Some people have comfort food, I have comfort furniture and in my endless search for chic green interior design, I never thought I would find my comfort zone in a junk shop.
The day I discovered my love of modern vintage design was the day my husband dragged me into a local antique shop in search of old solid wood tools. He’s got that “they just don’t make them like they used to” mentality about many things, especially old hand tools. As I fended off the dust, I glanced over at a chair that was in seriously bad shape, but this chair looked just like one I had grown up with in the 60s–the iconic Eames lounge chair. It was even winking at me.
Like my old chair it had one missing button on the back cushion, and when I was a kid I was sure that meant the chair was beckoning me to come and sink into its soft buttery leather cushions. I was sold. That began my quest for “comfort design” and my foray into the world of mid-century or retro modern design.
I’ve been on this journey for a while now and have unearthed some real finds in antique shops, junk shops, tag, garage, yard and barn sales, flea markets, thrift shops, eBay, Craigslist, the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores, Freecycle, my mom’s friends’ basements and on a Web site that I just can’t keep my cursor away from. Probably my favorite online site for “window shopping,” learning about modern vintage antiques and finding out if my latest garage sale find is a prize is www.1stdibs.com. Their motto is, “Do the planet a favor, buy antique and vintage design.”
Why is buying vintage or used furniture “green”? We know that whatever we reuse that doesn’t end up dumped into landfills is doing our planet a big favor. Buying in local antique and second-hand shops boosts the local economy and cuts down on fuel and shipping costs. There is little environmental impact from vintage furniture as long as it wasn’t recently repainted, refinished or is moldy. No further resources are used to manufacture used furniture, which makes it a viable green alternative to buying new furniture. Reduced, reused, reclaimed and recovered–a very “green” statement to describe why buying vintage is the way to go.
Here’s the bonus that I really love: The thrill of the hunt. You start digging through these shops and sales, and sometimes you hit the jackpot and find a vintage piece that is highly collectible like my Eames chair. I recently found a petite Danish bentwood chair in a shop for pennies. I unscrewed the metal legs and found a tag. I know that intact tags are a good sign. Generally, it makes the antique more valuable. What I didn’t know and later researched online, was a chair exactly like my chair recently went to auction and fetched hundreds. Investment pieces are out there to be found.
The eclectic mix of vintage furniture that now adorns my home fits in very nicely with my intention to green my interior environment. This melange of furniture hugs my family and my planet, and feels like good design to me. Green, comfortable and fun–do you need any more reason to get in the zone and start hunting?
Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.