06 June 2008

the junque whisperer

y'all know that maison21 loves his junque (not junk, because what we pick up is a bit chic-er than that, we think). he's never met a junk shop, thrift store, yard sale, estate (tag) sale or flea market he didn't want to stop into and browse for pretty things. well, here's where you might think maison21 is bit crazazy- sometimes maison21 thinks his ability to find the good junque borders on the psychic- like little voices in his head leading him to pretty things, kind of psychic (though in reality it's probably more like little voices saying maison21 needs his meds). but seriously, sometimes it's more than habit or frequency of shopping that leads maison21 to his finds, sometimes it's a higher power calling him to his destiny... hence, the title of today's post, "the junque whisperer". *cue creepy music*

take yesterday- maison21 was inspired to write up his little post on the under-the sea themed tchotchkes he has been collecting of late, and as soon as he was finished with said post, he ran out the door to run some errands. one of his stops was next to a goodwill thrift store, and though m21 previously said he never met a thrift shop he didn't like, that wasn't entirely true- maison21 doesn't normally EVER step foot inside a goodwill, because the quality of their junque (at least here in los angeles) is well, junky- as in just throw that sh*t away, junky- and they are usually dirty, and gross, to boot. but yesterday, a little voice whispered to m21: "stop in to the yucky goodwill, maison21, stop in".

so he did.

and amidst all the chipped china, broken appliances and soiled baby clothes was the following under-the-sea beauty of a ceramic bowl, for just $4.99:
big deal- so he found a shell bowl, you might say- but sometimes the scores are much bigger than that:

several years ago, while in palm springs, maison21 was on the way for his first thing in the morning starbuck's injection, and NOTHING gets in the way of maison21 and his coffee first thing in the morning- NOTHING. but this particular morning, a little voice whispered in his head to drive by one of his favorite consignment stores BEFORE he got his coffee, not after. luckily, cranky maison21 listened to the little whisper, not to the screaming of his caffeine withdrawal, and he's quite glad he did- because there, being unloaded off a truck, (and surrounded by a nimbus of golden light- seriously- like angels sang and sh*t), was something that maison21 had coveted for years- a dorothy draper chest of drawers! maison21 proceeded to scoop it up for virtually nothing (and has long since resold it, for slightly more than nothing. course now he wishes he kept it, as he's since found another and would have a pair. but that's another story).sometimes maison21's little voice works in a slightly more circuitous way:

last year, while seeking design inspiration for a chic and shapely curtain pelmet to be used in a client's bedroom, m21 randomly pulled out one of his vintage decorating books, a bound volume of house and garden magazines circa 1961. while flipping through the book, maison noticed an ad for furniture by one of his design heroes, harvey probber. m21 had long admired mr. probber's work, but the chic gothic meets modern headboard in the ad was new to him, and m21 made a mental note of it, to possibly adapt for a future design project.
cut to the very next day, when maison21's little voice told him he needed a coffee break, and to walk to his neighborhood starbuck's (this wasn't the caffeine addiction screaming this time either- it was the little whisper, swear). now there are two ways to walk to maison21's neighborhood starbuck's- one down a leafy tree lined street- the route he normally takes when mona is along, or down a busy retail strip, filled with slightly run down antique shops (read junk stores). this is the route he takes if mona isn't along, as several of the shop owners frown upon his well-behaved little girl in their stores (they're mean). mona was at the groomer that day, so shops run by mean, animal-hating people it was...

and there, inside one of those dusty "antique" shops (ok, thrift store), maison21 spied- though a grimy window no less, hidden behind a stack of shabby-chic iron headboards- a 1961 harvey probber headboard, exactly like the one he saw the day before in his vintage decor book! freaky coincidence, or psychic phenomenon?

here's where it gets a little weirder- maison21 had tried literally DOZENS of vintage headboards over the years, and none had ever worked out. he has exactly 63 inches between his inward swinging casement windows, and all the headboards he's tried for his queen sized bed, have either been too big, or if they fit, they looked crowded and ugly. maison21 had actually resigned himself to life without a headboard, and had nothing but plaster behind his head- until little mr. harvey probber headboard walked into his life, that is- and who amazingly, fit into maison21's tight squeeze of a bed wall, just perfectly at 62 inches (the exact width of m21's platform bed), and little mr. probber headboard even matched m21's existing vintage nightstands! it truly was meant to be- thank you, little voices!the moral of our story? listen to those little voices in your head- they could be trying to tell you something important! like, go shopping- your destiny awaits you inside the next antique shop...


