I Love Collecting

I love collecting.  But unlike people who collect to accumulate, I collect to use.  My Waterford collection gets quite the workout.  My home furnishings collected over time bring me and my guests great enjoyment.  And my not-so-secret obsession with luxury goods at bargain prices brings me extra excitement in life.  Remember: shopping is a sport and I went professional at the age of nine.

I never should have jumped on EBay.  But I did.  And there is nothing I can (or want) to do about it.

bk-blog-4-ebayYou know.  It seems crazy hearing about Ebay.  People gone wild with excitement and you just think your friends are foolish for spending their money buying something from some stranger on the other side of the globe.  And then, suddenly, something catches your eye.  For me, it was a pair of Puruti Crocodile loafers in mint condition in my size, that new would have been $2,400, which I couldn’t pass up for $130.

bk-blog-4-hermes-ribbonThen it was an Hermès scarf that I wanted to hang as wall art in my second floor landing: The Real Escuela Andaluza Del Arte Equestre.  The colors in red, gold and black just pop and it indulges my love for all things equestrian.  And then I spotted my prize: a rare edition of the Hermes Attrape Tes Reves in Hermès orange that made me hit the ‘Bid’ button again.  Luckily, I had the good fortune of coming across 12 huge, gold wooden frames with glass for $1 each that I’m able to get my contractor to rebuild to fit these silk scarves and other art I’ve collected for my home.  Each frame has saved me about $150- $250.

bk-blog-4-real-framedLooking back, I think I’ve bought more Hermès for others than I have for myself.  They receive new items, and I buy myself a mix of vintage and bk-blog-4-horsenew.  And that’s perfect.  They’re friends that appreciate great quality.  My favorite Hermès tie is one of horses in the most beautiful collection of colors.  May the patron saint of plastic bibs always watch out for me.

But hold your horses, there’s a bit of home schooling you need to do before you go crazy on the Bay.  Lots of luxury goods are knocked off left and right, and sell right beside the real stuff on so many websites.  My advice: learn about what you like and then proceed with caution.  The only thing worse than owning a fake is having paid authentic prices for your trifles.

And trifles they are: things of little value or importance.  Whether it’s race cars or clown figurines, Fiesta ware or velvet paintings of bullfighters, your real wealth is your health and that’s where your money needs to go first.

Back to shopping.  Now, if there was ever a person with a divining rod for luxury bargains, it’s my Aaron.  His first score in this sport since we met was a mint condition Gucci wool blanket that he found at a hipster resale shop for $39.  It was an odd item for them to resell, so likely they didn’t know that it sells today for $1,500.  His second score was a pair of vintage Ray bans made with solid 14K gold frames.  They’re worth about $525.  He got them for $30. Then, (because everything has to be done in 3’s :-0), Aaron bought me a black leather Dolce & Gabbana jacket that was new with tags (and still selling on their site for $5,000), which he grabbed for $100.

I’ve always said and I stand by it today: the world is a bargain if you know where to shop.  Whether it’s $3 or $3,000 . . . it’s only worth what someone will pay.

For those of you who are curious as to this legacy brand I collect:

HISTORY OF HERMÈS

A family-owned label for five generations, Hermès is the epitome of true class and the perfect picture of ‘blue blood.’

bk-blog-4-hermes-boxIn 1837 Paris, Thierry Hermès founded his namesake brand as an equestrian harness and saddle workshop. I wonder if he had any idea that he was creating a dynasty that people all round the world covet among the best brands in design and quality.

bk-blog-4-hermes-horse-logoIn 2016, Hermès luxury goods are sold new and resold pre-owned at jaw-dropping prices, because the lasting quality and designs are just that good.

Some notable points in Hermès History:

bk-blog-4-kelly-bag1929:    Hermès first women’s couture collection was previewed in Paris.

1930’s:  Hermès began to sell their products in the US in Neiman Marcus, New York.

1937:    The first Hermès silk scarf is born.

1956:    The Kelly bag debut after Grace Kelly carries a crocodile handbag to hide her pregnancy.

1984:    Actress Jane Birkin replaced her straw handbag (Thank God! See photos)with a leather Hermès handbag, and thus began the trend of the Birkin handbag.

bk-blog-4-birkin-bag2016:    The Birkin bag has the longest wait list for an accessory today, 6 years.

