Friday, June 8, 2012

Living in Style (in New York): Part I

Hi y'all! I'm back from an unofficial hiatus--what with essays, end of year assignments, and GRADUATION(!?) I decided to write once I was officially settled in New York. What a whirlwind it's been! I start work in a little under two weeks, but until then I've been setting up my apartment and decorating my room.

This will be the first in a two- or three-part series about decorating an apartment on a budget in New York, and the lengths I've gone to in order to have my room perfect. The motto that has served me well when searching for the perfect things to create my perfect room: Have unreasonable expectations and never compromise them. What you want does exist, and you will find it if you work hard enough.

Since I just graduated I'm obviously on a very tight budget, which has led me to decorate and furnish my apartment mostly with things from secondhand stores, Marshall's/TJ Maxx, flea markets, and the fabulous Salvation Army on 46th between 10th and 11th. My two favorite second hand stores are both in Chelsea on W 17th and 7th.

 Angel Street Thrift Shop:

Photo credit to Angel Street Thrift Shop

And Housing Works:

Photo credit to Housing Works

Here are several examples of the awesome things to be found at thrift shops:

From Angel Street Thrift, a Bombay curve dresser in mahogany with original fittings, $250

 GORGEOUS art deco wardrobe from the 1920s, found at Angel Street Thrift. It's a blessing I bought my dresser (below) before I saw this, otherwise I instantly would have dropped $450 on it.

This is my dresser. Originally a wood sideboard to keep fine silverware and your best heirloom china set, I have converted it to my dresser.The spice cabinet on top isn't part of it, and while it doesn't look it in this picture, it's actually six feet long. A bargain at $175 from Housing Works.

 This is truly special: a remnant of an old Cathedral pew for $60 at Housing Works. As of Wednesday it was still there! My mom could barely stand leaving it behind, but the shipping price to Texas would be absurd. I'd buy it just because it's awesome, but there is nowhere to put it! Sob...

A pretty hanging lantern for $45 from Angel Street Thrift.


 A totally cool chandelier-style lamp for $45 from Angel Street Thrift.

This is $55 at Housing Works and is a nice low bedside table or TV stand. It has sliding drawers inside of it and is in great shape.

Also on that street are a few home design stores like West Elm and Canvas, but I am staying away from stores like that. Instead, I'm hitting up flea markets. So far I've been to two. I really like the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market at W 39th and 9th every Saturday and Sunday:

They take their location in "Hell's Kitchen" very seriously

And the GreenFlea Market on the Upper West Side at 77th and Columbus:

And here are some examples of very cool things found at these fleas, as people in the know call them, hahah:

$45 at the GreenFlea for a mirrored vanity tray (or tea set tray). I want something just like this but longer, since my dresser is so long.

The first furniture piece I bought for my apartment at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market--I bought it on the spot without seeing any other chairs. Very comfy and I haven't seen anything like it since; sometimes you just have to take a chance. It was $85 and a total steal, aided by the fact that my mom reupholstered it for free (best Mom ever!). More on that later.

This is a very cool tin which, once cleaned up, would be a great place to store receipts and important papers on your dresser, vanity, or bedside table. $20 at the GreenFlea Market.

This very unique book stand is from the 1950s or so and was $23 (down from $25--woohooh...) and is PERFECT for my Bible. I found it with my friend Andrea at the GreenFlea Market.

 These are very cute, colorful key/purse/umbrella/etc. holders that are handmade for only $7. I found them at the GreenFlea Market and I think my roommate and I are going to go for the light blue one.

This mirror I haggled down to $100 from $185 but decided to leave it, because even though I need one just like it for my dresser top, I simply didn't love it. Still, it's a really nice, large antique mirror at the GreenFlea Market.

Last but not least, I will share what I've found at the Salvation Army. They have a really wide variety of things, and they have yet to fail me when I go look for furniture. As a side note, always clean whatever you buy secondhand because even if it looks clean, it's secretly filthy and carrying all kinds of fun allergens and germs.

This is the TV stand I ultimately bought, because while there was a nice dark one, this one had fewer scratches and the bonus of glass doors. It was $50, and after some cleaning it looks practically new.

 Case in point: this incredible cast iron and marble lamp that is by far the best bargain I've found--$40 including the original shade (not pictured)!!! This lamp is likely an antique, and it would cost many times that brand new. I LOVE the Salvation Army. you can see by comparing the above picture to the below that it cleaned up nicely with soap, water, a brush, and a dishrag. You'll see the whole lamp when I blog about my room.

Very Classic in style and utterly romantic. The detail on the base (another post to come) is just lovely. 

So those are some examples of what I've found hunting around for Manhattan's buried treasures, and what you can find too with a little elbow grease and determination. More to come later on what I've bought for my room, what it's like to build a pressurized wall, and custom decorating.

Happy decorating!