Thursday, June 30, 2011

Estate Sale - Marblehead

When I moved from Atlanta to Boston a few years back I didn’t know much about Massachusetts and I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to live.  I knew where I was working and that I did not want to live near my office but really outside of that I only had 4 requirements:  I wanted to be near the ocean, on the north side of the city (closer to Maine), I required private on-site parking and in-unit washer/dryer connections. These may sound obvious and like standard amenities but I knew I was moving to an area that was filled with homes that were several hundred years old and parking/laundry connections were not a given.  So with these thoughts I closed my eyes, pointed to a map and then called a realtor.  I looked at 15 apartments in one day and only while most had 3 of the things I was looking for only 1 had the laundry connections so I took it and ended up in the sweet oceanside community of Marblehead.  I loved, loved, loved living in Marblehead and am still plotting ways to sell my house for big profits and move back…

For those who have never visited Marblehead I have always described it as “picture Paul Revere riding through town on his horse warning of the British coming….” what you envision is Marblehead.  It’s picturesque, low key and exactly what New England ocean communities often are…a special kind of understated elegant.
Last weekend there were 2 big estate sales in Marblehead so I just had to set the alarm and head over bright and early on Saturday.
The first sale was at a colonial home in old town and it was filled with beautiful artifacts – this was serious antique ground!  

The paintings on the walls were all originals and priced as such (I think the lowest price I saw was around $1600).  The furniture was incredible and the china was FINE in every sense of the word.  There was a fair amount of vintage linens and a whole room filled with vintage board games of all sorts.  The folks running this sale were well aware of what they were selling and had it priced accordingly.  It was so much fun to see stuff of such beauty even if it was mostly out of my price range.
There was a china closet off the dining room that had some of the more affordable glassware.  Much of it was “odd lot” type but beautiful none-the-less and the man running the sale was happy to give me a bargain….one box, one price.  Here are some of the pieces I couldn’t leave behind…
Gorgeous Yellow Glass

I bought 2 of these - cut glass probably 6" plates

So cute - milk glass egg cup

Shot glasses...can't you just see these on Mad Men?

Demitasse Tea Cups - these will be perfect for a tea
party with my niece 

Silver Teapot - this is about a 4 cup pot

The second sale was on the other side of town in a lovely newer neighborhood.  This was a home that was probably built in the 1970’s or 80’s – definitely newer construction with the feel of a home that was built with all of the cutting edge bells & whistles of its time.   
Cool pass through between the kitchen &
dining room.  Very unobtrusive yet functional

This sale was interesting in that more than any other sale I have been to recently there was an incredibly strong sense of the former owner still in the home.  He was a doctor and there were so many personal artifacts it was actually a little unnerving.  I have never ever seen so many family photos, diplomas, family documents at an estate sale…there was even a photo collage/poem that his family had presented him on his 60th birthday included. 

Some of these photo's/documents:

I didn’t end up purchasing anything at this sale but did leave with a clear impression of a life well lived.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vintage Interior Design Tome

Probably about 15 years ago I was “junking” with my Grandmother in Washington Maine…I don’t expect anyone that is not from that area would know Washington Maine but it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere (back roads baby, back roads).  There is not much to see or do in Washington so if you’re there it’s probably because either you live there or you are on a specific mission.  Well, we were the later….my Grandmother knew of a guy who had a barn full of old “collectables”.  To say he sold antiques would be far too generous…imagine a barn full of 1970’s Sears & Roebuck gold, orange & avocado green furniture and accessories.  I think he had the largest collection of mugs with every business name, school and slogan imaginable in existence.  It appeared to be mostly all of the stuff from yard sales that doesn’t sell and ends up at The Salvation Army…that being said there is ALWAYS a gem somewhere in the mix on these kinds of ventures so I was game for a look….
I didn’t find much at the barn that day but we did stop by a more “legitimate” antique shop (not to imply the barn was not legitimate – just less traditional J) somewhere near this barn for a quick browse and there I struck what I thought at the time was interior decoration gold.  It was a 1961 Better Homes & Garden decorating book – so cool! 
Since this first find I have been on the constant lookout for vintage decorating books at a reasonable (i.e. inexpensive) price and let me tell you they are hard to come by.   Every now and then I’ve found one at an odd church rummage sale or library book sale but they are an unusual find.  I’ve been told that the publishing of books on interior design is really a post WWII thing – prior to that it wasn’t something widely read about and only the very wealthy used interior designers.  Not sure if that’s true or not but it sure sounds like a reasonable explanation.
Well, last weekend I struck decorating gold again.  At an estate sale I found a 1947 House & Garden’s Complete Guide to Interior Design.  Dust jacket intact and all! 

