We’re hoping to start a weekly feature here at Red House West highlighting our readers’ good secondhand finds. If you scored a great bargain at a thrift store, found a treasure on the side of the road, or discovered a one-of-a-kind gem at a yard sale, we’d love to hear about it! Please send a picture and a brief description of what, where and how much to firstname.lastname@example.org and each Friday we’ll share a couple of highlights.
I feel about thrift stores the same way my cat, Dean, feels about tuna treats: I love them with a wholehearted, slavering affection that borders on indecent. I haven’t done much gambling, but I think that treasure hunting at thrift stores is probably pretty similar—scoring big is a high, but more often than not you end up not just empty handed, but also really wanting to wash your hands.
Our house is furnished, with few exceptions, with things I’ve found at thrift stores, yard sales and on Craigslist. I’ve become much more discerning about what I deem a ‘treasure,’ learning the hard way to take time to carefully inspect and assess and, yes, smell an item before I bring it home. Recently, I found three of these mid century chairs when I was scouring a favorite thrift store. I knew right when I walked in the door that I was going to find something good. I had what my friend Heather calls ‘spidey sense’—a heightened awareness that something great awaited me in the musty fug.
I’d been looking for dining room chairs and I liked the shape of these and the quality of craftsmanship was evident. The wood was in terrific shape (I’ve been much less cavalier about bringing home things that ‘just need to be refinished’ since I actually tried refinishing something) and I loved the little rosewood inlay that ran the length of the chairs’ backs.
When I turned a chair over there was the glint of a maker’s tag—which provided a good clue for finding out more about their origin:
There were three chairs (I haunted the store for weeks hoping that a fourth would turn up, but to no avail) and I bought them for $5.99 each. When I got home I looked them up and found this Danish ad showing very similar chairs by the same designer, suggesting they were made in the mid 1960s.
Searching further, I found a pair of these exact chairs listed on EBay for $530. There were also sets of four to six chairs listed for thousands of dollars. It’s fun (and crazy) that something I got so cheaply is worth so much, but more importantly I love these chairs. I can’t wait to condition the wood and reupholster the seats – I am still deciding what fabric to use, but when I finish them I’ll make sure to share here on the blog.
The second good score I want to share today – the merit of which arises from sheer beauty, rather than any designer tag or monetary value – is these little ladies:
Ah, they are absurd and they bring me so much joy. Who would give something so amazing to Goodwill??? Their names change daily, but are always something from an older generation: Lorraine and Esther; Gertrude and Ethel; Hortense and Bertha.
They’re just so interactive! Last summer my nieces (and I) spent a lot of time picking flowers in the garden and giving them new hairdos. I put plants in them for the winter, but I’m considering un-potting them now that blooms are plentiful once again.
So those are a couple of my recent good scores. Please send us an email and tell us about yours!