Monday, June 26, 2006

Philadelphia Salvage: Where to Go, What You'll Find

The Problem- You live in a castle with gothic stained glass windows. Your neighbor's bratty child threw a baseball through said stained glass windows.

The Solution, presumably after you had a restorative cocktail- Architectural Salvage.

When you've lost something that happens to be irreplacable, when you're restoring a historic home, or when you're just looking for an interesting kitchen sink, the first place you should head to is one of the city's many architectural salvage clearing houses. These stores buy up wonderful old items- from mantles to columns to claw foot bath tubs, and everything in between- from renovators, clean them up and re-sell, at a fair price. Here's a few good places to go:

ReStore (3016 East Thompson St.): A very comprehensive selection, includes cast iron ornaments, tile, doors and sinks. Also offers a design service and never-used pieces.

Found Matter (1320 N. Fifth St., by appointment): In addition to handcrafted furniture pieces made from re-harvested wood, a very good selection of architectural pieces. Stained glass windows, doors (including double-doors), moldings and more.

Architectural Antiques Exchange (715 N. 2nd): If you have a sudden need to buy a complete, paneled library, this is where you go. Gates, lighting, beds, bars...and everything in between.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Occasional tables are the Jan Bradys of the Furniture world...

Today's Times Home & Garden section has devoted space to telling readers where to find Parsons tables. Parsons tables! You really can't walk a block in the design district of any metropolitan city without finding a very tasteful Parsons Table at any price point. Heck, I can't even go to the doctor's office without seeing one of those holding up a collection of outdated Time magazines.

Anyway. Occasional tables are the Jan Bradys of the furniture world. They usually aren't designed to be statement pieces, because they are either meant to merely compliment other, more glamorous items, or are holding up some lovely objet d'art of some sort. The Parsons table, I think, appeals to people because it's the most unobtrusively designed piece of furniture, and has a certain minimal style.

At left, is proof that an occasional table can still co-exist peacefully with your other items, while still making its own statement. This is a Parenthesis table by Philadelphia-based VJD3 Designs. The lines wouldn't compete with your other pieces of furniture, but the curves add a dash of the unexpected. Other proportions and finishes, including custom options, are offered, but the luminous sheen of this particular piece (the veneer is a bleached maple) caught my eye.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The quest for decent-looking ceiling fans...

It's hot out. It's been stifling, unnecessarily, non-life-enhancing-ly hot for a past week now, and it's caught everyone by surprise. My unattractive air-conditioning unit (you know, those awful window-mounted models) was in storage, so I was left to wilt on a chaise lounge with a handkerchief. Just call me Blanche.

If the heat isn't enough to make you faint, consider this: An air-conditioning unit (whether you have central air, or the aforementioned window-mounted eyesore) wastes a TON of electricity. How much? In my quest for answers, I stumbled upon Michael Bluejay's page, which deals with saving electricity. Air conditioners use anywhere from 600-3500 watts of energy. If we switch to ceiling fans, we will save roughly $610 on our energy bills, which will be enough for each of us to buy a mid-price pair of Christian Louboutin sandles.

The problem is that ceiling fans can be even bigger eyesores than those air-conditioning units. They bring to mind the faux-country style that worms its way in to suburban households everywhere. Go in to the Home Depot or Lowe's and you will be visually assaulted by fake wood grains, fluted light bulb covers and caning, to the point where you will start to think that paying that extra $610 in energy costs might be worth it.

My advice: head over to Arch Street Lighting (120 Arch St.). Not only do they have a lovely and tasteful selection of lighting (side note: why does Home Depot/Lowe's consider "modern lighting" those pendant lamps that hang at Starbucks stores? That's all they have in terms of lighting that doesn't look salvaged from the set of Evening Shade, or perhaps a Cracker Barrel), but they have an equally well-edited selection of ceiling fans.

At left is the Centauru by Fanimation, which boasts satin nickel and cherry accents in a design that is a whimsical tribute to mid-century modern design and the Fairly Oddparents cartoon show. See more options here.