I went to the Rose Bowl last month and I bought that woman above, Jen Gotch, for $40, amongst a pile of awesome garbage you’ll see below. She also convinced me/inspired me to buy some vintage clothes which I will debut later but of which Brian thinks are great additions to my costume box. I fear that’s only because he’s used to my years of chambray-all-day and has forgotten OG Emily who did in fact dress in questionable and risky/cool thrifted clothes because it’s all I could afford. People claimed I pulled it off, but that’s easy when you are 24 and preternaturally perky.
Jen gave no permission to post that image but I literally didn’t have any photos of me at the Rose Bowl from this last trip (stupid of me) and two really nice readers from Nashville stopped us as we were shopping and offered to take a photo (after they said some very nice things that made us both feel VERY good).
ANYWAY. Here’s what I bought and why.
What I Bought:
These two mushroom stump stool things are by far the best score of the day. Here’s why:
1. They are unique. I’ve never seen these before…have you? (Liar.)
2. They are conversation pieces and I’ve always said to splurge on the conversation pieces. I can recover the tops and put these in a kids’ playroom next to a white Target play table and a simple rug and the room would STILL look interesting and unique. These mushrooms are not “basic b” ottomans, no they are not.
3. THEY SWIVEL. Not sure why I want them to, but that’s pretty fun.
4. They are going to go in the mountain house in the kids’ attic playroom which I’m painfully excited by. I’ll likely recover the top in something extremely kid-friendly (although I kind of just want to go with something white so the wood pops). Ooh, maybe I’ll slipcover them so that I can wash them.
5. They are graphic, and while they are absolutely unique, they are also simple in shape. This is a silhouette that your eye can easily figure out. Your eye tells your brain “MUSHROOM” and your brain says, “wait, that IS a mushroom” and then your brain tells your mouth to say “omg is that an ottamon shaped like a mushroon made out of a real wood stump?” And then my mouth says “YES.”
Would this go in any house? NAY. But in my modern mountain Scandinavian California chalet family cabin, it sure does.
If you can’t tell, I’m VERY EXCITED that these two entered my life.
But the problem about shopping at the flea market without cash or a car (what…I uber on the weekends because I hate driving THAT MUCH) is that you kinda splurge at a single vendor because it’s so easy to pay and get delivery from just one guy. That might be hard to understand, but you know how sometimes when you are shopping it’s hard to break the seal and make that first purchase but then when you do you kinda throw in all these things you don’t really need mostly because you are paying already with Venmo (am I the only one that thinks that doesn’t feel like real money) and it’s just so easy??
Well, that’s what I did. This guy was like “sure I can deliver…want anything else? I’ll give you a good deal,” and the dopamine that I was about to get from that purchase spoke for me…
So here’s what else I got from him:
This chair. Now I LOVE the arms, I do, but I’m less excited about it than I was that day (again, the dopamine from my retail rush is responsible for my irresponsibility). The vendor was originally asking $300 for it, but I got it for less with the bundle deal. I’ll redo the fabric—likely just a cream linen but maybe charcoal depending on the room I put it in the mountain house. There is something about the dip in the top of the back that feels more ’90s contemporary than I want it to. We’ll see if I can make it work.
The table next to the chair (the big raw edge one on the left) is ALSO from the same guy, and no I don’t really need it either, but it was $200 and pretty great so I took it home with me. Dangerous is this dopamine drug, combined with free delivery and Venmo.
Now, this piece is cool and pretty in person and was $200 so I “threw it in” but it’s not in the best shape and needs some love. I don’t have a place for it nor do I really need it but I figured for a shoot or a flash makeover, it’s GREAT. It’s about the same price as a piece at a mass retailer, but it’s more unique.
Here’s the good news: that painting that I almost bought a month before at the Rose Bowl was there again.
I like it, I do and while I passed it up the first time because it was $225, I thought about it a lot the last month with only slight (but still there) pangs of regret. This time, the vendor told me it was $150, not remembering that it was more last time. Or maybe he did remember but dropped the price. Regardless, I wasn’t going to remind him of his previous quote because honestly, I don’t think it’s worth more than $200 (at a flea market anyway). So now I have my umbrella/shirt/bentwood chair still life that Brian has always been dreaming of (opposite).
