Every now and then in a rare Chicago moment, you’ll find something at an unexpected yard sale that is a steal. We often say that Windy City peeps are too smart for their britches, and landing a deal on a piece of furniture is like finding that needle in a haystack (or finding that ever-elusive 5 panel door). Most things are sold at a premium, and typing the words “mid-century modern” or “danish” into the Craigslist bar is no different price-wise than purchasing brand new.
We’re currently in a state of refurnishing this home, since up-sizing from 675 sq ft to almost 2,000 sq ft has left us with a lot of bare rooms. It’s ridiculously exciting to know that we’re essentially starting over (our sofa looks teeny in the new living room), but it’s also daunting. (A fun daunt, if you know what we mean.) But! A few weekends ago, we stumbled upon an alley sale, and $15 (and a good clean-up) later, we came home with this:
As we wind down summer, those neon SALE! signs are plentiful, but this time, a very unassuming alley sale held an insane amount of old bureaus, cabinets, tables and decor knick-knacks. Scott is constantly coaching me to keep my poker face (I’m terrible at this, just awful), but even he got excited when we pulled up and found all this:
In the way back of a Tetris-stacked garage, we found our little end table – when it comes to rummage sales, we always say, you don’t know what you need until you see it! – and a quick internet search for American of Martinsville (which was branded on the inside of the drawer) turned up some pretty hefty price tags. (Right away, I found our table’s twin on Etsy for $200; score!) It was beautiful as-is, but a 30 minute conditioning and new hardware was all it needed to take it from so-so to whistle inducing.
THE CLEAN-UP: The wood felt dry and slightly brittle, and there were a few water rings that needed to be buffed out. We didn’t go crazy sanding the whole thing, but Scott took out the mouse sander for the tabletop and drawer front, then I followed that up with our tried and true 3-step wood refresh method using Murphy’s Oil Soap, Danish Oil and Howard’s Feed-N-Wax.
There was a simple decorative inlay on the tabletop that shone through (and seemed to pick up more contrast) with every step, and with the exception of a slight burn mark, the rest of the imperfections buffed right out. Overall, the color of the wood darkened nicely, and the Feed-N-Wax pulled through with a pretty, low shine.
We ordered these Richelieu pulls from Myknobs.com (the same place we picked up the hardware for our fauxdenza), which, I mean, can’t you see? They’re the icing on the cake! Yum. (They’re so pretty, I’m saying things like yum.)
Eventually, this will go in our living room, but considering that we don’t yet have a ceiling… well, for now, it’s sitting in the studio (which is equally unimpressive) until we start seeing drywall above our heads. Update: our contractor’s job prior to us has taken a bit longer than planned for, so we’re still waiting for them to officially kick things off here. Are we antsy? Yes. Are we flustered at the exposed studs, mis-matched floors and the inability to do anything about it? Yes. But ice cream helps.
At a time where we’re still hanging out in this very bizarre in-between stage – there’s no point in starting any larger projects until all the drywall dust has settled, after all – it’s so nice to knock out something small and very, very satisfying. How this will fit into the living room plans is still unraveling in our minds, too, but you can’t go wrong with lines like that. (Insert whistle sound here.)
LOVE! I am trying to find a good second hand store in this neck of the woods that carries good furniture! What a great find!
Good find! Love the pulls.
I can’t remember if I blogged about it or not, but we bought a 3 piece bedroom set off of craigslist a few years ago, and later after doing some research found that it was worth a lot more, it was also american of martinsville. The piece that we use for our media stand is probably the most expensive piece of furniture that we own in terms of value, but thanks to craigslist we hardly paid anything for it.
What a cute find! I love the new knobs.
Katie, your media stand is awesome! Just like you, I think my favorite part is the pulls – so, so good.
ooh! nice find. those pulls look really great, too.
Wow, that is such a cool find. Aren’t you glad you dug through the mountains of furniture to find it? And I love how you cleaned it up, and that inlay! We have found some interesting things in our back alley that are worth a little something (especially since we got them for free), but we still have to freshen them up before we can use them.
The end table looks fantastic! Great choice on the hardware!
I totally know what you mean about getting antsy about the contractors not kicking things off yet! Our contractors dry-walled half the bathroom, but have now had to take 2 days off. I’m trying to be understanding, but mostly I’m getting nervous. Chocolate (and bourbon) helps.
Laura, NOTHING beats a free alley find! We have a dresser that’s waiting for some love…
Cait, is it bad that desserts and drinks help so much? ;)
Total steal! Adorable little table and you’re 100% right. Those pulls MAKE it. I’m adding Feed N Wax to my Home Depot run, too. Seems like magic.
Probably a little bad? But I don’t care, because of all the drinks and chocolate!
Also, I just remembered that I need to do a little bit of refreshing on some mid century nightstands that my mom rescued from her neighbor’s trash for me… BUT THERE ARE BATHROOM FIXTURES IN THE WAY.
Great find! It’s always so refreshing to see before and afters that aren’t just painted wood!
As a side note, I’ve been loving your posts about your new house. Such a huge undertaking!
Get out of my head! My husband and I just moved into a condo in Roscoe Village, and are refurnishing. I’m wanting mid century pieces and so I scour craigslist but everything is priced the same as new pieces and so it is hard to get my husband on board with the idea of second hand. I guess I’m glad to hear those prices are just the nature of Chicago!
Amber, hang in there! You’ll find something when you least expect it!
Stunning guys! You are so crafty….and courageous! :)
Cute table! How big is it? I feel like sometimes great pieces like that do not match the height of more modern furniture. I’d be interested in seeing how you use it in a living room or something…but love it and it looks 10x’s better all freshened up.
ps. totes right about not being able to land a great bargain in the city! even thrift stores like howard brown are pricey! great find!
Ashley, it’s pretty big! The biggest end table we’ve ever had…
this comment is anything but original. oh wellll, LOVE IT! :)
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You find the BEST stuff, seriously.