Flea Find!

Look who came home with me on the L train from Brooklyn this weekend.

Everyone, this is Vintage Lane End Table. Vintage Lane End Table, this is everyone.

I’ve been looking desperately for a good flea market. The old fashioned kind, where the vendors have missing teeth, crazy old ladies haggle until they’re red in the face over a jar of buttons, and stuff smells funky. I tried a few. The Brooklyn Flea: too crafty. PS 321: too small. Hell’s Kitchen: too expensive.

The Meeker Avenue Flea: just right. Well, not as podunk as I like them, but probably the closest thing I’m likely to find in NYC. Here are the reasons to love it:

1. It’s indoors, and there’s almost A/C. I know, I’m a pussy. But damn. It’s been hot.

2. They’re open 7 days a week until 7 p.m. This means there’s basically no strategic day to go, or time frame. This is good news for people who operate on chronically erratic sleep schedules and spend their days being generally indecisive. That’s a respectful amount of time to decide to haul your bones to the subway and still get there before they close.

3. Stray cats. One let me pick it up and snorgle it while I was haggling over another table. Did I get the table? No. Did the dealer get bored and walk away? Maybe. Was it worth it? Most def.

4. Funky smell. Breath through your mouth and linger in that really rank corner that people keep speeding through. There might be good stuff.

5. You can haggle. I used to be better at it when I was younger and I could kill them with cute. People would practically give me stuff. “You want this antique box, slightly sad, soft spoken, precious little boy? For you, five dollars.” And then I’d get it for two. Now, I just try to kill them with kindness, but it’s not quite as effective as being cute. “You catch more bees with honey than… anything else,” as my landlord once said.

Having said that, you shouldn’t go there. Cool stuff needs to be in my house, not yours.

It was all like a secret backroom deal. I find the table. The table has no price. The real vendor isn’t around. I walk over to one of the wonderful ladies running the joint, ask about the table while subtly pointing out the chipped veneer and water damage. She looks conflicted. She quietly informs me that it used to be priced at $75, but (she leans in and whispers) since there wasn’t a sticker, how did 30 sound? We shook on it. She asked me my sign. Libra. I asked hers. Pisces.

Listen, when that’s adjusted for Magical-New-York-City-Vintage-Wares-Inflation (MNYCVWI, it just rolls off the tongue, try it), I think I paid like 6 cents USD for it. Maybe 7. I probably could have gotten down to $25 if I worked at it, but I figured that since I plan to be back often, I didn’t want to be known as that lil bitch who haggled for five bucks. You gotta play these things smart, kids.

When I got home, I slathered some tung oil on it and the dry wood looks a little better.

Before and After, spliced together. Call me Busta Rhymes.

I looked up how to get rid of those rings and found this semi-interesting tidbit: apparently, those dark rings are cause by the iron in the water rusting after it seeps into and destroys your wood (veneer). See, we’re learning stuff. This also means that the only way to remove them is to sand and re-stain. Not gonna happen, at least right now. But when a lamp is on top, problem solved. And the chipped veneer isn’t noticeable when it’s facing the wall. So it’s essentially mint.

Oh, and you can sort of tell in the first photo that I lowered that little weaving over my desk about 2.5 inches. That was driving me nuts, and now that picture of the desk is everywhere (everywhere important, that is. If you want to write about it too, you can also be… important.). Speaking of:

Welcome, Re-Nest hippies! You love the environment, and so do I. Let’s be friends. What’s your sign?


20 Comments

  1. you have very good taste, can write, are hilarious! and also really into solving problems. what fun!
    i am blown away by this, as well as by your cornstarch/bedsheet shoji-screen bedroom door, which is truly beautiful. i want to affix some papel picado banners, made of plastic, onto windows as a privacy matter, and i wonder, what adhesive, preferably water soluble, would bond plastic to glass?
    i’ll go fetch you the URL for the papel picado banner.

  2. great acquisition! love the lines and the gradual chamfer. you have always ferreted out the beauty in all you find. love it. look forward to seeing it in person soon.

  3. You are wickedly funny and creative. Great job with that desk making the design blog rounds! Looking forward to seeing what else you come up with (and reading the accompanying narrative, of course!).

  4. O your table is so pretty and polite! I love finding an incredible deal! It’s like I jumped into a cool pool of water on a hot day!

  5. Love your table. I will most definitely have to check out Meeker Ave. Flea. I agree about Brooklyn Flea too crafty but the food is great. Now for a girl (ok, I know I am being sexist), I have scored some great vintage wearables at Hell’s Kitchen. Once I posted about a visit to the Vatican Gardens and got more emails, tweets and comments about the skirt I was wearing than the gardens. $5 from Hell’s Kitchen—but furniture wise it was on the high side. BTW, I review Brooklyn Flea and Hell’s Kitchen on my blog–you can search archives.

    Congrats on all of your recent coverage. That is how I found you. All the best, Lynn from Decor Arts Now.

  6. Dear Manhattan Nest, thanks for being smarter and more hilarious than most home design blogs. Big congrats on your new-found fame and that killer table. I’m drooling. xo, Trim.

  7. Do you plan on staining your Fjellse bed to match?

  8. Nice find! And nice work on your place. We’ll be hanging out here on your blog to steal some ideas, for sure!

  9. great table, Daniel. i found one just like it (only in mint condition) in a dumpster in Culver City CA fifteen years ago. it’s next to my bed, like yours.

  10. A great find at Meeker. I’ve been there a few times but the cat poo smell between floors one and two is enough to put me off. Also, I wasn’t lucky enough to find some *conveniently unstickered* piece begging to come home with me for an insanely reasonable price but now I’m inspired to go back.

    In other words, it’s on, Kanter.

  11. yeah, yeah – you made a desk. it’s beautiful and everything, but what i am really interested in is that chair. i need that chair in my life. i just did the most pathetic google search for it but then figured i’d just ask you for some insight on where i may find one of those beauties.

    p.s. i just read your blog from start to finish because i am so insanely jealous of your skillz and non-laziness. bravo.

    • It’s a vintage Eames shell chair (meaning it’s made with fiberglass, not the new production polypropylene), produced by Herman Miller. I believe the color is actually called “Olive” although I’m fairly certain the person I bought it from online called it “seafoam.” I bought it several years ago from somebody online (not ebay though), but I think eBay is your best bet. The Eames shells have gotten really popular over the past couple years, so you *might* be able to do better on pricing if you can find the shell and buy the base separately. Mine has an h-base, which is a narrow-mount.

      There are also a number of manufacturers who produced similar chairs/knock-offs that you might be able to find cheaper. Good luck!

      • thank you so much for the detailed information! i just bought a small place, and your blog provides so much inspiration. thanks again!

  12. I’ve seen your blog around, read a few things, and decided to comment on this post. I’ve been trying to find some really cool thrift stores, but living where I do there isn’t much. I really enjoy the table you found. Maybe my next trip to NYC, I’ll come prepared to buy some things and have them shipped back. Keep up the great writing.

  13. I know this comment is about 2 years behind, but I always like going to blogs early posts to see how the blog has evolved. And if I didn’t hate your talent before, I do now. That’s a seriously awesome desk. I bow with envy.

Comments are now closed for this article.

Back to Top