You guys, after living here almost a whole year we finally got a dresser. After a botched trip to the Brimfield antique market (that bummer of a blog post will be for another day) where I thought I would find my dream dresser, I just went on Craigslist and picked one. But, it was meant to be: the owner’s sister happened to be moving one block from us that day, and dropped it off within the hour. AND, she and her boyfriend had just moved here from California so we chatted a lot about the CA to NYC transition and told them what’s good in Bushwick. PLUS, no more clothes all over the floor.
Our bedroom is pretty much a long narrow closet that also has to have our bed it in, so it was tricky to figure out what to put in it that would keep our clothes and shoes out of the way and actually look good. Some hideous metal and plastic Container Store storage system was not an option, and I guess I’m okay with the mismatched vintage shoe shelf/cabinet/dresser combo. And then throwing trinkets and art everywhere helps. My most recent favorite things are these vintage Paint by Numbers cat paintings that I found on Etsy. I love thinking about how how someone earnestly painted them long ago, and I’m so glad they made my way into my room instead of being buried buried in a garage or thrift store somewhere.
Aaand, Dylan topped it all off with new matching all-wood hangers and a huge David Hockney print from the thrift store (bought this for $10 after we learned on Art.sy that we couldn’t afford an original).
It’s been almost 3 months since I installed the shelves and transformed the studio into an actual appropriate workspace. So, we decided it was high time to give you an update on what’s been going on around here.
First of all, FLATFILES. Check that off the list. We scored a pretty good deal on two sets of five-drawer flatfiles on Craigslist from this nice man in Long Island who actually delivered them to me and helped me get them up the stairs. After moving them all around, we decided on putting them perpendicular to the wall allowing for the sewing table to butt up against them. Even though they stick out into the room a bit, it actually creates more space and makes it feel like a real office (plus you can put magnets and cool stuff on the side of them).
Now enter the Eames Hang-It-All. Yes, I know everyone’s got one but so what. We have a pretty great primary color/strong graphic thing happening on that wall with our prints by Damien Correll, paintings by Tuesday Bassen and Mia Christopher, and the poster by Chris Silas Neal. Come on, the Hang-It-All was practically a necessity. Plus, now we can hang stuff on it.
With the addition of the flatfiles, the love seat was forced between our desks. At first I was opposed to this, but it has since become a perfect place to watch YouTube videos with Baby Moses.
Also, the flatfiles allowed us to empty out and get rid of the shabby black cabinet and the red Ikea locker (if any one in Brooklyn wants to take them from us, by all means we need to get rid of them, there’s pictures here)
Some other additions include a new laptop, a subscription to rdio and a little FM Radio my mom got me for emergencies (now we pretty much just listen to Drake and Hot97′s “Throwback at Noon”).
I almost forgot the best part – We bought a used AC from a friend and it makes our studio THE PLACE TO BE in the summer. We only venture from our cool little box to get soft-serve cones with rainbow sprinkles when we hear the ice cream truck coming down our street.
I was interviewed about my personal style for a Japanese fashion magazine this week – favorite pieces, designers, places to shop, etc. – and most of my answers lead back to one place, the thrift shop. I’ve decided it would be fitting to add Thrift Shop Finds as a regular post, since Dylan and I are always popping into whatever little junk shop we’re near to see what trinkets we can bring home with us. These finds are from Vintage Thrift on 3rd Ave & 22nd St. It’s far more curated than say, the Salvation Army, but still has rather inexpensive prices. The shop also feels old, dark, and comfortable, unlike many vintage or resale shops. It’s like searching through you’re Grandma’s house; there’s a rack of beautiful vintage gowns, but also piles of old bric-a-brac you may or may not need. Among the bric-a-brac, I found this tulip-printed vase and tiled dish that are now brightening up one end of my sewing table. So many tulips, Spring is really here!
We’re certainly careful with our purchases (as Grace always says, only buy things you love) which makes the furnishing and decorating process frustratingly slow. But, after months of collecting things we like, the bedroom is finally starting to perk up. We found the leather shag rug at the Chelsea Antique Market and picked up the black sideboards at the Meeker Avenue Flea Market.
The little vase is my favorite recent purchase. It’s a beautiful piece from the ’60s illustrated by Danish artist and designer Bjørn Wiinblad. I’m also so happy to finally have art framed and hung! The drawing on the left is by Aidan Koch and the little bow tie man is a screen print by my friend Rachel Levit. I love Rachel’s work so much. You can see more of it on her blog, and she has a handful of pieces for sale in her Etsy shop. I also have this 2-layer screen print she did that I can’t wait to hang!