Speaking of good news for Brian, I bought you another shabby chic landscape that i’I’llrobably never actually use but my heart made me do it…
It’s big and pretty and I think it was around $100 with a pretty crumbly frame. The style of the moutnain house is rapidly getting more eclectic. My inability to go truly minimalist is going to disappoint some of you, but my love of pretty old pieces will help give a newly renovated house some soul and charm. I want some quirky antique pieces to make sure it doesn’t feel basic. And this piece is really pretty. In my current house, which is feeling WAY TOO GRANNY RIGHT NOW, it would feel too…well, granny, but picture it next to all the modern finishes and fixtures at the mountain house and I’m into it. I can see it on a crisp white wall, next to our beautiful natural wood doors, a mid-century chair and ottoman, a sculptural task lamp, and thin black side table…feeling me?
A fun joke at my house goes as follows: I say, earnestly and casually, “oh, hey, good news Bri,” (he falls for it every time), “what”‘ he questions, then I continue in a cute/mischevious way with a big grin, “I bought you that indigo bolster pillow with tassels for the Paul McCobb chair in the bedroom you’ve been looking for.” He rolls his eyes, but we both know it’s hilarious.
NEW FUN FACT: Brian, my husband who lives in my house with me, literally didn’t notice that I changed out the chandelier OR DINING CHAIRS in the dining room. Charlie and Elliot did (and they love the new one because it’s “golden”). That’s how used to it he is and yes, he is welcoming back OG Emily because he sees how happy it makes me to change stuff out even though it can disrupt the house.
Okay, off to what I passed on and how I feel about my choice.
What I Didn’t Buy:
I love a modern take on the wingback, but my inventory is pretty high right now due to my constant chair hoarding and this felt annoying to deal with. The reason I love it is that irreverent pop of the wood arm with brass detailing. It says, “you thought I was a granny wingback with tufting, but actually I’ve got some edge.” I think they wanted $350 and knowing that the upholstery would cost likely another $300 (fabric + labor), I passed.
I liked this little dresser, but passed on it for the following reasons:
- I don’t need it.
- It’s a bit too “mid-century” for me right now. While I myself was trying to figure out what that actually means, I think it’s mostly the finish. It’s too mid-century teak and orange. So I’d need to refinish or paint it which would be a good option, but would cost $300. I didn’t ask how much it was but I know this vendor and I bet it was $350.
- I think I was mostly attracted to it for the cute knobs and hardware isn’t a good reason to buy something (unless it’s a steal, but not for $350). You can buy awesome hardware online to dress up any dresser. Now, had this been $75 with bad hardware then you’ve got yourself a deal and only a mini project of shopping for hardware online.
Next up, the victorian wicker and bamboo picnic lounge chair of Brian’s dreams…
I’m attracted to this kind of stuff and always will be, but it’s VERY specific and not the “simple but special” vibe that I’m going for. Could this “make the shot?” You bet your bloomers, but it’s not very functional (so low) and feels VERY fragile. It was also $250. Had it been $40, I would have hoarded it for its perfect editorial moment, but I wasn’t going to invest $250 in a large prop that my kids would likely destroy before I actually shoot it.
Then there was this bench.
I thought this bench was super pretty while I was at the flea market but now I’m questioning myself. It’s from a train station which is charming and it definitely could be GREAT at the perfect dining table or in a modern farmhouse entry. But I think it was like $400 or something insane like that.
Here’s another painting I’ve been staring at for two months:
It’s so pretty and I don’t know WHY I wouldn’t buy it, but there is something that feels too “bright” to me. But then I think “ooh, it can go in the kids’ room at the mountain house” and then I think well, is it sad? It’s also too expensive, weighing in at $350 (I think, maybe even $375). I skipped it again and I’m glad I did.
