Thursday, June 16, 2011

Old School Style

From the bean of Green Bean.

I've always had a thing for antiques.  They allow you to create a unique and beautiful home that is based entirely on reuse.  Most people, though, hear antiques and think breakable, stuffy, and EXPENSIVE!

Sometimes, maybe but many times antiques are less expensive and/or much higher quality than new.  This is particularly true if you shop antique fairs and estate sales instead of high end antique stores.  But even in the latter place, you can still find some wonderful furniture - affordable when compared to modern retail outlets.

Here are my favorite categories of useful and affordable antiques:

- Dish Towels: Like a good greenie, I foresook (Yes, that is a word.  I looked it up.) paper towels long ago.  That means I'm a dish towel junkie.  I use them for drying dishes and cleaning the counter, clearing spills, wiping dirty hands and dirty this and that and so on and so forth.  And they get stained, ripped and raggedy and, at some point, move from the dish towel drawer to the rag cupboard - where they clean up other things.  

Nothing cheers you up, though, like a vintage dish towel with its saucy print.  Most can be acquired for around $3 in the Bay Area.  That means they are cheaper than cute towels bought at the store.  I toss mine in with the rest of the laundry and feel virtuous as I reuse, reuse, reuse.

- Stools: I have a six and eight year old who can almost but not quite reach this or that - as evidenced by the stitches my youngest got last night when he accidentally pulled a glass bowl off a high refrigerator shelf.  I need stools.  Stools, stools and more stools.  For stepping, reaching and not over-reaching.  To date, I've only got one in each bathroom but I'm on the look out for one in the kitchen as well now.  

There's something grounding and magical about a hand-hewn stool for my boys to stand on as they brush their teeth.  There's wear where their little feet go, where someone else's feet went.  I love the rough edges and I love telling my son that some father carved this stool and put it together for his son many many years ago. . . Beats saying that mom hucked it in her cart one day at Target.  I've picked these up for anywhere from $10-$45 depending on where they are purchased.

- Desk Chairs: I don't remember the last time that I bought a desk chair that wasn't vintage.  You can usually buy one for $10-$45 depending on condition and where get it and, let's face it, nothing is more practical than a desk chair.  Quality on old chairs rocks, by the way, and beats Ikea chairs all four legs down.

And the best thing about buying antique?  When you are done with it, you just re-sell it (except for the dirty dish rags of course!) - keeping the loop going and going.  Do you ever buy vintage?  If so, what are you favorite, most useful finds?


Kristen said...

Vintage is my favorite! But I've been a lucky girl, and got most of it from my grandfather's basement. A few things though have been acquired along the way. My guest bedroom is mostly vintage and I love it!

Willo said...

LOVE that stool!

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

I've always wanted to shop antique stores, but was always scared away thinking they would be expensive. I'll have to give them a shot. Love your finds..

robbie @ going green mama said...

While I haven't done antique shopping since becomming a parent, my favorite finds are an old child's school desk ($35, painted) and a Hallmark rocking horse ornament (my husband loved them, and my MIL lost them when they lost their storage unit).

Not purchased but appreciated are grandmother's paintings and my parents' dining set and hutch. My brother got my grandmother's table and chairs, and my sister my other grandmother's set. (All based on needs and space in our homes.)

Granted they are all sentimental things but nothing wrong with that!

Jen ( said...

Huh. I've been looking for a stool for the garden. Perhaps I should be looking at an antique store.


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