The moral of my story? The more I go to estate sales, the more I realize that all the good stuff is in the basement or the garage.
But I digress…Kevin and I woke up far too early this morning to snag a mid-century scoop chair at a local estate sale. As I walked through the house the sale seemed okay, but not spectacular. I picked up a pair of Swedish glass vases by Gunnar Ander for Lindshammar. I’m just now getting to know Scandinavian art glass, so I was happy to put some of my new-found knowledge to use in the field.
I went over to the bedrooms where I found a stockpile of knee-hugger elves. They’re cute and kitschy and perfect for my Etsy shop once Christmas-time rolls around! All-in-all, I thought to myself, this sale hasn’t been very exciting at all.
Then I see Kevin practically skipping towards me with his bag full of goodies. I gave him an incredulous look: what could he have possibly found in the garage? Then he pulled out the most beautiful mid-century decanter I’ve ever seen.
It wasn’t until we got home that we realized it was made by Kenji Fujita by Freeman Lederman. Right now it’s going to stay in the permanent collection so that Kevin can admire his garage find. Also in his bag of tricks? A cute, figural wind bell from Pacific Stoneware (with its original tags!), which is an Oregon-based company. I’ve seen a few other collectors talk about this company before, so I’ve been waiting for my chance to see a piece myself! He also found some pretty nesting ashtrays (sadly, these aren’t signed).
Let this be a lesson to me. Garage! Basement! Garage! Basement!
Oh Seattle. I am ever-so-happy I moved to your fine city. I’ve loved renovating my home and I cherish the friends I’ve made here, but come February I yearn for sun. Hot, bright, piercing sunshine. Sadly, I won’t see the sun until May. In the meantime, I try and surround myself with ‘sunny’ surroundings. I love bright colors. Just looking at the bright oranges and yellows brightens my mood, to say nothing of the mossy greens.
Our Drexel Declaration wall unit is constantly changing. Pieces come in-and-out as we sell them on the shop, but many pieces stay around for my personal collection, especially my Finel bowls!
This weekend while we were out thrifting, the husband ran up to me with a gleam in his eye. “Look what I found!” The thrifting gods have not been kind recently, so I looked down to his outstretched hand with hopeful eyes.
I have to admit I didn’t know what to think at first. I knew it was teak and I assumed it was made in Denmark, but I was only half right. This darling little hedgehog was made in Italy, probably in the 1960s? He reminds me of Kay Bojesen’s lovely wooden animals as well as Walter Bosse’s hedgehog ashtrays.
Our little hog also has the dubious honor of being my fastest etsy sale to date. Good luck, little dude! Have fun in your new home!
We were at an estate sale a few weekends ago that was a little overwhelming. The three daughters running the sale said it was the sixth-or-seventh weekend, but the entire house was still full of stuff. 50 wooden cutting boards, 30 phones, and tons of vintage office supplies. I saw a box full of old clips and picked out some of the best for the shop. Now I wish I had grabbed all of them: not only are they useful, they’re also photogenic!
The afternoon light in Seattle today was perfect for taking this sort of photo, especially with the glints of metal. I’ll be listing them in the shop during the next week or so!
On Friday evening a very frantic Kevin called me about a chance to have a tour of the Tracy House, one of three Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Washington and, of course, I jumped at the chance. The house, as it turns out, is only a 10 minute drive from our neighborhood in West Seattle, so after our Saturday morning estate sales, we hopped in the car and drove to Normandy Park, Washington.
Part of this house’s charm was it’s amazing ability to blend into the background. Concrete blocks peek around pine trees and ferns, suggesting that a beautiful house is just around the corner.
Given the size of the trees in front, I would bet that the house was built around them, which is very much in keeping with Wright’s attention to detail. The green, red, and grey palate was another design element that ran through the entire property–as was the integration of the squares of concrete with the green vertical lines of the trees and the red horizontal lines of the stairs. All this harmony made for a perfect blend of natural and man-made elements.
The Tracy’s commissioned the house in 1955 and knew they wanted to live there for the rest of their life. They saved money and laid the concrete bricks themselves to Wright’s specifications. According to our tour guide, they loved to sit in their chairs and read in the evenings, and I have to say, the living room was one of the most inviting I’ve seen. The built-in soda and redwood bookcases gave the room a cozy feeling.
Like many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses, he also designed dining furniture, and the Tracy House is no exception. The long dining table fit perfectly into the dining space. It would be a perfect place to eat and watch the ocean below.
The concrete blocks formed the ceiling throughout the house, including in the three bedrooms. The bedrooms and hallway had very low ceilings, probably around 7 feet, maybe even less. Even though I could easily touch the ceiling in the bedrooms (I’m 6’1, so it wasn’t that hard!) the combination of the cool grey of the concrete and the warm red of the walls and floor really gave the space a cozy rather than claustrophobic feel.
