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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Construction saga: Trash troubles

Up till now, I've remained unflappable...philosophical, even...about weather delays, schedule conflicts with sub-contractors, minor changes to the floor plan and air conditioning ducts that have to be placed right where I wanted recessed lighting.

I didn't lose my cool the other day when I ordered my front door over the phone and the girl didn't think the card was going through, so she kept putting the numbers in. Six times. My bank told me that it would probably take a couple of weeks to get the money back into my account. But I stayed calm, even when the girl called back to tell me that they actually didn't have the door in stock but would upgrade some hideously ornate door. I thanked her politely and asked if she could find my door (the one I had just paid for six times, mind you) at another store, since my contractor really needed to pick it up immediately. I didn't raise my voice when she called me back in a few minutes to tell me she'd found the door and had arranged to have it transferred to her store and that it would be there in 2 or 3 days. I didn't even make a fuss when I found out that the store she was getting it from was only a 10-minute drive down the freeway from her store.

But the war zone that is my back yard is starting to make me a little crazy. A relatively small pile was supposed to be hauled off last week, but there was a change of plans. In the meantime, more debris from the roofing job has accumulated, and every time I look at my back yard, I feel myself getting a little closer to the edge. The new cedar fence is my only consolation right now.

One trailer is already loaded for a trip to the dump, and my contractor is here today with a second trailer, so I know it's going to be cleaned up. In the meantime, it's probably better if I just avoid the kitchen window.

The mess that is my back yard

I try to look at the new fence and not the piles of lumber and concrete.

Monday, January 28, 2013

In the store: Bird chair, Danish dining and lots of chrome

It frequently seems that we get an influx of several great new pieces at one time. The latest includes a newly powdercoated Bird Chair by Harry Bertoia for Knoll, a long Danish dining table with a set of chairs by Poul Cadovius, another Tobia Scarpa chrome plated steel and glass coffee table and a chrome chandelier.

We're having a charcoal colored pad made for the Bird Chair, so you'll be seeing it in its new duds soon. The Danish table is an impressive 94" dropleaf number that's a real stunner, and the Cadovius chairs speak for themselves.  In the past, we've sold an identical Scarpa coffee table, as well as the dining table from the same line, so we expect to sell this table easily. The chrome chandelier is very simple in design, but it packs a lot of glam.

Enjoy this look at our latest inventory additions.

Bird Chair by Harry Bertoia for Knoll

Danish dropleaf table and set of chairs by Poul Cadovius

Coffee table by Tobia Scarpa

Chrome chandelier (with a little peek at my SIL in the reflection)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Final day of Crestview Door's sale

I almost forgot to give you a heads-up about the final day of Crestview Door's clearance sale. If you've been wanting one of their Redi-Screens or one of their door kits, you might find something you can't live without.

For example, the Pasadena 3-lite DIY kit with frosted glass that usually sells for $582 is on sale today for $232.80.  Here is the Pasadena (with reeded glass). The only other thing you'd need to buy is a solid door.

If a Redi-Screen is on your wish list, take a look at this 32" x 80" Morocco, marked down from $$422 to $127.

Pasadena door

Morocco Redi-Screen

Just remember that the warehouse clearance ends today. If you were already planning a purchase from Crestview, this might be the day to shop. (And, no, I'm not affiliated in any way with Crestview Doors. I just like to lend my support to other Texas businesses.)

Tea towels, anyone?

A while back, I mentioned to the lovely Australian Kylie at Lucy Violet Vintage that I know very little about her native land. Not long after, she sent me a surprise all the way from Perth...a beautiful vintage tea towel from 1980 with a wonderfully illustrated map that gave me a crash course on the country. Need to know where Ayers Rock is located? I know. Planning to do a little surfing? I can give you a tip.

Kylie has an extensive tea towel collection, so shortly after she sent me that one, she had a giveaway on her blog, and I won another one...this time, the most gorgeous floral design I've ever seen. I could hardly wait to receive it!

But, inexplicably, the tea towel didn't arrive when expected. So I waited. And waited. Finally, after weeks, it came in the mail yesterday. As I told Kylie, I guess some faceless bureaucrat decided that she wasn't trying to send me contraband and that my tea towel wasn't any threat to national security, so after encasing it in plastic and the writing, stamping and stickering all kinds of messages on the outside, he sent it on its way to Texas.

I've been waiting impatiently to show them both to you in one post. So, without further ado, feast your eyes on my two beautiful tea towels, courtesy of my sweet blogging friend.

Need to know anything about Australia? Just ask me!

Is this not the most gorgeous floral you've ever seen?

