Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Now THIS is an Estate Sale

A couple of weekends ago I set out to go to an estate sale that listed a few things of interest to me. As my post about that revealed, it was actually a 3x stale yard sale, NOT an estate sale. Well, this past weekend more than made up for that. On Friday night I looked through online estate sale and yard sale listings, trying to decide what direction to head in the morning. It looked like I'd have the best luck heading into the Metro-West area and I even got hubby on board to join me since a few listings promised books. He's very familiar with all of the Metro-West suburbs because he frequently travels through those towns for work appointments, so when I showed him the addresses of some of the listings, he knew exactly what kind of neighborhoods they were in - $$$!!

Saturday morning we all headed out the door by 8:30 into the snow flurries. I hoped the weather would keep everyone else at home so we could snatch up lots of amazing treasures.  When we pulled into the street of the estate sale that we most looked forward to, this is one of the first homes we drove by, which also happened to be for sale.

"Only" $1.9 million, according to the real estate listing we looked up online. Looking at big-bucks home listings (and on Google Earth because listings don't give you a bird's eye view of the property or neighborhood) is something my hubby and I enjoy doing together.

We knew we were heading to a real estate sale. It was being put on by an estate sale company. I'm talking total liquidation of the entire gigantic home and all of its contents. We couldn't believe our eyes as we continued driving into the neighborhood. Apparently the weather did not keep everyone else at home. The entire street and all the side streets were lined bumper to bumper with cars. There had to be at least 50 cars. I got nervous that there might not be anything good left already! We had to park way down at the end of the street. Good thing for the DVD player in the van - hubby stayed in the car and read (he's studying for an exam to put more impressive letters after his name) while the kids watched a movie and I ran in to treasure hunt.

The house was so packed with people. I wasn't sure where to go first. I walked through the main floor quickly eyeing everything but I didn't see anything to my liking - mostly a lot of very traditional furniture. So I decided to head to the garage next. I spied a cordless drill, which I need because I got burned the last time I got one at a yard sale (once I got home I realized the battery pack didn't work). I actually plugged this one into a nearby outlet but it was completely shot so I passed.

Then I saw this on the toolbench:

The drawers were packed full of all sorts of nails, screws, bolts and miscellaneous hardware etc. But I immediately thought of great plans for this piece - to dump out all the hardware, clean it out, and use it to store and organize craft supplies. Most likely it'll end up holding my button collection. (I'm working on a post about what I've been doing with buttons so stay tuned.) I kept a few of the hardware that I figured I'll be most likely to use and I passed the rest onto our handyman friend.

Here are a few of the things I kept that I am likely to use.

It needs a serious detailed cleaning.

There was nothing else I wanted in the garage so I went back upstairs into what had been a study/office/den. One wall was entirely built-in bookshelves that still had lots of books in them. So I took a quick look and pulled out a few I thought hubby would like. At $1 per hardcover and 50 cents for paperbacks they were worth a shot.

Next I headed up stairs. In a girl's bedroom was a box of kids paperback books for 50 cents a piece. I filled my arms with a bunch that I remembered loving as a kid. I can't wait till my daughter is reading at this level. Although she can read, she is not yet interested in a book if it does not have pictures. :)

Nothing else upstairs was for me so I headed into the finished basement next.  The wine cellar was off limits. There was another office, the billiard room, and another TV/family room. In the middle of a the floor in the billiard room sat a vintage suitcase. It was as if someone left it there for me! It was in beautiful condition. Leather bound. Loved it.

There's just a little tear in the leather on the handle. But after rubbing down the hardware with a little brass polish and Armor All to shine up the leather it'll be almost like new.

I used to have a stack of old suitcases in the corner of my porch - all yardsale finds - but none of them were in wonderful condition. One day, I think during a nesting rampage this past fall before my last baby was born, I literally put the entire stack of them out by the curb in an effort to de-clutter the porch. I'm realizing I am a little remorseful and should have kept one or two of them. Here is the only picture I could find from my photo archives. I think my 6 year old was about 18 months!

And then I stumbled across this picture in my archives as well. I guess I used to let her play with the suitcases. I love this picture. She's like a little vagabond looking for a place to stay.

So here I am starting to collect a new and improved stack of vintage suitcases to do something along these inspirational lines with. See, they can be beautiful and functional:

After discovering the suitcase for only $7 (they run MUCH higher at antique shops) and finding nothing else to my liking in the "basement," I decided to call it quits at that estate sale and I went back up to the main level to pay. One of the staff from the estate sale company even helped me carry my load to the car. Then I sent hubby in to look at the books while I took the opportunity to feed and diaper change the baby. The girls were still glued to their movie. Sure enough, hubby came back about 20 minutes later balancing 20+ hardcover novels in his arms. That made his trip worthwhile.

The other estate sale we stopped at was in an adorable historic farmhouse. I was able to go in there alone as well. Right off the bat I scored an amazing bird cage that was sitting outside. I didn't see a price on it so I wasn't sure what to expect. When I got inside I asked how much and the lady said $2. I tried not to grin from ear to ear.

The little door is hinged but the bottom also has a latch so it can be opened to fit something big into it.  I'm not sure where this is going in my house yet...gotta rearrange a few things to make it fit. The last bird cage I had and passed along to a friend a few years ago used to sit on my back porch before it was converted into our current living room. I used to prop a branch across the inside and perched a little fake nest and bird inside. (No sign of that in my photo archives. Oh well.) I'll probably rig up something similar again.

I wonder if it was a little rusty when they put it out or if it got like that just from sitting out in the drizzle that morning. Either way, I like it. I'll almost always choose something aged and worn over something shiny and new.

There were quite a few things that I liked at that estate sale but I passed on them because I had no use for them. This isn't anything amazing but I did grab this shelf for $2.

I like the rounded edges and the patina on the wood (but not all the dust and dirt). A wipe down with a damp rag and then possibly a rub down with a little furniture oil should do the trick.  I'm not yet sure if I'll paint the hardware white or keep it black, but I think I may use it to replace a shelf in my kitchen.

The only other item I left that sale with was this little vintage crayon crate.

It'll come in handy for containing something...somewhere...eventually. I like to have things like that on hand so that when I do reorganizing projects like my bathroom closet, I've got a little stash of containers to choose from. I'm considering jumping on the chaukboard bandwagon and if/when I do, this would be a great little box to hold some white chauk, instead of white crayons.

So we ended up going to a couple of yard sales after the estate sales, but they were both terribly lame. At one I picked up the game Scattegories Jr. for $2 and at the other I got 5 VHS movies for 50 cents each. Two Hayley Mills classics - Pollyanna and Parent Trap, and three Shirley Temple classics. My oldest has already watched Baby Take a Bow (twice) and Pollyanna. I'll admit, I found myself going in and out of the TV room quite a bit when these were on. :)

Considering how long we were out, I didn't get a ton of stuff but I'm really happy with the treasures that I did come home with. And a true estate sale means I get to walk through someone else's house, and that is always fun, even if I walk out empty handed.

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