The Fall Project



 MCM and Nature

There has been an explosion of midcentury furniture shops in Denver – I intend to get out and see them all, but time is short and intentions are not actions so, I haven’t.

When I began Mod Mid Century, there were two other MCM dealers in town. Mod Livin on Colfax and Nines. Mod Livin is still there but Ben from Nines left years ago to sell in the Chicago/NYC market. I think he makes his own furniture now.

The market has expanded to at least a dozen new stores and the demand is there. I have always loved design and I’m always looking at new styles that others might bring to the table.

The questions I occasionally get asked, especially by my business guru brother is, “What’s next?” “Where are furniture trends leading?”

I am as curious to know as the next guy.

The demand for MCM furniture is still strong and growing. The interest in the BoHo Chic look – a mixture of MCM and other vintage/antiques has also started to soar. (See blog entry for “Dan Says I’m an Idiot”). 

However my new favorite style has both of those factors with one added touch:  Rustic/Primitive.
It’s a natural wood look, clean lines with a flair for nature and an earthy feel. I love it.


My tiny bedroom (10’ x 10’) is my new canvas for trying this look. There isn’t much room around our giant King Sized bed but it’s not really about adding pieces but taking the warmth of simple designs and color and bringing them indoors.
 
It’s my Fall project. I will keep you posted on my progress  -- In the meantime keep your eye on my furniture blogs -- I have the pickers out there searching the state for natural/primitive pieces... They are my new passion -- they are the perfect compliment to Mid Century Furniture --

  See you soon!

Good Moods

Sometimes blogs can just become a giant gripe log...it's easier to complain than note what is good.

So, today is a small, but true list of what has put me into a great mood.

 *The morning was nice and cool, I did all my furniture work in 60-70 degree weather and was done by 9a.m. (I am an early riser.)

* I had to get across town and my car is at the mechanics so I Uber'ed it -- I love Uber -

* My kids are all still asleep and it's 11am --  it's so peaceful in my backyard right now

* My wonderful buyer - Daniel - just bought two awesome dressers

* Last night an amazing TEAK DINING set came in....
Mine have the original fabric - the ones above have been reupholstered

Okay, maybe the Teak Dining Set by Svegards is really what is making me happy - but it's gorgeous - - its going to be a great day!

Bargain Mania



INSIGHT into human nature:

If you offer something for sale for $300 – no one will try and bargain the price down
If you offer something for sale for $20 – everyone and their Granny will offer you $5 for it

Why?
I have no idea.

Case in Point:

So, I had this desk that was not mid century modern – one of those pieces that came in a package of mcm furniture that I purchased from a Picker. It was ordinary, but structurally fine. As usual, I threw it up on craigslist for a song… I was inundated with emails. 

Was $60 -- Sold for $325 -- Go Figure
In every single email the potential buyer wanted to drop the already cheap price by at least 50% -- keep in mind, I was only asking $60 for a solid and sturdy mahoganyy-wood desk!

What finally put me over the top was when one particularly thrifty dude wrote, "I'll pay you ten bucks IF you can deliver it!"

“Hell yes,” I replied. In addition, I offered him free foot massages for a year.

He didn’t write back.

Everybody loves a bargain, which is why I price my furniture like I do.

We all win.

Yet, for some reason with this desk, all the bargain bashers just drove me crazy. Not one person offered to pay the $60.

So, I took the desk off of craigslist – gave to a friend to paint (supplies cost $40) and reposted it three days later. It sold for $325 – no questions asked – the buyer loved it.

It worked out, but I’m still scratching my head.

It’s a crazy business.

A Decade





I’ve got about three years left in me. 

Three more years of man-handling huge pieces of furniture from once place to another - three more years of haggling prices with Pickers– three more years of coordinating refinishing, hiring help, arranging showings, shipping,  keeping the books straight and all the day-to-day stuff that keeps this business alive. 

I’m happy with what I do, but my body is telling me that I can’t keep this physical job up for much longer. 

In three years it will make it an even ten years of dealing in mid century furniture. That seems about right. 

A Decade.

Which Door?
The only question is – what’s next?

When I review my history, it’s a real mesh of a crazy career paths.


