Atlantic Avenue Antiques

When I told you the story of our new dining room chairs, I didn’t mention the sort of shipping farce that I went through to get them. The short of it is that I went to Greyhound two different times to reprieve the chairs to no avail. The second time my mom was with me. We walked about 30 minutes over to the store only to find it closed for a few hours “for mothers day.” Of course the few hours would fall right in the time that we’d gone to the trouble to head to the store. And remember this was my SECOND attempt to pick up those chairs. My poor mother witnessed my frustration reaching new levels and patiently waited for a recovery.

Of course, I’ve had run-ins with retail therapy before. But now I can firmly attest to the power of antique therapy, at least for me. My spirits were immediately lifted in just one block of Atlantic Avenue’s antique shops. And I didn’t even have to buy anything. (But I still wanted to.) Here’s a mini peek of some of the terrific shops on Atlantic Avenue.

See those cans? They are actually candles. Good move, Collier and West! Also, any store with a sea of chandeliers automatically gets magical points. It’s a treatment that doesn’t translate to residential quite as well though.


Sterling Place has always been one of my favorite Park Slope shops and the Atlantic Avenue didn’t disappoint. I love the idea of using letterpress blocks for picture or name cards. Also, I’m obsessed with having a hot air balloon in my future nursery ever since I didn’t buy a fabulous balloon from a shop in Chelsea years ago. This one’s pretty adorable!

Oh man, who doesn’t want to get lost in Horseman Antiques? Is it completely overwhelming? Totally. Is it worth spending hours wandering through? Definitely. Would I recommend leaving a bread crumb path? Possibly. BTW, I found their collection of metal cabinets especially impressive.

Atlantic Avenue, I’ve only begun to conquer you.

Images via Salvaged Grace.

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Caton Avenue

Even though we’re not planning to move anytime soon, I like to keep an ever-watchful eye on the Brooklyn real estate market. I’m not sure why, sometimes it feels like self-imposed torture. For instance, a few months ago I came across a property that had me convincing BC we should forget the big wedding and instead buy this house. It was actually affordable – by NY standards, anyways! The property is not too far from our neighborhood but in a bit of a thoroughfare with less shops and stores than we have now. But that was about the only downside. Ladies and gentleman, may I introduce you to Caton Avenue, the Brooklyn house of my dreams.

Aside from the airyness of the space and the handsome exterior, there’s a garage, 4 bedrooms, outdoor space and a full basement that could potentially serve as a rental income apartment. I can’t stop looking at the floorplan without imagining what I’d want to do in that kitchen. See where I drew the two red circles, those areas are my main locations for attack. And since I’m completely consumed with the idea of renovating this property, I thought I’d show you my “plans” for the space. This almost seems sad doesn’t it? Imagining the renovation of a house that’s not yours – sigh. On the upside, it does get my creative juices flowing…

Let’s start with the floorplan. This gives you a bird’s eye view of what I’d want to do. Mainly I’d make a minor tweak to the structure of the pantry so that you have a better view from the front door out the back and, the big change; to blow out that old school wall/bar and replace it with a huge kitchen/dining island. Since there’s little to no cabinet space, the other wall of the dining room would be fitted with custom floor to ceiling shelves framing a dining area.

Here’s a little more detail and visuals on each section of the space.

First order of business, creating that clear line of vision to the back door. And replacing that old wood framed door with something both heftier and more modern.

The kitchen wall isn’t a large space. I’d want it accommodate a larger fridge and a beautiful stove. I love the idea of tiling the wall with shiny, white subway tiles and then using the space to the left of the stove/oven to hang a gorgeous photograph or painting. I really want kitchens to feel like a room and decorated as such.

I’m not sure about the materials for the cabinets/countertop. Maybe a sleek wood with a white granite countertop? Or a matted black with a butcher block wood style countertop?

The kitchen island should feel almost like a piece of furniture, in fact, it could potentially be a huge, salvaged chest that is repurposed and re-designed to accommodate a sink, dishwasher, a bar, and all kinds of other custom elements. I might use different materials than the kitchen wall, but definitely they’d be coordinating.

