Saturday, September 1, 2012

Our Home Design Vision aka Adventures in Antiquing

Brian and I decided that for our home we would like a mixture of old and handmade things. I created a list of style keywords for us (by the way- Domino: The Book of Decorating is a wonderful resource).
  • Rustic/Country
  • Vintage/Antique
  • Clean/Minimalist
  • Organic/Natural
  • Handmade/Reclaimed
  • Artistic/Bohemian
  • Earthy
Focus on:
  • Wood- natural or painted
  • Metal- painted or distressed (not shiny)
  • Natural fabrics- wool, cotton, linen
  • Plants! Gotta love indoor plants

Our vision involves exploring more unconventional home furnishing and building supply stores. It involves making random and frequent stops in places that might look a little shady; a barn, someone's garage, even their house. We've stopped at all of those places and found some that we love, some that we hated, and some that were just plain HILARIOUS.

Our favorite stores are Farmer Brown's Mercantile in Ronan, Elizabeth Ann's in Kalispell, the Shabby Chic Shack in Kalispell, and the Montana Antique Mall in Missoula. They all have a mix of antique and upcycled items at great prices.

But they aren't the one's that I want to talk about. They are normal, cute, great stores. We have purchased things from all of them. I want to talk about the weird stores, the one's with the real characters.

Well, the first one wasn't that weird. It was cute, funny, and totally country. We were driving in the country and saw a sign for an antique store. We decided to stop because it was in a cute barn behind someone's house. We walked up to a barn to find 3 old dogs and a toothless old woman rocking in her rocking chair, peeling loads of garlic. She informed us that she was getting ready to make a batch of pickles. It was almost as if someone had paid an actor to sit outside the barn to give off the feeling of being on a real country farm. It was no act. I had to buy a jar of her pickles, and they were amazing.

One of the strange stores was on our way up to Kalispell from Polson yesterday. There are lots antique stores around Flathead Lake and we had never stopped at any of them before. I was so exited when we walked up to this one, there were wire baskets, old doors, and milk jugs in front. But when we stepped inside it was another story. There were antiques, but they were covered floor to ceiling in european soaps and smelly things that almost gave me a migraine just by stepping in. A woman in her 30's with ratty birds nest hair, flannel shirt, and jeans stepped out from amidst the soap and in a dreamy, hippie, stoner voice said "Hello, welcome to my shop. Have you been here before? My vision is to create a store that pays tribute to my european ancestors. Everything is imported from Europe or Canada. Smell this soap, it's amazing. It's from France, but it reminds me of the flowers here in Montana.". "So is that why this bookcase that is old and falling apart is $2,000?" I thought. Alright lady. Lay off the grass.

We should have known better than to go to last store of the day yesterday. There were cars, parts, tools everywhere outside the "Collectables" store. I went in first, a few minutes before Brian, and I was truly concerned that I was going to be sucked in and Brian would never find me again. It was a warehouse that was packed floor to ceiling with stuff. It was like an episode of Hoarders. There were very narrow small paths that lead everywhere. A middle aged man came out from between head high boxes and said "Hi! Been here before? Know what you're looking for?" I walked around and found a spinning wheel! Super excited. I walked up to the man and he said "That's not for sale, that belongs to my wife." "Um, ok- so I'm assuming the same applied for everything else in here?" I thought.

He lead me to the back of the store where his wife was sitting in a little cubby space that had been carved out of the junk at her sewing machine working on something. He proceeded to pull things out of the mass and tell me about each one. "This here is my shirt. She made it to look like an antique confederate shirt. My ancestors are from North Carolina so a lot of the stuff in here is because of that. This here is a hunting shirt, but I have to have pockets, but they have to be hidden because shirts didn't have pockets back then." Again with the ancestors! Brian walked in and we exchanged a wide eyed "Holy Shit" look.

This man also had a lot of guns, so Brian rescued me my asking about some gun thing. He proceeded to show Brian a lot of things that he hadn't asked about as I tried to make my escape. A few minutes later they met me outside and the man described offers that he had refused to accept on various cars and pieces of equipment in the yard as we inched our way towards our car. This man clearly didn't want to sell anything, and just had the "business" as an excuse to hoard.

I am really looking forward to the next adventure antiquing, even though it is truly an exhausting endeavor.

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