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Perspectives… Iron Gates

January 31, 2012

BC has been sick for almost a week now. Sneezy, sniffly, tired, and just so sad! So three cheers for him for playing along with my little game today! He’s really got the hang of this whole repurposing thing (his perspective was really his idea!).

Antique Iron Gates via Burke Antiques, Antique Tractor Stool via Quintessentia, Antique Leopard Print Stool via Artobject Studios, Books Handmade Weddings and Wedding Planning for Dummies, Wall Sconce via Victorian Country Chic, Bedding via Dwell Studio , Images not to scale



January 30, 2012

I suppose one could say that I’m a “foodie,” though that term is so silly. I appreciate good food, enjoy long meals, like trying new things and love a good “underground” dinner club. In fact, over the weekend, some friends, BC, and I tried the Brooklyn Edible Social Club and had such a great time. The food… oh, so wonderful. Here’s the link to our menu, if you’re interested. And, of course, the icing on the cake (or maybe it was the whipped cream on the chocolate mousse), was spotting this fantastic repurposed birdcage light.

Another dining experience I’m coveting is a trip to Faviken in northwest Sweden.

Picture this… a working rustic farm is the middle of nowhere, where food is treated as it should be. Ingredients served at the appropriate time of year, all elements of the meal foraged on the farm, hunting as a part of meal preparation… with an end result of “real food” served in a sparely decorated restaurant for only 12 lucky diners each night.

You can tell that the food and other experiences take center stage and are what makes Faviken so special. I had to dig to find pictures of the other spaces on the estate but they were not lacking in charm or beauty. Apparently, you can’t go to dinner without staying the night – it’s actually that far away from civilization. 

If you want to read more, Bon Appetit featured Faviken back in September. I think the appropriate word for Faviken is magical. 

Images via Bon Appetit, and Faviken.

Winter Antiques Show

January 27, 2012

My cousin, Em and I went all the way up to the UES last weekend to check out the Winter Antiques Show, a benefit for the East Side House Settlement. Though it would seem that the starting price for most items was well beyond my budget, I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Here are some of the highlights.

First, the Park Avenue Armory itself is a place of splendor. The bride in me thought “oooohh, this would be a perfect place to get married in that navy Monique Lhuillier dress I was drooling over the other day” (the realist in me has a feeling that would also be out of my price range.) The arts patron in me decided I’d settle for seeing an aerial dance company perform there. And also, isn’t it nice to see this NY relic get all spruced up, decked out, and used for a good cause? 

If you’ve read Elle Decor you’ve probably noticed those stylish living rooms that include a tailored couch with oversized photography hung above. Let it be known that if I’m ever destined to have such a space, this is the image I’d want at center stage. Reading up on the image I learned that the shoot occurred pretty quickly because the building was already being dismantled when the photographer Ormond Gigli envisioned the shot. It is quite stunning, isn’t it?

Image via Peter Fetterman Gallery

Posy rings are my new favorite. They are simple gold rings engraved with a sentiment. Hmm. Hello, wedding band?

Image vis Les Enluminures

Wow, you can see where my head is… the cabinet below from the Robert Young Gallery, which was one of my favorite displays, shows a couple courting, then engaged, then on their wedding day, then married. I really loved the hand painted stripes in their display booth. 

Images via Robert Young Gallery and my iPhone

Now this is a cool story:

“In 1970, a 14 year old boy rescued an Album of drawings from a trash heap… He kept it for 36 years. The album consists of 283 drawings done on both sides of ledger sheets, each bearing the name of the hospital , State Lunatic Asylum No.3, Nevada, Mo. They were sewn into a beautiful, hand made album”

As it turns out, the identity of the artist has only recently been discussed. The artist is Edward Deeds, Jr. who was committed for life at the age of 17, in 1925. 

Images via Hirschl and Adler Galleries

Liz O’Brien‘s display was one of the few that featured a sort of modern Hollywood style. I find the images below on her site, and I’m sneaking in the green chair, even though it’s reproduction, because it’s AWESOME.

