Monday, April 2, 2012

CL-inspired question: How much for very little is too much at any price?

The availability of very fine, ordinarily prohibitively priced bathroom fixtures on CL at impossibly low prices causes this enthusiastic bargain-hunter to ask: How much is too much?

This much?
What you see here are three, wide-spread, three-hole bathroom faucets with hardware, a two-hole gooseneck bathroom faucet, a hand-shower, three light sconces and 6 towel bars.  

That big faucet right in the middle front is almost certain to be the faucet in the master bath. 

All we need now is a kitchen faucet (and walls and floors and ceilings and pipes and wires and, well... everything).  
But seriously, look at these amazing, vintage nickel-plated towel bars!!!

I took all 6 at $25 a pop.  I know that isn't a giveaway price, but see what you get from Home Depot or Lowes for $25 -- IT'S KREEEEPPPPPP!!!  So this was a no-brainer, except that V is going to say, "noooooo!!! we don't need it all!!!" and she will be correct.  So let me explain...

At $35 each, these two brushed nickel sconces from Waterworks (originally $350ish) seemed like an easy solution to either the master bath or guest bath lighting situation.  They would use a clip-on shade (i.e., a shade that clips onto the outside of the bulb).

(and another one just like this one above, but in shiny chrome)

All of this raises a new question: can we get away with mixed metals in the master bath? All the tub hardware is light colored brass.  The shower hardware is all nickel-plated, but that won't show because it is inside the shower and we're probably not going to have a full glass-walled shower. The towel bars are nickel.  The toilet is mercifully free of metal details, although there is a tiny sprig of chromed brass on the flush lever.  It might be odd to put brushed nickel over a brass faucet, so maybe these sconces are better in the guest bath (or on ebay).  The copper bar sink is just folly - folly that will almost certainly find it's way to ebay (but that should pay for the shipping on everything else).

Whatever whatever.  It's all good.  All totaled, the amount I have spent on plumbing fixtures so far is still less than two high quality shower units would have cost (and we have three of those now).  Some of this will inevitably end up on ebay and, maybe just maybe, we can cover the cost of the stuff we keep.


CL possibility: Apron Front Sink

There is a Kohler enameled cast iron, apron-front kitchen sink on CL right now.  It is white, model # K6546, dimensions are 33'' wide by 22'' deep by 7.5'' deep - it's a heavy sucker at 134 lbs.  These cost over $1100 new and the seller is asking $150 for this one - brand spanking new, but with an "imperfection" in the enamel at the back corner - a little series of hairline cracks.  
We definitely want an apron front sink (see earlier post on apron-front sinks) but the nice ones cost upwards of $700.  Even the Ikea version costs $312 and it is ceramic, not cast iron.  So, I am inclined to live with the little cracks for the price - it looks lived in but it is not chipping or flaking.  If we were planning to have fancy stone counters cut to fit around it, I would probably think twice, but I think we'll be living with homemade thick wood counters initially.  Anyway, final decision is V's.  See the pictures below. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cold Day makes GREAT Stoop Sale-ing!

I have a compulsion - I shop at stoop sales (what we call yard sales or garage sales in our neighborhood).  I have a special backpack I wear just for stoop sale-ing and nothing else.  In an effort to maybe cut back on acquisitions of unneeded knick knacks, I am going to try to account for the things I buy at stoop sales.  Here we go...

It was pretty chilly out today but from what I saw on the CL "garage sales" listings for my part of town it seems Stoop Sale Season has begun.  So I boarded my bike and zipped around my hood and a few neighboring neighborhoods and hit as many stoop sales as I could find.

I picked up a number of smaller items:
  • A Chateau Laguiole gran cru corkscrew with olivewood handle and teflon coated screw ($3)

  • Neil Gaiman's "Mr. Punch" graphic novel in hardcover ($2)

  • Books of Kertesz and Muybridge photography ($2)

  • 3 Sheets of Elvis Presley 29c stamps - 40 per page ($10 - explain to me why someone sold me $34.80 worth of postage for $10?!)

  • A selection of home design books ($1 each of less) - I still prefer flipping through books to surfing blogs.  Blogs just seem so infinite and uncurated whereas someone had to either convince someone a book was worth printing or pay to print it themself, either or which increases the likelihood that it isn't completely haphazard (like this blog for instance).

  • The Complete New Yorker on 10 CD ROMs - brand new in shrinkwrap ($1).  I've been wanting this so I can go back and read a few famous profiles that I have read about.  Anyway, it is the entire run of the New Yorker from way back whenever - seems worth having. 

  • This extremely exciting book about non-residential structures that have been "Converted into Houses" ($1).  This is one of those books I look forward to flipping through with V some evening.

  • Sorel boots for V.  Like new ($5).

  • A Belkin folding stand for an ipad.  V was excited about this because she pulls up recipes on the ipad and uses them while cooking but then the pad is just lying there and gets flour or butter or whatever on it.  So this is actually useful. ($5)

This is not at all useful.  This is an old brass gas light fixture.  I bought it mostly because the detail work on the gascock is great - specifically, I like that the gascock has a relief of a cock on it. ($2)

But here's the thing, today turned out, I think, to be one of the best stoop sale days ever.  I picked up this painting from a poorly attended stoop sale run by two middle school age girls.  

As you can see, it is a young lady doing unspeakable things to a turkey.  I kind of love it.

I asked where it came from and they said, in unison, "the basement".  The frame doesn't look very old to me, but the brown backing paper is dry and flaking so it has to be on the older side, plus the way it is framed as seen through holes in the backing paper is extremely well done with wooden spacers and corner pieces and little nails - and there is a narrow linen mat around the painting on the front.  How much, "five dollars." So I pulled out five dollars and made it mine.  

To anyone who worries that maybe these young ladies were deaccessioning their parents' art collection without permission, worry not.  As I was paying, their father came out and saw that I bought the painting and he sort of shrugged.  I asked where it came from and he said it came from his mother's house and maybe before that his grandmother's house - "probably a hundred years old" he says. I looked for a signature and found one, but it isn't a name I recognize. Then we joked about there maybe being a copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden behind the brown paper backing.  But he puts that to rest saying it is virtually certain that there are no copies of the Declaration of Independence floating around the [insert Russian-Jewish name here] family.  

And that was that - almost.  I was on my bike and didn't want to carry it around but also didn't want to cut short my stoop sale-ing to take it home.  So, courting disaster, I left the painting there (at the top of the stoop behind the girls so it was out of the way and not visible) to pick up later - they promised they would be around for a couple more hours and if they weren't then I could ring the bell and get it.  I worried briefly that they might change their minds or someone else might come along and recognize the signature, but it seemed unlikely).  

Anyway, long story short, I got it home and showed it to V and she likes it a lot.  

Then I googled the signature:

I compared the signature with the signatures of a bunch of paintings I found online by one M. Adlen, and they match.  It seems this person, Michel Adlen (1898-1980) is a real guy with a real reputation as a painter and his work sells frequently at auction.  It isn't Cezanne prices or anything, but 700 Euros for a painting is nothing to sneeze at.  Plus, we really really really like the painting.  

So there you go.  I picked up a real painting by a real person and we're going to hang it and refer to it as "the Adlen".  "Have you seen my sunglasses?" "Have you looked on the table under the Adlen?"  See! It just works!!