I couldn’t believe it when I saw it and I really couldn’t believe when I saw the price - $1!!!!  The pictures in this book are incredible – some black & white photographs but many color watercolor drawings of spectacular dining, living, bedroom & kitchens! 

Wallpaper on the ceiling...hmmmm

That lamp reminds me of the one I saw at
Zimmans in my last post.

It covers the regionality of interior design as well as just core basics (which by the way from what I can see have not changed much in the 60+ years since this book was published).  
How awesome is this now considered retro
stove...I see these in decorating mags

This pic reminded me of my friend Jamie
who has a catwalk that looks over her
living room and who I tease about having
a maid...see it's even relevant in 2011

Brown with pink accents...sound outdated
to you?  I love this room!

The visuals of a Doris Day & Rock Hudson movie (Pillow Talk has some of the most fabulous d├ęcor in it) play through my mind as I peruse this book…so much inspiration here.  Love it!

Photo Courtesy of

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Zimman's Fabric Fabulocity

Let me just start this post by stating “I don’t sew”. 
I wish I sewed, I have lots of ideas of fabulous things I could make if I sewed and I even have “plans” to sit down and sew some of these things….someday.  But as of today, I don’t sew.
My grandmother was a seamstress by trade and was massively talented in the art of sewing, knitting, crocheting, rug hooking, etc. (as were most of the elder women in my family).  She even upholstered her own furniture…I did not inherit her skills.
Now of course, the fact that I do not sew does not stop me from drooling over lovely fabrics and trims and there is no place better to do said drooling than Zimman’s in Lynn MA. 

80 Market St., Lynn MA
 Zimman’s is an old (very old) department store that now is 4 floors of every kind of fabric and trim imaginable – 2 of the floors are filled with really interesting unique furniture pieces (all fabulously upholstered, of course).  The charm brought by the original tin ceiling and grand staircase remain but instead of your average department store it’s really a decorators dream now.
Decorated Nook coming down the stairs - makes you
want to bring a book and stay awhile doesn't it.
3rd floor Furniture...
So, I was recently traveling through Lynn and decided to stop by Zimman’s on a whim.  I am looking for some cool Thibaut wallpaper for a possible guest room project (hint: ceiling...) and thought perhaps I might get lucky and find what I have in my head sitting out just waiting for me to find it. 

Thibaut Gatehouse Collection, April Pattern
One quick side note, I just have one question regarding this wallpaper search….does anyone stock wallpaper anymore or does it all have to be custom ordered???  Makes it tough for those of us who need to see & touch before committing (sound familiar anyone?). 

 Well, unfortunately my quest for an in person visit with this fabulous wallpaper was not to be but I did stop by furniture...
Where I found this fabulous
lamp that is just calling to
come home with me...
and this stunner!
And a visit to Zimman's wouldnt be complete without a stop to the closeout basement...

 and of course found this beautiful piece of fabric that I just had to have. 

 I “plan” on making a shower curtain with - how hard can it be right?  All I can say is stay tuned and wish me luck with the button holes…

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Winthrop Estate Sale

Last weekend was a busy weekend for me – some old friends were gathering at my house for a couple of days of catch up after many years of losing touch. So much fun and so wonderful that these lovely ladies had not changed a bit!!!!  So knowing it was going to be a busy one I decided to take Friday off to get my life (or at least my house) in order.  As anticipated it was a non-stop day but I did find time to sneak an estate sale in. 
As I have mentioned one of the things I love about estate sales is exploring a new part of the city.  Well, this one happened to be in Winthrop MA (Winthrop is near Logan Airport for those not familiar).  I had never been to Winthrop – it’s one of those one way in and one way out kind of beach towns.  I have to say just from my quick visit it looks like a hidden gem – very sweet town with lots of older houses screaming charm.  I did not see one bit of new construction or 1970’s ranch!
The house was definitely 100+ years old and had so many architectural details it was cool to see and get inspiration for upcoming projects.
Exterior of the Winthrop house - corner lot with
prisitine landscaping

Bedroom - check that window out and the
scallop edged shelving next to it

Another Bedroom - I love the little nook inside the arched
wall - would make such a great window seat for curling
up with a book!