  • I have been in marketing (the kind that requires a lot of travel that I’m not willing to do again with kids at home)
  • writing/editing (fun but long hours with relative low pay for the time involved), 
  • in insurance (NEVER AGAIN – life’s too short to be that bored)
  • substitute teaching and an adjunct professor (low pay and odd hours) and 
  • a stay-home-with-my-preschool-kids-parent (tons of fun with a few tears, but sadly the position is no longer available).
I never meant to go into the furniture business – I over-collected for myself and refinished items as a meditative hobby to keep me sane with small children at home – at a friend’s suggestion, I put 2 items on craigslist and 7 years later I’m still doing it – only now I hire out the refinishing because my hands are permanently calloused, bent and gnarled.

A lot can happen in three years – I may ramp up and finally open a store – I may start another hobby that leads in another direction – I may just get some cardboard and a marker and stand on a street corner asking commuters for spare change. The possibilities are limitless.

I have given myself three years more, as an arbitrary deadline, in order to force myself to start thinking about what will be next. 

I will be 50 in three years – which sort of freaks me out and sort of doesn’t. Although it’s shocking to think about being fifty it’s also great. 

Every year that I get older, life shocks me less. I freak out less. I am calmer and more forgiving of others and myself. My two son’s refusal to study hard bothers me less and the passion they put into their hobbies delights me more. I cling less to my twelve year old daughter as she gently pushes away (I have already been through it twice) and now I take the free time for personal pursuits that I haven’t enjoyed for years.  

In many ways, getting older is better than youth because now, I know myself better. I have started to travel again – sans the family – and take lessons to improve my useless French language skills. 

I go out to lunch with friends a lot – probably too much. If you see a table of women about my age drinking too much on a Wednesday afternoon in a shi-shi restaurant – stop by and say “hi” – I’m definitely there.  I am starting to plan hikes, parties, and bucket lists again –things I used to enjoy that have all fallen away in the crush of car pools and choir concerts.

I could defiantly be one of those women who make a life out of  the three P's:

Pedicures, 
Prozac, and 
Paint swatches

However, one thing I know about myself is the less I do – THE LESS I DO – 

I would eventually decline to the point of prescription drug addiction and Netflix binges if I went down that path.  (no insult to anti-depressant users intended - I have plenty of friends who need it - but I would abuse it - I know myself.)
 
I need to work. 

Not only because I have three kids who will want to go to college soon, but because if I didn’t work, too much would be expected from me around the house.

I must work for my own mental health -- the question is: What is next?

Today I have a job and it will be here tomorrow and the next day and the next day. I’m happy with it – my mind says yes, but my body is over it.

To be continued.... 



Woo Hoo! A New Spreadsheet!


I love a good spreadsheet!

I have tracked every item of furniture that has come into and out of this house on spreadsheets! I have dates purchased, dates listed, dates sold, costs, tag numbers, etc... I should have been an accountant I like making my spreadsheets so much.


I also do it because the IRS would not like me to "wing it" if I am audited.

And, Yes, I pay taxes on each item I sell. I'm one of THOSE people who actually think taxes are good and we all need to chip in for the great services we enjoy...like roads, libraries, police, firefighters etc...

However, I'd be a big phony if I didn't say that writing the check each month and sending it to the IRS and Denver Manger of Revenue can be painful, but I do it because living in a woman's prison would be even more painful.

Back to my point... I was going through my ever evolving spreadsheets and looking at the numbers. In a quick mental tally I saw that I had passed the 6000 mark. I have had over six thousand individual pieces of furniture come through my house.

To break it down, it means I have loaded, unloaded, and moved each of these items to my garage and then into my house and then out to the customer's car. (I usually move a piece about 5 times on average). Most of my items are large dressers or credenzas - many have been dining sets and sofas.

No wonder I'm so tired!


I'm not kidding - it can be exhausting and when I'm exhausted I threaten to quit.

Yesterday, I had a repeat customer come by to make a purchase. As we were loading her item (I can't even remember what it was and it was YESTERDAY) she said:

"I thought you were quitting!"

She must have caught me on a bad day - I sometimes tell people I'm quitting when I've had a hard day.

"Someday," I said. "Not just yet."

I actually still like what I do - The physical part of the job is getting tougher - but I still love the furniture, the people and don't forget those awesome spreadsheets!