Lastly, I love a whimsical wood sculpture for a kids’ room…
I’m already regretting NOT getting this wood plane. It was really big (check scale by looking at the chair/ottoman) and while yes, it was just a prop (pun), it would have really created “a moment” in Charlie’s room (the next version of his room, which might be coming soon as I’ve NEVER been happy with it). We have a thing for planes in this family as Brian’s dad, both grandpas and uncle are/were pilots. So Charlie and Bobba (Brian’s dad named Bob, not to be mistaken with “papa” which is my dad…also named Bob) watch timelapse plane building videos all the time and he’s highly interested in how they are built/made. Which makes me think, actually, that maybe this one wouldn’t have impressed him nearly as much as it does me. It would go the way of the natural wood train set that “I got for him,” of which he rarely touched.
Anyway. It wasn’t a huge haul, but I did forget to take photos of two things that I’ll show you on my stories at some point today.
But a question for you: it seems like you guys are enjoying the flea market posts (THANK YOU #OGEHD). Now, in this post, we didn’t shoot the pieces at my house because frankly, we are backed up on shooting/editing right now and I said “hey, maybe we don’t actually need to re-shoot these…maybe the iPhone pics are indeed sufficient.” Our thoughts were this: we are trying to make some posts easier to produce so we can really focus our time on the larger design reveals that need more of a push on other platforms (we want to create more videos to support the makeovers but right now we are just too busy). The first flea market post took 2-3 additional hours to shoot/edit (with Brady and Sara) + 1 hour for me to write + 1 hour to edit and link + 5 hours for the roundup of similar pieces. Whereas this post took just 15 minutes for me to upload, + 1 1/2 hours for me to write + 1 hour of Arlyn’s editing and linking time, but that’s it. So, it’s basically 13 hours versus 3. Saving 10 hours a week of our collective time seems like a good thing.
We wondered if these flea market posts could be more fun and “less produced,” meaning with less good photos and no roundups. Now the proof is in the pudding (comments and traffic) but I’m curious what you guys think. What I WILL do next time, regardless, is take more and better photos of each piece and get shots of me IN the photos to make the post more fun. I wasn’t planning on posting these so I didn’t get enough photos and these photos are frankly bad.
But my question to you is, how much do you care about seeing the photos on a clean background, well shot, in my house? Does it really matter? or do you just like seeing the stuff and hearing about the whys?
I’d save the hours! This post felt like a nod to the “old days” of blogging. Sometimes it’s just nice to read some good #OGEHD commentary!
I’m VERY intrigued by these mushrooms. I can’t tell if I absolutely love them or hate them, but I sure can’t wait to see how you use them in the mountain house!
Totally agree ! and i LOVE these posts !
Same, and it’s super helpful to see how your finds looked in the wild so we can up our own yard sale games.
‘In the wild’ haha. Agreed. Like the au natural post!
Yes to this. More casual posts=more authentic content, in my opinion. I am very excited about the mushroom stools. (Kinda obsessed with mushrooms these days, to the extent that I’m selling jumbo 3d mushroom pillows on Etsy these days. https://www.etsy.com/shop/QuirkshopDesign)
I completely agree! The most interesting parts to me are the thoughts – I’m learning how to choose, re-imagine, and evaluate flea market purchases. It’s also cool to see the things you find, but they don’t really need to be photographed well or have similar products linked to.
Can’t wait to see how those (my first thought was WHaaaaaat? but you saw they’re awesome and I trust you) mushrooms turn out.
Ditto…OG Emily and a simple, straightforward blog post ! The why’s are also helpful. The overstyled, wordy blog posts are just annoying now
I like these simple and quick posts! It’s refreshing and still interesting.
I love your flea market posts! It takes me to the flea market, which there is not one near me, and I get to spend your money!!
I’d say keep it simple and keep it real. I liked the feeling of going browsing with you at the flea market. And I like knowing why you nabbed some things and left others behind (even if that reason was dopamine). Can I point out that there was a great opportunity to reference your chinoiserie posts from a few weeks back in the first picture under “what I didn’t buy”? 🙂 Would also definitely like to see updates to see how your re-upholstering goes.
