due to storage limitations, $ considerations, and/or a cold hard dose of reality.
Gentle Readers, I hope you had a lovely, restful holiday last week. Ideally, you sat around your houses fantasizing about foyer wallpaper and headboards and family room sofas…oh wait. That’s me.
One pre-Thanksgiving afternoon I did a risk assessment and decided to venture out to my favorite antiques mall. Please be assured: I was masked, the people working there (all 2 of them) were masked, the other visitor I saw during my visit was masked, and the place is gigantic. Several high school basketball courts gigantic. It’s row upon row of this:
I was looking for specific items this trip. We have another photo shoot coming up, and I needed some vintage plates to hang on a fireplace. (Trust me: it’s going to look amazing.)
During my search I saw several things that were tempting.
Have I not shown you these foo dogs before, Gentle Readers? I think these spunky specimens have been languishing in the antiques mall for 5 years. I’m certain I’ve taken their picture more than once. The obstacle here is the price: $495! After 5 years, you’d think the seller would come to his/her senses. As in many shops on the Eastern Shore, bargains aren’t as easy to come by as they used to be. Alas.
These lamps, on the other hand – $140 for the pair! And the shades are in great shape, which is such a bonus.
Context is everything, Gentle Readers. Never forget that. So in a large, colorful, slightly disheveled living or family room, ideally wallpapered, ideally in a country house, these lamps would be right at home. And they come in a pair. (You know how I feel about pairs.) The issue here was storage space, not price.
Next, we have:
I have no idea what the price was, but I loved these black lacquered chairs.
In the same booth, we had:
A Victorian desk/console table with inlaid brass design, estimated to be from 1860-80 (I never know how much to trust the dealers’ dates). $1800. I seriously would have considered this if my storage space were larger.
Then we come to the emotional part of our journey. Oh, all right: it’s ALL emotional for me, but there is a point where rationality takes a decisive leap out the window.
I am a sucker for portraits. I’m not into folk or primitive art per se, but this guy. THIS GUY. He clearly doesn’t want us in the same room, let alone looking at him. Yet here we are.
The painting is American, for sure. The tag guesses Baltimore, earliest decades of the 19th century. Could be. Price lowered to $1550; get below $1k and we’ll talk. He in and of himself isn’t very “fine,” if you know what I mean, so he’d work best not as the lone piece of art in a room, featured prominently over the fireplace, but possibly ironically, surrounded by other portraits, other oil paintings, or other folk art. Some unifying element. He just gave me a chuckle. I think we could be very happy together.
Next we have dishes. As much as I love all of our grannies’ china — and I do love it — I have a soft spot for Italian ceramics. And there’s so much of it here! Including things I’d NEVER use, like that coffee pot. But it’s so friendly and inviting. “As found,” the tag reads, which calls to mind all sorts of catastrophic situations. But $595 for everything.
Welcome to the kitsch portion of the post. This pillow is a stand-in. IF it were slightly smaller and IF it were needlepoint, I would have pounced on this pillow. I am TOTALLY in the market for needlepoint pillows of dogs right now, especially Corgis and Dachshunds. (Short long dogs.) Surely during this pandemic someone has taken up needlepoint? Please be in touch. I’m serious.
Next we have a Buddah bust, ubiquitous but useful nevertheless. Sculptural tabletop objects can be hard to find, and a Buddah always seems to fit the bill. Put it next to a stack of books with a framed picture or paperweight on top and you have a preciously termed “tablescape.”
Remember how I said that context is everything? Picture these vintage snowshoes criss-crossed over a huge stone fireplace in Vermont. (Ooohh – foreshadowing! More on that later!) This is the kind of object decorators kill for, and I wouldn’t even have had to maim anyone to get them. I may see if these are still available, now that I think about it.
I think this small Chinese export dish is utterly charming, but it was $85. Pass.
We began with foo dogs, so we shall end with foo dogs. Here is a delightful pair in the form of garden stools from the 1960s, and they’re not outrageously priced. If I had had the storage space, they would have come home with me.
Isn’t it fun to think about the “what if” times, Gentle Readers? That’s what comes after the “now times”, which is what came after the “before times.” We’ll get to the “what if” times again, I promise. Let’s hang in there.
Annie Elliott Design is based in Washington, DC, and we travel for fun projects. Annie’s design work and insights have appeared in numerous local and national publications, including HGTV Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Washingtonian Magazine.