Remember the episode in Sex In The City when Carrie Bradshaw quipped that she would be “the woman who lives in her shoes”. Well, take a look at the tiny crocodile house that one might be living out of some day, should the money run out.  This Hermès handbag and/or future home could have been yours if you had only bid a single dollar over $300,000.00 on June 6th at Christies, NYC.

bk-blog-4-birkin-bag-saleKnow that you would not be the first person to find an Hermès scarf while thrifting.  A friend of ours found one for a dollar at Goodwill and sold it to someone in Japan for $450.  May the Vintage Gods be with you.

Please share your collections with me.  We will then know each other’s Achilles heel and can keep our eyes out for the must haves that excite us.

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Blood, Sweat & Years

Rightfully or wrongfully, I’m just gonna start this entry by saying that the signs of the Zodiac are seldom wrong. In fact, the sign Brian blog 2 1crabunder which I was born, Cancer, could not be more spot on. Cancerians value family, love and not the least of which, their home and surroundings. In our homes, we find expression, peace and, when necessary, escape from all those other Zodiac signs that can drive us nuts.

I have to admit I never really got how much I appreciate creating a home until I was in a place long enough to invest in one. Up until 12 years ago I was always on the move, from college to grad school, to jobs in marketing, entertainment news and then to home shopping. It seemed that I was in a different city every couple of years.   It didn’t make sense to paint walls, much less buy a home.

Finally, upon moving to Minneapolis 12 year ago, I knew it was time to settle in. Designing and decorating my first home was fun, easy and in no time it was complete. I thought it was nice, but when local publications were asking for interviews and photo ops, I felt a sense of possibility in the air.

Brian blog 2 2BAgarden

It was around the time when friends like Wendi Russo and others were telling me to sell and create a new home, that I went to Lowes Hardware to buy the necessary items to add some much needed extra storage in my garage. No sooner had I put all the materials in my car and I said to myself “Forget it. I’m going to move.” It wasn’t so much that I needed extra storage, but that my heart was saying there is more of you to express and more ideas you have to create.

Which leads me to the Blood, Sweat and Years.

After days of looking at over 700 homes online in my price range, I found my Grey Gardens Home in Minnetonka and didn’t look beyond it. It was love at first sight.

Brian blog 2 3 roof construct

I kept it a secret from almost everyone, including my family. Only my agent, broker and financial advisor were in the know. The house needed so much work that I didn’t want friends and family calling me crazy.

Brian blog 2 4BAstair

Then it was love at first fright. The day of the home inspection it was raining and dripping inside several areas of the house.   (Luckily, that brought the sale price down considerably!) Nothing a new roof wouldn’t fix. Then, the day after I closed, my dog Molly discovered a family of raccoons under the back porch. Nothing a frantic call to a local pest control wouldn’t fix. Cha-Ching! And so many other ‘Discoveries’ both large and small on top of the inspector’s finds that I accepted with large exhales. Like needing a jack hammer to remove kitchen tile set in over an inch of cement (Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching) and chewed wires in the floor (Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching, Chaaaaa-Chinggggg!).

Brian blog 2 5BA kitchen

 

 

Brian blog 2 6NicoleDid I have help with the construction? I certainly did. Did I do any of the work? You bet. All the redesign and any stripping, sanding, painting and landscaping where I could save myself some cash. Did I eat a lot of dust ? Absolutely, for breakfast, lunch & dinner! Was it uncomfortable at times? YES! At one point I had the refrigerator in the dining room, the coffee pot and microwave in the powder room, and only the working sink in the laundry room. And that was just one room of 4 that were out of commission at the same time. But I would do it all over again. Yes, let me repeat: I would do it all over again. Just in a different house that needs a whole lot of love.

Brian blog 2 7 BAliving

Seeing potential in homes and creating beautiful, inviting spaces for living and entertaining are some of the gifts God has given me. And being able to see what’s possible in homes other people would reject is so incredibly satisfying to me. (My house was on the market for two years before I came along.) Shopping for materials, finding amazing fixtures and decorating the spaces all bring me incredible joy. And knowing where and how to find all of the materials and furnishings at such huge discounts is a resourcefulness I value in myself as I am not one to ever pay full price. More like 40-80% off retail. And I’m talking for both the materials and the home.

Brian blog 2 8stone arch

To say which room brings me the most joy would be hard. I took on every space in this home over the last six years with a lot of passion.

Brian blog 2 9outdoor

Of course there are a couple more designs I am currently working to incorporate. But then what? Like the sand crab, is it time for me to find a new shell?

So many of you have been so supportive of my projects.   And some of you have even let me help you with yours. Know that any tips I’ve learned over the years are yours for the asking. Write me for any ideas you may want to add to your list of considerations. If you find it really helpful, then I will invoice you for a nickel.   Let’s learn from each other to make our nests (and shells) the best they can be.

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