Some of the coolest people I know have these dining tables in their homes. (Exhibit A: Tracey and Rod Berkowitz, owners of Zinc Home in Lambertvile, who live here.) This particular table might look vintage, but it’s actually made by the talented craftspeople behind Lostine, a wholesale home furnishings company founded by Robert True Ogden.
I guess we can say that we’ve finally made it as a real world-class city: We have a piece of furniture named after us. And not just any piece of furniture, but a whole couch!
The ‘Philly’ couch is by BoConcept, that modern design haven on Chestnut Street and in KOP that feels like a fancier, grown-up version of IKEA. The company claims that it’s the first-ever BoConcept sofa named for an American city; I’m not so sure of this. I found a reclining couch called Madison, and even a modular couch called Fargo. FARGO? We came in after FARGO?
The massive Kensington warehouse of Maggpie Vintage Rentals is a vintage furniture lover’s Mecca. There are vintage sofas and chairs, all manner of tables (gilded, wicker, weathered enamel, elephant-shaped—that one’s mine, guys, if it goes up for sale), and various other accessories (screens, china, trunks). Think of the best flea market you’ve ever been to. Multiply that by a million. That’s Maggpie.
The thing is, this stuff isn’t for sale. It’s all rentable for things like parties, photo shoots, weddings, events—and Philly Mag Shops (Maggpie is our fearless design team for the event, and a huge reason it all looks so darn cool). Well, the stuff wasn’t for sale … until now.
I bought a sofa at a vintage shop once. It was very long and very low-slung, with mid-century modern lines and awesome upholstery. The price was something ridiculous, like $15, and by doing very scientific measurements (i.e. counting the number of hand-widths across it and squinting my eyes) I decided that it’d be a perfect fit for our bedroom, placed at the end of the bed so that we could toss our clothes and bags on it at the end of the day. It would be like a bench-couch, and I would lounge across it in a dressing gown and read my books with a martini like a very glamorous Rita Hayworth.
The only problem was that when I took the sofa out of the cavernous shop and put it in our less-than-cavernous bedroom, I realized the thing was actually huge. Like nine-feet-long huge. I ended up having to move all of our bedroom furniture around to fit it, and five years later, the whole couch issue is still a bit of a sore subject with my husband, who was perfectly comfortable without the giant-person couch in the bedroom at all and who didn’t appreciate coming home to find the bed in a completely different spot.
There are two dozen people standing outside a nondescript Kensington warehouse at Cecil B. Moore and North 2nd Street, sweating it out in the sun. They aren’t lost, or part of a pub-crawl or flash mob. They’re here because they know a secret.
Twice a month, Brian Lawlor, owner of the Mid-Century Furniture Warehouse, holds vintage furniture sales, and these people know you have to queue up early if you want first dibs. Inside, there’s stuff everywhere: walnut credenzas refinished to their original splendor in the back, teak dining tables from the ’60s pushed against the wall, a hot pink splay-leg love seat on top of a dresser. Each piece here is not only stunning, but also so flawless that you’ll wonder if it’s even been used. For mid-century-modern hounds, this place is Mecca.
Finally, at noon, Lawlor opens the door, and the crowd stampedes. “I love this,” he says with a wide grin. “We find things and give them new life.”
Though summer’s best seats are arguably those that can be pulled up to the ocean’s edge, the pieces coming out of Andrea Mihalik’s Port Richmond studio are just as inviting. The award-winning former Daily News photojournalist scours auctions, estate sales and the occasional roadside for interesting chairs, then transforms them with paint, riotous fabric combinations, old-world upholstery techniques (all have horsehair, not foam stuffing) and a hefty dose of irreverence. Her chairs, each custom and commissioned through her company, Wild Chairy, tiptoe the line between art and function, giving more staid seats throne-like aspirations.
$2,500 to $3,600 at Wildchairy.com.
There are just some people you shouldn’t go shopping with, right?
You know what I’m talking about. It’s those folks who, when you go with them to the garden center for a six-pack of petunias, somehow talk you into a weeping cherry tree instead. Or you run out to Kmart for socks and come home with a futon. It’s some sort of chemical imbalance that’s set off by being in the presence of certain other human beings, your Visa card and consumer goods. I should know better by now than to go anywhere near a shopping center with my daughter. But I don’t.
One time, we bought a Buddha statue together. One time, we bought a $100 stuffed brown bear. (Hey, it was Christmas!) One time we bought a dog, but that’s another story.
This time, we bought a peacock chair.
“Isn’t this cool?” I asked Marcy in excitement as we stared at it in the local thrift shop, tucked away between old sewing machines and headboards.
“Really cool,” she agreed, admiring the elaborate curlicues of wicker. “And it’s only $15!”
But I should have realized from the struggle we had getting it into my Honda that I was also going to have trouble fitting it into my life. Read more »
Most of us are familiar with how clothing sample sales go down: wear minimal layers, battle it out over a blouse, and leave with bags bursting with newfound treasures. Did we mention this only over a span of 10 minutes? Furniture sample sales are a little different, Shoppists. They’re prime spots for finding deals on sought-after samples, with less of the aggression you’d find at their clothing sale counterparts. That’s why you need to check out Chadds Ford Studio 882; they’re hosting a sample sale right now. There are tons of deeply discounted furniture items to be had (check online, here) including this Athens Lounge Chair marked down to $2,875.50 from $7,668 (Pair it with a funky throw pillow).
Supplies are limited, so get shopping. And remember, no hair-pulling over that lust-inducing settee.
I adore Era Atomica, the mid-century store that’s as endlessly shoppable as it is wildly cramped. In news that will delight all who ever felt as though they were bulls in Era’s china shop, Passyunk Post reports that the store is moving into bigger, better digs very soon. It’s not a far move—the shop is moving only one block away, to the former Tanquest space at 1835 East Passyunk Avenue—but in terms of gaining valuable retail space, it’s huge. The move will give Era Atomica a whopping three floors and 3,000 square feet of space, which the owners plan to fill with more vintage clothing (a collab with Astro Vintage, who closed their e-store just a few weeks ago), a greater inventory of smalls and larger items like bedroom sets and sectionals, and an on-site workshop where they hope to offer repair and reupholstery services for mid-century furniture.
Look for the move in the next six weeks, after a nuts-to-bolts remodel of the space. Until then, get your mid-century fix with the shop’s huge sales going on right now, like this 1950s telephone table, now 50 percent off.
Photo via Passyunk Post.
The tanning salon Tan Quest at 1835 E. Passyunk Avenue closed just a few days ago, and now comes word, via Passyunk Post, that Era Atomica has snapped up the location thatfast. The owner of the mid-century modern furniture store will renovate quickly too, with plans to open her new store — a block away from her smaller current location — in about six weeks.
For more on what the expanded Era Atomica will offer, click here.