Images via Liz O’Brien

Saw this painting at the show and left a tiny piece of my heart with it. Is it a surprise that I like flowers when they’re a little more dark and moody? Let’s call it soulful. That chair has plenty of soul itself. Man, I wish I had more rooms to decorate! 

Images via L’Antiquaire

We saw this one sword at Peter Finer that was probably larger than both Em and I put together. One question: how did people hold those things? There must have been a whole leg of knight training dedicated to just standing up. I much prefer this delicate German kids sword… ahem, kids sword?!

Images via Peter Finer 

Just because I’m a sucker for a slab of wood table. 

Image via Moderne Gallery

And finally, Hostler and Burrows. I’d made a note to myself to talk about them, but I can’t remember what in particular I liked. Then I looked on their website and saw these chairs through, “Who cares what my original intent was… these chairs are rockin!” 

Ya’ll, it’s the weekend – have a good one!  

Repurposing File Cabinets

January 26, 2012

Images: File Cabinets as Kitchen Island via Oh My Goods, File Cabinets as Planters via DesignSponge, File Cabinets as Desk via Oh My Goods, File Cabinets in Bedroom via Rue Magazine, File Cabinets Under Bed via DesignSponge

Shoko’s Grandmother’s Dishware

January 25, 2012

I met the lovely Shoko at Blogshop back in September. Ever since I’ve been following her blog, Sho and Tell, which is such a breath of fresh air. I can always count on Shoko to restore some sense of tranquility to my day. Her tastes seem to run towards the gorgeous and sublime. I believe she may get that from her grandmother…

Like many twenty-somethings who have relocated to cities far from home, I‘ve had to furnish my new digs (or, to be accurate, my room in the apartment I share with two roommates) on a budget. IKEA bed frame here, CB2 vase there. When I first moved to New York, my financial restrictions combined with a paralyzing fear of bed bugs (no thrift store décor for me!) caused me, more often than not, to shy away from all things used, and settle for unoriginal.

So when Erin invited me to contribute a Sentimental Salvage, I initially drew a blank. The only items I’ve salvaged have come from Anthropologie sale racks, I thought. Then, I remembered.

I brought these pieces of dishware – a stout little sugar bowl and a striped soy sauce dispenser – home from a recent trip to Japan. My mother, who’s in the process of cleaning out my grandparents’ house in Tokyo, saw me admiring them one morning and encouraged me to take them home.

I don’t know the history behind them, but I love that these pieces — that once sat on my grandparents’ kitchen shelf in Tokyo — now have a home in my New York City apartment. My grandmother was a legendary cook, so I also like to think that maybe, just maybe, some of her culinary know-how will rub off on me when I use her things.

These pieces, though small, are part of my family’s history. I think they’re beautiful – I especially adore the colored stripes – and they bring to mind many happy memories of meals I’ve shared with people I love. I’m so happy, and so grateful, to have them.

Absolutely beautiful! I, too, adore those stripes! Thank you Shoko!

Images by Shoko

Veronica’s Lounge

January 24, 2012

Room muse: Veronica Franco
The background: 16th century Italian poet and courtesan
The inspiration: A few weeks ago I was telling my friend Darcy about our plans to honeymoon in Venice and Florence, Italy. She exclaimed that I must see the film “Dangerous Beauty” (streaming on Netflix!) and described it as a “love letter to Venice.” It’s based on the true story of Veronica Franco and is one of those guilty pleasure movies – I completely ate it up. I also became an admirer of this incredible woman who wrote two volumes of poetry, founded a charity, and defended herself (successfully) against witchcraft charges.

