Erie!

Paula Carr

There’s an Etsy shop that sells replicas. 😉

Emily K

Hey I’m from Erie too!

We linked up where you can get a newer one in the Get the Look:) xx


And this is why I read your blog… I will never find these exact pieces, and that’s okay! Happy to see former Emily back with a vengeance 🙂


The footed bowl is a kava bowl. Used to make a drink that is consumed socially (and tastes vile) in the Pacific. “The root of the plant is used to produce an entheogenic drink with sedative, anesthetic, and euphoriant properties.”

SO interesting and thank you for sharing xx


It’s an amazing piece. Thanks to Pamela I just looked up vintage ones and Emily- you’ve got a magic touch! It seems $250 is a steal. Congrats on the new addition to your family. 🙂


Thanks for sharing your time at the flea market with us! Loved the post, yes — please post more like these, I’d be interested in reading them. Sometimes I could be so overwhelmed when it comes to home decor shopping. I enjoyed reading about your shopping and thought process 🙂


i’ve missed the flea/craigslist posts! Also the item detail and link on images when you hover is awesome! Thank you for adding that!


You just made my lunch time. 🙂 Love this post! My favorite is that big wooden bowl. And nice job on the ‘steals’. 🙂


It’s good to have the old, I mean former Emily back! Good finds!


Love this post!


Love the footed bowl. I’d dream about it for years if I was there and didn’t buy it. Now I’ll just dream of spotting it myself some day. Love this post. You have a good eye for this and I want to learn from you.


I love this kind of post – more please! I may be the only person voting to bring back the Craigslist finds but I love this sort of inspiration and especially vintage. Even if we can’t buy it in mass, love seeing the photos and hearing your rationale and perspective. Inspires me when I head to a thrift store or flea market!


Second the craigslist finds. Also maybe try Facebook Marketplace – seems to have better selections these days.


Fantastic post! These vintage finds are inspiring 🙂

sarah gee

I HAVE THAT SAME WHITE PLANTER!! And I also love it! It’s on my mantle and it makes me smile every day… great find!


Love all of this.

But wait, what lake house?

I meant “mountain” house. No new homes yet:)


Good to get back into the game and good to think through purchases…. Even if it is cheap and you like it, it may not be something you need or will use. I don’t love it but I wonder if I would like it all better in person? The paintings don’t speak to me and they look a bit unfinished. However, they speak to you and that’s what matters! The thing with furniture, accessories and particularly art is that is is all a matter of taste. Listen to yourself and stay in touch with what you feel. Sometimes I feel like you like what is popular …like Nicky Kehoe and heck, most of us can relate to that. Quality is what matters.

Susie Q.

The uppercase “Q” in this font is really something else! I feel like I’ve never noticed it before. Surely Catherine isn’t the first person to use the uppercase Q?

Kristen Eff

This typography geek out Quomment is my favorite Quomment of all time.

Susie Q.

But why is the tail on your “Q” longer than mine? I’m jealous!
…I just noticed that my user name has an uppercase “Q”…. DUH! I need that long tail stat.


Who is the artist who did the paintings???


Vintage is what has always drawn me to your blog. It’s nice to see these posts again! I’ve missed the craigslist posts 😉
I also miss the family posts too!


The “Don’t give up the ship” flag is very meaningful for the US Navy. At Annapolis, there’s a memorial hall of every single Naval Academy graduate who lost his or her life in the call of duty; the sacrifice is meaningful and somber, and there’s a large version of that flag in the memorial hall.

I have a former student whose name is on that wall.


OMG I love the old emily being back! this is the kind of honest blog post i love! i love the other ones too but I actually read this one until the end 🙂
great finds!


Wait! You didn’t buy those paper mache masks?


I have never ever commented before but would keep coming back for more vintage posts like this. Knowing what you paid is also super helpful as you learn to train your eye to spot cool vintage stuff and then battle the inner monologue demon over the price. The too expensive wooden bowl is the freakin coolest.


so, happy to see the ‘old’ Emily back! these are the kinds of posts that
originally brought me into Emily world. 😀

I have a MAJOR crush on your red cross flag and desire it greatly 😀

so fun to see your purchases and passes and i’m with everyone else
in really loving that blue runner!

Jody K

LOVE everything you found, but especially the paintings! If you don’t find a place for them I know a gal in MN would love to own them. P.S. It’s moi!


What about Orlando’s purchases? Is he blogging on this too?

ha. he didn’t buy anything !!! Well, except two doll house chairs. but to be fair he didn’t need anything and I now have that new house to furnish. We were doing it with a ‘client’ so in March when it comes out in the magazine you’ll see what we advised her to buy. xx


Love this post! would love to know the name of the artist that painted the still life!


Love it! We don’t have flea markets in my town and i love imaging what I might of bought from your picks…am also heading out into the forest to find a tree root that’s just waiting to be a table


oh this post takes me back to days when I had time to trawl through flea markets on the reg! I started flea marketing/antiquing pre-internet everything, when it was so much harder to figure out what things ‘should’ cost and finding a treasure (or passing on something) was high stakes because there was no way to look for things online! I still love a good flea market but these days when the vendors sell everything online it’s just not as much fun…the footed bowl is fab and I don’t think the price is that crazy at all! I have often been happier over the years with the splurge items from fleas than the bargains…


I love seeing what you get at the flea market. I’m an avid thrifter and find some pretty cool stuff so I’m definitely interested in more posts like that. How great that the art dealer gave you one of those paintings too. I like that you can develop relationships with folks over time. Good job, Emily!

Paula Carr

Oh, I would have bought that umbrella painting…although it would have cost me more, because I would have taken it out of that hiddy metallic gold frame and got it a frame it deserved. I told myself no more art, and I just bought a Chairish painting that had been whispering to me for months. I could just barely justify it with a 20% off coupon. And now I’ll really need to de-acquisition something. Sigh.

I collect both bears and vintage pottery, so it was perfect, right? I HAD to buy it, right?


I have not read your posts in months, projects were on too big a scale to make it fun to read. But I loved this post. I love vintage and plan to use all vintage (and yard sale finds) in our weekend Maine farmhouse. I too am looking for finds with character, that are budget and family friendly, and for the perfect mix of vintage and modern for my second home. Glad you are back, Emily!


I like that you showed what you didn’t buy! We all have stuff that we fret and obsess over and then don’t get. It’s nice to see that you do the same. And for some of the same reasons.

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