20 July 2010

The find

I love interior design magazines and blogs, love drooling over images of other people's homes--people with great taste, innovative personal style. I love the "sneak peeks" feature over at design*sponge, because the homes are loved and lived in, not the ones in the glossy magazine spreads devoid of all signs of actual human habitation. I'm a sucker for casually but tantalizingly arranged vignettes, and especially those involving vivid typography of some sort...prints with words, old signage, rusty letters, vintage letterpress blocks.

But what gets me every time is the text that accompanies the image. "We found the [adorable, perfect, just-worn-enough item] in a flea market in France!" Or, "We stumbled across that [awesome mid-century piece] on the street!" The words "flea market find" get real old real fast. (Also overused: "I'm obsessed with..." Really? Obsessed?) Here's a perfect example: In a lovely budget redo, somebody airily mentions a print they "picked up at a Paris flea market."

Sure, I think. "Picked up," as easy as an errand to the dry cleaners. As if we all rummage around in French flea markets every day. As if there is anything besides cracked and water-swollen particleboard furniture on our street.

But then. We went to France, see. Last week, on vacation, with my parents. We rambled around Provence, bought bunches of lavender, lived in a little apartment in a town so small it didn't have a boulangerie (just a madcap baker who showed up with deliveries from the next town over, beeping his horn like the roadrunner at 9 am). And we went to a flea market. And behold! The flea market had woodblock letters, in big ramshackle piles, in which I could rummage to my heart's content, smudging my fingers with dusty ink.

We came home with a lovely selection of letters, and it's like candy to me. But I heretofore promise that I will not be the jerk who says offhandedly, "oh, we just picked those up in a French flea market." I will instead admire the letters, and point out how, among the other letters we picked just because they looked funky, we chose a tall mommy R, and a bold daddy M, and a little baby G.

Now I need to figure out how to arrange them in my own little vignette. On a table? A shelf? On a wall? I think this project is so cool (and yes, the words "a flea market in France" appear once again), but I don't have enough of them to pull it off. I'll have to experiment a little, which of course is half the fun.

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