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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.
EVERY DAY’S A FLEA MARKET AT MARIKA’S, a mad jumble of used furniture on Rt. 114, the main artery through serene and pretty Shelter Island, tucked between Long Island’s North and South Forks.
Truth to tell, I have never bought anything at Marika’s, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. I check it out every time I pass through the island — most recently yesterday, when my quest was for a set of six matching dining chairs to go around my new 1940s X-legged table. I didn’t find what I wanted, but I totally enjoyed the browse.
There are a couple of outbuildings and several tents next to an ordinary split-level, spilling over with used furniture, kitchenware, framed pictures, and kitschy lamps, much of it in rough condition. Outdoor furniture is a specialty.
Marika’s is one of those places where you can’t help but think, there’s so much, surely there must be something…I may not yet have found anything at Marika’s, but that doesn’t dim my hopes for next time.
MY PROUDEST POSSESSION these days is the round green sticker on the front bumper of my car. It’s my ticket to the Town of East Hampton Recycling Center, aka The Dump. As a “residential self-hauler,” I’m entitled to use separate dumpsters the size of freight-train cars for paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, non-recyclables, and batteries, as well as an open shed called the Home Exchange area, open four days a week, which a local friend told me could yield some real finds.
She herself scored a Martha Stewart outdoor dining set, below, which now sits under the trees on her front lawn. (It’s a longish story: she claimed the chairs, someone else claimed the table. She ended up paying him $40 for the table and another $10 to transport it to her home, as her car was already full of chairs and cushions — so it wasn’t strictly free, but close enough.
People virtually camp out there, poised to swoop down upon any arriving vehicle offloading unwanted furniture and other household detritus.
Earlier in the week, I got some some decent green metal outdoor chairs there, while a woman nearby grabbed a big straw laundry basket in great shape.
This morning it was my turn to be beneficent, pulling up with three cartons of pots, pans and dishes found in the cellar of the house I bought last week in Springs, and where I’ve been doing a herculean job of clearing out the remnants of the previous owner.
There wasn’t anything at the Home Exchange but the dregs of dregs. That doesn’t mean I won’t go back tomorrow. I hear that Saturday afternoons is the best time for yard-sale leftovers.
THIS fab pink armchair could be had Saturday at Yesterday’s News, corner of Court Street and 2nd Place in Carroll Gardens, for $150.
YOU HAVE TO BE GRATEFUL to people who scour the estate sales of Long Island and New Jersey so we don’t have to. Then they haul the stuff back to Brooklyn and sell it to us at reasonable prices.
If they have a great eye, like Frank Galdi, whose 20-year-old shop on Warren just off Court in Cobble Hill (Becosmi, technically) is always filled with intriguing merchandise, so much the better.
Some recent buys at Frank’s shop (official ————————————————————- name: Antiques Past & Present):
- A fine-looking pair of 1950s bent plywood chairs for $225.
- A wild red double-shaded ’50s lamp, snapped up for $175 (that’s Frank changing the bulb).
- A pair of curvy wrought iron chairs for $165.
At Brownstone Treasures on Court between Warren and Baltic in Cobble Hill, above, and owner JP’s other store, Yesterday’s News, which is like an ongoing flea market at the corner of Court and 2nd Place in Carroll Gardens, it’s a little harder to find pieces of interest — the bulk of it is garden-variety secondhand furniture — but there’s a LOT of it and it changes constantly. And you can’t complain about the prices. The vintage wire cafe chairs in the picture above are $100 for 4.
Below, At Yesterday’s News, paper ephemera, bottom, is a specialty. You’ll also find costume jewelry, dishes, and utilitarian used furniture, sometimes even with a little bit of style.
Too bad Benny the stonecutter’s appealingly dusty and cluttered Nostalgia Antique Shop, below, tucked obscurely on Hoyt between 2nd and 3rd Streets isn’t open more often. If not on a Saturday afternoon, when?
I’ve found worthy stuff there in the past, including a framed 1940s watercolor print of the New York skyline for $55.