Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part One)

Hi cattledogs readers, I'm and I'm a photo stylist and designer based in New York who is visiting you today on cattledogs with a guest post since Holly is working on location for her next book. Exciting! I'm going to talk about a favorite flea market in Massachusetts that I just attended with a little glimpse into my finds. So come along with me... Let's go to the market!

I wait in anticipation for every year, either shopping for myself or for projects, this market has become a very valuable resource for trend forecasting and is incredibly inspiring for my work as a stylist. I like to go early in the week for the best selection and beat the crowds, although the best deals are at the end of the week because dealers don't want to pack things back up. For a show the size of Brimfield with thousands of dealers, it's impossible to see everything so it helps to go in knowing what you're looking for while keeping in mind it's the thrill of the hunt. I'm often shopping for clients so I'll bring with me detailed measurements and inspirational pictures -- when I'm out in the fields there's no time to hesitate so when I see something, I'll need to jump on it!

Many of the dealers set up their booths like mini-stores with beautifully styled vignettes, great music, even incense or a burning candle -- the spaces are so beautiful that I'll just stand and stare and soak it all in! It's incredibly inspiring how each vendor chooses to set up their wares. As a stylist, I can definitely get caught up in the little details (like the red milliner feathers displayed a white ironstone bowl, antique doll heads lined up in a glass case or a row of antique glove molds). I love meeting other designers, store owners, and artists who thrive on this sort of thing -- people fly in from all over the world to attend this show and there's never a lack of interesting characters or excitement. Every once in a while you'll pass by a film crew shooting or someone giving an interview. The whispers of J.Crew buyers running in and slapping their "J.Crew SOLD" stickers on everything (if you've been to Brimfield, you know exactly what I'm talking about!) is always the biggest gossip of the week!

This year I was specifically shopping for a multi-functional table for a small apartment, a rustic farm table for an eat-in kitchen and any small props that caught my eye. Although I'm still on the hunt for a farm table, I found a wonderful vintage 1940's drop leaf maple table with spindle legs that opens up to dining table yet can act as a console when the leaves are down. I also came away with an antique gray chippy adjustable stool with glass ball claw feet that will be perfect for a clients living room as a side table. A set of 1800's antique plates with hand painted butterflies made their way home with me, I fell in love with their charm and couldn't resist!

Both (a fellow stylist who traveled with me, who will have the part "two" for you soon on cattledogs with her "take" on the show) and I have agreed the industrial style seems to be here to stay -- almost every dealer had some kind of metal lab stool or rolling cart. It was getting a little out of hand there for a while where anything pulled out of an old building was considered "industrial" with a trendy price tag to match! I have noticed people are mi the industrial pieces with more refined elements to soften the look of the very masculine, hard lines of the rusty, crusty metal; pale gray and cream painted furniture, faded linen upholstery, reclaimed wood, ironstone and silver pieces etc. This is a style I kept coming across while living in Northern California a few years ago and it seems to making its way to the East Coast. I was calling it California meets Swedish as it seems to be the play on light with a lived-in/casual lifestyle. Mid-century is also huge huge huge. I overheard a handful of dealers independently commenting about how they'll need to bring more mad-men style pieces for the next show. Although I was there for the first day, many of the big pieces had already sold!

Cash is king at a market like this one, although I have found that many dealers are totally okay with checks for large ticket items and some will even accept credit cards. Negotiating is part of the game and the dealers expect it. I always try to start a conversation either by asking "what can you tell me about this piece" or "what are you asking for this piece?" From their answer I can usually gauge their mark-up and if the item is within my price range. In the heat of the moment, it's important to remember you'll always get more with honey than you will with vinegar -- being polite and friendly will get you far! Negotiating a lower price can be as easy as asking "what's your lowest price?" or "my budget is xyz, is there any chance you could meet me closer to that price range?" Of course, you don't want to insult anyone by assuming their wares aren't worth what they're asking. If I'm really serious about something, I will let the dealer know how much I love the piece, the color, shape etc. I've heard some people say the opposite that you don't want to seem too eager, but I have found most people will go lower on the price if they know the buyer appreciates what ever it is they're selling -- they picked it, pack it and unloaded it, after all! For many dealers, this is their livelihood and they appreciate enthusiasm for what they do.