Thanks so much, Kylie! I appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness more than you know.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To each his own

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know I have a serious thing for these shell chairs by the Danish designer Ib Kofod-Larsen. We have painstakingly restored three pairs of them, and they've all been breathtakingly beautiful.

Mid2Mod Set #1

Mid2Mod Set #2

Mid2Mod Set #3, currently listed on V&M

I love the rich wood, the wonderful nubby upholstery, the subtle sheen on the iron legs. So you can imagine my reaction when I saw these:

To add insult to injury, here's how the dealer described them:

Mid Centuty <sic> "Eames" Chair
Mid Century
Funky mid-century "Eames" lounge chair in black upholstery and reed <sic> lacquers <sic> wood.

It looks as if someone hit the frame a quick lick with some flat black paint, threw some cotton fabric on the seats (which appears to be fraying underneath) and slapped some red paint on that gorgeous wood.

Now don't get me wrong. I know I'm not the sole arbiter of good taste, and I'm not completely against painting furniture. I realize that there are some pieces that have been too badly abused and are too far gone to restore, and I know some people like "funky"...but this broke my heart.

Tell me it will be OK...that someone will love them and give them a good home, in spite of the fact that they've been tarted up like Julia Roberts before her makeover in Pretty Woman.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Construction saga: Windows, doors and hardware...Too many choices!

After several conversations with my contractor, a trip to the glass shop and several calls to other glass shops to compare prices, I've finally made a decision about my entry door and windows. I'm having a 36" solid slab front door...the same color orange as the one on the house...with very simple bronze hardware and tempered frosted/satin glass sidelights approximately 8-10" wide x 80" high on either side of the door. I'll have very simple cylindrical bronze porch lights on either side of that.

The windows in the bathroom, laundry room and kitchen will be the same frosted/satin glass that's 24" wide x 72" high. The sliding glass doors in my bedroom that lead out onto a deck will have a very narrow bronze frame and frosted glass. 

The salesperson at the glass store talked me into frosted/satin glass rather than reeded because he said that the reeded pattern is pretty much lost when they sandblast the back to make it more opaque. He assured me that the frosted/satin glass will let in lots of soft, beautiful light and give me complete privacy. So no window treatments in the entire apartment...exactly what I wanted to hear!!!

Door on the house,
probably to be replaced soon
with a flush door with no panels

Door/sidelight configuration for the apartment,
which will have the same color scheme...gray-green house, orange door.
I'm planning a small flagstone porch in front of the door,
with one or two flagstone steps up to the threshold.

Simple Schlage handleset and matching deadbolt

Poseiden 12" bronze tube up/downlight

A proposed cedar overhang similar to this across the front

And a back door with frosted glass like this, opening onto a small deck

Instead of being painted orange, the trim around the sidelights will probably be stained to match the overhang. And don't worry that I'll get cabin fever because I can't see outside. I'll be spending a lot of time during the day in the main house...or, when the weather is nice, outside with the boys...and as long as I have plenty of ambient light when I'm in the apartment and don't have to have curtains or blinds, I'll be happy as a clam.

I think I almost have my final selections made and can picture it all put together in my head at this point. Now to execute it...

On that note, why have I been so insensitive to your renovation woes? In the course of my adulthood, I've been through a couple of new constructions, but I was living comfortably in my old home while the new ones were being built. I've also gone through a few flooring jobs and a kitchen redo...but these were small jobs that took three or four days, tops.

To those of you who didn't receive adequate sympathy and encouragement from me for all the dust in your house and all the debris in your yard, the endless stream of workmen who seemed to be at your house from dark-thirty a.m. to dark-thirty p.m., the day-after-day hassle of having to get up earlier than you had any desire to get up so you could be dressed and have your car moved out of the driveway to make room for work trucks, vans and trailers, the incessant noise of jackhammers, nail guns, power saws and your neighbor's two dogs barking insanely at workmen the entire day and the annoying delays and have my deepest empathy now and my heartfelt apology for not offering it sooner!  (Incidentally,  the only two do-overs my contractor has had so far were tightening the toilet bolts and replacing the set screws for my towel rack that were lost by the plumbers, so I guess I'm golden in that category.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Construction saga: Cabinets and counters

One of the biggest expenses of the new construction will be kitchen cabinets and countertops. In an effort to be frugal, I've spent hours looking at Ikea cabinets, but I can't find anything I really like for the kitchen. My criteria are very specific, and my space is very limited. I want solid slab doors with no raised panels, and I want a dark finish.

