Have you ever attended an estate sale? Recently, my assistant, Alicia, joined me for her first ever estate sale. Expect the unexpected is what I told her. And never let the outside of a house lead you to make presumptions about the inside of a house. You can’t judge a book by its cover.Read More
I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with color in my house. Maybe I was traumatized by the purple carpet and pink, yellow, and green rickrack wallpaper of my childhood bedroom where flies congregated under my coverlet. Or the hideous sponged salmon pink bedroom in our first home where I once called the police at 3 am when a burglar outside the window sneezed. Or the putrid green bedroom in our second home that contributed to the argument between my husband and me that ended with my storming out and driving to my parents’ house where I accidentally set off their burglar alarm at 3 am.
I can’t do color. It keeps me from getting a good night’s sleep. It is impossible to get right.Read More
In my kitchen, I have open shelving over my desk. This is where I try out my collections before they go into the shop. This process allows me time to consider the way objects play off each other. I am a matchmaker but sometimes the results surprise even me. For example, I really liked this collection of chinoiserie that I paired with gold dinosaurs. But I didn't know why right away. Then one day I walked in with a bag of groceries and it hit me. This vignette represents Godzilla in Tokyo. And since one of my nicknames in middle school was "Mothra", it all makes sense.Read More
I remember the day of the wedding dress imbroglio. And when you are a child and there is an imbroglio, the cause is sure to be boredom.
This was the 1970s after all, and toys had not yet been invented. There were, instead, adult accessories made smaller and marketed as toys – steel-tipped lawn darts, jack knives, real chemistry sets, eardrum-rupturing air blasters, BB guns, easy bake ovens, mini motorcycles. My father, a pediatrician, and my mother, a nurse, were safety freaks and forbade all of these excellent things.Read More
We are a few weeks away from Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle and I just heard the news that the British are not exactly overjoyed about Diana's second son marrying an American.
I get it. The last time a British royal married an American divorcée, things got discombobulated, throne-wise. Edward VIII was confined to a life of pugs, pins, and pained smiles.
But Harry is sixth in line and as likely to wear the crown as Sonny Purdue is to occupy the Oval Office.Read More
It's late on a Thursday night, and I've just spent a good three hours trying to track down information about Dorothy McNab, the designer of the vintage skirts above. I'm Ryan Gosling as K in Bladerunner 2049, and I know that if I keep looking, the internet will give up its secrets.
(Did you realize you have to pay a hefty fee to search the archives of old newspapers? Shouldn't that be public domain?)
The story of the designer of these skirts shall be revealed soon. But first, let's get to the owner of them.Read More
I just moved son #3 cross-country to Washington D.C. He deeply disappointed me by taking almost none of the wonderful things I've been storing expressly for his first post-college apartment. In typical millennial fashion, he thinks he knows what's what when it comes to good stuff. That he gave a thumbs-down to the Lillian August wingback chair that I nursed him in is evidence of the contrary.
"What's the ruffly thing on it?" he asked.
"That's called a chair skirt, and if you don't like it, we can just cut it off," I said, pulling up the fabric to reveal four perfect hardwood legs underneath.
"It's grandma-y," he said. "I think I'll pass."Read More
Recently, my sister and I were shopping in a beautiful furniture store up in Door County, Wisconsin, and the weather turned nasty. With the shopkeeper's permission, we got comfortable on a couch to wait out the rainstorm by looking through our phones. At that moment, my sister got a text from her eighteen-year-old daughter about a horse mystery. And I got an email from my friend Ellen also about a horse mystery.
As we compared our horse mysteries, we looked up to see Mr. Ed eavesdropping (above).Read More
I have reclaimed the basement. It is mine. All mine.
Do I sound greedy? Territorial?
Look, it’s been four years since I started a business in our basement. My inventory, shipping supplies, and photography equipment competed for space with a drum kit, a weight bench, video game consoles, air soft guns, guitars, amps, a fooz-ball table, etc. I gazed upon walls covered with graffiti murals and family photos.Read More
It was April in Wisconsin, the meanest month of the year when winter jabs a fat finger in your chest and laughs as she slowly backs out the door. Coincidentally, April also happened to be the name of my companion that night.