I agree! I love seeing the things you choose in their flea market context as well. It’s helpful to see what your eye/camera is seeing when you yourself are browsing for things and what stops you! I say, K.I.S.S. – we all benefit!
This was such a funny written post, loved it! My husband kept asking why I was laughing and I mumbled something about mushrooms.
I say save the hours. For me, it is also interesting to see the stuff in its flea market surrounding. It makes it harder to recognize if something is precious (or actually garbage).
This! There are no good flea markets around me. I enjoy seeing them shot as you saw them first.
Keep them short and simple! I read every word and didn’t notice that the photos were “bad” at all. This post felt like a fun read from my slightly-crazy-flea market-shopping-friend. So fun!
These are my favorite posts by far! Fleamarkets are basically my favorite place to be, so reading this is next best thing to being there. Love reading your why’s and why not’s as well.
I love your flea market posts! Definitely #OGEHD and it’s amazing! I actually don’t care if you put extra pictures at your house. It’s almost more fun to see the items in their natural habitat at the flea market. Surrounded by their furniture friends. It sort of helps me see why you pick particular pieces over what’s around them.
Totally agree with everything Robyn is saying (and her use of “furniture friends” cracked me up).
Short & simple for the win!! I love these flea market posts.
This post worked for me! I’d also suggest a compromise if it’s quick and easy- if/when these items show up in your house or a shoot, link back to the post where you got them.
Yes, I agree. It’s great to see the pieces in their “found” form initially. But it will be just as interesting later to see them spiffed up and incorporated into your home/shoot later, with a reference back to the original included.
For the bent-arm chair, I wonder if you could have the upholsterer smooth out that dip in the back: some extra padding or a new cross piece at the top? That’s probably a weird/too elaborate idea but hey, can’t hurt to ask your upholsterer.
Definitely, keep these posts fun and low production value!
I also agree about it would be interesting to see a post later with how these were integrated. It could be months in the future – no worries! But that is really good content — to see how you took flea market stuff and integrated it. (Even just one thing! A post about one thing, and where you integrated it.)
This is good! I like how “not perfect” it is. Definitely a fun once a week post that can save you the hours!
I’m fine w the less labor intensive flea market posts.
Would love to see style finds you didn’t buy though. “Refined traditional,” the Victorian. Can’t remember all the names but would be a fun tie back to older content, especially for those that don’t love all the mcm stuff.
What I love about these posts is that you tell us what you like in each piece. This, I think, is a different offering compared to how you bring a room together – which is what you usually do. I like that they have fewer pieces, more in depth commentary about each one. This does not have to be limited to flea finds, but regular shopping as well (e.g. the five chairs I considered for the mountain house living room).
It would also be great if you could have a (separate) post about flea market finds after you repurposed them. You might include the options you considered, or the debate among the team (why should fireplaces get all the fun?)
It would be nice to see how your vision carried through!
The latter- I’m happy to see what you’ve picked/not picked at rose bowl with the iPhone pics. ?
Simple is great! None of love that curated life 100% of the time, so it feels real. Also the content is the important thing. Save pretty photography to show case design! Love it all.
Can you please go all in with the mushrooms and make them actual mushrooms?! Red with polka dots, mustard with polka dots. That’s so whimsy / fun in a playroom. Use refined fabrics to make it classy, but go all in for the kids’ sake! (My inner kid wants that). I like the scaled down posts just as much.
YES! That was what I was thinking too!
I totally agree with this. I’m kinda obsessed with mushrooms rendered in interesting fabrics. In fact (shameless plug here), I sew up 3d oversized mushroom pillows in all kinds of fabulous fabrics and sell ’em on Etsy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/QuirkshopDesign
Yes, I was thinking the same thing about the mushrooms. They would look so friggin adorable!! And it’s for a kids room!!
Also, love this post so so much!!
I agree. I think they look odd right now because they’re not covered in a kid oriented fabric.
The photos here totally work! I also enjoy the reflection on what you passed on and why. I thought I would mainly focus on the furniture items, but I’m enjoying the dissection of the art as well, as it turns out!