I dropped by Home Depot the other day to pick up some countertop samples and happened to see a display for Thomasville cabinets. I think they may have exactly what I want...and with only a 3-week turnaround.

Blythe cabinets by Thomasville in chocolate cherry

This pantry/refrigerator arrangement from the Thomasville website is exactly what I had drawn for one side of the kitchen, complete with a built-in desk/bar to the right, just like this photo shows. The opposite side of the galley will have the sink, dishwasher, stove and food prep counter space.

The last time I had a new countertop installed was nearly 20 years ago, and I chose Corian, which was a fairly new product at the time. I was so pleased with it that I think I'll probably go with it again...or Hi-Macs, which is essentially the same type product. I like the fact that it's a solid material and can be sanded and buffed if scratched or stained. From my previous experience, however, I found it to be almost impervious to damage. It has apparently stood the test of time, and I'm sure it's even better than it was when I bought it back in 1995.

I've chosen black appliances and probably will use the same slate tile with a lot of black in it that I used for the recent bathroom redo.  I am looking at countertop colors that will pick up the lighter and more neutral colors in the tile. I've been hitting Home Depots all over town, politely taking a small handful of free Corian samples at each location. Nobody likes a greedy old woman who barges in to one store and demands a cartload of sample, right?

I think I've found an Ikea piece that will work for the bathroom vanity. It's their standard "black brown" of Expedit fame and is close to the color of the Thomasville cabinets. I plan to use an Expedit unit for storage in the bathroom, leaving some of the shelves open and also using some of the inserts with doors and drawers.

The countertop front runner so far is a Corian color called Tundra. A color called Warm Soapstone looks good with the tile too, but I think it's a bit dark. I'm going to have a 4' x 7' walk-in shower with a textured concrete floor. In addition to black and rust, the tile has a lot of a grayish concrete color in it. I plan to use a Kelly-Moore paint in a grayish brown color called Meadow Brook throughout the apartment along with matte black faucets and light fixtures, so I think it could be a good choice, but I'm still at the "how-many-times-can-I-look-at-these-samples-without-setting-my-hair-on-fire" stage. Who knows what I'll choose when it's down to the wire?

Tile for kitchen, bathroom and laundry room

Kelly Moore Meadow Brook paint

Corian Tundra

Corian Warm Soapstone

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In the store: New credenza and dining table

I just thought I was going to post twice a week for a while. I should have known better.

Between construction news and store news, there's always a little miscellaneous news. Add the fact that I'm known as a bit of a talker, and there's no way I can stick to a two-times-a-week schedule.

Anyway, why would I want to, when my SIL is getting in pieces like this fabulous credenza? It measures 65" in length, has tambour doors and is newly refinished...and it sold before I could even post about it. How could it not?

Credenza by Peter Hvitd and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen

View of credenza open

View of credenza legs

Take a look at this impressive pedestal dining table. We saw it attributed to Milo Baughman in one eBay listing, and my SIL talked with someone yesterday who said the same, but we haven't found any proof of that yet. It is similar to some tables by Warren Platner too, so at this point, we don't know who designed it. Do any of you know? It is 66" x 38" x 28.5" and has a leaf for an additional 16". The brushed aluminum trim at the bottom of the pedestal really gives it an extra measure of va-va-voom.

Dining table, designer unknown

Top view

Closer view of side and pedestal

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What a difference a few weeks make!

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Jenai Engelhard from, who wanted to interview me and write about my house. She recently let me know that the article was up on their site, and when I checked it out, I had to smile. Naturally, the photos were pre-construction, when things actually looked normal around here. Boy, oh boy, wouldn't her readers be surprised if they saw how my house looks now?

I guess running these photos wouldn't work, huh?

But wait! Concrete for the foundation of the new kitchen and laundry room was poured Thursday and is curing even as you read this post. By Monday, weather allowing, we will be in high gear. Three new joists will be put in place, the electricians and HVAC guys will come in, the plumbers will come back, new siding will start to go up on the exterior, and there will finally be light at the end of the tunnel.

The pictures on My Move were also pre-green paint, and I was surprised at how accustomed I'd already become to the new color on the house. I didn't even recognize the old tan house for a second. I've always known that I'm highly adaptable to change...crave it, even...but that's a little ridiculous!

If you get a chance, stop by and take a look. You've no doubt seen all the photos before, but I'm sure they'd appreciate your visiting and leaving a comment.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sometimes you just can't let go.

My SIL is crafty. I don't mean DIY crafty. I mean deviously crafty. With a capital D.

