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heywood-wakefield: a vintage bargain

9 Mar
There’s an antique shop near my house, in what’s called the Columbia Waterfront district, by the name of General Nightmare.  And as with many secondhand furniture shops, they refinish much of the pieces they buy.
I was chatting with the proprietor about a fantastic desk he had in the front of the shop.  He mentioned to me that he’d refinished it in a dark stain because “no one wants the blonde wood anymore.” But to me, that’s what makes Heywood-Wakefield furniture so beautiful.  Whether in maple, champagne, or wheat finish, I find that the streamlined birch wood designs complement both modern and vintage furnishings.  
My husband’s prized possession
What’s even better is that this stuff lasts.  Of course, as with all old furniture, many H-W pieces often need polishing or refinishing for surface scratches.  On the positive side, due to its durability (and having been mass-produced between 1936 and 1966), H-W furniture on a whole isn’t as expensive as it probably should be.
 Kohinoor dresser/breakfront, Springdale Furnishings

Chest of drawers, Ebay, $250

We have three pieces of H-W in our house, mixed in amidst the Ikea, West Elm and random flea-market finds.   My husband’s dresser is definitely my favorite.  But the blue ‘pouf,’ featured below, is a recent Ebay bargain.  Originally a complementary piece to a vanity set, we use it as a footrest/stool in the living room.  It’s due for reupholstery, but for less than $100, the price really couldn’t be beat.  Imagine a pair or three of these in a girls room – all  upholstered in the same fabric.

My blue ‘pouf’

Twin utility headboard, Strictly HeyWake, $550

And before you buy a new toddler bed, consider a H-W headboard.  This one – with room for storage – is more expensive because it’s already been refinished.  But if you’re handy, find a piece that hasn’t been reworked and buy a refinishing stain kit like the kind sold here.

H-W desk, Boomerang Modern

The desks are pretty incredible, in that unique ‘boomerang’ shape.

Final tip: Ebay sellers will give you a great deal if you can pick up the items yourself.  As with much of mid-century wood furniture, these pieces are HEAVY and often not worth your while to have shipped.

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mom, when can I be a client?

30 Jan



Jottables, The Brooklyn Brothers

Having spent over a decade in the corporate world, certain items will always carry with them particular (and sometimes, peculiar) associations. Little round paper stickers will always be ‘power dots,’ used to select favorite ideas in brainstorming sessions. And dry-erase boards will always remind me of my office. One friend covered hers in flowers and doodles, another stored his favorite phone numbers, still a third used it to structure her arguments.

That’s why I love this combination desk and dry-erase board by the folks at the Brooklyn Brothers, a great shop that does advertising and brand work while also inventing stuff like this. As opposed to a chalkboard desk, which is definitely ‘kid-like,’ dry-erase boards can’t help but make the young ones feel like grown-ups. And sometimes, vice-versa.

Although not available at retailers yet, contact jessica@thebrooklynbrothers if you’re interested.

great desks

28 Jan

Crosby Street/Spring Street, New York, Thomas Struth, 1978 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Baby was at Grandma and Grandpa’s last weekend, and Mummy and Daddy didn’t know what to do with themselves. So we went into town (Manhattan, to us Brooklynites) and went for a stroll. Discovered a shop called Bobby Berk Home, apparently ” a definitive resource of affordable luxury for everything bed, bath and home” according to their website. Most of their merchandise consisted of things I’d seen before, but then I saw this desk.

Lax wall-mounted desk, Bobby Berk Home $720

Gorgeous, but yes, $720 for some wood attached to a wall. I wanted to see what other space-saving kid-friendly desks were out there.

So I went to my new favorite website, Ikea Hacker, to see what enterprising solutions their readers had come up with.

Ludvig Workstation, Ikea $140 (image here)

“Snug desk in laundry room,” Ikea Hacker

And there were two. The first (top) is more a purchase than a hack per se. Apparently, there’s a new line called Ludvig which is wall-mounted like the Lax, above. The second (bottom) is created by combining two cabinets, Ikea legs, and a door.

Parsons Mini desk, West Elm $250

Of course, if you’re an Apartment Therapy reader, you know all about the perennial favorite West Elm Parsons desk. Now they make the Parsons desk in a smaller, kid-friendly size, and in a great new mustard (or yellow curry) color called Polished Tumeric. We have the Parsons storage tower at home, and really like it, but it has gotten quite scratched over the past year. I imagine these desks aren’t really built to last either.

Handmade two-drawer desk, Lorimer Workshop $725

On that note, if you’re interested in a piece that actually improves with age (unlike the Ikeas and West Elms of the world) you might want to check out Lorimer Workshop. (Full disclosure: I’ve recently met David Ellison through his son and daughter-in-law, who are now good friends.) As I’d mentioned on earlier posts, I’m a true believer in having one or two ‘investment’ pieces of furniture to build a room around. They’re the pieces that accompany you on every move. They become part of your home and, most importantly, your family history.

David makes each unique piece of furniture by hand out of salvaged wood. That means each piece is unique and made to fit your specifications. There are lots of examples on the website, but there’s something about this desk that makes me want to climb up on it and start drawing.