It was a wonderful Saturday! The house will go up for sale soon, but sadly Kevin and I will not be on the list of buyers. It was, however, an amazing treat to be given free reign of the house for an hour! I think that we’ll definitely be visiting more Frank Lloyd Wright houses in the future!
Well, folks, I just turned in a draft of my completed dissertation, so I will be back to blogging more regularly very soon. Lately though, I’ve had a ‘come to jesus’ moment in regards to my bursting kitchen shelves. Do I need 20 coffee mugs just because I think they’re cute? Are my 8 wooden spoons of various shapes and sizes really getting enough use? And don’t even get me started about pots and pans. My cupboard is a no-(wo)man’s land of haphazardly stacked Calphalon and Le Creuset–to say nothing of the lids, which are stuck in the hinterlands, behind all the pots.
Those are just my daily-use pans. I have a small collection of vintage kitchen-wares, like a few Kobenstyle dutch ovens that are just too fragile for me to use and thus are semi-artfully grouped on a hutch gathering dust under their beautiful, enameled exteriors.
What is a girl to do, I ask you? I’ve come up with a solution that makes my cupboards and my aesthetic sense happy: vintage enameled cast-iron! Even though Dansk Kobenstyle is beautiful (oh, those handles!), it’s not designed to take a beating in the kitchen. You’ll find that most Kobenstyle has chips in the enamel because it’s not heavy cast-iron. Not to say that enameled cast-iron doesn’t chip, but it’s just sturdier stuff, which is better for someone like me who cooks at least one meal each day on the stove.
Vintage cast-iron comes in many different shapes and forms. Yes, there are the very practical solutions like Lodge and other makers of plain cast-iron pots. Vintage Le Creuset and Descoware are both readily available and reasonably affordable. But to my mind, the best marriage of function and style has to be Michael Lax for Copco. Lax started designing enameled cookware for Copco in 1962 and continued through the sixties and seventies. (He’s also responsible for designing one of my favorite Lightolier lights ever, the Lytegem.)
So what makes his designs stand out for me? It’s a blend of form and function. Take his dutch oven for instance. Even modern-day Le Creuset pots have a plastic knob that will melt if your oven is too hot. Not a problem for the Michael Lax dutch oven. It has two sturdy handles and no knobs of which to speak. Not only is this design more streamlined over all, it’s perfect for applications requiring a 400 degree oven! (It has always bugged me that the standard lid on Le Creuset dutch ovens is plastic and can melt if the oven is turned up too high.)
A few months back I purchased a Michael Lax bread pan for making quick breads and the like. At first I was worried that the pan wouldn’t work well since it was so heavy, but it’s the best bread pan I’ve ever used! After it’s time spent in the oven, even the bottom of my banana bread has a lovely little brown crust. I’m telling you folks, I think I’m in love!
My birthday was earlier this month and, as always, I received some amazing gifts from Kevin. Most of these were food-related, so I wanted to share!
I’ve been wanting the The Oxford Companion to Food (2nd Edition) for a long while. It’s one of the best resources for food history and it’s helped me with many of my posts. On top of my new tome is my (new to me) Copco fondue pot, designed by Michael Lax. I cannot wait to make some fondue in my new pot!
In other (unrelated) news, I’m finishing up the introduction to my dissertation and generally wrapping things up, so posts may be a bit sporadic until I turn in my final draft. Thanks, dear readers, for being understanding!
When I file my dissertation I want to spend a week in this house, having cocktails and appetizers by this fire place! This amazing tablescape (floorscape?) is from the February 1969 issue of Sunset. The magazine doesn’t say much about where this house is located, other than it’s 25 miles from San Francisco and designed by architects John Arrison and Tajima Fuller.
A few weeks ago a member of the choir I sing with motioned that she wanted to talk to me after rehearsal. “I have a ton of old Bon Appetits,” she said guiltily. “Do you want them?” As soon as I found out they were from the mid-1970s, I giggled with glee. “Of course!” I shouted, disturbing the tenor’s sectional in the next room.
After a dress rehearsal last week, she handed me a bag full of old magazines and I could barely contain my excitement. The following images come from the June 1977 issue of Bon Appetit and feature Phyllis Diller’s kitchen! I’ll be making one of her recipes this weekend, so stay tuned!
First, readers got a chance to see Phyllis’ (I’m hoping she won’t mind me calling her that) kitchen, which I loved. Okay, I really liked the wallpaper and her go-go boots, but I absolutely must have her dress.
This week’s post comes from Sunset Magazine’s May 1968 issue. As a person who has hosted wine parties before, I love the integration between the wine and food at this party. In fact, I liked this article so much, I decided to let y’all read it too!
There’s a wine to pair with every course, even dessert! Mmmmm. And I really want that ice bucket.
And here’s the ‘action shot’ of the party. Now, to find some barrels…