A week or so ago, he received an Architectural Pottery reissue on consignment. VesseL USA Inc. is licensed to produce the designs of LaGardo Tackett, John Follis, Malcolm Leland, David Cressey and Raul Anqulo Coronel in matte and gloss glazed ceramic, unglazed ceramic (bisque) and fiberglass. The pieces are made to the original designer specifications. The one he got is an IN-2 model in white with a black metal stand.

He brought the piece home with him, and he let it sit right in front of me for days, knowing I'd fall in love with it. He's aware that I'm shamelessly covetous of the originals owned by my blogging friends, and since AP is not as plentiful here in Texas as it is in California, I'm sure he thought I'd grab this one immediately. When I didn't take the bait, he finally loaded it up and put it in the store. I stayed strong till yesterday, when he posted it on Facebook. The minute I saw it go up, I called him and said, "Dammit, bring the planter back home. I'll write you a check for it."

He knew I wouldn't be able to let him sell the thing. I bet his hand was poised over the phone within 5 seconds of posting the picture. He knows me entirely too well.

Architectural Pottery planter and stand
by VesseL USA Inc.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The search for perfect house numbers

Many vintage lovers believe that God is in the details. Naturally we want the perfect pair of chairs or the quintessential vintage sofa. But we also spend countless hours searching for the right vase or the right candlesticks. Some of us even spend days, weeks or months searching for the right house numbers.

We finally found ours, and I got the contractor to install them, because we're great procrastinators in this house, and I figured they'd lie neglected on a shelf if something wasn't done quickly.

We also bought a curb stencil to match, but even with three fairly intelligent and high-functioning (well, sometimes) adults in the household now, no one has managed to stop by Home Depot for reflective paint yet. Anyone want to start a pool on how long it will take us to get that done?

Our house numbers (purchased from are the 8" (20.33 cm) Palm Springs (Neutra typeface) style. They are made of 3/8" (.95 cm) thick aluminum with a brushed finish and high quality clear coat, and they have a 1/2" (1.27 cm) standoff so they cast a subtle shadow. In addition to house numbers and curb stencils, the company also offers mailbox numbers.

New house numbers...installed in a timely manner, thanks to our contractor!

Close-up of new house numbers...Love the shadows!

Curb stencil...Twenty bucks says it's at least 6 months before we get it done!

Reader Michelle E. of The Napa Project sent me a link to a song on youtube about Neutra typeface. It's too funny not to share. We Neutra lovers now have our own anthem! And if you haven't checked out Michelle's blog about their Napa home restoration, rush right over. You'll love it!
Uploaded by Jason Kinney on Nov 30, 2009

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Have I mentioned that my readers are the best?

Let me take just a few seconds to thank all of you for your loyalty. I probably don't tell you enough...but you truly are the best!

I expected my daily page hits to drop drastically when I switched from posting every day to posting two times a week, but they haven't changed a bit. Apparently a lot of you have been checking in anyway and catching up on old posts I wrote before you joined.

As soon as my construction project is finished, I'm sure I'll start posting more often...maybe not every day, but several times a week...because I miss you.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Selling Modernism: Game change

Once a dealer commits to carrying moderate-to-high-end vintage items, the procurement game changes. He realizes that he can no longer rely on Craigslist and estate sales for his inventory.

That's not to say dealers abandon Craigslist altogether or quit scanning the estate sale photos for great pieces in the background. Amazing finds at reasonable prices still show up occasionally, but they're too hit-and-miss to keep a store or a shop on an online marketplace like 1stdibs or V&M stocked. (For instance, V&M suggests that dealers start with a minimum of 60 items with an average price of $1500 and add new stock weekly. Many dealers on 1stdibs list far more items...and with considerably higher price tags.) It's simply too time-consuming to be on the constant prowl for that kind of inventory while trying to keep regular store hours.

So it's necessary to figure out fairly quickly what the heavy hitters in the business do. Fortunately, there are several nationally known dealers here in Dallas whose business practices we have been able to observe. They mainly buy at auction, have a few trusted pickers who bring them quality pieces on a regular basis and have built such reputations for themselves that people are constantly offering to sell them great pieces of furniture.

We're getting there. It's become rarer and rarer for my SIL to go to estate sales or buy off Craigslist. He finds it a much more efficient use of his time and resources to monitor the auctions sites or build relationships with pickers and vintage modern collectors who frequently have good pieces for sale than to drive around town or sit in front of an estate sale at 4 a.m. hoping to pick up something, although he will if he sees something too good to pass up. Here are just a few of the pieces we've bought lately:

Alvar Aalto wing chair, Model 41

Dunbar side tables

J. L. Moller armchairs

Nanna Ditzel style chair

Vladimir Kagan chairs

We've also bought a Scarpa style coffee table and a really cool chrome chandelier. All these pieces will be making their way to the brick-and-mortar store and online shop as soon as they are cleaned up/restored.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Construction saga: The way we live

If you're old enough, think back to Barbra Streisand singing "The Way We Were," the 1975 theme song to film of the same name. Then change the words to "The Way We Live." If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me...would we? Could we? I think the way we're living right now is one of the things about our construction saga that we'll choose to forget. Thank goodness there's never a shortage of laughter around this place, so we'll choose to remember that instead.

