Pickin’ through Chester County, by Tara Dugan
THE END of the year brings mixed emotions. The proliferation of lists generated in December (Top Ten Stories of 2011, People We Lost in 2011, Worst Divorces of 2011, etc.) suggests that we sometimes have a hard time letting go of people, things,and Kardashian marriages, even as we look hopefully to the future. It is an unsettling truth that my delight in discovering a treasure sometimes coincides with another person’s sadness. Though most people downsizing are happily planning a retirement in Florida, some are dealing with an unwanted move to a care facility, or worse, the death of a loved one.
The emotional attachment a family has to its belongings is remarkably powerful. While negotiating the sale of estate items as delicately as possible, it is the rule rather than the exception that someone starts to cry at the sight of, say, a lamp. Every time, the teary person is truly confounded by the event: “I’m so embarrassed; what’s come over me?” I have found that the best way to recover and find joy in the situation is to honor the style of those moving on. Good taste endures. And how wonderful is it that someone, maybe even a young person just beginning to define his or her own style, will appreciate the cocktail shaker that Pops picked up in London just after the war? So in the spirit of the New Year, and with apologies to Robert Burns, I’m offering you a little furniture Auld Lang Syne and sharing some of my favorite estate purchases of 2011, collected by the coolest people the Brandywine Valley ever saw.
1. The Raymor Omnibus. This wall system was designed by Sven Ellekjaer and imported from Denmark in the 1960s. It is as sleek and contemporary today as it was then, and the proportions work perfectly for flat screens and laptops.
2. The Salterini patio furniture. Mauricio Tempestini designed this black, iron outdoor furniture with details that make it irresistible. The loveseat has a loop to hold an umbrella, while the chair (with the removable footrest) has a small swing out table just big enough for a cocktail with an umbrella of its own. Capri, anyone?
3. The Gaetano Sciolari chandelier. When I first saw it, I had no idea what I was looking at, but it was so striking that it had to be something good. Though I had nothing more than a hunch, I was glad the woman selling the estate had disregarded another buyer’s opinion that it was junk that belonged in the dumpster. Even years of grime couldn’t obscure the gorgeous geometric metalwork, and a good cleaning revealed shiny chrome in near-perfect condition. After much research, I called the woman and shared the good news that it was probably the work of a talented Italian whose lighting was pricey in the ‘60s and even pricier now. When we finally took the chandelier down, there was Sciolari’s mark on ‘junk’ worth about $3,000. Now THAT deserves a toast…cheers!