“We danced our youth in a dreamed of city, Venice, paradise, proud and pretty, We lived for love and lust and beauty, Pleasure then our only duty. Floating them twixt heaven and Earth And drank on plenties blessed mirth We thought ourselves eternal then, Our glory sealed by God’s own pen. But paradise, we found is always frail, Against man’s fear will always fail. ” – Veronica Franco 

The feeling: Venetian overload
The elements: anything gilded or handpainted (with gold)


All vintage and Italian… Striped Rug via American Textile History Museum, Gondola Chaise via Hudson SuperMarket,  Handpainted Venetian Stool via John Jay Gredler, Vanity via Joseph Anfuso, Vanity Mirror via Verruno Antiques, Literary Classics via VandM, Screen via Lamberty

Interview with I Like Mike’s Mid Century Modern

January 23, 2012

Boy, do I have a treat for ya’ll – a super, delux interview with Mike of I Like Mike’s Mid Century Modern. I’ve written about Mike’s work before, and he so graciously agreed to answer my marathon of questions. Mike’s work is absolutely exquisite and his passion for midcentury modern design is infectious! Read all the way to the end, I promise it’s worth it. 

Welcome, Mike! How did you get into this business of refurbishing and selling furniture?

I started working with wood and making furniture when I was in high school. We had an amazing shop program and I took advantage of it to the fullest extent. The shop teacher really appreciated that I wanted to make stuff and wasn’t just there to sneak out back and smoke, so he spent a lot of time mentoring me – I learned so much in my four years there. When most kids who took shop were just going through the motions, I was busy learning to make furniture.

I also have woodworking and carpentry in my blood going back to my great grandfathers on both sides, both of which built their own homes from the ground up, including all of the finish carpentry. My grandfather as well was an accomplished wood and metal worker and we used to spend a lot of time tinkering and building together. He taught me so much about constructing and deconstructing. I actually still use some of the tools that belonged to him, which were given to him by his father. And my father was very handy with mechanics as well – in fact there was very little he couldn’t fix himself. I’m sure I picked up tons of common sense from watching and helping him through the years.

I got into this business because we bought a brownstone in Bed Stuy Brooklyn seven years ago and all of my latent building talents (latent because I spent my first ten years in New York in show biz concentrating on being a comedian, but that’s a different interview) were again called upon and quite necessary to make this real estate venture fly. No kitchens, no bathrooms, top dollar, and we were thrilled to get in. Needles to say, this was before the housing bubble burst. Anyway, we have a full basement so the first thing I did was to set up my dream wood shop and once the major projects were finished on the house, I once again started repairing and restoring antique furniture. 

What’s it like to be a shop owner?

I’m quite surprised by the fact that I really enjoy it. We’re by appointment only, so it’s not like I sit here all day long every day waiting for customers to drop in. So there’s no ‘mundane’ aspect to our formula. Most of my days are spent working on multiple projects, all in different stages of progress. I derive so much satisfaction from the restoration process that it never seems like work to me.

It’s also important (and I’m very happy to) acknowledge the help and support of Leecia, my partner in life as well as a full partner in the business. In an amazing stroke of luck, a few years ago she was laid off right when I needed her expertise to help make this business graduate from being a hobby to a full-time pursuit. In her prior life, she helped develop a whole new wing of a major organization and now she’s bringing her wealth of experience to our endeavor. I couldn’t be happier that she’s on the case. Or is it my case. Okay, I’m sure I need the extra push once in a while. Anyway she’s now in charge of most of the front end, including marketing, internet development, copy writing, product listing, website maintenance and development and much more. Tons of responsibility and I’m thrilled to pawn it all off on her.

My 5-year-old daughter Stella is such a joy to have in the shop too. Whenever we have open browsing hours, she loves to greet the customers with a tray of refreshments.

The bottom line is that I’m absolutely thrilled and incredibly lucky to have a studio and shop in my home. One flight of steps is just about the best commute a guy could ever ask for!

What it is about mid century modern furniture that interests you?

The optimism. The experimental nature of the time. The shedding of centuries-old expectations regarding the use and purpose of furniture and objects in the Home. There were many new materials and building techniques coming into play and designers, architects and craftsmen were scrambling to utilize them in every way possible. Again, some designs worked, some didn’t. But that’s half the fun – not knowing for sure how it would all pan out.

How would you describe mid century style to someone who’s not familiar?

SHORT ANSWER: Looks great, more practical, less frills.