Then there’s the wall of the dining room. Since the kitchen is so small, I’d create a lot of storage with a built in cabinet/shelf unit that has a center opening for a dining bench. I’d want the cabinets to almost create a frame for the dining bench and table.

As for the dining table, I could go for a chunky, organic wood slab table or something more modern, like the table below from Arta Vironi that I’ve had a crush on for some time! The dining bench should essentially be a sofa. The idea is that the room be fitting of formal occasions, but also be perfect for BC sitting there with his laptop, comfy while he works.

Then, finally, and I don’t know why I didn’t cover this at the beginning but the pantry would feel flush with the fridge and be perfectly organized and functional.

I wish I’d created a kickstarter campaign to buy that house. Wouldn’t you have liked to see that renovation take place?! We have a great deal on our rent so it makes sense to keep saving a few more years before investing in a house, especially with the wedding coming up. But still… It’s hard to believe a property like this will come to market again!

One final note, Salvaged Grace is all about repurposing and preservation, of course, but I also believe in renovations that keep the integrity of a space while making it more modern and relevant. That’s how I’d want to approach this or any renovation; keep the good bones and repurpose (kitchen island) or salvage (cabinets, appliances) as much as possible, but also bring in the right new elements to make a very lovely, modern traditional space.

Caton Avenue photos and floorplan via Halstead. Back Door: See from the front door to back via Heirloom, Modern iron french doors via You are the River/Vogue Kitchen area: White Tile via That Kind of Woman, Cabinets to the ceiling via House and Home, Impressive hood via Little Green Notebook, Large scale framed photo via The Aestate, Wood cabinets via Brabourne Farm, Black cabinets via Two Ellie Island Bar: Furniture like island via CocoCozy , Wood counter and painted Island via House Beautiful, Table lamps of island via Atlanta Homes, Custom elements via Southern Living Custom Cabinets/Shelves: Custom cabinets via Elements of Style, Cabinets frame bench via The City Sage Bench and Table: High back bench via Cote de Texas, Framed bench via This is Glamorous, Dream Table via Arta Vironi, Chair via Nightwood, Sofa via CS Post and Co Pantry: Flush Doors via Southern Living, Highly organized via IHeartOrganizing

Repop NY

Oooh, I’ve been so in love with Repop NY for a super long time. They have incredible mid century and industrial pieces.  But (and I’m ashamed to say this) I just never made it over to their Washington Ave, Brooklyn store. Recently, I saw on their website (that I stalk so frequently for vintage loot) that they opened a Williamsburg store. Ca-ching! I also noticed something in their storage section that needed some checking out. And so, I asked BC to take me on a date night to see The Artist (so good!), which was playing at the Nitehawke Cinema (they serve dinner during the movie – phenomenal), which happens to be a few blocks down from the new Repop Williamsburg. And here are images from the new shop and some pieces I found and love from their online store:

I noticed that Repop seems to have a good number of multiple use pieces right now. A picnic table that folds. A fan in a table. Oh Repop, you know what I like.

And as for that “something in their storage section that needed some checking out”… well, it also needed some having. As in ME, I needed to have it. I’m still working out the styling and decor in the kitchen, but here’s a sneak peek of my new find in action.

Images via Salvaged Grace and Repop NY

Holler and Squall

 A few weeks ago I was walking to Atlantic Avenue from Brooklyn Heights and I came upon a shop with a giant taxidermy peacock in the window. “Must go in…”

Inside, I could barely contain my delight in this wonderland of taxidermy, architectural elements, deep chesterfields, aged to perfection textiles… They call it Holler and Squall and if you are in the New York vicinity… you must go there

The store owner, Zak (whom I met when I visited and was so gracious) grew up working construction. Perhaps that explains the incredible plays with scale, shapes and architectural pieces. Gillette is a third generation antiques dealer – quite a pedigree! This couple has not only incredible taste and a good eye, but also an amazing talent for putting together absolutely breathtaking vignettes. And for the record, if you put a cute baby on a settee in a shop window, I will likely attempt to purchase both.