Love the post as is. Don’t worry about taking the extra photos/time!
Yeah save the hours. I didnt notice the difference.
But strangely i do recall a nice shot of that BIG wooden bowl thing with lots of cylindrical legs so i guess some things do slip into my visual memory.
Okay, my official verdict is that you should only worry about pretty shots when youve got the time. Oh and i dont need a roundup ever. Im international : )
I know exactly which huge footed wood bowl you are talking about. I’ve pouted several times since that post… WHY DOES EMILY GET THAT AMAZING BOWL?! Sigh. I can’t wait to see where she uses it!!!
I randomly stumbled upon what that bowl is! It’s a Fijian kava bowl. If you look them up, you might find one like it. 🙂
Love this style of post. Yes save the hours.
Sorry Emily, it was refreshing to not have you in every shot.
I agree with everyone else. It doesn’t really matter where the pics are shot, as long as we get to see them
! I love these posts, they are literally so much fun! And those mushroom stools are everything.
I loved it like this! It felt like shopping with you and reminded me of why I’ve been reading your blog for so many, many years. I always come home and “back think” over what I did and didn’t buy (sometimes it can be overwhelming). It’s such a delight to read your thoughts on both sides and it’s somehow helped me not take my own decisions so seriously (it’s just stuff). These are really my favorite posts. I think you should allocate time elsewhere, although how you manage to write such quick, witty and polished posts is beyond me. Thanks for putting creativity out there to motivate people like me!
Hi–I love this. No need to always link and/or shoot at your house. I just really enjoy your viewpoint–learning what you think is cool and priced appropriately. Also love the tips and tricks you share in the hunt. 3 hours all the way.
I agree too – love these candid shots – make me feel like I was really there. Save the hours!
Yes, more like these! We will eventually see stuff later anyway.
1. Those mushrooms need multiple fun covers with elastic so you (or the kids) can switch them out and have fun with them!
2. THAT BENCH. It is amazing and I’d pay $400 for it.
3. Don’t ever get the cloud painting. Def sad.
I prefer the from-the-hip, iPhone pic, Emily’s flea market ramble over the well shot, more produced post! It feels more like we’re there shopping with you, and helps readers picture items at a flea or thrift location amongst other junk! I love the “what I bought” and “what I didn’t buy” comparison also.
1. Make it a slideshow with captions instead of a long scrolling post? Easier to read on a phone. I have no idea if that’s harder to produce or not.
2. Maybe combine a flea/thrift haul post with something like the old “Craigslist Trolling” series. So it’s like what you bought AND what’s out there to be scored!
Yes! I had the same thought! Gosh, do I MISS those unperfect, perfectly awesome flea market and Craigslist Trolling posts!! There is plenty of polished content in the blog world. And it is totally boring compared to stuff like this. Way back, THIS stuff made me love you, taught me something, felt relatable and happy. Authentic. Moooore of this please!
Keep it simple! Love these posts!
Save the hours! I’ve read all of the flea market find posts and I didn’t even notice that this one was different until I got to your comment about it. Also, just want to say that I’m glad the mountain house is starting to lean a little more eclectic :)!
I’d save the hours!! This post felt very “old school” Emily-Love it!! I do agree that better pictures, closer, details shown, etc. would be nice. I also don’t think linking similar items is beneficial for me personally. I read these posts to get inspired, I wouldn’t purchase something linked on Etsy or a big box retailer, I would go to a local antique/flea market to explore! Love the recent posts and can’t WAIT to follow along with the Mountain house.
I mean, if you don’t want to keep that lovely credenza I will buy it and find a way to drive to California to pick it up from you… #justsaying ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (My husband could disagree with this statement enormously as he doesn’t even like to drive across town for my 100th chair I purchased at our local flea. What is it about chairs?!)
But I digress :). I love these posts, and I especially love that they’re just quick shots at the flea market. Not only do we have other items for context, but I just love seeing all the other background stuff that is there. Who doesn’t love a good flea?!
