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A TRIP TO THE NEW CROWN HEIGHTS STORE, Reclaimed Home, could just save you a longer trip upstate. The architectural salvage and secondhand furniture on offer here are reminiscent of what you might find while foraging at the Stormville flea market in Putnam County, or in a Catskills antique store.
The spacious shop, which opened last weekend at 945 Carroll Street, in a former tattoo parlor a block from the 1000 Washington Avenue entrance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, is a joint project of two longtime friends, top — Phyllis Bobb, a veteran flea market vendor who formerly owned a Victorian house in Beacon, N.Y. (its renovation is fully documented on her 7-year-old blog), and fine-arts painter Emilia DeVitis.
The repurposed pieces in the store, however — a decorative 19th century radiator grille used as the top of a side table, for instance, or a 1920s ‘waterfall’ dresser on wooden wheels, given new pizzazz with a painted red chevron design, are unique in all the world. Prices are accessible, and the info on the price tags exhaustive and painfully honest — a cast-iron chandelier is marked “Not vintage,” a piece in mid-paint job “Not finished yet.”
Check out the website, which displays many of the pieces for sale in the shop, with detailed descriptions and prices, or better yet, go to the store. It’s open five days (Wednesday-Friday 9-5; Saturday and Sunday 10-6, Monday and Tuesday by appointment).
HIGH ON MY LIST of things to accomplish this winter, somewhere between “Buy house” and “Update password list” (now 8 typewritten pages long), was “New clothing storage for bedroom.” I had already winnowed as much as I dared, but my four-drawer dresser and single not-so-big closet were not cutting it. If I bought so much as one new sweater, I’d be in wardrobe overflow.
The bedroom in my ground-floor brownstone apartment has a big ol’ hunk of orange wall 75″ across, where once a fireplace stood. Quite a few inches on either side of my midsize dresser were going to waste. There was also the possibility of going up the wall, with some kind of highboy or armoire.
I began my shopping online, considering mid-century ‘bachelor’s chests’ of the type included in bedroom suites of the 1950s and ’60s. They run $600-800, which is about what I planned to spend, but they were dark, stolid, and masculine-looking. I wanted something lighter. With my limited budget, I was looking for a piece of secondhand furniture, so I had no idea what, exactly, I was going to find (that’s the whole fun of it, actually).
My Internet explorations led me to a company I hadn’t heard of, Furnish Green, whose website shows a wide-ranging mix of styles from rustic and cottage-y to industrial and Danish modern. Its site is well-organized and easy to search, but even better was visiting their midtown Manhattan showroom to view their offerings in three dimensions, which I did today. Furnish Green is a find, yet another of those hidden treasures New York offers up when you least expect it.
And where you least expect it. Its showrooms are a few unconnected office spaces on the fifth floor of a garment-center building near Herald Square. One is shared with a ballroom dance studio; another is used for furniture refinishing and for the photography crucial to their online sales (Furnish Green has a big Craigslist presence). That’s Jeffrey, below, one of three employees, in the workroom. The owner, Nathan, is also the owner of the ballroom dance studio.
The main showroom is a bright corner space tightly packed with moderately-priced pieces that are neither precious nor pedigreed, yet most have something quirky or interesting about them.
Furnish Green gets 10-12 new pieces every day. “We do something to almost every one of them,” I was told — not necessarily full-on refinishing or re-upholstering, but steam-cleaning, oiling and polishing, and often, painting, to turn a dull brown piece of American borax (an old term for furnishings mass-manufactured in Grand Rapids, Mich.) into something more closely resembling Shabby Chic.
I came, I saw, I bought (see below). And yes, they deliver.
TIM LEE is something of a Renaissance guy — he’s an art photographer and sculptor, and has a longtime party design business. But most people here in Springs (East Hampton), N.Y. know him as an antiques dealer with a great eye. He’s often set up at local fairs and shows with vintage industrial wares.
His loft-like house is like a prop shop, full of projects-in-progress. Recently I interviewed Tim about his wide-ranging creative endeavors for my weekly column on the website Curbed Hamptons.
Tim has his own WordPress blog spotlighting his wares and his artwork (such as the sculptures above, meticulously composed of clamshells); you can find Tim’s blog right here.
