Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ahhh, the Bounty of Seattle...

Evidently it took moving to Portland to realize that there was actually a lot of good stuff to be had in Seattle. Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE living in Portland, and have no desire to move back. However, there's no denying that "pickings" can be a little slim around these parts. At any rate, it seems that every time I end up in Seattle, I'm confronted with more stuff to buy than I can actually afford to buy, and end up filling up a truck or van or whatever it is I have with me (usually, truth be told, our trusty '04 VW Jetta Wagon. It never ceases to amaze me how much crap I can actually cram into that thing).

This time, I had and actual MOVING TRUCK with me (although I opted for the 12' truck instread of the 16'), so I had no choice but to fill the sucker up! The fact that we ended up spending quite a bit more time in Seattle than we had originally intended certainly aided and abetted my eternal quest to buy as much great stuff as I possibly can!

So, without further ado, here are some of the fruits of my labor:

Paul McCobb Planner Group drop leaf/extension dining table. This was in the back room of a shop that I'd never been to. I asked the shop owner if he had any "project pieces" that he'd be interested in unloading, and he said "well, I've got this Paul McCobb table buried in the back room that I've almost totally forgotten about"...and with a little wheeling and dealing, it was loaded onto the truck. This is a great little table, very versatile with its combination of drop leaves and extension leaves. Here is a shot of it fully extended (it has 3 12" center extension leaves in addition to the drop leaves):

I love furniture that can "wear different hats", as it were. This table makes a great little breakfast table with one or both drop leaves dropped, and opens out to practically banquet size with the center leaves in! I can't decide if I want to refinish it BLACK or just DARK brown...

Now, I almost didn't even notice these chairs! If you've ever been to the place where I bought them ( a sprawling, low-cielinged warehouse in the SODO district that redefines the word "cluttered"), you might understand - but the thing is, I thought that they were rattan...and let's just say that I don't DO rattan. That is, until the proprietor of said warehouse gestured in their direction and said "what about these chairs"? To which I retorted, "what about them"? Then I looked a little closer and realized that they were in fact METAL - tubular steel, in fact - and that they would be DYNAMITE with all that icky old green paint stripped off. I had to pay sort of a pretty penny for them, but once I realized their potential, I couldn't let them go.

I normally don't touch console stereos with a 10-foot pole. But this one was so stinkin' cool...and SO stinkin' CHEAP...that I couldn't pass it by. Plus, it's a Grundig, which are at least somewhat collectable. But, what a pretty Art Deco cabinet! It has a mirrored bar on the right side and a pull-out phonograph on the left. The guy I bought it from assured me that it worked, but I still haven't plugged it in to find out for myself. If , I may have bought a pretty 150-lb boat anchor.

Sometimes my absolute favorite things are the most oddball, "ugly duckling" pieces that I see and realize that I can rescue and turn into something fantastic. Such is the case with this table. A totally strange mixture of 1980s, oak, and handcraft, this table is just BEGGING to be refinished super dark, and have its hideous 1/4" smoked glass panels (which you don't see in the pic because I left them in Seattle) replaced with thicker (3/8") clear glass. The thing is just beautifully made, all solid stack-laminated oak, with a swing-up butterfly expansion leaf. The only thing holding it back from greatness is its current golden oakiness, which just SCREAMS...oh...1983. Everything else about it is phenomenal, and I can't wait to get started on the project! Perhaps the funniest thing about this table (from my perspective, anyway) is that the guy I bought it from had it listed on Craigslist in Seattle for over a month for what was, let's just say, an EXTREMELY reasonable price. A price that said "PLEASE get this thing out of my garage TODAY!!" Still, he told me, in that entire time, no one had even so much as called to inquire about it! Even I wasn't quite sure about it from the picture that he had on Craigslist - but once I saw it in person, all doubts left my mind and I grabbed it without hesitation!

Used to be that I was scared to buy a table that was SUPPOSED to have leaves, but that no longer had them. That is, until I made the acquaintance of my fantastic woodworker/refinisher, who does amazing quality work for surprisingly reasonable. Recently I had him make two leaves for a round rosewood table that I had, and finished the leaves in white lacquer (since real rosewood veneer is pretty much impossible to find anymore). The result was so striking that I decided to go out on a (short) limb and buy this little table as well, which, you guessed it, has no leaves.

As you can see, The result is a very different, dramatic look. It will take someone with a certain amount of...shall we say...CHUTZPAH to take on this table - but the person who does is bound to absolutely love it. And in the end, that's really all we can ask for.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sleepless in Seattle

The title of this post was either going to be "Stranded in Seattle" or "Sleepless in Seattle", but I have opted for the latter, partly because of the cheese factor, and partly because it's 4am, I'm in a hotel room in Seattle, and I can't f*ing sleep!! I'm hardly an insomniac, so I have no idea what's going on. Anyway, we're here because we picked the wrong few days to go visit my folks (who live up in Bellingham, WA). During these days, it did pretty much nothing but rain, rain, rain here in the lovely Pacific NW, so much so that many rivers have flooded, many towns are underwater, and a certain major interstate that happens to be the main direct route from Seattle to Portland (and points beyond) is also, you guessed it, underwater in several areas. If you are a resident of the Pacific NW (or just keep up with local news in the region) you might remember that around this time last year, the EXACT SAME THING happened. I pity the residents of Centralia, who are just getting back on their feet after last year's devastating flood...only to have the same exact thing happen all over again, only WORSE this time. Global warming, anyone???

At any rate, these happenings have left us stranded north of Portland for who knows how long, and we're currently holed up in a hotel room in the U-District (Hotel Deca, if you must know). Kelly found a "last minute special" online to get a good deal on a room here. Although at first the room seemed pretty nice (12th floor, nice view, seemingly decent amenities), we quickly discovered several details that were overlooked, such as the heater and the cold water tap, i.e., neither of them are working. There's also exactly ONE free outlet that a lamp isn't already plugged into, and in the bathroom there's a shelf blocking the outlet so you can't plug in a hair dryer. I will reserve judgment for tomorrow morning when I go downstairs and complain about these issues...but let's just say they'd better be offering us a room upgrade or a steep discount.

Yesterday I did some buying and picked up a few very interesting pieces that I will write about in further detail once we get back home and I can take pictures of them, etc. I also was able to visit with my good friend Kirk Albert at his wonderful shop Great Stuff. When in Seattle, GO SEE HIS SHOP. He probably has the best curated collection of interesting things, found objects and pieces of furniture in the whole Pacific NW. On the way back to drop off the truck at our rental house in Greenwood, I got stuck in one of the more hellacious traffic jams I've ever seen on Aurora Ave. N. It WAS rush hour, but still, it was ridiculous. Turns out there was a stalled car in the left hand lane (the lane I was in the whole time, of course, wondering WHY all the OTHER lanes seemed to be going so much FASTER) about 1/4 mile south of the tunnel. At least there was a good reason for it!

Tomorrow I will make the rounds again and try to scare up some more goodies. I have a 12' Penske truck to fill up, so I hope there's some stuff out there that wants to come home with me! I saw an ad on Craigslist for an estate sale in Magnolia that sounded kind of promising, and while I usually hate estate sales, I know the people running this one, and they do good work, so perhaps I'll be lucky enough to turn up a nugget or two there. The sale actually started Thursday evening, so all the obvious stuff will be sold, but I always say if it's a good enough estate, you can waltz in on the last day and buy great stuff that other people have overlooked.

So...wish us luck, both in finding great things and in getting back home to Portland in a halfway reasonable amount of time.