Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Treasureless Hunt

In my quest to make over our office, I've been hitting up thrift stores and flea markets to find a cabinet or chest of drawers that can do double duty as our printer table and store all those stacks of head shots and post cards.

A few weeks ago I made a little trek out to the Rose Bowl Flea Market - the mecca of vintage treasures in LA. I meant to get up   with the rest of the crazies at the crack of dawn and pay an extra $20 for early admission at 5 am, but then I came to my senses. The early bird special is good if you're hunting for an authentic Eames lounger or Saarinen tulip table or a vintage Chanel purse for a fraction of its going price, but since I was just looking for something functional, I got a few extra hours of beauty sleep and showed up around 9 am.

Spotted this cool mid-century sunburst clock...

It's not me but I love these awesome baroque chairs in the background...plus how fun would it be to replace that olive green vinyl in the foreground with some cool fabric?

And this super comfy leather recliner, which Alex got excited about since it's the same model as his father's office chair from years ago. We saw it at H.D. Buttercup last year going for about $3,000. This was $250. Does anyone know the maker? If it was black we would've bought it, but that burgundy was nicht so working for me.

Also made a trip to the famed Wertz Brother's Antique Store in Santa Monica, and found that it was closing.  Doh! I had to make do with their vintage furniture store nearby, which had less fancy stuff but was a maze of cool finds. This sturdy Drexel chest was $195. Not my style or color, but well-constructed.

Don't these look like they belong in that big room of stuff in Return to Oz?

Pick me, Dorothy! Pick me!
I'm a sucker for old card catalogues, but I need drawers that will fit those headshots and stacks of papers inside, not just paper clips.

These parrots yelled "HELLO!" at you if they saw you down the aisle. I assume they were also master shoplifter-detectors.

How many fair maidens have washed their butts hair with this basin?

Oh well, no loot this time. I'll have to keep looking.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Goldmember Part 2: DIY Gilded Magazine Rack

Off the tails of yesterday's post about how I'm basically Austin Powers' Goldmember, here's another Midas touch transformation I did of a cheap shabby-chic chickenwire magazine rack that I found at Home Goods.

Here's the original:

Very industrial Returns to Oz steampunk, no? Cool but not my style. Laid it out in the garden...

Did a quick spray primer with my favorite, Rustoleum, to make the paint stick.

Two coats of Rustoleum's shiny gooooold:

Oops, missed a spot!

Ta da! Left it outside for 48 hours to dry...

And found a temporary spot next to the new office couch just in order to stop the cats from scratching. The office is in mid-renovation after my last shame-sesh. Updates soon, I promise!

Who dares to disturb my slumber?

I plan on actually nailing this to the wall and maybe making it into a little in/out box over my desk, or a hers/his, once the office is finished remodeling. Because gold makes even going through the mail a fancy affair!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

DIY Gilded Plant Stand

Why are plant stands so damn expensive?

A regular run-of-the-mill one from Home Depot will run you up to $100, about the same price as a cool mid-century one off of Etsy. It's a damn holder for plants, people. It doesn't do anything, except sit there.

Rather than shell out a hundred buckaroos for an inanimate object that I don't even like the aesthetics of, I decided to upgrade a cheapo one from Amazon. Like our old friend  Pepe Le Pew says, there ain't nothin' that some good ol' spray paint can't solve.

The original, made of wire-metal painted green, for $20:

I decided on gold to go along with that whole gilded Hollywood Regency thang that I've been into ever since I moved to LA and Craigslisted that amazing mid-century regency glass table (shown here at my old apartment).

First, a nice coat of Rust-Oleum primer, just to make it stick. Probably didn't need it, but just in case.

A quick two coats made this baby look shabby chic...

Or maybe just shabby. Next, the Midas Touch! Ooooh yeahhhh....

I got super excited when this spray paint can arrived in my mail. Did you know at most art and hardware stores you have to get someone to retrieve spray paint out of locked cabinets, I guess to deter graffiti? Seems dumb when you can just buy it online. Pretty much I want to paint everything gold now. All our planters? Gold. Our television? Gold. Two kitties? Gold! Speaking of kitties, someone was very disappointed he was not allowed outside while I was painting.

How come I'm never allowed to go outside and breathe paint fumes!
Next, two coats of gold spray paint in light strokes. This proved a little difficult because the plant stand was so thin and wiry and so much of the paint just went into the air. But I managed it without too much dripping.

24 hours outside to dry...

...and ta da! A gilded regency-style plant stand!

Now our dining nook is a full-on tropical jungle. Monkeys welcome.

Ruh roh. I've got the Midas OCD Touch. What else can I turn gold?
Which reminds me of one of my all-time favorite movies, which I used to watch on repeat with my old pal Ayana. This is basically me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dining Nook: Before & After

When I first started this blog, I posted some pics of our apartment in the state in which we found it:

...and then one updated pic after we painted the walls:

Is that a disposable dishwasher in the dining room? Of course. Only recently did I realize we've never really showed what it looked like after we furnished it. Silly, silly me. Since then, we've put up new curtains, gotten a credenza, and replaced our beloved creaky mid-century chairs with updated chairs courtesy our wedding registry. We also replaced the broken light with a ceiling fan (not my choice), and thrown in some plants for good measure. Sorry, because the space is a little cramped it's hard to get a good angle...

