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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Not cavalier, just comfortable

When you sell vintage pieces for a living, you see a lot of beautiful things, even though some aren't so beautiful when you find them. You haul them back and forth between the refinisher's and the upholsterer's shops, lug them up and down stairs and into trucks and trailers. You sit on the chairs and sofas, you eat hamburgers at the tables, and your kids play hide-and-seek behind the stacks of inventory in your storeroom. You become familiar with them...and while familiarity doesn't breed contempt in this case, as the old saying goes, it does affect your attitude toward them.

First, there was the Lou Hodges table that my SIL almost put at the curb. Seriously, moving can make even the most dedicated vintage furniture lover crazy tired. Fortunately, he got a good night's sleep before he tossed the piece and eventually partnered with Gerard O'Brien at Reform Gallery in Los Angeles to sell it.


Lou Hodges table, almost tossed


Then there was the Richard Galef trash can (like this one I found on Etsy) that was used for dirty diapers when both the grandsons were babies. I'm sure there are lots of people who would treat a designer piece with a little more respect than that. (Although, in defense of my daughter and SIL, I will say that it took us a long time to identify it as a Galef piece. She got it at an estate sale for $1.00.)


Richard Galef trash can for Ravenware
etsy.com - OrbitingDebris


And, finally, there is the Planner Group coffee table by Paul McCobb that sits, as we speak, in my daughter and SIL's living room. I'll post a picture of one I found on Gerard's site, because the one we all use on a daily basis is so covered with mail and toys that you can't even see the top of it. We sit on it, eat on it, spill on it, play with toy trucks on it, stand on it and generally treat it as if it's indestructible, which it's proved to be so far.


Planner Group coffee table by Paul McCobb
reformgallery.1stdibs.com


Does this make us jaded? Unappreciative? Cavalier? I don't think so. These are tools of our trade, just as wrenches and hammers are the tools of other trades. Once they're fully restored and in our store, we handle them very carefully, so they'll be as perfect as possible when customers take them home. When they're in our own homes, we don't abuse them...but we do use them, just as people have been using them for the past 60-some-odd years. We figure if they've held up that long, they'll hold up for a good while longer.

The moral of this story: When you find a piece you just can't live without, buy it. Enjoy it. And don't be afraid to really live with it.

11 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I was cleaning up the house this weekend and noticing all the chips, dings and dents that have showed up on our furniture since we've had a kid and feeling a little guilty about it, like we should be treating the pieces with more respect than really pretty Hot Wheels track. Glad to know that other mid-century folks are actually living with their pieces, and not just treating their home like a museum.

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    1. I think this style of furniture, in particular, was meant to be enjoyed by families. That said, as I commented on Tyler Goodro's blog the other day, if I had a white Papa Bear chair, I wouldn't let the grandkids get on it with popsicles! :)

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  2. I know what you mean, I have two 60's Pearl Wick leg loungers that I use an awful lot at home and in the office.

    That trash can is cool.

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    1. Not to say that the Pearl Wick leg loungers are "designer," I just find them to be cool vintage pieces in their own right.

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    2. I think Pearl Wick Leg Loungers are cool. In fact, I've been looking at some online to buy for my grandsons to use when they're at my house...as little tables they can use while seated cross-legged on the floor. They could also use them as stools and, tilted, as little art desks. I believe in using things in as many ways as possible, even if that means getting food or paint on them. I'll just wipe them off and keep going. If I want to look at something that can't be touched, I go to a museum! :)

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  3. the group table can be used as a dining table as well

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    1. Yes, it was purchased as part of a dining set.

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  4. Hi Dana, just popped over from Kylie's blog, having seen your wonderful photos there.
    And this post struck a particular chord. Yes, I agree - lovely
    furniture and homewares may be desirable/valuable, but if they are in our homes, they have to be functional too. If we don't use them, they are like exhibits in a museum or a shop window - and who wants to live like that?!
    Nice to meet you,
    Curtise xxxx

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    1. Curtise, welcome to my blog! I've so enjoyed your guest frockster appearances on Kylie's blog.

      With two young grandsons, I've learned that it's a lot more important to adapt to having youngsters in the house than to continually nag them about my belongings. I bought a dark colored couch and a cowhide rug that can be shampooed. I have felt pads on ceramics, so they won't scratch tables if they get moved. Everything that's really valuable is on shelves where they can't reach. I'll only have these wonderful, exuberant days with my boys once, and I intend for them to be fun. Of course, I teach them to be careful and to respect the property of others, but I don't want their memories of me to be of a grouchy old fuddy-duddy that was more concerned with her precious vintage furniture than with them.

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  5. All my MCM furniture gets used (and much of it still has the 'love nicks' that were there when I acquired it. At the moment, my dog and my mom's dog who is over for a 'playdate' are running willy nilly around the living room, running into things and sending the rug flying this way and that. I learned at an early age to live with antiques. The house I grew up in was (and still is) full of 19th century antiques (my parents love that stuff while I'm more of a 20th century/Deco/MCM girl!) some of them belonging to at least four generations of my family before coming to live with my parents and I. I remember friends coming over and, upon seeing my childhood bedroom, saying, "Do you sleep in that bed?" To which I'd always answer, "No, I sleep on the floor next to it! Of course I sleep in that bed!". Furniture is happier when it's being used for the purpose it was meant for. I'm sure of it!

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    1. I believe you're exactly right about that. If we have things that are so precious that we can't enjoy them, then the purpose of having them at all has been defeated.

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