So, I have a new plan! My husband sighs when I say that. My "new plan:" somehow always amounts to more work for him - and I feel bad about that, I really do -- BUT...

I am turning my garage into a studio/showroom!

Starting in late August or September, I will show all my furniture from my garage -- which means the garage needs to be mucked out, painted, have new lights put in, etc... It will be great and cut down on how many times I have a to move an item by at least half....

When I told Kevin, he said, "Okay, I will get it done when you are on your Alaskan Cruise."

Seriously.

I love this man.

I am going on an Alaskan Cruise in mid-August with my middle son (I've never been on a cruise so I'm not sure what to expect) to see Alaska and visit my childhood best friend who owns a crab shack in Juneau. I'm just going to show up, she has no idea I'm coming so that might flop... BUT I will have a studio when I get back!!!

Tweaking my spreadsheet and adding new lines just got a little more fun. I'm going to start a whole new tracking system too -- my pre-studio spreadsheets and my post-studio spreadsheets... I'm so excited!

Yeah - It won't look anything like this, but a girl can dream.

Making New Friends


I spend time with Charlotte everyday even though I don’t want to.

I used to think about killing her, but it’s too messy of a task for me.

I kept meaning to tell my husband about her, I knew I could count on him to tackle the job. But then….but then….I named her.

Charlotte lives under the inside handle on a garage door. Unfortunately, it’s on the garage handle I use every day to get to my furniture.  So every time I go to close the garage door, there she is – just even with my wrist as I yank the old door down.


It un-nerves me. It’s been unnerving me all summer. She took up residence just after our May monsoon and got busy catching other small insects in her web. I understand that I should talk about how amazing it is to watch nature in action, but I don’t feel that way.

She grossed me out and I wanted her dead. However, spiders scare me so I couldn’t make myself do it. She’s not even a pretty spider, just  a plain old, very little, brown spider.

Then I saw the egg sacs and thought, “Well now I really have to tell Kevin to come get rid of this spider and her offspring before the garage is overrun.”

So I promptly walked to the house and forgot all about her. I only remember she exists when I’m going to close the door.

A few days ago I noticed the egg sacs were gone. I am too late.

Yesterday I opened the door and there she was, curled up – maybe asleep – I know nothing about her kind – she could have been devouring something in her clutches or taking a siesta – I didn’t want to get too close to figure it out.

I stared at her for a long time and unexpectedly I thought of the name Charlotte. (Duh!)

It was in that instant I felt a little protective of her. It’s funny how that can happen.

This morning when I went into the garage,  I said, “Morning Charlotte.”

It’s a lost cause. I officially have a pet spider.  

I still hate spiders - but I'm stuck with Charlotte 

Mother's Day 2015

May 2015

Are you tired of checking here and not seeing anything new??

 -- It's May -- either I'm too over-scheduled or the weather kicks in and my plans are delayed. I have a garage over-flowing with great MCM furniture in different states of readiness- I just need time, inspiration, and good weather.

If next week clears up, expect a crazy amount of furniture to be ready -- I'm also cleaning out the garage and will post any "project" pieces that I haven't tackled for killer deals -- assuming the rains stops.

So at the risk of trying your patience... check back next week and I will have my act together -- maybe this weekend - no soccer games are scheduled --- I might get some work done! But it is Mother's Day and I am a mom so maybe not - Monday for sure!

See you soon
Marla

In Honor of Mother's Day - I will inflict baby photos of my kids on you - they are far from babies now-- Here is one of the things I have learned as a mother:

Parenthood --- Its true, the years go fast BUT there are some really, really, long days


My oldest is now a few weeks from being 17 years old- hard to believe he has been driving for a year

My husband - no grays from kids yet!

His first car































My Middle Child  is now 14 years old, gets his driver's permit this summer and starts High School in the Fall

Still an Outsdoorsman
He started in this and now he is restoring a 1961 VW Bug


My BABY - is 12 - but she is petite and I can still almost carry her - but for the first time she doesn't want me to -- instead she has started to wear mascara ....hmmm... the mom-jury is still out on that...


Her first day in China with me
Double Casts for double hand surgery
Rock Star


My baby and my Mother!