To read my Curbed Hamptons interview with Tim about how he does all he does, go here.
Photos: (1) Cara Greenberg, (2 & 3) Tim Lee
THE 2011 YARD SALE SEASON is gasping its last. I went to a dozen sales this morning and, unlike the fruitful pickings of spring and summer, November sales are less than the sum of their parts.
The season has been over for some time, though I refuse to believe it. The ads still appear in the East Hampton Star every Thursday — “entire contents,” “funky collectibles,” “Art Deco glassware” –luring me out of the house at an early hour in hopes of re-creating sweeps from earlier in the season. Something for everyone? Not so much for me.
It’s Saturday noon, and I’ve returned from two-and-a-half hours of yard saling with three galvanized tin light fixtures, above, that I have absolutely no use for at the moment. But I like their design, and was I going to pass up all three for $20? No, I was not. Especially since I didn’t find anything else all morning.
I must congratulate myself on all I did NOT buy today. Today’s houses — mostly from the ’80s Hamptons building boom and many now being sold, or trying to be sold — were overflowing with glassware and dishes and linens and furniture, but nothing older than the houses themselves. I much prefer the Bonac fisherman’s basement, or the artsy couple who were around in Jackson Pollock’s day. But you can’t always get what you want.
Last weekend was better, and by way of illustration, I am decorating this post with images of those finds: a fish-shaped wine bottle, above, with an ‘Orvieto 1967′ label, meaning the crackly glass is Italian, and that’s good; and a 4′ wide piece of driftwood, below — black pine, I was told, that was submerged in the bay at Lazy Point since the hurricane of 1938 until being salvaged by the guy who sold it to me for $40. It now reposes in my front yard, a sculpture in lieu of a shrub.
So the fall harvest has not been a total loss. And as long as they keep running those yard sale ads, I’ll keep spinning my wheels.
Richard Cottingham, House with Awnings, oil on canvas, 1968, est. $80-120,000
LOS ANGELES MODERN AUCTIONS (LAMA) is set to sell more than 400 works from the estate of Richard Dorso, a Hollywood talent agent and later fashion retailer, who died last spring at age 101. A voracious collector who bought what he liked, Dorso acquired his first piece in 1930 at the age of 21, and just kept going.
The emphasis in the October 9 sale is on Pop Art. Dorso and his wife Betty, a former Vogue model, were particularly active in the 1960s. They bought locally, from galleries on La Cienega in L.A. and young artists’ studios, encouraging their entertainment-business friends to do the same.
Warhol is represented, as are Lichtenstein and other famous names, but the bulk of the work is by lesser-known artists such as John Baldessari, Robert Cottingham, Paul Wonner, John McCracken, and Richard Tuttle.
Ilya Bolotowsky, Red and Blue Tondo, seriograph, c. 1970, est. $5-700
Dorso liked “happy pictures,” which may be why I respond to these period images by photographer Grant Mudford of the Dorsos’ apartments in New York and Los Angeles, punchy with reds.
This was a man with an irreverent, confident collecting philosophy. “I always bought new artists who were unknown, and then waited to see what would happen,” he told Peter Loughrey of LAMA, who interviewed Dorso at length for the sale catalogue. “The only reason I bought them was because I liked them.”
Bruce Houston, Untitled (Television Island), mixed media, c. 1980-1995, $5-700
The sale is part of a citywide celebration of art created in the Pacific Time zone in the decades following WWII, ongoing now at museums and galleries throughout the city. As part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980, LAMA is also presenting Collecting in Los Angeles 1945–1980, in three weeks leading up to the October 9 sale. It explores the collecting practices of Richard Dorso and the role of the collector in the evolution of the L.A. art scene, and concludes with the auction of the entire collection on October 9, 2011. Details below.
Preview and Exhibit:
September 19 – October 8, 2011
open daily 10am – 6pm
October 9, 2011
12pm Noon (Pacific)
Auction, preview, and exhibit located at the LAMA Showroom:
16145 Hart St. Van Nuys, CA 91406
Auction, preview, and exhibit are free to attend and open to the public.
Interiors Photos: Grant Mudford