This was the living room a few weeks ago.

This is the living room now...since the dishwasher, refrigerator, stove and microwave for the new apartment have taken up residence in the alcove. All the dining room furniture has been moved against the wall to make room for toys, which constantly spill out into the living room anyway. We can't even take down all our Christmas decorations, because what will soon be my apartment used to be where I stored Christmas decorations, and the new storage building isn't built yet. There's no place for the step ladder, because the closet it was once stored in is being used for something else.

The outside of the house isn't much better. Carpenters had started to demo the workshop, concrete guys had been jackhammering and plumbers had been laying PVC...but they were stopped by several days of rain, so we had wet piles of construction material to look at for a while.

The rain finally stopped, and the plumbers finished yesterday. Forms have been built and concrete is scheduled to be poured Tuesday, and after a three-day wait for it to cure, we'll really get into high gear...or so I'm told.

I keep repeating again and again, "This will be over soon...This will be over soon." And it will be. And I'll love my new little modernist nest.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Michael Bruno: Founder of 1stdibs

Michael Bruno
Michael Bruno (1968- ) founded the online vendor-to-designer site 1stdibs in the late 1990s.

The business saga of Bruno, now 44, started when he was 19 years old and attended a "no money down" real estate seminar. The speaker recommended the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The book was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie, who had Hill interview 500 millionaires, including business moguls and American presidents. After 20 years of research, Hill concluded that millionaires weren't necessarily more talented than anyone else. They just thought differently.

The 19-year-old wrote down what he calls "a nice round figure" that he intended to have by the time he turned 50. He also decided to have his real estate license by the time he was 20, which was two months away, buy his first house with no money down by he time he was 21 and make at least a quarter of a million dollars a year in real estate by the time he was 25. He achieved all these goals.

In the mid-80s, he decided that recycling was the next big thing and went into that business, but he soon concluded that it wasn't his passion. He went back into real estate as the bubble began to inflate and found himself selling mansions to twenty-somethings. It was then that he realized these buyers didn't have any idea how to decorate their homes and there must be some way to capitalize on that. He also knew that decorators were driving around taking Polaroid pictures to show their clients, and there had to be a better way to sell furniture. He just didn't know how yet, even though he and friends had already come up with the name 1stdibs for his domain.

He moved to Paris for a time-out to brainstorm, and his friend Christina de Limur, who had lived in Paris as a child, took him to the Paris Flea Market. He immediately came up with the idea of putting the Paris Flea Market online and making it available 24/7. Bruno hired someone to start building his website.

At first French dealers were reluctant to sign up. They were intensely private and very skeptical, not to mention that they had little technological savvy, and they didn't like the idea of showing their inventory on the open Internet. Bruno eventually came up with the idea of telling them he was going to make the site password protected and available to only a few select American decorators. He also got the idea of only listing items he'd like to use in his Paris apartment. He would call dealers the next day and tell them he had a buyer who was interested...and the buyer was him. For the first six months, he was the only buyer, but word was getting around to the French dealers that the site worked, so they were coming to him asking to get sign up.

Soon afterward, his very social younger sister Sally came to Paris to work with him. She immediately met Mallery Lane, a writer for the New York Times Home section, whom she told about 1stdibs. Lane wanted the story, and Bruno's team had to go into high gear to get the website functional before the story came out.

It hit the newsstands in June of 2001, and House Beautiful's Marian McEvoy was one of the first to sign on.
Within hours, Bruno was no longer the site's only customer. The rest, as they say, is history.

Bruno is responsible for turning 1stdibs into the largest and most successful of the online market sites, with around 3,000 pieces uploaded daily. 1stdibs has made vintage design hot, with designers first jumping on board and then the trend filtering down to homeowners. The site has branched out to include fashion, jewelry and art.

From and Canadian House & Home magazine
All images from

Charles and Ray Eames Time-Life stool

Florence Knoll sofa with end table

George Nakashima Conoid bench

Gio Ponti desk

Paul Evans cabinet

Vladimir Kagan sofa

Hans Wegner shell settee