Winning The Lotto




MCM Furniture - Making A Small Room Feel Large
2015

I know that MCM furniture keeps gaining in popularity.  I understand that…but when I go on Craigslist and see that someone pulled out Gramdma’s old bedroom set – flaws and all – and wants $1500 for it, I gasp.

I mean – best of luck to the seller. I hope it works out for them. But really $1500 and it needs work? What planet are you on?

There are a few things about MCM furniture that most people don’t know:

1st – It’s just older furniture.

2nd – There is A LOT of it

1960s furniture was post war furniture, and just like the little post-war Sears houses with asbestos siding – it was produced in mass. It was the first time in history that furniture was mass produced for Middle Class America.

The furniture is great – built to last and luckily most of it does. However, unless it has a designer name or a rare-factor– it’s not worth $1500 unless there is $1000 tucked in the back of the drawer.

I stumbled into the world of Mid Century Furniture over a decade ago. Not because I am uber-cool (which I am) but because I had a real problem.

My "built-in-1892" home has really small rooms. After much trial and error, I found that furniture on tall legs makes the rooms feel larger. Chunky furniture closed the room up. In addition, smaller scale pieces were practical and left me with open spaces and still kept the functionality.

My other problem was small children. I had primary colored plastic crap everywhere. It was making me crazy. MCM furniture has a homogenous, smooth, classic quality to it that is the visual polar opposite of primary plastic crap.

I started picking up pieces with legs and simplicity and refinishing them for my own home. One day a friend walked in and said, “Oh, I didn’t know you collected Mid Century furniture.”

That was how I found out that it was called Mid Century Furniture.

That leads me to my final point. I’m really glad there has been a resurgence of interest into the great Mid Century style of furniture. The furniture is solid, useful and has an artistic elegance to it that lives on in a modern home. I love that. I love that it is stylish and affordable. I have been able to make it my full-time job for seven years. It’s been great.

However, don’t  get sucked into the mania of over-priced furniture.

Buy it because you love it.

Buy it because it’s reusing an amazingly designed, quality made piece.

Buy it because it works in your space.

If you don’t like it, Sell It!

….but remember - It’s just Grandma’s old bedroom set.

It's not winning the Lotto.


An Old Arrangement

Swamped



Our Congressional Leaders - Hard at Work on their Solitaire Games 

I know, I know...I don't have much for sale right now -- I have two garage bays packed with furniture but you see...I'm really tired, my shoulder hurts, my husband is traveling for work, my kids are at school and I'm alone in the house. That RARELY happens (husband works from a home office) -- so instead of tackling the work in front of me, so far today I have done this, in this order:

**Played about 10 online games of solitaire
**Advanced a level in Duolingo
**Got the kids off to school with a "nutritious" bowl of cereal (ha!)
**Read blogs that I sporadically follow
**Looked up Camille's wiki bio (Charles was in a story on CNN and I started down that rabbit hole... hard for me to admit this, I'm not even a royal-watcher - I just got sucked in...)
**Looked through travel itineraries for Paris
**Had two cups of tea - (If you haven't tried Capital T - tea shop on Broadway and..maybe Louisiana - you should -its amazing)
**Moved a piece of furniture on a hand truck - helped a customer load a desk
**Crawled back into bed with my computer   

It's only 9:30a.m.

And I'm experiencing an irresistible urge to catch up on the episodes of "Better Call Saul" that I have missed....

So, as you can see, I'm just swamped and may not get anything done today -- tomorrow is looking better but the kids have the day off of school and I've heard rumblings about skiing and Jump Street so don't expect too much...Saturday is kid's soccer day (yes, the season has officially started and all my Saturdays are now booked for 3 months. yay.)

...I'm thinking Sunday is probably the day you want to check back for more listings....

Thanks for understanding - see you soon!
Marla

Dan Says I'm An Idiot

Mixture of Mid Century and Antiques



My other blog is http://circafurniture.blogspot.com/

Here is the story of that blog....


I have a mid century furniture business - I know about mid century furniture - I love mid century furniture and yet I have this OTHER blog full of BoHO chic items and an odd assortment of antiques - Why? Here is why....

