My Secret, Mysterious Past

For those of you who don’t know me– which I recognize consists of about 100% of nobody reading this blog– you might have been reading the last post and wondering, “a year up in Canada? Where did he live?”

That’s right people, I have a secret apartment past. It’s sordid. It’s dirty. There was some cheating.

I started off my year in a rental owned by my boss, which was furnished. By all counts it was nice enough. But I hated feeling like I was living in somebody else’s house for an extended period. So I did things to make it my own, like take down some art and rearrange the furniture (nothing I hate more than an angled sofa) and buy a dish set at the Salvation Army. It helped mildly. Then I found out that I was living on the edge of an unsafe park. On the ground floor, no less. In fact, that’s where my car, Roxanne, got her name: from the portly woman at the corner gas station who told me I was liable to get stabbed if I went out after dark. Welcome to the neighborhood. But for real, thanks Roxanne.

What sealed the deal for getting out on my own was that the rent I was paying turned out to be about triple market rate. It was a nice apartment. But trust, it wasn’t that nice.

I had seen my next apartment building while driving by and loved the 60s retro-ness of it. It was also orange, an enormous plus. I saw a unit, fell in love, and the next day went back and signed the lease. Crappy iPhone picture that doesn’t really help things at all:

I should just say, the vintage shopping in Regina, Saskatchewan would wipe its ass with New York City’s vintage shopping. I figured out pretty quickly that nobody within a 100 mile radius was interested in anything that might be prefaced with the words “retro” or “mid-century.” That’s right, the entire city’s mid-century discards were mine for the taking, and boy did I take. And cheaply. Those were the days.

There were two stores I frequented: The Salvation Army and the Value Village. Both were enormous and well-priced. I went every Tuesday after work. And sometimes on weekends. There was also another store, Retrovise, that sold mid-century furniture and housewares, mostly at prices about on par with these stupid bourgie Upper East Side thrift shops that never have anything fun to begin with.

Those stores, combined with a couple of used furniture dealers, stuff I found for free, and some estate sales furnished my entire apartment. And some weirdo couple on Craigslist who traded Erin’s old futon for a mattress for me. Did I mention that Erin and Adrian are the best friends in the world? They are.

Here’s what the ole place looked like.

Living Room
Dining Nook
I loved this strange little thing in the entry, so I painted it bright robin's egg blue. I used the color again on the inside of the display case in the dining area. Walls were repainted in BM Moonlight White (eggshell).
Bedroom- why did I ever leave those lamps behind? No, I did not paint this room. Unfortunately, I never got around to repainting it either.

If Roxanne were a bigger car, I would have kept more. But I basically got rid of everything. I saved most of my kitchen stuff and most of the needlepoints, but beyond that almost nothing else. But because most of it was so cheap to begin with, I just about broke even when I sold it all marked up like a crook on Craigslist.

Now, I’m not really lamenting the loss of that aesthetic, necessarily. Firstly, because I didn’t really have to live with it for too long, I kind of just went a little kitschy-nuts. Which was fun, but might be too much for the long term. That short time frame also made it easier to spend very little money because I wasn’t too concerned about investing in pieces that would last. For example, all the living room furniture was, literally, $100 combined (discounting the rug, art, and television). The place was also huge, comparatively, so I didn’t have to worry as much about how things would fit.

I was also uber-crafty. See those roman blinds in the living room? I made them. THREE of them. I bought a roll of the fabric at Value Village for like $7 and thought, “Hey, this is sort of awful, isn’t it? Perfect!” It was a weird year.

Now that I’m not facing any enormous purge in the foreseeable future, things are a little different. Like, I didn’t enlist Erin to help drag my $20 plaid couch out of the basement of the chain-smoking-cat-owning-woman-who-worked-in-the-thrift-store. I bought it from Ikea. And without sounding too ridiculous, I suppose I want things here to be a little more… refined? Ew, that word. Adult? I don’t know. But I do really, really miss that selection. There’s so little of it here that hasn’t been snatched up. And every time I see something I do want, it’s way too expensive. The prices in Manhattan (and Brooklyn) are just outrageous, I’ve found. I miss being un-trendy. But not enough to make me find a new un-trendy style. I can’t control the things I like, even if other people think they like them as much as me.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 7.13.10

    I love this post. It’s so true! The boyfriend and I love to venture even just an hour outside Toronto and, BOOM, cornucopia of amazing finds that nobody cares about!

    Great looking blog, by the way.

  2. 7.13.10
    definitely not domestic said:

    Oh man, I miss that place and the delicious brunches that happened there! I wonder how Betty’s doing these days.

    • 7.13.10

      Brunches, tv bingo, catering our first and last event– god, those were some good times. If I had to guess, Betty’s probably wondering how to use her iron, but she’ll figure it out. She’s a fighter.

  3. 7.13.10
    definitely not domestic said:

    TV BINGO! Let’s do that when you come visit!

  4. 7.15.10
    Lori said:

    Take a long weekend trip to the northern suburbs of Philadelphia. Venture all the way up to Montgomery and even Bucks Cos. The thrift stores don’t disappoint.

  5. 7.15.10
    AMS said:

    Wow, that little nook of yours reminds me of the one in my home, dating from 1946. It was the perfect place for my vintage phone, an old school chair and papers and pens… I miss it!!! We lost it in the renos. I never thought of painting it another color to make it stand out. That was a great idea!!!!

  6. 7.19.10
    Tara said:

    Just came over here from Apartment Therapy. Love love love everything about your blog! I live in Regina and have not been to Value Village for years but now I will be going soon to see what I can find. Looking forward to more great posts!

    • 7.19.10

      Thanks and yay for Regina!!! And yes, you HAVE to go. Just spend days among those rows of white shelves. I can also recommend wheel-a-deal furniture right across the street if you haven’t been there– they have like a thousand strange little white dogs and some fun furniture and assorted vintage stuff (lamps, mostly) if you dig for it.

  7. 7.19.10
    Hayden said:

    I caught the Regina, SK reference on the desk post, thanks for explaining. We’re moving to Saskatchewan (in less than 2 weeks), and if there’s thrift in Saskatoon similar to in Regina, we’ll be happy campers. Thanks!