I know that I have no business complaining about my generally good fortune in the secondhand domain, but a general rule does tend to emerge with thrifting: seek and you will not find. This is the frustrating downside of the exhilarating life of sifting through other people’s discarded crap. If I’ve learned anything, it is that trudging through thrift stores looking for that one thing really only leads to feelings of disappointment and ineptitude. Rather, I find it’s better to just accept the rare sparkly gem bestowed upon me by the mysterious thrift store deities and move on. If the price is right, buy now and figure it out later. You can quote me on that piece of stunningly bad decorating advice.

Which is all to say that even though I talked a big talk a couple weeks ago about that identity-crisis-stricken corner of my living room, plans quickly changed over the weekend when one of my upsettingly bad Upper East Side thrift stores planted a sexy little nugget of vintage furniture into my line of sight. Goodbye to my dreams of a snazzy bar cart and an Eames chair on a rocking base, hello dining table.

Yep, a brass tulip knock-off. Brass makes me happy. Tulip tables make me happy. $45 price tags for both of these things also make me happy.

What doesn’t make me happy? Doing dishes, for starters. But also that tabletop. I was really only in it for the base. After taking the table apart in the thrift store and carrying the base home, I almost considered just saving myself the extra trip and leaving the top there. Then I decided not to be a lazy brat for ten minutes. It’s a weird, vaguely rectangular size (32″ x 36″), and is awkwardly large in my little space. In a dream world, I’d have several extra Benjamins to throw around and hastily replace it with a 32″ round piece of  gorgeous carrera marble, or possibly some other type of natural stone. But from the very preliminary research I’ve conducted, this seems to be the sort of thing that will happen in conjunction with hell freezing over. So I’m still trying to come up with acceptable alternatives that won’t break the bank, look hideous, or introduce even more wood into the living room.

In the meantime, let’s focus on the positive aspects. Like the almost-tulip-tablebase. And the brass. Yummy brass. I’m a fan.

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. 3.23.11

    The base is gorgeous, seriously!!

    I know I already said this, but you really could do custom-sized round white laminate, and it would look really good. And it would be cheap.

    • 3.24.11
      Daniel said:

      DEFINITELY considering it. Especially if it could look like this.

    • 3.24.11


    • 3.24.11

      Love the way that looks! Pretty much what I was going to suggest :)

  2. 3.23.11

    Awesome find! I, for one, am glad you ended up with a table, despite the fact that it affects me zero percent. It’s just one of those things I think people should have. Whether you eat at it or not.

    • 3.24.11
      Daniel said:

      I’m glad you’re relieved! And actually, now that I have it, I do eat at it! And I’ll admit that it’s kind of nice and feels pretty fancy.

  3. 3.23.11
    Mom said:

    Nice base. Love it. Table top is hideous. Have you checked Craigslist? I have at least 3 spare table tops at home.

  4. 3.23.11

    I second the white round top!

    I also follow the ‘buy it or regret it / find a spot later’ rule of thumb. I also have 8 extra side/dinning chairs in my wee apartment right now, so maybe I need a ‘quit hoarding’ rule instead…

    Big question, I’m heading to Portland this weekend, where do I thrift?

    • 3.24.11
      Daniel said:

      Yayyyy Portland! Put a bird on it!

      I really liked that crazy janky place, Grandma’s Funky Furniture (where I picked up a couple of shell chairs), but it’s unclear to me if they ever keep regular hours… but cool stuff if you can get in. House of Vintage on Hawthorne is fun too… a bit higher pricing but really not bad (well, by New York standards, which pretty much makes everything look annoyingly cheap). To be honest, I think those were the only real vintage-vintage stores we went in aside from about a gazillion goodwills and value villages. My one word of advice would be to stay out of downtown thrift stores. I think Southeast is where it’s at.

      People left some great recommendations in the comments on this post though, scroll through and take notes!

    • 3.24.11

      Thanks Dan, I’ll eat something at a truck and send fond thoughts your way!

