God love him, but Scott has a passion for time-consuming hobbies.
Take for instance his triathlon training. I mean if you are going to be training anyway, you might as well train for the Ironman. What’s another five hours of working out per week, when you’re already putting in ten?
So it should come as no surprise that rehabbing old furniture is also on his list. This works out great for me, since I have a passion for wanting rehabbed old furniture in my home.
It all started with a wooden trunk that we bought off my brother after he had purchased a few at an estate auction. It was covered in thick black paint that took approximately one month to completely strip and sand down to bare wood, but look at it now.
Cedar hope chest which was given to my great aunt by an ex-fiancé (maybe it was just a boyfriend) around the time of the war. SCANDALOUS! (Also notice that kick-ass blanket that I handmade myself. We are such a crafy family.)
School desks from the Bay Village Historical Society. We paid $20 for them.
Desk chair Scott’s office was going to throw away
Card catalog that had been in Scott’s grandmother’s garage so long it was fifty shades of busted wood when we got it.
Since he is wrapping up the last card catalog/end table, he started browsing for auctions to pick up something new to work on. That’s when he found the auction ad for a salvage store we had visited several times close to Cleveland.
This store had a shit ton (my favorite form of measurement) of old architectural elements that had been stripped out of houses. Doors, lead-glass windows, mantels, hardware, etc. It was, honestly, a disaster to try to shop in the place, it was packed so tight. As far as “antiques” went, it was definitely a place where you used the term loosely, but it did have some pretty cool pieces every now and then.
The owner had died and her son was auctioning off the complete contents of the three-floored store, as well as, some storage space she had above another antique store across the street.
The wheels started turning. One, Scott wanted a chest of drawers. Two, we need to redo our upstairs bathroom and were thinking of either using an old table as the base, or getting two pedestal sinks. Three, we figured if we could get a Lot of ten doors for $100, we could resell them and pay for everything.
One problem. Our auction experience is limited to watching A&E’s Storage Wars and Discovery’s Auction Kings. But really, what better experience do you need?
Saturday morning we unloaded the kids on Nana and Papa and headed downtown. We figured we’d know right away if we were in over our heads with the competition, so we just casually got ourselves a number and started casing the joint.
Right away I see this awesome farmhouse-style cabinet that I need to have. (Where we would put it is of little concern.) This is definitely one of the nicest pieces of furniture in the place though, so I don’t have high hopes that we could actually win a bidding war.
There are a couple other potential pieces we have our eyes on in the main store and we are debating the merits of buying an entire room of records that are being sold as one Lot. And we’re definitely going to think about buying either a Lot of doors or a Lot of windows. Depending on how many actual salvage store dealers have shown up to bid against.
Then we head across the street to the upstairs storage.
I suppose when some people think of precious antique furniture they may picture their meticulous grandmother’s attic. With dust covers, recently swept floors, and limited fire damage to the surrounding overall structure. Now picture the opposite.
Basically the contents looked like they had been stacked for kindling in an attempt to secure some insurance money via arson. I had serious reservations about the amount of people that the dilapidated floor would be able to hold.
But here is where we found the chest of drawers that had been pictured on the website. And upon further inspection there was a retro red diner set, complete with four vinyl chairs, and a corner hutch with a rather shabby chic door.
Problem was, this auction was selling whole rooms as Lots. There was some parceling of items, but we weren’t quite sure how that worked and figured we might just have to find the winning bidder to make an offer on an individual piece.
We had about twenty minutes before the auction to make our plan and set our budget a la Brandi and Jarrod. Unlike Auction Kings and more like Storage Wars, we would be following the auctioneer from room to room, and he decided he was going to start across the street in the fire trap.
Now whether people weren’t paying attention or had no interest, not as many bidders followed us across the street. So when the first Lot went for $10, Scott and I exchanged excited glances.
The next lot contained all the items down the middle of the large room and included the retro diner table. The bidding started at $100 but had no takers. $50. Silence. Scott and I looked at each other. $25. Scott raised his number. The auctioneer asked for $35 a few times, but there were no takers, so we won a room full of furniture for $25.
Let me repeat that.
We just won A ROOM FULL OF FURNITURE for $25. Umm. Okay. Glad we don’t have to have all this stuff out today, considering we drive a Ford Edge.
Next we walk towards the room with the chest of drawers. He auctions off another room first that goes for $45. And then we bid on the room with the chest at $25. Again, no other takers.
Holy shit, we just bought TWO ROOMS OF FURNITURE!
Okay, time to adjust the game plan. Scott calls his dad to come strategize with us and we head back across the street. At this point they start auctioning the doors and windows, but we don’t know how we are getting the stuff we already bought home, let alone a Lot of ten solid oak doors.
The auctioneer makes it to one of the furnished rooms and asks if there are any pieces that people want auctioned separately. Someone asks for a mantel, and they get it for $20. Scott asks for the pedestal sink and he gets it for $25. That’s right. We just bought a pedestal sink.
Scott goes to the street to watch for his dad and leaves me with our number when my cabinet comes up. At the start of the day, Scott had originally agreed he’d be willing to go $120 for it. The shop owner had it priced at $585 (it had obviously been there for a while). I’m standing behind the auctioneer, so when it starts these other two guys are bidding on it.
I got it for $90. That’s right. I just bought a frickin’ china cabinet. That I have no space for in my dining room.
This clinches it. It is less than an hour into the auction and we need a U-Haul. Better retire our number.
And so I head back over to inventory our soot covered loot. I knew the room with the chest of drawers also had a desk, wardrobe, and two tables for sure. Turns out, there was also another desk (“There’s a fifty dollar bill, Brando”), a bar cabinet (“Another hundred bill.”), some leaded windows, a mantel, and a deacon’s bench (“Another two hundred bill. All day long, Brando.”).
In the back room with the retro diner set, there was no less than four corner hutch built ins, a church pew, a teacher’s school desk, another dresser, two imperial chairs, and some mission-like shelves that no longer had their cabinet doors. As my father-in-law later warmly and accurately quoted our friend Darrel Sheets, “This room is just crapping money, Brando.”
We do grab a U-Haul and start…well…hauling (down a flight a rickety, steep stairs of course). I’m covered in a fine black powder within sixty seconds. I have no doubt developed black lung and probably should have gotten a tetanus booster. But two hours later and we have our first truck loads ready to go.
When I put a rather pathetic plea out on facebook, my friend Jenna graciously volunteered her husband and his pick-up for our next load. I have a feeling she did not pass along my warning about the “black plague” and immensity of it all, but that man is an absolute angel and we got all the rest in the next trip. (We did let him pick out a piece of furniture free of charge, lest you think we are complete assholes.)
My brother (who is more of an American Pickers type of guy) showed up after all the work was done to browse the merchandise, somehow scamming us out of the big round table and the church pew, for way less than they are worth on eBay. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday for the next decade. He’s lucky his wife is so nice.
So yeah, we are keeping my cabinet, one dresser, the wardrobe, a corner hutch, the bar cabinet, the deacon’s bench, the imperial chairs, two mirrors, and three leaded windows. And I have actually thought of a place for each and ever single piece.
All other items for sale (see my facebook profile for pictures!)
I don’t expect Scott to come out of his workshop for the next twelve months (except to train for his next Ironman). More remote control time for me! I think we’ll switch over from Storage Wars to Rehab Addict for a while.