Two Fridays ago, I went to my ideal estate sale. It had all the ingredients: unrehabilitated (i.e., smelly), overstuffed, shag-rugged midcentury house belonging to (dearly departed) art teacher. I've addressed this topic in a previous post but I'll reiterate: Yes, I feel like the lowest bottom-feeder when I trawl the classifieds for the estates of artists and art teachers—but I can't help that they always have the best stuff!
The first clue that you've stumbled upon my ideal estate sale is in the photo above; the house must have a built-in stereo/PA system, preferably in the kitchen. (I still nurse regrets about the House that Got Away nine years ago, which featured just such a hi-fi—the controls were housed in a built-in desk in the center of the kitchen. I love my ramshackle ranch, but, alas, she does lack a built-in sound system.)
Still, it's not like you can buy the sounds system, so let's move on to the craft room. Is the existence of a craft room a good sign? Why yes, yes it is—especially when it features a wall of shelves groaning under the weight of vintage decorating, crafting and art books. I scored books for myself and I scored books for the etsy shoppe, including doubles of some great books I've featured on this very blog, which I'll be selling soon.
This lady had a ton of diet and exercise books, including Jane Fonda and Heavyhands and all that kind of thing from the glory days of aerobics. Mostly I resisted, but I had to get this ’70s gem from Family Circle, How to Stay Pretty & Trim (hint: it takes lots of Jell-o salads!).
I bought a pile of crafty books. As you know, I'm no crafter so these will probably get listed on etsy. Then again, they are so very pretty...
And I'm not sure I've seen more Sunset Books in one place as I did here. As you also know, I have a bit of a Sunset Book obsession so not one could go unpurchased. But now I face the conundrum of what to sell because I like to hoard the various editions of each title. So, for example, while I have Cabins and Beach Houses (sixth printing, May 1959), I did not have (till now) Cabins and Vacation Houses (seventh printing, May 1970), which means I've gotta keep both, right? (Another awesome thing about this estate sale is that the homeowners appear to have actually used their Sunset Books to build shelves, furniture, weird cabinets—all the stuff I enjoy looking at but would never attempt to make.)
And just to clarify: This family's library was not confined strictly to crafting and DIYing and decorating and other artsy stuff. Makeshift shelves and DIY bookcases filled every room and were grouped by theme: theater arts in one of the bedrooms, psychology in the living room, classic lit in the den. I bought this 1950 Perma Giant edition of Emile Zola's Nana cuz the silhouette illustrations by some genius named Fred A. Mayer are absolutely amazing. I'm thinking about buying another copy online (they're quite cheap) and pulling the pages out for framing, but since dissembling books makes me feel like a monster I'll probably never do it.
When previewing this sale online, my kids were excited to see enough textiles to fill one of those punnily named sewing stores (we patronize one called Yarnivore). The older daughter has recently taken up finger-kintting, which I don't understand, but basically she makes very long chains that end up stuck between sofa cushions So both kids put in orders for specific colors of yarn, which I ended up totally having to fight for in the apparently very popular sewing room (yes, there was a sewing room, separate from the craft room). Why so crowded? It seemed that a search party had been sent to this sale by one of our local cults, possibly Yearning for Zion. Not that I'm any kind of expert on our local cults.
I'm making this assumption because the party consisted of one stern, Amish-looking gentleman bossing around several meek women of varying ages, all of whom wore hand-sewn, floor-length dresses, Little House on the Prairie–style. Perhaps they were just odd, and had made their sartorial choices of their own free will. Perhaps. Since they seemed to be focused on furnishing their compound and dressing their family—as opposed to buying old books to hoard or resell—we didn't really throw elbows, but I gotta say the action was pretty hot in the sewing room. I barely got out of there alive, with just a few technicolor skeins tucked under my arm. But that's what made this my ideal estate sale—driving away with a car full of stuff, and a story to tell.