A few weeks ago, I mentioned Mary Randolph Carter and her series of Junk books. She’s known by all as simply Carter, and in her role as Senior Vice President at Ralph Lauren, she’s been responsible for a good part of his signature American look.
Her first book, American Junk, was one of my favourite books for a long time. When I found it and started reading it, it was like finding a kindred soul who could look beyond an object’s original intent and find something new and beautiful in it.
Several years ago, she wrote another book which is an homage to old things. The book, For the Love of Old: Living with Chipped, Frayed, Tarnished, Faded, Tattered, Worn and Weathered Things that Bring Comfort, Character and Joy to the Places We Call Home, is her most beautiful to date.The typefaces are stunning and the images of simple subjects are reverential and elegant. Her words show a respect for even the smallest object. I know that this book is going to be one that I keep for a long time. Here are four tips from Carter about junking, antiquing or thrifting.
- Be prepared, like a good girl or boy scout. Think ahead. Are you looking for a bedside table for the guest room or Easter costumes for the kids? "Make a list so you can stay on track and not get overwhelmed," says Carter. "Your list is your compass in the wilderness."
- Trust your instincts. "Good junk is linked to good memories, so if you find yourself saying, 'Oh that reminds me of the time...' chances are you're onto a good thing."
- Case the joint. Do a walk-through, making mental notes about what items strike your fancy and what ones you feel you can pass on.
- Haggle -- it's part of the sport. "I always ask the proprietor if I can start a pile. Then, when I'm ready to cash out, I start negotiating."