One of the most active design trends, Mid-Century Modern, is at once affordable and crazy expensive. Over the past several years the demand for furniture and architecture from 1940-1970 has skyrocketed. If you have shopped for authentic Mid-Century Modern pieces, you know that your refined design preference can come with a hefty price tag especially as demand drives prices up.
If only the best in Mid-Century Modern decor will do, Herman Miller is still producing those iconically designed pieces such as the Eames Chair, the Noguchi Table and the Marshmallow Sofa. Knoll is also still pumping out Florence Knoll sofas, Bertola Chairs and Saarinen and Platner Dining tables.
You can even have a Malm Fireplace, formerly known as Preway, Malm is the same design, just now owned by a US company called Malm out of San Francisco. HINT: Buy Malm fireplaces directly from them and you will have access to more colors but you’ll pay top dollar. http://www.malmfireplaces.com
If you are strapped for time, but not strapped for cash, visit DesignWithinReach at www.dwr.com to fulfill your Mid-Century Modern design fantasy. They carry original designs from Herman Miller and Knoll furniture along with many other iconic Mid-Century Modern brands. To get that signature piece (or two) simply visit their site and with a click of your computer, have it delivered to your door within days. Then, invite me over to drool at your beautiful piece. I will accept a glass of wine (or two) and then politely excuse myself for the evening as I plot my flea market and online hunt for something more affordable. You can also search online for top dealers in your area or online. They will provide high quality pieces, in many cases, hard to find items and museum quality pieces. Ask for proof of authenticity.
Many Baby Boomers grew up with “Danish Modern” (Lucky ducks) in the 50s, 60s and 70s and find the clean lines boring, cold or old fashioned. So, when they go to sell their Mom’s home, they don’t value the decor and send it to Goodwill or have an estate sale to clean out the house. The more savvy ones may call an antique dealer or put it on eBay. Some may opt for the more pedestrian CraigsList option. Ive gotten some cool stuff on CraigsList by people who just want to get rid of stuff for any price. I like these people. A lot.
Depending upon where you live, Mid-Century Modern may be hotter than in other areas of the country. If you are major metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, you probably are not going to find many Mid-Century Modern bargains because there are more discerning collectors in those areas. Stick with eBay and getting things from people selling them in other parts of the country.
What I would like to now offer, dear Reader, is a list of ideas on where to find Mid-Century Modern bargains. Lord knows I have more taste, less money, so I have honed my hunting skills and am excited to share my insights with you.
Of course, we all know about eBay. There are some sellers that focus on Mid-Century Modern furniture and decor.
These are primarily antique dealers and pickers who find items from customers or who regularly scour estate sales for items that they know will sell well online.
The problem with eBay is obvious. You can’t touch it and really inspect it before you buy it. Be particularly cautious of buying used upholstered pieces online. You can’t smell or touch the item you are going to sit or perhaps lay on. As my Mother used to say “You don’t know where its been”. So, personally, I use eBay for art and for items that are not going to touch my skin or my lips, like lamps, vases, clocks, etc.
When I am searching for my key iconic pieces, I either go to my favorite Mid-Century dealer in Denver http://www.modmood.com or search my local CraigsList http://denver.craigslist.org/search/hsa?query=Mid+Century+Modern and inspect the item before buying. In Denver, ModMood is my favorite dealer. The owners, Jeanne and Will, are wonderful people and sell good reproductions as well as quality consignment and used pieces. That’s where the real fun is, in the four huge former green houses that now contain hundreds of consigned and used pieces from sofas to old hair salon chairs and even an old Preway or two.
I bought our Preway at ModMood for a fraction of the cost of a new one, as well as this awesome bar which Jeanne had reupholstered for a nominal fee.
Search online for good local dealers and go visit them. Form a relationship and see how open they are to price negotiation. If you are in a very small town, you may not have many shopping options either with dealers or on CraigsList, so either look for the next largest city from you or be ready to buy without kicking the proverbial tires. You may have some dealers in town who have some items and not a lot of buyers, so keep visiting those local dealers. Tell them what you are looking for and give them your contact info so they can call or email you when they find something you may like.
But, If you are in a mid-sized city like Denver, CraigsList is a veritable treasure trove of Mid-Century Modern bargains.
I bought a beautiful 1962 Magnavox stereo turntable console from a young realtor/house flipper through CraigsList about 4 years ago for $40. He had just purchased a very cool Mid-Century Modern home from its original owners and this was their stereo.
The sales receipt from 1962 was still inside the cabinet. When I turned the radio in it on, it crackled, but the FM station came through loud and clear. I turned to the 30ish year old realtor and said “Magnavox. The quality goes in before the name goes on.”
I also scored on this 1965 Valley Cougar pool table. Notice it’s awesome peg legs and mid-tone wood. It was $100. The lady just wanted it out of her garage. We’ve had many tournaments on this old gal. She needs new bumpers and could use new felt, but for teen parties, she’s great. By the way, the missing pennant behind the table is from the 2014 Super Bowl, when the Seattle Seahawks creamed the Denver Broncos. Its too painful to put that pennant up.
So, now to the fun part. Time consuming, but fun. Flea Markets and estate sales. YES! My heart skips a beat just thinking about the season. The hunt, the find, the haggle. Oh, AMERICA! Is there nothing better on a Saturday morning than wrapping your change purse around your waist and hitting the road in search of the ultimate find? Im sure you all know how to find Estate Sale listings in your area. Go online to your local newspaper’s classifieds and search. Map out the ones that sound the most promising and go. Bring cash. Haggle, but don’t be cheap about it. You know the difference. Haggling will make you feel like it was a win-win deal. Being cheap will make you feel a bit slimy. Before you go, make a list of what you ideally want to find, note any measurements, color or special details you are looking for.
Here’s a list of the Top 20 Flea Markets in the US. How many have you been to? Spring is weeks away, so make a plan, map your trip and get out there for the bargains!
I’ll hit some Flea Markets and some Estate Sales this Spring and Summer and post my finds. Mid-Century Modern Redeux! Its chic, affordable and fun!