      I almost wonder if my friend I’ll be visting knows your friend. Amy is a jewerly artist and the most outgoing person I know, shes like the mayor (KyleMcLaughlin) of Portland, you can’t walk down a street without someone waving to her. Its not a small world, but cool/nice/artsy/ folks tend to get together :)

  5. 3.23.11
    ModFruGal said:

    Beautiful base. I second Anna…it could totally work. Also finish grade wood with glossy white paint could fly for cheap too? Corian? Put something under your pillow for the Carrera Fairy?

  6. 3.23.11
    Annapolitan said:

    That base is to die for. I like the white round laminate top idea, too.

    Or how about faux marble painting? That was quite popular a while back and I’m sure there’s a zillion instructional videos on YouTube.

    If the current top is wood, you might be able to recut it into a circle and do a faux finish on it.

  7. 3.23.11
    Regina said:

    I love Home Depot, they have Partical board cut in the round.. and it is cheap too! You could choose the size that fits your needs better. Then you can purchase this iron on formica finish for the edge and the top (last time I was there they had it in maple and white) . But this is what I would do, swing by Pier 1 and get one of their glass tops and have a mod paper sandwiched between the glass and the wood top.

  8. 3.23.11
    Phuong said:

    that base is amazing. love reading your blog, keep sharing. I would like to do a post on my blog about your blog – hope that is ok :)

  9. 3.23.11
    Bri said:

    I know you would like to avoid more wood but lowes has butcher block round table tops that I’m sure would fit your budget and you could find something neato to do to it.

  10. 3.24.11

    For now I think the laminate round is a perfect suggestion. In the future you can upgrade it.

    I used to sell marble. Sometimes you can find a prefab marble rounds in china town for cheap they probably will have Statuary which is Asian version of Carrara). Or look for someone who has a remnant slab.

  11. 3.24.11

    You might be able to find a reasonably priced used or new table top at a restaurant supply or commercial furniture store, they typically stock laminate cafe table bases and tops.

    There are some okay granite options in that market too, and some wood core granite tops that are a bit more reasonably priced, something with similar construction to this http://www.tableschairsbarstools.com/corogrretato.html , perhaps?

    I’m excited to see how the table turns out, that base is a beauty. Good luck!

  12. 3.24.11

    That base is really pretty. I’m having a really hard time even thinking about other options after picturing it with a marble top!

  13. 3.24.11
    Vera said:

    The most amazing thing about thrift store shopping with an open attitude, as you suggest, is that although I never find exactly what it is a need at any given moment, one day I discover that I own some pretty fun and nice stuff that is collectively cool.

    As for the table top, whatever shape you want, you could do a faux marble, or have an artist create a one-of-a-kind painting on the top, or something like that.

  14. 3.24.11

    It’s a pity that marble is expensive in the US (with probably not that many options to choose from) because a round tabletop in Lioz marble (exquisite with it’s shell fossils) would look fabulous with that tablebase.

    If it wasn’t too heavy I could even mail it to you… :)

  15. 3.24.11
    Tara said:

    My sister got the base and a stinky top. She replaced it with an old marble table top from some hideous coffee table she bought off Craigslist. It fit perfectly and it looks absolutely amazing! She bought the coffee table for $40 and just got rid of the base that had little gilded cupids all over it.

  16. 3.24.11

    Wow, lots of helpful comments. You know me, I would watch HGTV until I found a solution :) I would like your readers to know that I am to thank/blame for your AMAZING makeovers. Just sayin’ :) Miss you DK!

  17. 3.24.11

    NICE!! super jealous. can’t wait to see what you figure out for the top…

  18. 3.24.11
    Lena said:

    Yay! I don’t know if you remember but in an earlier post I adviced you to put a nice table there so you have something to group your chairs around it, maybe the Ikea knock-off Tulip-table, and now you are doing what I said, just 10 times better! Love the brass and it will look fantastic with a round table top!

    • 3.24.11
      Daniel said:

      You’re like a psychic! And you’re right, this really is the best way to use up all my excess side chairs that would have just been floating around the apartment otherwise. I think I kind of gave up on the idea of finding a dining table I liked in a decent price range, but it happened! Yay!

