I was sharing a thrift shopping excursion with a friend. She was responding with a series of disinterested "uh huhs" until I started telling her about the hanging lamp we'd found. Suddenly she became frantic, ripping through some clippings. Is it this lamp? In fact, it was exactly that lamp.
It feels like we've all been there. You're perfectly happy with your home and then you go to a friend's home or check out a House Tour or get invited to someone's place for dinner and they have a piece of furniture or a vase or a lamp that you know would change your life if you could only get one for yourself. So you ask them about it. Casually. Umm, hey, I was wondering where you got this? You're prepared for a high end store, something that you'll have put aside money for every week for the next two years and then they say something like, Oh, that? I got it from my grandmother OR I dunno, some store in Pasadena, I think OR I found it on the street OR there was a guy who was going out of business. And your heart sinks. You know that you will never ever ever be able to find something with the same beautiful lines and worn in patina as this and that if you even think of combing the internet for one (and you will, you will spend sleepless days and nights when you should be doing something productive, like work, dreaming up endless ways to describe this piece in the prosaic terms Google needs to find something), if you do find it, it will knock the price pants right off that pricey high end store.
I speak from experience. This has happened to me more than once. In fact, it's happening right now with this simple stool in the apartment I'm staying in. Yes, it's a Fritz Hansen dot stool smartypants but they don't make this one anymore. It has three legs, it has that foot rest, it's taller than the current models. And I want it. So, what am I going to do? Here's what I've found works:
Pin it up: Whether it's a folder at the front of a file cabinet, a box secreted away under your bed, out there for all to see on a Pinterest board or on a mood board that's over your desk, put a good picture of that item somewhere and describe which version you'd like. You're giving it over to the furniture gods who watch over Craigslist and street and thrift and charity and junk store finds and they have a lot of people who are clamoring for their attention so you want to be as specific as you can.
Be proactive: Just because you want it and you've pinned up a picture of it isn't enough. You have to do some work to find it but not obsess over it. Look without looking would be the Buddhist way of putting it. So check Craigslist every once in a while, stop in a thrift store if you happen to be walking by, troll the internet while you're stuck on a particularly boring and rote conference call.
Let your friends know: If one pair of eyes is good, more is better. But remember, this is your search not theirs. Often the lead or the finding of something you love will come from the most unexpected and random person in your extended circle of acquaintances.
Let it go: Go on with your life and embrace new experiences, new adventures and new places. One of them might just lead you to your dream furniture!
Be grateful: When that piece of furniture turns up (and it will), act graciously and, to keep your good karma going, give away something that you no longer need or want but that you know someone else could use. If you don't know anyone that wants it, sell it on Craigslist for cheap or donate it.
Oh, you may scoff. You may think that these suggestions are the woowoo product of someone who's live in LA for too long but I can say, without fail, everyone who's ever sat down to do this has gotten everything they wanted. Maybe not immediately, maybe not even in six months but eventually.
What do you want? Share it with us in the comments! Be specific!
First Image: The Brick House. This is the lamp that was at the center of my story. Second Image: Abigail Stone