LONGER ANSWER: Function dictating form. Clean, colorful, sharp and floating – an effect achieved mainly by putting thin legs on large objects thus lifting them from the floor and allowing SPACE underneath, which results in that object literally taking up less PSYCHIC space in the mind of the occupant. Very man-made – in other words a celebration of human engineering, i.e., to achieve the aforementioned ‘floating’ effect, man had to outsmart the physics that dictated the furniture designs from the prior millennium or two.

What’s the most dramatic piece you revived?

I’d imagine that your home is super cool. Is your personal style also mid century modern? If not, how would you describe how your home is decorated? 

We do have many MCM pieces incorporated into our own décor – I mean it’s tough when you live over the shop not to borrow once in a while. Okay, steal. The clean aesthetic actually coexists quite nicely with the older design (C. 1896) of the brownstone. They seem to compliment each other and bring out their respective strengths. How’s that for a general answer?

Tell me about a piece in your home that is an heirloom, whether it was passed down to you or its something that you’d want to continue along your family line.

I do have a table that belonged to my great grandmother, which my mother refinished some years ago. I’m sure we’ll always find a way to keep that in play. And as I mentioned, all of my earlier pieces are in my mother’s home and it would be nice to think that they won’t someday end up in the Sarasota Salvation army. Hopefully my daughter will have some of my work when she’s old enough to realize that it’s not great for the finish to drag a fork over it numerous times, then write on it with a permanent marker that she’s not even allowed to have, which she found in my desk drawer that she’s not allowed to open, but we somehow always allow her to anyway. We are definitely not MCM-era parents. She is seen and heard.

Who’s your favorite mid century designer or manufacturer?

I do like Paul McCobb’s work – he was practically a rock star for most of the fifties and sixties. He also liked the angles. Definitely George Nelson and Harvey Probber pieces have made up a large part of my restoration projects as well.

It was quite a nice exchange where he wrote of, as a child, helping his father with the design of that same chair in his home studio. I was touched that he shared those moments with me as it was obvious that his father was very dear to him. 

Many think of Mad Men when they think of mid century modern (at least I do), are there any other current pop references that nail the look well? 

There are a few other shows – Pan Am being the most relevant to the period – that capture the overall MCM aesthetic. I have to say that since becoming involved in the designs of this era, I’ve become hyper aware and see bits and pieces reminiscent of the time in many movies and TV shows which went unnoticed to me when I’d seen these shows earlier in my life. It’s interesting to now be able to specifically identify the designer of a table in the background of a scene in a movie from the sixties. An example would be great here, but unfortunately I can’t think of one at the moment. But I swear it happens…

What are your favorite spots in the neighborhood where your store is located?

My neighborhood has its own unique historic character and it’s actually becoming a destination for artists the way Soho once was and then more recently Williamsburg. As those places become co-opted by wealth, the innovators and risk-takers venture further out and now it happens to be here where they are landing. As such, there are more and more 30-somethings on skateboards. And these ‘boarders’ need their places to go so there have been some great new businesses that have opened in the last few years. They are, in order of proximity to us,

We just can’t figure out their resistance to opening an establishment where people come to spend two dollars and then subsequently sit there for eight hours using your cream, sugar, napkins, electricity, bandwidth and bathroom. Guess these guys don’t know a good investment when it’s staring them in the face.

And I want to give a shout-out to Josie at The Little Red Boutique, on Lewis, because she’s got a great buyer’s eye and had the entrepreneurial spunk to open such a chic place in this neighborhood years ago. It’s a great thing to be able to walk a few short blocks with my 5-year-old to buy a gift for her mom.

What are your 4 favorite products in the store right now?

The truth is that I love pretty much everything in the shop – that’s why it’s all here. I consider this more of a collection than just plain old inventory. But I don’t mind highlighting a piece or two…

Custom Media Center

Lamps, Clock

Parsons Desk

I also have to mention two of the latest pieces that designed and custom built for private clients. The first  was an eleven foot long, three piece sectional sofa in the floating Danish style. It was a real challenge to make this thing sturdy and I will never underestimate the shear power of strategically placed steel. 

WOW. I hope you guys enjoyed Mike’s Interview as much as I did. Thanks so much, Mike!

Images via I Like Mike’s MidCentury Modern