Images via Salvaged Grace and Holler and Squall

Interview with I Like Mike’s Mid Century Modern

Boy, do I have a treat for ya’ll – a super, delux interview with Mike of I Like Mike’s Mid Century Modern. I’ve written about Mike’s work before, and he so graciously agreed to answer my marathon of questions. Mike’s work is absolutely exquisite and his passion for midcentury modern design is infectious! Read all the way to the end, I promise it’s worth it. 

Welcome, Mike! How did you get into this business of refurbishing and selling furniture?

I started working with wood and making furniture when I was in high school. We had an amazing shop program and I took advantage of it to the fullest extent. The shop teacher really appreciated that I wanted to make stuff and wasn’t just there to sneak out back and smoke, so he spent a lot of time mentoring me – I learned so much in my four years there. When most kids who took shop were just going through the motions, I was busy learning to make furniture.

I also have woodworking and carpentry in my blood going back to my great grandfathers on both sides, both of which built their own homes from the ground up, including all of the finish carpentry. My grandfather as well was an accomplished wood and metal worker and we used to spend a lot of time tinkering and building together. He taught me so much about constructing and deconstructing. I actually still use some of the tools that belonged to him, which were given to him by his father. And my father was very handy with mechanics as well – in fact there was very little he couldn’t fix himself. I’m sure I picked up tons of common sense from watching and helping him through the years.

I got into this business because we bought a brownstone in Bed Stuy Brooklyn seven years ago and all of my latent building talents (latent because I spent my first ten years in New York in show biz concentrating on being a comedian, but that’s a different interview) were again called upon and quite necessary to make this real estate venture fly. No kitchens, no bathrooms, top dollar, and we were thrilled to get in. Needles to say, this was before the housing bubble burst. Anyway, we have a full basement so the first thing I did was to set up my dream wood shop and once the major projects were finished on the house, I once again started repairing and restoring antique furniture. 

What’s it like to be a shop owner?

I’m quite surprised by the fact that I really enjoy it. We’re by appointment only, so it’s not like I sit here all day long every day waiting for customers to drop in. So there’s no ‘mundane’ aspect to our formula. Most of my days are spent working on multiple projects, all in different stages of progress. I derive so much satisfaction from the restoration process that it never seems like work to me.

It’s also important (and I’m very happy to) acknowledge the help and support of Leecia, my partner in life as well as a full partner in the business. In an amazing stroke of luck, a few years ago she was laid off right when I needed her expertise to help make this business graduate from being a hobby to a full-time pursuit. In her prior life, she helped develop a whole new wing of a major organization and now she’s bringing her wealth of experience to our endeavor. I couldn’t be happier that she’s on the case. Or is it my case. Okay, I’m sure I need the extra push once in a while. Anyway she’s now in charge of most of the front end, including marketing, internet development, copy writing, product listing, website maintenance and development and much more. Tons of responsibility and I’m thrilled to pawn it all off on her.

My 5-year-old daughter Stella is such a joy to have in the shop too. Whenever we have open browsing hours, she loves to greet the customers with a tray of refreshments.

The bottom line is that I’m absolutely thrilled and incredibly lucky to have a studio and shop in my home. One flight of steps is just about the best commute a guy could ever ask for!

What it is about mid century modern furniture that interests you?

The optimism. The experimental nature of the time. The shedding of centuries-old expectations regarding the use and purpose of furniture and objects in the Home. There were many new materials and building techniques coming into play and designers, architects and craftsmen were scrambling to utilize them in every way possible. Again, some designs worked, some didn’t. But that’s half the fun – not knowing for sure how it would all pan out.

How would you describe mid century style to someone who’s not familiar?

SHORT ANSWER: Looks great, more practical, less frills.

LONGER ANSWER: Function dictating form. Clean, colorful, sharp and floating – an effect achieved mainly by putting thin legs on large objects thus lifting them from the floor and allowing SPACE underneath, which results in that object literally taking up less PSYCHIC space in the mind of the occupant. Very man-made – in other words a celebration of human engineering, i.e., to achieve the aforementioned ‘floating’ effect, man had to outsmart the physics that dictated the furniture designs from the prior millennium or two.