  19. 3.24.11
    Gaidig said:

    Am I the only one who thinks a jigsaw and a router might the easiest solution to this table top problem? Then stain it or something…

  20. 3.24.11
    Amanda said:

    Another amazing find! I’m curious where in NYC you go thrifting? You always seem to find such amazing deals. I still can’t stop thinking about the $60 Bertoia Diamond chair you found!

  21. 3.24.11

    I’ve become irrationally obsessed with brass lately. I want it on my cupboard pulls and my table-bases and . . . did you see that pendant of Morgan’s over at the Brick House? Holy f’ing Jesus. I want that bad.

    While I hate glass tables (placing a drinking glass onto one sets my teeth on edge), I’m wondering what you could do with a round, thick piece of milk glass.


    Imagine wiring a bulb into the inside-top of the base so the tabletop glowed a tiny bit at night!

  22. 3.24.11

    (Oh, also, I have NO IDEA how much milkglass costs. So. It might be a terrible suggestion for more than one reason.)

    • 3.24.11

      I don’t know how much it costs either, but it chips REALLY easily…which is why you always see it set into frames that protect the edges.

      That table you linked to makes me weak in the knees. Sigh.

    • 3.24.11

      Hm. Chipping. I’m not totally against chipping, I must say, in general. My marble bistro table is all chewed-up at its edges, and I kinda dig it. But glass would be sharp. Maybe have a piece of milkglass set into in some kind of . . . metal wrapping. But not brass. Maybe black. I dunno.

      Re. that table. I know!! That worn-out brass, those lines. Sexy.

    • 3.24.11

      Ohh, it’s gold-painted steel. Ohhhhh. I want it.

    • 3.24.11
      Daniel said:

      THAT TABLE. Serious swoon. I do really like the idea of the milk glass, but securing it to the base might be tricky, aside from having no idea how much it costs and how I’d accomplish the metal edging. But maybe I could figure it out… it is damn sexy.

  23. 3.24.11
    misa said:

    hot pink acrylic.

    no, you should totally go with white laminate.

  24. 3.24.11
    Monica said:

    Nice! Good luck finding a top.

  25. 3.24.11
    Becky said:

    My husband does decorative concrete and he just made us a white concrete table top, you could probably do it yourself as that’s what you’re into. Go to his site and look at the first photo with the chairs and you’ll see it. Plenty of people pour their own concrete, however you might have to track down a concrete mixer he he. But you can always price it out for someone else to do it. His website is abeautifulhomellc.com

  26. 3.24.11
    DAB said:

    Yum. Perfect for eating a bowl of frosted flakes. “They’re GRRRRREEAATTT!” I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it even more radass!

  27. 3.24.11
    dmh said:

    Another idea is to call a local granite countertop fabricator. I had a client with a Saarinen table and the marble top broke in half when one of his friends stood on it (duh). I called the company that shapes and installs all of my countertops, as they always have the leftover portions of the slabs that are not used in the installation. I was able to get my client a new 36″ marble top for $150 (incl delivery) – they only charged me for fabrication as the material was just laying around in their shop and technically free.

  28. 3.24.11

    I don’t know if you will be in the DC area anytime soon, but if so you should check out a used furniture store called Ruff and Ready. They often have used Marble tops in stock, perhaps they may have what you’re looking for. They are a super cheap most of the time, and may be willing to send it to you in the mail. They’re the definition of a hole in the wall, and don’t even have a website :-( You can see pictures of the store I’ve posted here http://www.aliceindesignland.com/blog/store-highlight-ruff-and-ready-furnishings.html. I’ve gotten some of my best pieces there. Their number is (202) 667-7833 if you are interested in checking them out. They’re only open on weekends. Happy hunting!

  29. 3.24.11
    Amanda said:

    Looks great! Like it was made for that space. Not sure if this is possible, but a great light over the table would look pretty awesome too. I’ve seen lots of great shades while thrifting, and after reading your old posts, I wouldn’t be suprized if you already had one. Love your blog!!

  30. 3.25.11

    A fan of the brass as well.

