Mirror, Mirror, Antique Meets Modern
Like many subtly artistic and traditionally driven moms of our time, my mom has a love for antique furniture.
It would appear that along with strange eating habits, an addiction to British detective mysteries, Haagen Daz ice- cream elitism
and a strong perfectionistic streak (amongst other things) –
I too have inherited a bit of this trait.
I can recall many trips to our little Downtown Strip – the local assemblage of antique stores and funky consignment shops with equally quirky names like “Bliss” and “Mr. Beasley’s”. Though it might have been her excuse to get out of the house and mainline coffee, there were weekly excursions to these mission street haunts to forage and winnow through locally crafted artisanal goods and newly refurbished antiquities. Our home was nothing short of a Victorian-mansion-meets-French-Country masterpiece – all before “rustic” became chic and “farmhouse” got famous.
We had a large, antique media center with so many compartments even the most avid gamer wouldn’t be able to fill all of the shelves with consoles and paraphernalia. There was a sturdy walnut server in the prettiest shade of dark cherry that still houses my mother’s good silver. And an unfinished oak cabinet with a raw cut marble slab-top that she willingly bestowed upon me because I adore it.
You know, traditional.
The furniture lining the walls of both of our bedrooms showcased a mixture of delicate pieces; we had hand-crafted bedside tables and beautiful wooden chests of drawers with vanity-style tri-folding mirrors to match. It was so elegant. When I was eleven I may or may not have stuck a No Doubt sticker I swiped from The Limbo Lounge crookedly above small block-lettered decals that read “primping is proper” (don’t bother to ask, I have no idea where this came from) right onto my mirror – basically defacing it.
Why she didn’t murder me, to this day I will never know.
Recovery involved a spackle knife, cotton balls and quite a bit of goo-gone. To say the least.
Clearly I needed some time to appreciate the craftsmanship.
And I did as I grew older. I looked forward to the weekend trips downtown – even enjoyed shopping on my own a bit. I think the shift happened in adolescence. There’s a point when you begin to take ownership of your space and embrace your own vision. Your attitude toward things sort of changes. Things that were “given to” or “provided for” you become perhaps, more distinctly, “yours”.
An identity takes shape and we begin to select with great care what we choose to inhabit our space.
Which in my case appeared to include No Doubt stickers and campy tween decals.
Searching for pieces that felt special – ones that had character and resonated with my vision – this quest sustained me. I pooled the money I earned teaching little kiddos jazz and ballet to build my own antique arsenal. By college I had amassed a solid collection of some really nice pieces. Granted they weren’t inhabiting my current shoe-box-of-a-dorm-room, but they did keep my bedroom cozy while I was away in LA.
There was a distressed black antique hutch, with a scent of cedar and the perfect amount of wear and tear. It currently houses our growing glassware collection. And a little mellow yellow hall cabinet with one small drawer – perfect for our keys, Ella’s leash, and a handy box of matches. But one of my favorite additions was an antique vanity, with a small center ledge sandwiched between two small drawers and a large tri-folding mirror. So grown up.
Only trouble is, I can’t seem to make it fit. Not only is it too big for our snug little bedroom, now it just doesn’t feel right in the new spot. I’m not sure if it’s the darker shade of wood, or the current wave of minimalism sweeping through my life.
And subsequently, my household.
Sometimes pieces don’t carry the longevity you imagine they will. Even when they’re antique. But I missed having this classic feminine staple. My bedroom wasn’t complete without it. So I set out to find a surrogate. Clean and simple, but with the character of an antique.
While my search for the ideal vanity continues on, in the meantime I’ve found a sleek, antique-inspired alternative. A small, simple round mirror mounted over a petite art deco-esque shelf will suit my needs just fine. Funnily enough, it matches the gold-rimmed and white seated stool I found wandering about an antique store in Carlsbad Village just after we moved in. This stool has been sitting up against a bare bedroom wall for nearly 9 months, just waiting for the right counterparts to come along. Sometimes, you just have to start with one.
Will it have the same timelessness as a traditional antique?
I’m not sure. But right now, it feels inspired. It has character. And it supports the vision I’ve embraced.
Now I’ll just have to figure out how to incorporate a few band stickers and some sassy catch-phrases to really make it pop.
You know –
Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest…?
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