My little Brooklyn cottage is up on Apartment Therapy’s Small, Cool 2012 contest! If you want to see more pictures of it, please go to the contest page. And if you like it, perhaps you might click on the “favorite” button.
And I can’t help but say it: Every vote counts. I was in it two years ago and lost by 8 votes.

My little Brooklyn cottage is up on Apartment Therapy’s Small, Cool 2012 contest! If you want to see more pictures of it, please go to the contest page. And if you like it, perhaps you might click on the “favorite” button.

And I can’t help but say it: Every vote counts. I was in it two years ago and lost by 8 votes.

This sweet Mid Century candle holder was screaming “Danish” at me, but since there were no markings on it, I was hesitant to name it as such. In general, most Scandinavian products I’ve come across are permanently marked, with at least the country name printed, etched, or molded into the design. 
A little research (“danish candle holder” on google images) revealed a very similar piece with a small “Denmark” sticker on the bottom.
So there you have it.
Photo: Mid Century Danish candle holder; teak and iron.

This sweet Mid Century candle holder was screaming “Danish” at me, but since there were no markings on it, I was hesitant to name it as such. In general, most Scandinavian products I’ve come across are permanently marked, with at least the country name printed, etched, or molded into the design.

A little research (“danish candle holder” on google images) revealed a very similar piece with a small “Denmark” sticker on the bottom.

So there you have it.

Photo: Mid Century Danish candle holder; teak and iron.

When it comes to everyday objects, I almost always prefer the vintage over the new. That’s especially true when it comes to objects associated with tasks I do not enjoy, like paperwork of any kind. Then at least I can take a little pleasure in it.
Photo: faux wood, metal “Porta File” by Ballonoff Home Products, plastic modular letter sorter, wooden rulers. All Mid Century, all made in the U.S.A.

When it comes to everyday objects, I almost always prefer the vintage over the new. That’s especially true when it comes to objects associated with tasks I do not enjoy, like paperwork of any kind. Then at least I can take a little pleasure in it.

Photo: faux wood, metal “Porta File” by Ballonoff Home Products, plastic modular letter sorter, wooden rulers. All Mid Century, all made in the U.S.A.

It’s funny how different eras or decades have their favorite animals. Right now, owls are everywhere. In the Sixties it was roosters, and by the Seventies, as far as I can tell, they were gone.

I would love to know where such things come from, and how they might represent the societal attitudes and feelings of their time.

Photos: Rooster iconography from the Sixties, clockwise from top

Small metal tray

detail of Pyrex bowl, “Amish Butter Print” pattern

Russian, Lomonosov porcelain wine flask

I just love this mirror. For one thing, I think convex mirrors are a great idea all around. They really open up a room and they’re fun to look into. I put a modern one from CB2 in this room.
This one is in the Federal style, with an impressive eagle and the 13 balls representing the original 13 colonies.  And unlike my modern one, this one has real glass in it.
What makes it affordable is a frame made from plastic, not wood (but you could never tell just from looking at it). In the 60’s and 70’s, women would have home decor parties where you could buy plastic accessories made to look like fine wood. The most famous of these companies was Syroco (check it out on eBay). Even today when you look at the finishes, they are amazing — lots of depth and just overall high quality.
I know this mirror looks kind of over-the-top, and I sure wouldn’t want my whole house to be done up in that style. But I love how it fits into (and reflects) the modern setting of my Brooklyn cottage.

I just love this mirror. For one thing, I think convex mirrors are a great idea all around. They really open up a room and they’re fun to look into. I put a modern one from CB2 in this room.

This one is in the Federal style, with an impressive eagle and the 13 balls representing the original 13 colonies.  And unlike my modern one, this one has real glass in it.

What makes it affordable is a frame made from plastic, not wood (but you could never tell just from looking at it). In the 60’s and 70’s, women would have home decor parties where you could buy plastic accessories made to look like fine wood. The most famous of these companies was Syroco (check it out on eBay). Even today when you look at the finishes, they are amazing — lots of depth and just overall high quality.

I know this mirror looks kind of over-the-top, and I sure wouldn’t want my whole house to be done up in that style. But I love how it fits into (and reflects) the modern setting of my Brooklyn cottage.