  31. 3.25.11
    Alicia said:

    Another thing I find is that whenever you have already placed an order for/just recently brought home something that you purchased new (like from Ikea or Overstock or wherever), the rule is you will most certainly within a few days find a better version of that item in a thrift store.

  32. 3.25.11

    Hey, here’s an original idea – how about a round white laminate top? Oh wait, that’s what everyone else said too. Anyway, I wonder if you could find a used one and do a switcheroo. But then you’d be looking for something specific and according to your
    laws of thrifting, you will never find it. Hmmm…good luck.

  33. 3.25.11

    Anna (from Doorsixteen) and I were discussing this amazing find of yours on the subway yesterday evening (yes it ain’t the first time she’s had a full on discussion about furniture design with a pug) and we both unanimously agreed that you should head to the hardware store to buy marble printed contact paper that you can stick onto a round hard table top to get that marble look you want!! ;-)

    All kidding aside, this is a fantastic find—seriously”¦.45 bucks for that gorgeous brass base?!? You did good my friend!! Mamma Biscuit approves”¦”¦..I vote for white, round laminate”¦..it will look clean and perfect with this base!!! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    Ruff Ruff

    • 3.25.11

      The best thing about the marble contact paper is that one roll will never be wide enough, so Dan will have to put TWO pieces side-by-side! It’s going to look great when the splice gets all gunked up with crumbs and hair.

    • 3.25.11

      ……and the best part of this scenario is that the marble pattern inevitably won’t match up with those two pieces of contact paper….and the air bubbles created once it’s in place will really add dimension to the surface—Dan, it’s clear that this is the direction you need to take—but before you start creating, make sure you do some craft stretching guided by Amy Sedaris……we don’t want you to get hurt! ;-)

    • 3.25.11
      Daniel said:

      Oh please, I ALWAYS do my craft stretches; it’s the secret to my success.

      And zOMG you guys, you always come through with the winners. Contact paper! Innovative, fresh, timeless. It’s gonna look amazing!!!!!!!

    • 3.25.11

      Well that’s good to know, safety first Dan!


      I was scouring Youtube before to find the video clip of that Golden Girls episode where Blanche Devereaux was having a “dry spell” from her normal activities and decided to reline the shelves in the kitchen with contact paper…….after several attempts at trying so hard to line it up perfectly, she slaps the paper down in a fit of frustration and shuts the cabinet door really fast as Dorothy walks into the kitchen for her 65th cup of tea for the day! I’m envisioning a similar scenario playing out with your faux marble table top! Can Mamma Biscuit, Anna and I watch? We promise we won’t disturb your creative zone……

    • 3.25.11

      Oh god, you’re right…it’ll be just like this!!!

    • 3.28.11
      Josh said:

      Have you seen this? It may be easier than trying to get the contact paper to line up properly.


      It kind of worries me that the brown is out of stock. Yikes!

    • 3.28.11

      YIKES is right….I get the same feeling when I’m watching Jeanne Bice for
      Quacker Factory on QVC and the screen flashes text reading XXXL SOLD OUTT

  34. 3.26.11
    Matt said:

    No Bar Cart? Boo! j/k. Great find, as always!

  35. 3.26.11
    Mom said:

    HMM, just thinking. I think you would still have room for the bar cart on the big white wall. Then you could just hang art above it. No?

  36. 3.26.11
    Daniel said:

    Beautiful base. Valeria and I have been looking for one for quite some time for our dinette. To find one in brass would be Amazing! Nice Find!

  37. 3.27.11
    Ryan said:

    “seek and you will not find”
    a golden nugget of truth, there.

    good find. love your work.

  38. 3.28.11
    Matilda said:

    totally ADORE you and your blog…is it totally terrible of me to say that it’s Carrara (it’s a town in Tuscany) marble not carrera? I promise I’m not a horrible person, I’m just Italian and probably the only one who noticed. ;O)

  39. 4.1.11
    Sarah said:

    Your blog is my absolute favorite! I wait for baited breath for your posts. Hm… that sounded a lot less creepy in my head.

    Thank you for keeping up your blog for a whole year — you provide a lot of inspiration and ideas for my tiny house.