The Journey Of Objects: Flea Market Wisdom

I’ll admit it: I love an inspirational phrase. I’m one of those people who clicks “like” when I see one on Facebook and I’ve even been know to share them on my social media channels. Some of my best inspirational phrases, however, have been found offline—at flea markets.

Over the years, I’ve found framed quotations, books of wisdom and handwritten notes, all of which spoke to me in some way. When I was at my local NYC market this past weekend, I stopped in my tracks when I saw this one, hanging on the wall of my friend Tanya’s booth. Its powerful message is one I need to remember, since it is always true for me—even if I lose sight of it once and awhile.

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Tanya was positively tickled that I gravitated towards it. I admired not just the words, but the font, the frame and the finish (Mother of Pearl letters on an ebony mirrored background). Tanya comes from my hometown area in Pennsylvania and she often find things that speak to me, just as this one literally did.

She shared with me that the sign had been covered with decades of dirt until the day before. It was found in the attic of an old house not far from my hometown—and it was probably stored there since long before I was born. Tanya cleaned it and brought it to the city in search of a new home. When I laid eyes on it, I knew that home would be mine.

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I brought the framed phrase back to my apartment and hung it on the wall of my meditation room. It now hangs near a statue that also came from an estate near my hometown and around several other things like a lamp that belonged to my Grandmother and a chair that belonged to a dear friend of mine. It looks like it’s always been there, and it is just what I need to see first thing in the morning.

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I love that I find so many things here in NYC that once took up residence in my home state. I believe that things find you when you need them. I also know after working on estates and auctions that possessions outlive us. In fact, objects often have many lives.

I’m grateful Tanya found this sign, and cleaned it up and brought it to NYC. It will live with me for a time and I’ll care for it, until one day it moves on to someone else.

The Journey Of Objects: Flea Market Wisdom...Passing along tangible pieces of history and preserving beautiful things for future generations interests me greatly. I’m the very happy recipient of a framed phrase that surely inspired many before me. I’ll do my part to ensure it goes on to inspire others.

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“Flea Market Minute” Launches Today…A Laugh, A Tip and A Treasure, All In 60 Seconds…

Flea markets are my favorite places to be. The merchandise is always fun and interesting, and the people are fascinating. That said, most of us who love treasure-hunting can only get to it on the weekend. That’s why I launched “Flea Market Minute,” which injects a little dose of vintage fun into any day of the week.

For the first several episodes, we were at The Garage Flea Market in Chelsea, NYC, where I’ve been going for many years. In fact, the dealers there are really like family to me.

In the first episode, I compare flea markets to bars… Think about it. Both environments bring people together who share stories and laughs, and, if you play your cards right, you might find a treasure.

I also talk about the fact like larger items such as furniture and mirrors tend to be less expensive, and often get cheaper as the day goes on, because dealers don’t want to pack it up and take it home with them. Just like in bars…flea markets have pretty solid closing times, and as the saying goes “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

Here’s the first episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJRp5SY9nMc

“Flea Market Minute” Launches Today…A Laugh, A Tip and A Treasure, All in 60 Seconds….Thanks for joining me. More to come!

BobBar
bob browsing

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My “Former Loves” Sale on Hunter’s Alley

The world of vintage objects is a funny one. So many things that were loved by a person often wind up like The Velveteen Rabbit…cast off and waiting for a new home.

They show up at flea markets, antiques shops or online marketplaces like “Hunter’s Alley” (the new vintage extravaganza from the masterminds behind One King’s Lane).

Since these items are vintage, they’ve clearly stood the test of time. They’ve all had at least one owner—and for all intents and purposes, several people loving them.

For my “Former Loves” sale on Hunter’s Alley, I’m featuring 250 lots of objects I’ve lived with and loved….and since I purchased them all in my world of vintage shopping, I am at least the second person to love each one.

Now it’s time to move these objects back out into the world, so I can focus on hunting for new loves (we hunters like to do that).

Since I really do love each object that I’ve included in this sale, I’d greatly enjoying seeing each one in its new home. My former loves are your new loves. That’s what the world of vintage and Hunter’s Alley is all about. I am inviting anyone who purchases something from my sale to send me a photo of the item in its new home, and I’ll share it on my blog and other social media channels.

My “Former Loves” Sale on Hunter’s Alley…Shop and Share. Beautiful vintage things change hands, and the love of the hunt and the joy of discovery is what unites us all. Happy Hunting!

Starts Sunday 3/9/14 at 7am PST and lasts for 30 days.