I buy the majority of my furniture from "pickers" - if you don't know what that is - Goggle it. Anyway, pickers are their own breed - you either love them or are baffled and slightly frightened of them - personally, I love them and all their idiosyncrasies.

Mod and BoHo Antiques
Usually I can buy items individually from the Pickers, but I have a few who roll around sporadically with their truck loads of old furniture and either I buy the "lot" or get nothing - these guys (they are all guys) know that they have at least one piece that I am jonesing over and will buy the whole truck load just to get that one gem.

If I'm lucky the truckload will be mostly mid century, but even if they aren't, the items are usually pretty cool.

One particular curmudgeon that I work with, Dan, has a good eye - he brings me loads of furniture that he picks out especially for me. I told him he had good taste and he replied:

"This crap isn't MY taste, I just know if I see something UGLY, you will buy it."


He loves anything made from circa 1980s oak / pine furniture - he has told me that anyone who doesn't love that style of furniture is an idiot. I won't buy anything made of 1980-90's oak because I don't like it and therefore - (drum roll here) He says:

"I am an idiot."

To my face.

I told you he was a curmudgeon.

Circa 1980s Pine Table that Dan Loves
Anyway, that sums up why I have odd pieces of vintage furniture from time to time.  If Dan thinks its ugly, he buys it for me. Sometimes its mid-mod sometimes its just cool vintage.

The interesting part is that I have had several mid century customers start to buy some of these BoHO and Vintage pieces as well - I just think that's cool -

If you have a photo of your place that mixes the two styles well - email it to me at denverite7691@ g m a i l .com and I will find a spot for it .

Thanks and see you soon

Mid Century Nightstands - My Nemesis


Why - WHY do I still buy these cute little squares of pure work and no profit!! Why am I compelled to pay way too much for a beat up little box of wood on adorable little legs? 

Now if a pair of nightstands are available, yes - there is value - they sell and are in high demand. 

But, what about the orphans.. the single mid century nightstands that are floating out there cold and alone -- if I don't rescue them, who will?

First - let me explain how they found themselves alone in the world. Most big manufacturers of bedroom sets in the 1960s offered bedroom sets - which included a Low dresser, Tall Chest of Drawers, Mirror and a SINGLE nightstand for a set price. 

Those marketing gurus were perfectly aware that if they offered only one nightstand....and customers wanted two....they could increase profits dramatically by offering a second nightstand for an additional cost.

However, cheapskates like me, would only buy one nightstand for the "set" price and pass on the additional cost of the second nightstand. 

So, the world became over-populated with lone nightstands that never had a partner. It also explains the rarity of nightstand sets from the mid century!

Somehow, it has become my mission in life to save these little guys from a lonely, heartless future - abandoned and alone -- I rescue them, refinish them and resell them for almost nothing (the demand for single nightstands isn't there, unless the price is unreasonably great! 

Let me just break this down for you...

*Cost of beat up old nightstand                                 $20 each

*Cost of refinishing (I hire this out and pay all            $15.00
costs of supplies) I pay my guy well because
its a suck-y job. I know, I used to do it and have the
arthritis to prove it
TOTAL COST to me is:                                           $45.00

I sell the nightstands for $45 to $60 so I make between $0.00 to 15.00 on each

I could charge more and then never sell them and become one of those crazy old ladies with too many cats....er...I mean Nightstands!
                                               
AND...What about MY Time?
I transport, move about 4 times, photograph, edit photos, and post nightstands, answer emails, set appointments and meet with people to show it. Conservatively, this all takes about 2 hours, usually more - 

So even if I paid myself minimum wage at $8.50 and hour - I lose between $2.00 and $17 for every nightstand I sell.                                                                    

And yet.... In the 7 years I have been doing this, I have yet to pass up one of these orphan nightstands because.... 

there is no because.....

I guess its the same reason I have kids. They cost a lot, are a major pain and hassle... but 

I just LOVE them so much, I can't help myself....

But I swear to Isis (the Egyptian goddess, not the terrorist group), if one more person asks if I will take $25 for it -- (I'm not paying you to take it!) I will abandon these little, lonely guys to a hard and heartless future as a junkyard scrap!

 
......NO,  I won't! 

I'm sorry for even saying that... 

I'm coming you little orphaned nightstands - hold on! I'll be there soon!