Anonymous said...

Gorgeous bedroom...the headboard is the crowning glory! M21..whoever made up the quote: "admire but don't acquire" is not of this earth. My favorite haunt for years was Community Thrift loaded with goodies from the folks on the westside of LA. My favorite antique mirror(black with swirled gold filigree) was a $2.00 purchase there. It proudly hangs over a fine antique table. You always pique(or is it peek) my interest. Ginny

maison21 said...

community thrift? (googling as i type) is it still there?

thanks for the kind words, ginny! you know the "secret"- thrift store junque paired with a fine antique, is junque no more!

Anonymous said...

M21...I moved from Glendora to Pasadena and have not been there for sometime. It was on Arrow Hwy. Hard to look at surrounding areas unless Doublewides float your boat. My new best place is The Ivy House in Claremont on Foothill. Sooo many successes at better prices then westside. Just got a Chinoisere(sp) screen for fraction elsewhere. Vintage, antiques, estate shit, and some new. ginny

Cote de Texas said...

Your bedroom looks wonderful!!! Love this story - so funny!!!!


Amber said...

I have recently found your blog and you are marvelous! Coincidently I am headed to Palm Springs [La Quinta] by way of Seattle in just a few days; I find your coffee vs antiquing debate so relatable. Where are some of your favorite spots in the PS areas for maybe a DD find?

Pigtown-Design said...

M21... the goodwillies here have "pickers" that go through their donations and pull them out to be sold to dealers or put into on-line auctions that goodwill runs. i had a series of interviews to be a fundraiser for goodwill and learned many of their secrets.

i sometimes hear the whispers, too. and 90% of the time, it pays off. it's kind of the same with the place-that-shall-not-be-mentioned, but whose initials are BT.

maison21 said...

ginny- i'm hittin' that ivy house! someone else mentioned antiquing in claremont, so i'm definitely going to have to check it out!

joni- you are too kind! (and keep the compliments comin- i just can't get enough ;-)

amber- thanks for stopping in, i love new visitors at the ol' maison21 atelier! enjoy your stay in la quinta- the weather sure will be different than what you are used to!

as for shopping in palms springs vincinity, if you can only make one stop, the 111 antique mall should be it- you can check out all my p.s. recommendations by clicking "palm springs with maison21 in the sidebar: the three oldest posts have probably the best info. happy hunting!

meg- almost all the thrift store chains have pickers that scoop out the good stuff before us mere mortals can get our hands on it- it's sooo not fair. i learned this years ago when ii ventured into an employees only area of a salvation army in salt lake city, of all places. it was amazing, all kinds of great stuff, and when i asked about purchasing the items, i was told that they had twice a year private invitation-only auctions for dealers. but i also know that their pickers don't know everything, so some good stuff can slip through the net!

as for the goodwill, it seems they have the opposite of pickers and their employees scour for the most beat-up, stained, broken or damaged merchandise possible to put on their sales floor. i've been to nicer landfills.

and, meg, as i've said before, i'll thank you not to mention ANYTHING with the initials "BT". if you keep bringing it up, i will have to positively permanently punish you by banning you from my blog. ;-)

Things That Inspire said...

Your house is so pretty! Your bedroom, your breakfast room...nice. Are you always meticulously neat, or do you get really tidy before taking the picture?

If I take a picture of my house, it is in the 2 hours after my housekeeper leaves. It is the only time of the whole week when my house is perfectly clean. When the kids get home from school, it is all over.

SGM said...