JUST FOLLOW THIS LINK:
https://www.huntersalley.com/events/51

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Defining Details

By design, the foyer of a home is where first impressions are made. As such, it’s really the place that sets the tone for the whole house. I love decorating foyers since they need to be both welcoming and functional.

My client uses this space as a pied-à-terre, but wants it to feel like home. In the foyer, she needs a place to drop keys, her purse, mail, etc., and to take a quick gander at herself before heading out into the world.

With a backdrop of exotic and colorful peacock wallpaper by de Gournay, many people might think the furnishings in this space should be decoratively simple, so as not to create competition. I disagree. And so does my client. For this sassy Texan, color and rich detail are important—and competition isn’t a concern.

I dove into my world of flea markets and found all of the items she needed (and all those pictured here) from some of my favorite dealers. With this wonderful wallpaper as my guide, I chose items that pulled from its colors—but could also stand on their own.

The three-tiered English mahogany and bronze tea cart provides ample space for the essentials, plus reading material and even a package if it come in.

The mirror is Italian and is a classic, elegant form. From many angles, it reflects the wallpaper, which adds depth and interest.

The lamp is Chinese, and gives just the right pop of green, and the original shade compliments the floral fantasy that’s already going on.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Buddha frequently gets a rub on the belly for luck as she comes and goes.

Finally, the obelisk is American and gives off a strong, cool and sophisticated vibe. All of these items working together create a breezy, confident, international feel.

These carefully chosen flea market finds sum up my client’s personality, while creating an inviting and functional entrance.

Defining Details….these are the items that make a house a home. Finding them for my clients is the best part of my job.

LampInterior

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The Journey Of Objects

As we begin a New Year, I am very excited about so many upcoming projects and all that they entail. That said, the common denominator behind most of my work is shopping—-mainly for antiques and vintage pieces.

Because I spend so much time around flea markets, antiques shops, auctions, estate sales, etc. etc., I’ve been able to figure out one thing for certain: Stuff outlives us.

I firmly believe that those of us in the antiques world are Historians, Treasure Hunters, Curators and Matchmakers. When I shop for clients, I look for objects that will add character and interest to their homes, and nothing does that better than pieces that have had previous lives.

For example, I was looking for a desk chair for a client’s library, so I attended an estate auction of a well-known literary luminary from the Greater New York area in hopes of finding something. Sure enough, I discovered a dyed and tooled leather chair that hails from the 1920s. It has a Spanish Revival feel and, if it could talk, would probably have a lot of great stories to tell.

As the winning bidder the auction (which was cash and carry), I held it over my head and walked it to the nearest FedEx location. I shipped it to Texas, where it now lives in that library. Someday, that same chair will have another home, and where that may be is anyone’s guess at this point.

Some things, treasured by people, are passed on to relatives who can keep their stories alive. But most things, I find, are up for grabs in this world, as either families don’t want them, or there’s simply no one left to take them. That’s where I, and so many others in the antiques world, come in.

I have a great respect for the workmanship, design and beauty of objects–and I must admit, a lot of sentimentality. Few things make me happier than finding vintage pieces that will take on a new life in someone’s home. I guess it’s why I do what I do.

The Journey Of Objects…It’s a Long and Winding Road, and I’m always happy to share my journey with others.

Happy New Year! …And Happy Hunting!


AT THE AUCTION:

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IN THE CLIENT’S LIBRARY:

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The Biggest Bargain at Flea Markets and Auctions

Flea markets, auctions and tag sales have been part of my life since I could talk. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I’d go to flea markets and tag sales with my Brother and auctions with my Dad, so by the age of seven, I was well on my way to enjoying the what I call “the vintage life.”

In all of my years of treasure-hunting, there’s one thing that is consistently amazing to me—the great bargains on china and dinnerware. If you think about it, every home had at least one set, if not several, so when estates are liquidated, there are lot of dishes floating around the world. Also, many people reserved their fine china (which was often a wedding gift) for special occasions, so it is often in perfect condition.

That said, not everybody wants vintage china. Most of it is not dishwasher safe, and also it’s just something that people generally buy new (bridal registries are made of this!). So as a result, there is a lot of dishes out there at low, low prices.

Just this past weekend, after a few years of holding off on buying more china, I saw a set I couldn’t resist.

A 1960s Royal Limoges complete service for four in my favorite color combination—apple green and lemon curd yellow stopped me in my tracks. It was love at first sight. It was pretty grimy, but washing good china is actually something I enjoy….so that is not a deterrent.

