Friday, May 4, 2012

Hidden Truth About Estate Sales; National Photo Month, Day 4

Today's photo has been enhanced by adding Kim Klassen's beautiful texture, "Organic."

Now, I must confess.

I don't frequent estate sales just for the marvelous treasures to be had. Indeed, I'm fascinated by what people do with the insides of their homes: the bones, the skin and the wardrobe.

This past weekend, I stopped by two sales and scored this exceptional rustic bench at one. I'll come back to the bench. First, back to my point about what people do to their homes.

I'm kicking myself for not taking photographs at the strangest of the two, which was located in a mid-1900s, but exclusive and highly sought-after neighborhood.

On the outside, it's a dated-looking mid-Century modern house with what, in its day, must have been a beautiful horizontal limestone facade. The dark brown, peeling trim and years of dust and dirt on the stone make it look shabby now.

Inside? Where do I begin? A large portion of the home was closed off, but what shoppers had access to was so bizarre, it's difficult to describe. I'll try:

Enter into a tiny foyer. Straight ahead, a room. What room? A dining room? Family room? On one end a large Formica-topped built-in shrugged, seemingly embarrassed by its dated appearance. It might have served as a buffet in its hey-day.

Facing on the other end, a fireplace. Smack in the middle of the room an L-shaped colonial style railing stood guard. Over what, I wonder? It's similar to a banister, but without the stairs to accompany it. The railing split the room down the middle, both length- and width-wise. A chain-link fence wouldn't have looked any more out of place. Doomed to eternal darkness, the room has no windows (and no ceiling or wall light fixtures).

A half wall stood like a border crossing between Canada and the United States:  a mere formality that separates one space from the neighboring space. On the other side of that token divider is what appeared to be the family room.

Another fireplace frozen in time. Built-in bookshelves, stained dark, suck the little bit of natural light right out of the room. And, in one corner, an Alice-in-Wonderland- type rabbit hole opens to the steps to the basement.

On one wall of the family room, two steps up--directly to a bedroom. No hallway or foyer. The bedroom door opens directly into the family room. A Jack and Jill bathroom--one of the most normal rooms in the house--is shared with a tiny bedroom on the other side. Or, should I say faux bedroom. It has a bed in it. No room for much else. Bed bugs, maybe.

Here's the clincher. The faux bedroom opens directly into the eat-in area that is perched two steps up at the end of the small, narrow galley kitchen. WHAT? Also on a wall of the eating area are steps up to the master suite that I overheard someone say was added onto the house in the 1970s. The suite was the only room on the second floor. This is a room with a view--down onto a black tar-papered roof. Shingles--what shingles?

All I can say is YIKES--that was a strange place. And, I wonder what was behind all the closed doors. I'm thinking a tear down is in this property's future. It does have a swimming pool. I shudder to think . . .

Now, back to my super bench, which came from the other, normal, house.

This chippy, rustic piece had been sitting on the previous owner's deck. It was weathered and worn like an old pair of favorite shoes. Sooooo comfortable. I'll take her.

The blue paint finish, although worn down to bare wood over most of the top, had at one time been "antiqued," giving it a greenish cast. How could the owner have known this was the perfect color (and size) for my narrow foyer?


Her face was dried out from years of harsh Midwest weather: blistering heat and oppressive humidity in summer, bone-chilling cold and moisture-heavy snow in winter. Poor baby. I drenched her in a generous bath of Annie Sloan dark wax to soften her up and put some color back into her cheeks.

What a lovely way to greet our guests.

Make it a great day!


  1. That sounds like an interesting house (and I use the term loosely...) with such odd rooms and configurations. But the bench is lovely! Great find :)

  2. I just walked home from an estate sale in the neighborhood. Neighbors I never met; looking at the things in their house I could tell the 60's & 70's were their heydays. I didn't buy anything. I've come home to clean up a bit and throw some stuff out. And, just for fun, I may go out and buy something to hide away in our home that will amaze my children when they find it (hopefully many, many years from now).

  3. What an experience, I guess you didn't buy anything from there!!
    I really like your bench from the normal house. The strangest trip I ever had was a hoarder who just had to sell some so she could find her walking paths!!!Not kidding. I did score a whole set of brown transferware from there and lots of other cool stuff.
    Great purchase.

  4. Your bench is wonderful, and you got plenty of food for thought and to puzzle over on nights you can't sleep from the other.

  5. Hi Ann, I have gone to a few to estates sales also but I will admit not for finds but to check the inside of the old house. Occasionally, I will buy something, but it is old house and the folks that lived in it that interests me. Great looking bench. Enjoy, Anna:)

  6. Ann, your bench is absolutely lovely! I want it!!! If it ever turns up missing, you'll find it at my home :) I never find good stuff like that at estate sales; it seems all the homes I've gone into are strange like the one you describe!

  7. Hello Ann, When my husband and I frequented Estate Sales - part of it was the curiosity - the other was the fabulous finds! I could just imagine your face going through the house - YIKEs sounds just right! The bench is amazing - great job restoring with the Anne Sloan dark wax, perfect - I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

  8. That bench was such a wonderful find, Ann! And it looks so lovely in your foyer. Truly a beautiful way to greet your guests. ;)

    Thanks for linking to Time Travel Thursday again.

    Liz @ The Brambleberry Cottage


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