Our Home Furnishings Are More Find than Design
By Stacy Milbouer and Tom Long
Fiddlehead Contributing Editors
Writing about retail-resale fashion for this issue made us wonder if we were not just walking the walk in previously owned ensembles, but recycling in other aspects of our life.
So, we took inventory and were proud to discover that after nearly 25 years of courtship and marriage we have purchased no more than three pieces of new furniture. The rest we’ve gleaned from estate and yard sales, thrift shops, antique boutiques and charity stores.
Truth be told, we still don’t share a lot of the same interests. Tom loves the outdoors – hiking, camping, stepping out the front door. Stacy’s idea of outdoor recreation is walking to the car to drive to any movie house in a big city.
Tom loves jazz. Stacy needs to leave the room at the first strains of “Take Five” and begs Alexa to play anything by James Taylor.
But from the get-go, we both loved shopping for other people’s stuff, and our upcycled mill apartment and its furnishings are proof.
As we sit pecking away at our laptops, we are overlooked by “That Gentleman,” a print of a man in repose by Andrew Wyeth. We bought it at the New Hampshire Antiques Co-op for $50 — arguably the least expensive piece in a shop, which sells exquisite paintings for tens of thousands of dollars.
The salesman who sold it said, “If you’re interested, I think there’s another cheap Wyeth print upstairs.”
We didn’t know whether we were being insulted, but no matter, we love the print with its rustic wood frame and its expansive size, which matched our latest acquisition – a three-shelf rolling wooden rack, which once did duty in a local industrial mill. Perhaps even ours.
We have all sorts of mill memorabilia — a tubular container that once held large skeins of yarn and now serves as giant wastebasket; a 100-year-old wooden spool holder we reimagined into a display rack for china bought at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Nashua.
The Jetson-esque, spindle-legged footstool at our feet came from Antiques on Elm in Manchester. It was a gift for the lover of all things mid-century modern in our house – herself a mid-century modern relic.
We discovered and loved a 6-foot-tall, black-enamel floor lamp so much we purchased four at the Quality Pre-Loved Furniture and More in Merrimack. They are scattered throughout our flat.
The great leather and wood Bassett Morris chair, sometimes called “the throne” because of its formidable size and princely position in the best corner of the apartment, came from New Beginnings Furniture Consignment in Salem.
The funky olive drab metal filing cabinet with drawers for files and index cards stands in a corner like a ghost of the 1930s. We got it at Snap! It’s Vintage in Nashua. It is reputed to have once done duty at New Hampshire Fish and Game Department in Concord. And above it hangs a 19th-century map of the Nashua millyard, where we now live, purchased at an estate sale run by “PL” — Nashua’s inimitable Baroness of Bric-a-brac.
The farmer’s table that we’ve upgraded to the dining room was purchased from a long-defunct shop on West Pearl Street in Nashua. It’s surrounded by six mid-century metal and chrome chairs we got at The Melamine Cup in Jaffrey.
The brushed-steel end tables in the living room came from Déjà Vu in Derry, and the ladder-topped coffee table from the Consignment Gallery in Bedford.
Yes, we’re believers in reuse, recycle, reimagine. But it’s also just a lot of fun to go shopping without a clue what you’re going to find, but also have no idea what you’re actually looking for until it finds you.