April and I can't go anywhere without drawing a lot of attention. Maybe because she's what you would call a long tall drink of water. Or a nice piece of wicker. She's one of those lucky dames who never has to contend with the usual midwestern roll of fat that can turn on your laptop if you're not careful. It's just not in her DNA.Read More
I don't know where to begin with this post because it is about loss and suffering - tough subjects to write about at Christmas time. But the truth is, this season is difficult for many people. Sadness does not take a holiday.
And Genna, the lovely young woman in the vintage dress, knows this too well.Read More
I'm begging you. Make a decision this holiday season to consider a vintage or antique gift. In fact, I'll make you a deal. If you purchase an antique or vintage gift for a loved one that doesn't bowl them over, get in touch with me here and I will make you an offer. (White elephants excepted.)
If you are already a convert who knows that plastic has its limits, then skip to the bottom of this post for a bonus quiz with a prize involved. It is the season of giving!Read More
This house-shaped photograph tells all my dirty secrets: I have an unnatural fixation on objects; I might be mildly OCD; and Jane Austen is my spirit animal.
And you thought this was just another Pinterest-worthy photo taken from a birds-eye view?
Actually, this type of birds-eye photograph is technically called "flat lay" and thanks to Instagram, it has swept the visual world. Objects loosely arrayed in a pleasing composition on a neutral background and photographed in natural light that allow the viewer a new view of everyday things. Open any magazine and you'll see flat lay photography everywhere. (#flatlaystyle #flatlayoftheday)Read More
Paul Kantner, rhythm guitarist of Jefferson Airplane, once said, "If you can remember anything about the 60s, you weren't really there." Luckily, posters like this gem still exist as reminders of that craaazy time. The title of the poster is "Groovy Happening Sunday Afternoon", and it depicts the Summer of Love, the giant messy five-month music fest/love-in that took place in San Francisco in the summer of 1967.Read More
Hello! It's a short post today, as my photos can speak louder than my words. This is a new vignette in the shop, which I've titled "Murderous Rue Morgue Halloween Vignette". Isn't it gorgeous?
The collection includes a framed antique etching, a set of six Halloween classics, some pretty antique objects, along with two authentic skulls and two fake crows. Also included is a pair of wall brackets. (Only one is visible.) The candlesticks are so heavy, they're lethal. The little polished wood bottle holds precisely two drams of whatever liquid you prefer. And the pair of skulls was found in our woods (remember the coywolf?) and have been soaked in bleach for several weeks. They're lovely. Lovely bones.Read More
When I first walked into The Dovecote, I swore. Dang it! This is exactly the shop I want to open! As I filled my arms with ridiculously cool things at surprisingly palatable prices, I never stopped muttering like a jealous Othello.
Then I met the proprietress, Ellen Hildebrand, who's one cool chica, and I knew I was going to stalk her.Read More
That's me in the photo, reclining on a mossy stone outcrop, binoculars at the ready to spot the next fabulous set of vintage china. Do you like my wading boots? You can't imagine the contortions I go through to get them off. Like Ross's leather pants.Read More
This photo appeared in Glamour Magazine on April 1, 1952. The eleven models clothed in varying shades of green strike poses of unstudied relaxation. Each woman is a separate entity but together, they create an impression of arrested action, like they are caught in a New York moment. In some ways, the set resembles a pre-war grande dame Upper East Side apartment stoop, complete with pigeons.
Before kids, I worked in fashion and we only ever shot one or two models at a time. It was never easy. So this photo floored me. Eleven models! Imagine trying to take test shots. And what about the complexity of the lighting? Every face is beautifully lit. And the details in the set amaze me. Look at the moss affixed to the door molding!Read More
Have we changed the way we picnic? I recently watched an old Mad Men episode where the Draper family drives out into the country for a picnic lunch. The scene is exactly what you expect with a wicker hamper and a blanket. As they pack up to go home, Don tosses his empty beer can into the bushes and Betty flings the paper napkins and plates onto the grass, which made the internet really sad because no one likes a litterbug. But aside from the littering, has the art of eating on the grass changed?Read More
I live in a saltbox colonial. When you come to my door, you will look for the doorbell. It isn't there. The man who built our house loved early American architecture. He incorporated many period-correct elements, like multiple fireplaces, wide-plank floors, and mullioned windows. But no overhead lights and no doorbells. I've always wanted to ask him why he stooped to include flushing toilets.Read More