What’s the most dramatic piece you revived?

I’d imagine that your home is super cool. Is your personal style also mid century modern? If not, how would you describe how your home is decorated? 

We do have many MCM pieces incorporated into our own décor – I mean it’s tough when you live over the shop not to borrow once in a while. Okay, steal. The clean aesthetic actually coexists quite nicely with the older design (C. 1896) of the brownstone. They seem to compliment each other and bring out their respective strengths. How’s that for a general answer?

Tell me about a piece in your home that is an heirloom, whether it was passed down to you or its something that you’d want to continue along your family line.

I do have a table that belonged to my great grandmother, which my mother refinished some years ago. I’m sure we’ll always find a way to keep that in play. And as I mentioned, all of my earlier pieces are in my mother’s home and it would be nice to think that they won’t someday end up in the Sarasota Salvation army. Hopefully my daughter will have some of my work when she’s old enough to realize that it’s not great for the finish to drag a fork over it numerous times, then write on it with a permanent marker that she’s not even allowed to have, which she found in my desk drawer that she’s not allowed to open, but we somehow always allow her to anyway. We are definitely not MCM-era parents. She is seen and heard.

Who’s your favorite mid century designer or manufacturer?

I do like Paul McCobb’s work – he was practically a rock star for most of the fifties and sixties. He also liked the angles. Definitely George Nelson and Harvey Probber pieces have made up a large part of my restoration projects as well.

It was quite a nice exchange where he wrote of, as a child, helping his father with the design of that same chair in his home studio. I was touched that he shared those moments with me as it was obvious that his father was very dear to him. 

Many think of Mad Men when they think of mid century modern (at least I do), are there any other current pop references that nail the look well? 

There are a few other shows – Pan Am being the most relevant to the period – that capture the overall MCM aesthetic. I have to say that since becoming involved in the designs of this era, I’ve become hyper aware and see bits and pieces reminiscent of the time in many movies and TV shows which went unnoticed to me when I’d seen these shows earlier in my life. It’s interesting to now be able to specifically identify the designer of a table in the background of a scene in a movie from the sixties. An example would be great here, but unfortunately I can’t think of one at the moment. But I swear it happens…

What are your favorite spots in the neighborhood where your store is located?

My neighborhood has its own unique historic character and it’s actually becoming a destination for artists the way Soho once was and then more recently Williamsburg. As those places become co-opted by wealth, the innovators and risk-takers venture further out and now it happens to be here where they are landing. As such, there are more and more 30-somethings on skateboards. And these ‘boarders’ need their places to go so there have been some great new businesses that have opened in the last few years. They are, in order of proximity to us,

We just can’t figure out their resistance to opening an establishment where people come to spend two dollars and then subsequently sit there for eight hours using your cream, sugar, napkins, electricity, bandwidth and bathroom. Guess these guys don’t know a good investment when it’s staring them in the face.

And I want to give a shout-out to Josie at The Little Red Boutique, on Lewis, because she’s got a great buyer’s eye and had the entrepreneurial spunk to open such a chic place in this neighborhood years ago. It’s a great thing to be able to walk a few short blocks with my 5-year-old to buy a gift for her mom.

What are your 4 favorite products in the store right now?

The truth is that I love pretty much everything in the shop – that’s why it’s all here. I consider this more of a collection than just plain old inventory. But I don’t mind highlighting a piece or two…

Custom Media Center

Lamps, Clock

Parsons Desk

I also have to mention two of the latest pieces that designed and custom built for private clients. The first  was an eleven foot long, three piece sectional sofa in the floating Danish style. It was a real challenge to make this thing sturdy and I will never underestimate the shear power of strategically placed steel. 

WOW. I hope you guys enjoyed Mike’s Interview as much as I did. Thanks so much, Mike!

Images via I Like Mike’s MidCentury Modern

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