I like this post better! Feels like the good ol days of blogging. I wouldn’t waste your time staging and shooting. I also like seeing what’s in the background at the flea market so I can be insanely jealous that such a thing doesn’t exist where I live.
I like the simple, #authentic posts! Although seeing the pieces in their original habitat REALLY makes me want to go shopping. And I kind of want that big buckety thing in the last photo!
I liked seeing things as they appeared when you first bought them, and I’m fine with iphone pictures. Having something new to read is more important to me than having something perfectly staged. Keep up the good work!
Absolutely save your time! I’m allll about simplifying wherever possible these days and you gotta do what works for you!! Also I actually like seeing the items in their flea market “habitat” and seeing what else was around them. Love these posts!! I think they are helpful for those of us who are aspiring flea shoppers but feel overwhelmed or like we won’t make good choices.
I agree with the masses – this is better!!! Thanks 🙂
The more casual flea market post is fine. Bonus: seeing the pieces in the market instead of in your house helps readers imagine how you filter the good stuff out of the ocean of flea market crap ( something I struggle with). So, yes, save the hours!
Interesting post. If the vendor selling that train bench was selling it as “authentic”, they are not an honest seller. The spindles on the bench back would always match the style of the legs; that bench is clearly a repro/mishmash/fake. Here is a link to what the bench should really look like: https://www.harpgallery.com/shop/item26130.html
I prefer it this way! Makes me feel like we’re on the hunt with you. The styled photos felt too produced and I figure the good stuff will eventually show up anyway.
Love these posts, love reading the whys of what you bought and didn’t. No additional styled photos or get the look necessary. I love revel posts but I think I love these shopping posts even more!!
More OG Emily, more Emily explaining the whys and adding in random references to Brian (I don’t know why other people’s marriages interest me… I have my own but I love hearing about others…). Less stress, less perfectly styled photos, less work for everyone. Sounds perfect!
Save the hours! Plus, we’re going to get to see these pieces styled out at some point, so it’s fun to first see them in the flea-market context where you originally saw their potential.
I enjoyed the post with just the iPhone pics and your commentary (which is one of my favorite parts) but maybe if you found a really unique piece or something that you’re especially excited about one month you could shoot it styled out.
My vote is to eliminate the shooting at your house – the in situ shots of the items at the market are enough.
However, my vote is to keep the roundups. Partly because I actually bought one of the items last time. And partly because it helps me see how to apply the takeaways of the “hunt” to my own space. I live in a place where flea markets are uncommon (probably because the weather here is usually bad outside – rainy or snowy), so without the roundups I don’t find these posts that relevant (totally understand that others may feel differently, and that’s okay – I get that not every post is for everyone).
I think if I were going to trim anything from these posts besides shooting / photography, it would be to trim some of the writing. Shaving off 30 minutes here could be done – I do love a long juicy post, but perhaps more so for other topics.
frankly i don’ t think these photos are all that bad. and for me, i like seeing the items the way YOU saw them, amidst everything else, and getting a feel for why you picked them out in that mix. so i like these photos. a quick post is well worth your time… the extra photo shoots probably not so much.
I also vote keep it simple! I actually really liked seeing the scores in their “natural habitat” – makes me wonder if I would spot them among all those other things around them. 🙂 And it will also make it more fun to see them in the styled shots, wherever you will decide to put them!
I also really don’t mind not having the roundups as by their very nature they would not be exact matches anyway. 😉
Love these posts and think the quick phone photos are fine! No need for a roundup or anything.
I dont mind the short posts and unedited photos.
Id love a more ‘how to’ post on flea markets. I honestly get so overwhelmed at flea markets vintage markets etc. its hard for me to pick out the gems among all of the junk. It all starts to look the same to me and hard to spot the right pieces for me. So anything on a how to and what you plan on spending and how to bargain etc would be great.
I like seeing the pics of the items surrounded by other flea market stuff. It helps to see how it would stand out in a sea of other flea things! Good for practicing my flea market hunting skills.
Another vote for saving the time and doing these more in-the-field flea market posts. It is a nice change of pace.
Save the hours! I love these posts! It feels like I am living vicariously through you.