A new five-piece setting of the same quality retails for about $400-$500, but my flea market price for four five-piece settings, plus some extra pieces, was less than the cost of one cup in a retail store.

With a smile so wide it almost made my face hurt, I made it home and washed it all up, and have used it three times already since the weekend. I truly believe that food just tastes better on good-looking china, and I don’t reserve mine for special occasions. Doesn’t every day deserve to be an occasion?

The Biggest Bargain at Flea Markets and Auctions…..yep, it’s china. So get out there and find some and give it new life!

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Warm Up Any Space With Vintage Books

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In this world of digital readers, physical books may seem obsolete to many, but in my home, there will always be a place for them. Not only do I still prefer to read a physical book, but I use them as decorating accents in just about every room.

My favorite books to use for decorating are the wonderful leather-bound tomes that look as if they once lined the shelves of a proper library. These usually have a beautiful patina and add instant warmth and charm to a room. I’ve got them in at least four rooms of my home and always keep an eye out for beautiful examples.

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During my routine flea market excursions, I have found beautiful books like this (usually from the late 1800s though the mid-1900s) for under $5 each.

I also recently spied this wonderful round bookcase filled with such vintage books, and I’m pretty in love with it.

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Another great aspect of having these beautiful books nearby, is that you might actually wind up reading one or two—or at the very least thumb through them (the endpapers are often quite beautiful).

Warm Up Any Space With Vintage Books…and create a distinguished, inviting space for that speaks volumes about your personality. ;-)

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My “International Adventures” One King’s Lane TasteMaker Tag Sale

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At 8am PST today, my “International Adventures” TasteMaker Tag Sale kicks off on One King’s Lane. I’m exited about this sale because, as the name suggests, it really reflects my years of globe trotting to flea markets.

My sale features vintage items from over 20 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Burma, Tibet, China, England, Australia, France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Germany, Japan, Holland, Spain, Mexico, Taiwan, and yes….USA… It’s really part International Antiques Extravaganza, part Sociological Snapshot.

I’ve shopped flea markets all over the map, and this offering is a microcosm of some the best treasures I’ve discovered along the way. While many eras are represented in my sale, there are a large number of Art Deco pieces, since that’s a go-to style staple for me.

The bottom line is that I’m much more of a hunter than a gatherer, so this sale, and the others I’ve done with One King’s Lane, help me to toss back some of my greatest catches back into the ocean.

The Sale kicks off at 8am PST. Just follow this link: https://www.onekingslane.com/sales/24112
ENJOY!

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Vintage Advertising Decor

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I’ve just returned from Montana (aka “Big Sky Country”), and I saw so many stunning sites and met some incredible people. Of course, one of my favorite places involves vintage interiors. It was a restaurant called “Sparky’s” in Butte, which used to be a full-service garage.

Sparky’s is outfitted with tons of great vintage automotive advertising, that gives it a really fun retro vibe. I love using vintage advertising as decor, and when it’s a service station turned eatery, why not go all the way?

Sparky’s includes ads for gasoline, oil, car parts and more. The sense of fun goes even further to include a vintage pickup truck with a booth in the flatbed, for those who want an indoor tailgate party.

Of course not all of us have a restaurant to furnish, but that doesn’t mean vintage advertising can’t add some fun and humor to your home or office. I have used vintage signage in bathrooms, kitchens, guest rooms and in outdoor spaces.

Vintage Advertising Decor….for a little bit of nostalgia and a lot of fun, look over the vintage advertising pieces at your local flea market and consider adding one or two of them to your space.

 

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Vintage Details

Summer is in full swing, and that means it’s the height of flea market season.   As such, I have been enjoying my share of them, and seeing some fantastic things.

Most often when I head to flea markets and antiques shops, I’m on the hunt for interesting, distinctive vintage accents for my clients’ homes.   Artwork, lighting, boxes, vases, etc. are in plentiful supply.

Even for those homeowners who prefer new furniture rugs, furniture and larger items, a few carefully chosen vintage items can really make a house feel personal and inviting.

As evidenced by this photo of me at an antiques co-op in rural Pennsylvania, there are endless supplies of great-looking vintage items out there.

All the lamps in the photo here were under $30 with the shades…and they have a lot more character than many of their new counterparts.   In fact, for one client, I the only vintage element I used in my design work was lighting, and she loves it.   For yet another, I chose vintage artwork and some vintage pottery, and those small details always get loads of attention and compliments.

Vintage Details…..there are treasures galore out there, so get out there and enjoy the hunt!

bobatGristies

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