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!

Just Do It

I often talk with people who mention they would like to do what I do.

I always encourage others to try it  – if fact, I have shown ten of my good friends and family members how to get into this type of business, but as of this writing, only one person is still doing it and they are doing it very part-time.


Because, as one of my friends said to me, “… it starts out as amazing fun and then it becomes……work!”

It’s a great job, but it’s not an easy job.

On craigslist alone, I have seen more people than I can count enter this industry and then disappear from the furniture world. Burnout is common. 

It takes space, supplies, know-how, and a lot of physical labor.   

It’s mostly physical labor.

That said, I still think it’s an amazing and fun industry. I encourage anyone who wants to try it to jump in! Everyone has their own creative eye and I love to see what other people do with vintage furniture. 

When vintage furniture is rescued and restored, it’s great for the sake of art, personal creativity and the environment.

So here is what you can look forward to and dread when you take up the furniture restoration business. 

Here are 10 reasons to love it and 10 reasons to avoid it. 

The Best Part of Being a MCM Furniture Dealer (in no particular order)

1. I work at home

2. I set my own hours and take off whenever I want to

3. I love the style of furniture

4. The people I work with make me laugh

5. The transformation of an ugly duckling into a beautiful dresser still amazes me

6. The HUNT -- finding something great

7. Listening to books on CD as I drive and work

8. Being with my kids during my work day

9. Meeting people who collect MCM furniture

10. The friends I have made in the MCM community

The Worst Part of Being a MCM Furniture Dealer

1. Working outside in 90+ degree weather in summer

2. Working outside in below 30 degree weather in winter

3. Moving / arranging large and heavy furniture over and over

4. People who are inconsiderate or waste my time

5. Having to paint or toss a piece that was too far gone to repair

6. Negotiating – I don’t do it but it seems everybody wants to

7. How much space furniture storage takes

8. The physical wear and tear on my body

9. The wear and tear on my van/house (moving items in and out all the time)

10. Not being able to “leave-it-at-the-office”

Basically, it's like any other job - ups and downs, perks and perils.... but overall, I still love it! I hope you will too!

Now you know what is ahead of you – I encourage everyone who is interested to take the plunge!

Good Moods

Sometimes blogs can just become a giant gripe'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

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:

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 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."


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.