I found these at Goodwill the other day, sitting among the vases. But  they’re not vases! They’re Mid Century Murano glass pendant lamps.
If you look inside, you can see that they are actually made of two  layers of glass: orange on the outside (and what an orange!) and white  on the inside.
Finding the parts to resurrect them as pendant lamps shouldn’t be too  hard. There are several lamp parts distributors online. Can’t wait to  put them together.
So remember: when thrifting, look at everything! You never know what you might find in the “wrong” place.

I found these at Goodwill the other day, sitting among the vases. But they’re not vases! They’re Mid Century Murano glass pendant lamps.

If you look inside, you can see that they are actually made of two layers of glass: orange on the outside (and what an orange!) and white on the inside.

Finding the parts to resurrect them as pendant lamps shouldn’t be too hard. There are several lamp parts distributors online. Can’t wait to put them together.

So remember: when thrifting, look at everything! You never know what you might find in the “wrong” place.

I have a lot of tools and some of them are thrifted. I enjoy doing handyman work, and using old tools makes it even better. There’s something wonderful about the feel of them; they’re broken in, they have the patina of age and use, and I love the thought that someone before me used them, too.

Often, people mark their tools to make sure they stay where they belong. You can see an incised “W” on the hinge.

There’s something else here, too, and that is the workmanship of this piece. You have to admire the ingenuity of design: a two foot measure that folds cleverly into six inches. It’s beautifully made, with two kinds of inlaid brass hinges and tiny pins holding it all together.

To me, there is beauty in clean and precise workmanship, no matter what the object is. 

jenandtonic said: Hi Andrea, You have a great eye-I love seeing what you find. I was wondering if you might be able to help me with a mission I'm on? I'm interested in building a Le Creuset cookware set, using a variety of colors & styles. Am I crazy? Is this impossible, or rather impossibly expensive, especially since I live in NYC? Where do I even start? Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks! Jen

Creating a thrifted collection can be challenging when it is very item-specific. I once started to collect various 70’s flatware pieces with the intention of making a set, but gave up after about a month. The pickings were just too slim and it became apparent that it would take way too long to amass enough pieces for a functional set.

Instead, I turned to eBay. There, after holding off long enough to study the market, I was able to put together a full set at the best possible price.

In your case, there is even more reason to go this route. Thrifting in NYC is highly competitive and expensive — I, myself don’t do it at all. In addition, Le Creuset is highly desirable, and because it is incredibly sturdy, people hold on to it and don’t donate it to charity thrift shops.

Using eBay and Etsy, you can still have fun curating a tailor-made set for yourself. Take your time, get to know the market, and only buy or bid on exactly the pieces you want. You will still be getting a bargain compared to the price of new.

It’s the pace of acquisition (i.e. one at a time as you can find and afford them) that makes building a collection in this manner so much fun, IMO. It gives you something to look forward to each time, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you spent your money wisely.

Here is a link to LeCreuset on ebay to get you started. I always check completed auctions first, because they show what people are actually paying.

Good luck and please let me know how you do!

photo via

I have a thing about paper towels. I use maybe two rolls in a year’s time, and only when no other alternative makes sense. So, you won’t be surprised to know that I have an extensive collection of dishcloths.

There is nothing like a used linen cloth. It feels soft and wonderful to the touch, it will dry your dishes, hands, or counter top with one swipe, and it will last pretty much forever. They iron beautifully and a pair of them make a wonderful gift, tied up prettily with a ribbon.

I will admit, fab vintage ones like these are not an easy find in the usual Goodwill $2 price point. I paid $6 at a consignment shop for the London one. Of course, you would pay the same for a new one made of cotton from Target, not nearly the quality and with zero cache. I rest my case.

Treasure Spotting in 2011

Starting top left:

I developed a strong interest in German Modernist design. This cup and saucer are part of the Arcta line, made by German company Thomas (Rosenthal). It was designed by the Finnish master, Tapio Wirkkala, so I guess it’s a hybrid of Scandinavian/German.

I also started collecting Japanese ceramics from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I’ll be showing other pieces over the next months. I think this vase embodies the wonderful combination of Mid Century and Japanese aesthetics.

And, finally, here is the hands-down winner of “Find of the Year:” A pristine Vetri Murano glass lamp from the 1960’s. I actually found a pair of them (and gave one to a friend). The two together could easily bring $800 at auction. I found the pair for $19.98. At Goodwill, of course. :)

Here’s to many treasures yet to find in 2012!

Finding, salvaging, and elevating the treasures among the cast-offs.

andrea dot nugent at gmail

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