M21, where can I get this "voice" that you speak of? I don't think it carries out to the suburbs. I think what I really need is a job at Goodwill! (LOVE you bedroom)

Thanks for the advice on my red-headed stepchild of a room, esp the two cushion and foster care parts. The color of the room is really more gray-green than pictured, and it's not as bad as it looks in the photos. But since warm taupe came from you, it shall be considered. :)

Also, you now have me wanting a big ass lantern for our breakfast area. I NEED THE VOICE!

maison21 said...

thanks, inspire and sgm-

i appreciate your kind words, more than you know! i was kind of frightened at first to post too many pictures of my house, as i was scared no client would ever hire me if they saw it as is- it's SOO not finished to the level i would bring to a client's home. and never will be- i want it pretty, but i am basically too lazy to do the things i do for clients to my own home- kind of like a chef, when you cook dinner for a living, on your day off, you don't want to cook for yourself. i keep saying someday, i'll really decorate my own place, but that someday never seems to come.

sgm- glad i inspired you to want a big ass lantern- go for it! and, you know "the voice" is available for hire, if you don't have it yourself... :)

inspire- i try to keep the dining and living rooms clean and neat at all times, but if you were to peek behind the white door in my "lantern" post, you'd probably see clutter galore in my kitchen/breakfast nook. and my bed is generally covered by an old sheet or blanket- it's ground zero for the dog and cat!

and i won't even mention the scary spare bedroom that is behind a closed door at all times!

Jessica @ The Love List said...

I know this voice! My friend and I call it "shopping magic". It comes and goes though, so when you've got it, you MUST go with it. Along the same vein, there is also parking magic - for those days when you have to run to target/grocery/said thrfit shop and always get the primo even-the-handicapped-are-jealous spots.

ps - your apartment is fantastic, fret not!

katiedid said...

I Love that you have voice(s). I am glad I am not alone...That's how I found our house!

I also beleive in the Parking Space know, how you just have good luck when a good space opens just when you need it in that full parking lot?

I am enamoured with your style and would hire you in a New York minute!

midcenturyjo said...

M21 will you come whisper in my ear?

Suzy said...

I wish the voices in my head lead me to Dorothy Draper chests and Harvey Probber bedheads! So jealous. And no need to be worried, your place looks fab!

Habitually Chic said...

Christian, You crack me up! Anytime I'm feeling blue, I'm going to come read your stories. They continue to make me laugh out loud and wish you lived closer! You ARE the funniest blogger EVER! Just don't tell SGM I told you that! I don't want to hurt her feelings!

P.S. I hear voices too but they usually lead me to Barneys or Bergdorfs ;-)

maison21 said...

jessica & katie- i NEVER get the parking fairy spaces, so maybe my shopping overcompensates for that (though my voice has yet to led me to the house of my dreams, katie- i think my shopping voice must have an automated 1000.00 limit shutoff feature. it KNOWS i can't afford to spend more than that- ever!).

suzy and midcentury jo- it really helps that my voice resides in southern california- the pickings here are a lot fatter than in most places, so i have a bit of a head start.

heather- maybe your destiny awaits you inside bergdorf's- the voices don't lie! ;-)
and thanks for the kind words- "my funniest blogger ever" post, originally included the line "so suck it, sgm!", but i decided it was unnecessarily cruel to rub my new title in her face...

Pigtown-Design said...

Hahaha! When I was away last weekend, I mentioned to BIL that I should check out the local Goodwillies, because that area has some serious $$$$. When I did, the store was closed from some idiot meeting. Don't ya know that a few days later I read about someone dropping off a IMPRESSIONIST PAINTING!!! Sold for $40k at Sotheby's!!! I should have tried harder!!!

maison21 said...


i read about that painting as well! i didn't note the location, but how tragic that you were there, and it could have been yours! it's like it was snatched from your very hands!

i did make a note to check the paintings a little better on my next thrift store sojourn- that really is where the true scores are found! i had a friend who found a signed picasso print at a sal val (one of his vallauris posters), and later had it appraised at christie's for several thousand dollars, so those kinds of finds ARE out there. makes me want to go hit a thrift store RIGHT NOW!

karyn said...

I once lived to shop at our local Salvation Army but they closed on March 27, 2008 and my life will never be the same. Now my joy can come only from an accidental find on the side of the road or a clearance rack.

Your post is hilarious. I am so happy to have found your blog.

maison21 said...

thanks karyn- i'm glad you found my blog as well! and don't give up hope- i come across some great stuff on the side of the road (including a pair of chairs that later turned up in "modern glamour" by kelly wearstler).