Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thrill of the Find

 I've never been much for antiques.  Going to my great-grandmother's home as a child set me up for this.  Plastic on the couch and so many things that might as well have been labeled: "DO NOT TOUCH".  As a kid, I always remember saying, "I am never going to buy antiques... they're too stuffy."  I want to be able to use what I buy and not feel bad about it.

In my 20's this way of thinking remained.  When I got married, my husband and I bought our first house in Wilmington.  We went out and spent lots of money on furniture to "fill" our house.  Of course, we bought new.  New is always better, right?!  At 21 and 24, that's definitely what we thought.   We didn't think much about it...  we bought furniture because we needed to fill a space, it was convienent... and it fit our house.  As the years passed... I was like, "Why did we buy this stuff??  Sure it looks good in the house, but I don't even like it."  My husband, of course, concurred.  From that point forward, we made a pact that we would always try to buy something that has character-- which meant that we would look for used first, and most importantly only buy what we LOVED.... no matter how long a room set empty :)

A few years ago, when we moved back to Wilmington, we bought a lot of used pieces from an interior designer and with her help started frequenting "Ivy Cottage" (a local consignment shop).  Now, I'm not much for the "thrill of the hunt"... I quite honestly get bored looking for stuff... for me it's about the "thrill of the find" ;).   As far as shopping goes, there is nothing better than saying "Today, I have no expectations.  If I find something, 'YAY'... if I don't then it wasn't meant to be."

So, as my childhood would suggest I'm never looking for antiques per say... I just want something with character... I need not know the story or the history... because when I find what I love... I know it's right.

For instance, last Sunday we decided to take a trip to Ivy Cottage because we hadn't been in a long time and we have outgrown our breakfast table.  I was leading the way, through the tightly packed aisle-ways of furniture, paintings, mirrors, and other treasures waiting to be found... when I stopped... on my right, I saw the most beautiful bombay chest.   Then I  saw the "HOLD" tag.  My husband dismissed it and said, "Well, somebody is already getting it."  I insisted that he go ask someone because the hold time said "2:30" and it was nearly "3:30".  As my husband inquired, I stood watch over it.  We found out there was a "waiting list" for this piece... we added our names, which put us 3rd in line with others adding their names after ours.  Later that afternoon, we called back and found out that the people in front of us didn't come back.   Of course, I'm thrilled.  YAY!!
When we got it home and I was cleaning it up... I realized that we had, unknowingly, bought an antique.  I honestly didn't (and don't) care how old it is, nor where it was made, how it was made, or what it's story was-- it's used that's good enough for me... AND I immediately could see it in our house.  Now, I  don't know where it's been... I only know where it is... one of the least stuffy places I know ;)  I will use this piece of furniture and help build it's character and of course add our story to it's life.

A few reasons that I love buying used are: we're saving valuable resources, supporting local businesses, one of a kind (or more individual) pieces, and I can throw the idea of perfection out the window and accept scratches and other markings as character... I tend to look at them like my scars (each with it's own story).

Some of my favorite things that we're reusing (either bought or given):

Our dining room table (bought cheap and refinished the top), an old painting of the "Moulin Rouge" (I don't care who painted it or what it's worth... I love it), my daughter's dresser, my son's desk, an antique buffet table with loads of character (and I use it for all of my photo albums), some side tables and lamps, a chandelier for our dining room (we swiped it up from a friend that was remodeling), hmmm... I should stop there... BUT, know there's lots more... :)

By the way...

What I've learned about antiques is that it isn't the antiques that are stuffy... 

it's the people who are ;)