Now, onto the iffier parts of the room. Our bedroom (and entire apartment) came with a no-closet handicap we have to work with. Dylan installed clothing racks using basic wood planks, brackets, and pipes from the hardware store.
I’m generally happy with how it turned out, although the room is basically a windowless walk-in closet, and it’s still a little bleak in there. We need a nicer lamp, more art on the walls, more trinkets, perhaps a fun quilt…the search for things we love continues.
Last September, I was minding my business in San Diego, doing San Diego things with my San Diego friends, when I received a text message from Leah. She sent me a picture, of what was essentially trash in the rain on a curb, along with the text, “You like these kinds of chairs right?” Intermingled with 4 black trash bags, I could make out some pieces of wood sticking out that resembled some kind of Danish-mod lounge chair. Turns out, there was a chair and a matching two seater bench abandoned on the curb.
Leah texted back “they’re pretty broken…” but I didn’t care, I insisted that she drag them home four blocks back to her old apartment in Williamsburg. She kept them for a month and then she moved them to our new place where they sat, broken in the living room, until I finally made the move to New York in mid-November.
“I’ll just fix them,” I fantasized, “I’ll just read some web tutorials and clean them up and then Leah can sew the cushions and we’ll have a lovely living room set for nearly free!”
Yeah, right. When I finally laid eyes on these things I realized what I had gotten myself into. These chairs were rotten and broken beyond anything I could ever dream of repairing.
So, in the next few weeks, I set out on foot searching for an antique furniture repair shop in my new neighborhood. Finally, I met Abraham and Al at Family Fine Furniture in Maspeth, Queens (a surprisingly short walk from where we live in Bushwick). And voilà…
Pretty nice right?
Leah and I picked out the perfect linen fabric at Leah’s favorite fabric shop, Belraf Fabrics, in the Lower East Side. The man who works there is the nicest guy and he has some really interesting fabrics. I think we made the right decision, I love the geometric pattern.
The chairs have no tags or marks, but as soon as I saw them I could tell they must be American-made, probably from the mid ’60s. I did some research and figured out they were designed by Theodore Baumritter and produced in the ’60s for Baumritter’s “Viko” line of furniture. Fun fact: Baumritter Furniture Co. later became Ethan Allen. Of course this is all uncited internet research so if anyone has the scoop on these chairs, please share.
Sure, my fantasy of nearly free midcentury chairs for the living room didn’t quite pan out. In reality, we spent some hard-earned cash on these pretty things. But I feel good about it, I feel like we spent a little bit of money to rehabilitate some sick orphaned chairs that would have never seen the light of day again if it weren’t for us. And just look at them now, I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.
Our living room is by no means livable yet – we are just beginning to hang some art and figure out what the hell we may want to sit around in the there for. My favorite place to sit/eat/read/ etc is still at the dining room table, so until we get a credenza or some shelves or a coffee table or something else going on in the living room I can’t foresee much living going on in there for a while.
There is never have too much pattern at once, or too much mix of new and old. It would be really boring otherwise. Vintage and handmade pieces make the best friends. They’ve all known other people and things before me, so there’s always a lot to talk about.
The rug is a beautiful, new-to-us piece; it’s a 100-year-old Caucasian rug purchased from the rug guy at the Brooklyn Flea. It feels like it holds so many stories, through its worn spots and warped edges. I wonder who’s houses it’s been in, what it’s heard and knows, and if it will tell someone about us some day.
The clutch is by Falconwright, an amazing line of handmade, screen printed leather goods by Sandy Falconer and Danielle Wright. You may have caught my illustrated post over on my personal blog last week, gushing about how much I love it. The leather is super soft, construction is impeccable, and each piece is made in one-of-a-kind prints and colorways. Definitely check out their online shop – there are so many options it will boggle your mind in the best way.
Several months ago, in San Diego, I found a little orange enamel bowl all alone on the thrift store bric-a-brac shelf. I used it for cereal and soup and all the usual applications of a bowl. The little orange bowl was happy to have me as a companion, but I knew deep down he was always a little sad when it was time to go back up into the lonely cabinet. The bowl made it all the way across the country with me to New York; I couldn’t leave him behind.
Then, last weekend, while looking around at vintage-y stuff at the Brooklyn Flea I found his family! There sat a little stack of yellow, blue and green enamel bowls! Now they are all very happy together. You can imagine the excitement they shared upon being reunited.
(I think The Brave Little Toaster really affected me as a kid.)