The credenza makes it a little tighter space-wise in there, but it majorly helps out our whole lack-of-storage situation in the kitchen. I wanted to make all the liquor look a little bit nicer, so I found this antique mirrored tray at the Rose Bowl Flea market for only $30...

Twice the liquor is twice as nice!

I'm plant-sitting this little guy for my friend San, who took it home as a teacup succulent favor from our wedding (the DIY tutorial is here)! I think I'd found the Japanese ceramic tea cups at the Rose Bowl, too.

Here it is again. Before:

...and after!

We don't normally have those towering french tulips mid-table, but you can blame that on Valentine's Day. I do enjoy sitting among all the lush greenery and feeling like I'm in some sort of sunny jungle. take that, cold! (Yes, I'm sick again. WTF).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Estate of Mind

One thing I noticed when I first moved to LA was the ubiquitous "Yard Sale" signs pinned onto trees and street lamps. The closest equivalent to that in New York City are stoop sales, but for fear of bed bugs I mostly avoided those.

In Los Angeles, it seems like any given Saturday will be chock full of yard sales = garage sales = moving sales. Many of these, like the one that annoyingly used to pop up every Saturday by my old apartment in the mid-Wilshire area, are full of useless junk-- old VHS's of Friends, empty glass vases from a 1800-flowers delivery, used dresses from Forever 21, old baby toys. But the rich and famous also occupy certain hoods of LA, and estate sales, where someone is usually selling off everything inside their house, are where the real treasure's at.

It can sometimes be creepy--oftentimes estate sales will come around because an old person died and their family is trying to get rid of their stuff. This was probably why I waited so long before venturing into an estate sale. But then again--that's just the essence of vintage, isn't it? Vintage clothing, furniture, jewelry...they were all owned by someone at some point long ago in time. Estate sales are also just as common for people who are moving and want to get rid of everything, movie props and cancelled TV shows, or even designers who decide to change the whole look of their house and start from scratch. And contrary to popular belief, they are not super expensive, open to the public, and are a great way to find some collectible, rare, or heirloom-quality furniture for pretty cheap. If you go early, you'll find yourself alongside the collectors and hard core people who then sell what they find at marked up prices at places like the Rose Bowl Flea Market. So why not go straight to the source? I've wanted for a long time to check out an estate sale, and finally, this past weekend, when I thought* I was recovered from my horrible cold, I saw a notice for an estate sale at one of the beautiful Larchmont homes close to my house. The lure of thrifting was calling for me to get out of my pajamas and off the couch.

*Sadly, I was wrong about being recovered.

A typical Hancock Park house

A quick aside about the hood--Larchmont and its surrounding Hancock Park is the neighborhood of the rich (and sometimes famous) and the area where I spend all of my evening walks. It's partially the tree lined streets--there are fewer palm trees here and a lot more beautiful deciduous ones like you'd see in the East Coast-- and that's probably why I feel at home here. The houses, too, are done in the European revival style and also are gorgeous-- many mansions have been designed in the '20s and '30s by architects like Paul Williams (Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball's personal architect) and A.C. Chisholm. So it's no wonder that they're full of history and lived in by the well-heeled.  The houses even have blogs dedicated to them so oglers like us can ooh and ahh.

The estate sale I went to was already on its final day, so the good stuff was mostly gone and they were pretty packed and trying to get rid of everything. Lots of stuff I didn't need...

But this cast iron garden chair caught my eye. It was super heavy and obviously an antique, as they don't make much cast iron furniture anymore. I didn't ask for a price, but most things were pretty cheap, so I'm guessing it was around $20-50.

Went home later and googled "cast iron morning glory garden chair" on a whim and found this same exact one, except in white, dating from pre-1950...

...going for $300 on this auction site! Doh!

A very similar one, though probably older and in better condition, looks like it was going for $800-$1200 on another auction site.

Oh well. Lesson learned. Also in the garden was this cool old bike. Definitely not in working condition, but it made a nice photo...

I also saw this cool antique rocking horse...


...but visions of it creaking slowly on its own at night creeped me out too much.

These beautiful chairs also caught my eye. No idea when they were made, and they have obviously been reupholstered, but the woodwork was detailed and beautiful. Sorry the pic is a little blurry.

Can anyone place these? Too bad we already have way too many chairs for one house. Some girls collect shoes; I collect chairs.

Estate cherry sufficiently popped, I decided to make a detour to This Is Not Ikea (or TINI), a vintage store on Fairfax that has a lot of great finds from estate sales, yard sales, etc. Ikea it is not. There are a lot of old treasures in this place but you really have to dig. And some of them are cheaper because they are in need of some TLC, which means that's perfect for me and my DIY streak.  This refurbished Drexel dresser with hairpin legs was under $300. It would've been great for our office storage problem. I liked the handles, but didn't love the reclaimed wood top.

This mod Herman Miller-looking orange shell chair was $115.

The antique patina on this trifold mirror was amazing. I would've loved this for a bedroom vanity.

Last stop: The Jewish Women's Council Thrift Store, at their new digs on Fairfax. It's hit or miss--last time I was here I picked up a 1919 2nd edition of The Magnificent Ambersons for $1. This time, it was slim pickin's, except this vintage framed collection of cigarette cards of the 1933 of the Derby and Grand National Winners. Cool, but not worth $40.

don't bring me to the glue factory!

Now that I've braved my first estate sale, I may have discovered a new hobby. Who's game to come along?