Yet another bedroom (and there were 3 more I didn't
get pics of).  Love the recessed window and believe
it or not loved all of the wallpaper.

This was a butler's pantry off the kitchen. The red
behind the shelves was so beautiful

The "dated" does have a charm though
doesn't it...very New England cottagey.  The door
leads to the butler's pantry in the above pic.

 Well the sale I went to was such a great one!  I had been to an estate sale several months ago where there was a book that you could sign up to be notified of future sales from the particular company that was hosting the sale, Essex Street Antiques.  Since the earlier sale was a good one I thought…why not?
This sale was an obvious home clean out and had so many lovely things and some really beautiful antique furniture at reasonable prices.   Some of the treasures I bought were:
Italian Vase - this piece
is signed so I'm going
to have to do some research
on it.

Limoge Haviland tureen & platter.  The
inside of the tureen is even decorated!

Yellow Depression Glass - it's a lovely pale yellow. I'm
always on the look out for unusual depression
glass pieces and I rarely see much in this yellow
color so it was a bonus that it was so beautiful

Hand Painted Bowl.  In the late 1920's a lot
of women were taking china painting lessons.
This has the look & feel of other pieces
I have from this period so I'm guessing
it is the same.  Whoever painted certainly
was talented!
Fab, right?
Many of the furniture pieces I loved were unfortunately sold but next time…

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


It is all too common these days on a holiday weekend I am heading home from a few days in Maine that traffic on 95 South is at a standstill at the York toll.  Whatever happened to the good old days when Maine was still a somewhat undiscovered summer paradise?  My daily Boston commuter traffic is nothing compared to the 4 lanes of traffic not moving that is commonplace on a late Sunday afternoon in Southern Maine (mostly Massachusetts tags I must admit..)
One of my ways of combating the frustration that comes with sitting in this kind of traffic is finding alternate routes that may move slowly but at least they move.  Plus as a bonus along these alternate routes I discover the coolest places. One of these finds is Collectique at 1616 Post Road (Route 1) in Wells.  There are a ton of antique/vintage shops on Route 1 in Wells and this is just one of them.
1616 Post Road
Wells, Maine
Collectiques is an old Victorian home that has been “converted” into a shop – I use the word converted VERY loosely.  All of its rooms are basically intact as if the house is just waiting for this phase of its existence to be over so a new family can move in, renovate and love it.  Currently, the front lawn and porch are loaded with bargains and it just continues from there through room after room of this very large house.  In one word I would describe Collectiques as rambling (in the best possible way). 

Bargains on the lawn & porch

It is owned by Alex who is a professional picker by trade and uses this shop to sell his “over stock”.  Alex is very low tech and even doesn’t own a computer or TV so, no website for Collectiques.  Alex is a wealth of knowledge so I highly recommend asking him about any of the items in his shop…I guarantee you will learn more than you ever thought possible.
As for the merchandise, if you are looking for Mad Men-esque products this is your place – lots of mid-century modern and lots of opportunities for repurposing projects - i.e. paint & new hardware to bring that piece of furniture with great bones back to life.

Where else are you going to find a 18" tall
Johnny Walker Red Lamp???
Upstairs in one of the former bedrooms is a whole room of “church lady” hats, gloves & handbags….so cool! 
Awesome selection of vintage hats & accessories
 Collectiques also has a fair collection of vintage hardware.  I have been looking for glass knobs for my built-in china cabinet and he had several options for me (one step closer to my second finished room…).

Notice the glass handles...this was taken prior to me determining
they were the missing piece I needed for my china cabinet
He also has a fair amount of hotel silver – for those who don’t know hotel silver is silver plated flatware, pitchers, bowls, plates, etc. that are often marked with the names of the hotels the pieces came from.  For more info on hotel silver Paris Hotel Boutique has some wonderful info.  To me the interesting thing about hotel silver is that you can almost feel the history in the pieces when you pick one up.  You can just imagine ladies lunching at the Algonquin or the Roosevelt hotels in NYC pouring tea and eating treats with these wares.  For some reason I find this visual much more present in my mind than when I’m just eyeing some pretty dish with no traceable history.  As a bonus hotel silver is just pretty!
Collectiques really is an interesting collection of goods – you may not find anything that makes you take it home but you will have a good time looking!