Brimfield has definitely become a giant retail store over the years, gone are the "good 'ol days" when you could load up your car with treasures at bargain prices. Technology and a general interest in the antique industry has made everyone very aware of what items cost. According to many of the dealers, "these damn New Yorkers are driving up the prices"... *gulp*... I guess I'm guilty as charged! Brimfield is a party for people who like stuff and I joke that attending this show is like going to war; you're tired, you get dirty, your body aches and you push through... and I love every second of it!

So let's recap with my 6 top tips:

1. Go early in the week for the BEST selection or end of the week for the BEST deals. 2. Go in knowing what you're looking for. 3. Bring detailed measurements and inspirational pictures. (Holly wrote a post detailing a binder she made back in 2008 when she lived over here - check this out!) 4. Cash is king (though many dealers are totally okay with checks for large ticket items and some will even accept credit cards). 5. Negotiating is part of the game and the dealers expect it. 6. Be friendly with dealers - you'll always get more with honey than you will with vinegar -- being polite and friendly will get you far!

Psst: If you missed the May Brimfield show, don't worry... There are two more for you to catch this year - here are the upcoming dates: July 9-14 and September 3-8. So rest up and get ready to shop!

Nice to visit you on cattledogs today everyone! If you have any questions, please comment below and I will try to answer you. Thanks for having me! - Meagan.

(text/photos: Meagan Camp)

Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part Two)

Hello cattledogs readers! I'm Raina Kattelson from visiting you today with part two of a mini series that Megan Camp and I pulled together for cattledogs (her part one is here) while we were out shopping at Brimfield this month. I'm a NY-based stylist who has worked most recently with Anthology magazine, Country Living magazine and for designer Thom Filicia. I thought I'd share some of my personal highlights from Brimfield this year along with some tips of my own, so let's get started!

is a stylist’s playground with acres and acres of super cool treasures. And since my idea of a perfect day is to get up before sunrise and spend hours walking around searching for potential props for shoots, and lugging them home that’s where I happily headed this month. Most years I spend several days there but this time around could only spend one day - which is hardly enough to see 1/4 of what’s there...agony!

So in the early dawn light I happened upon a booth calling to me with pottery in my favorite blues and greens. I scored a rectangular Italian blue vase decorated with charming flowers and an interesting glaze. I also added to my collection of Dansk cookware with a casserole dish in the most perfect shade of turquoise. The quirky chartreuse warming dish kept calling me so I couldn’t resist. It’s often the strange things that I wonder why I bought that become my most favorite props!

I usually go to a market with some sort of rough wish list, which of course means I won’t find any of it - that's a flea market curse. This time I was looking for a sideboard, marble sink, and bathroom mirrors for our new house, so zippo. Instead I found a groovy mid century hand made tile top bench/coffee table, which I have absolutely no use for but LOVE! The best part is the secret compartment at the bottom with extra tiles. It will happily find a home somewhere in my house. I also found my dream chair a Bruno Mathsson “Eva” chair with leather straps in great shape, that alone made the whole day worth it.

After wandering the fields to the point of total exhaustion I can't say I saw too many new trends this year. Industrial, taxidermy and horns, signage and shabby chic seem to be sticking around. I saw a lot of brass and lucite, including a table that was reminiscent of a table in Celerie Kemble's new line. Worn leather sports equipment was in quite a few booths, though some of the larger pieces are best left as props.

I've been shopping flea markets since I was a kid and for years as a pro so here’s some super important tips so you can score the best pieces and not find yourself an exhausted puddle on the ground. Here are my 7 top tips:

1. Arrive early, I know everyone says it.. But it’s true! I hate getting up early, but for a flea 6am on the fields is the time to find the best pieces. 2. A list is good even if you don’t ever find them it’s easy to forget that you needed a new coffee table and quickly blow your money on yet another chair you don’t need. If you don’t believe me check out my basement - it's filled with chairs! 3. Shop for larger pieces first  (like furniture) - they go quickly. 4. If I see a piece I like but am not sure, I ask the price, take the booth number down and walk away. If it’s still calling to me a little while later I go back and get it. But if you really love it, jump on it right away. There’s nothing worse then going back and seeing your beloved piece with a sold sticker on it. And do write the booth info, no matter how much you think you will remember - you don’t. I have wasted precious shopping time trying to remember where something I now desperately wanted was. 5. Bring lot’s of cash and in small bills! It’s easier to haggle and then hand the dealer a small bill rather then whip out a $100 for a $10 item. 6. Look for shape - you can always repaint, refinish, reupholster. 7. Important things to bring: Cash, water, snacks - flea food usually stinks unless you are at the Brooklyn flea or Paris where the crepe truck is fab. Sunscreen, bags, bubble wrap and packing blankets are always in my trunk. There’s nothing worse then getting your piece home and finding it broken.

I hope that you have enjoyed my flea market tips! It was nice to be a guest on cattledogs - thank you for having me Holly! If you missed Part One, click here.

- Raina

(images/text: raina kattelson)

Kinfolk Flower Potluck in London

If you've met Holly or know her words, she is a fearless cheerleader of using whatever means you have to create a memorable, inspiring life for yourself. Thirty seconds of courage allowed me to sign up to one of her workshops last year and now here I am, lucky (excited!) and so very happy to be sharing with you in a new monthly column called Simple Times. But I should first introduce myself, my name is Rincy and I was born in India, brought up in Michigan and am currently living in Dublin, Ireland. I work as a training pediatrician and I have a blog called  where I share small pleasures that make me happy. The world of blogging can be overwhelming at the best of times, but I've found there is a truth in simplicity, in the little things of every day and sometimes a whole lot of little can be pretty magical. Don't you agree?

In April, I was lucky enough to attend a with a few others in London. It was the most sweetly inspiring way to welcome a new season- surrounded by florals, open conversation and a shared meal around a table.

Truth is, I don't have matching napkins and decorative flatware. I worry about things going just right. I usually end up forgetting something important at the store. But I do have what I need: food, a table, friends to gather and sometimes even a tealight or two. And more often than not, the best memories are the ones where we forget about perfection and embrace those imperfectly endearing moments of togetherness.

I've grown to become quite fond of them. Maybe this is something that you can think about if you are holding back from inviting over friends because you want everything to be 'just right'. Simply gather together those you love, grab some fresh bread and yummy things to put on it, a bottle of wine and let the magic begin.

I'll be back again next month with another thought about Simple Times. See you in June! - .

(images/text: rincy koshy)

DIY: Fabric Gift Bags

Hello, it’s Lisa Tilse here from . I’m delighted to be a new contributor to cattledogs and I’m excited to be sharing lovely simple and quick craft projects with you each month with a new column called Make Me. I believe everyone has some creativity in them, and crafting is a wonderful way to get in touch with that. Handmade is good for the soul – for your soul when you stop to focus on making with your hands and heart, and for those who receive the gift of something handmade.

Even if you aren’t confident enough in your crafting skills to give a handmade gift, you can still put love and care into gift wrapping. This project is all about that – creating gorgeous unique no-sew fabric gift bags handmade by you. It’s quick and easy to make a batch of these in one session and you’ll have something ready for a little thank you or hostess gift.

You’ll need: 6.5 inch square pieces of cotton fabric, 2 for each gift bag. Pinking scissors. These scissors cut with a zig zag line. They aren’t essential, but they give a lovely finish and stop the edges from fraying. Double sided tape about a quarter inch wide. Embellishments like ribbon, leather thonging, gift tags, feathers, pom poms, beads, or flowers.

Step 1: Cut the fabric Cut the fabric squares with pinking scissors. Quilting shops sell fabric precut to this size, and ‘charm packs’ which are 5 inch squares, both with pinked edges. These gift bags are also a great way to use up fabrics you have.

Step 2: Apply the tape Apply double sided tape on the wrong side of the fabric around three sides.

Step 3: Assemble the bags Remove the backing from the tape and position the second square of fabric on top so that all the edges are aligned. Rub along the taped edges with your fingernails to ensure both pieces of fabric are adhered to the tape. Easy!

Step 4: Wrap and decorate Pop the gift inside. These fabric gift bags are strong enough to use for little gifts like jewelry, washi tape, gift cards, a lovely bar of soap, or a little wrapped sweet treat.

Have fun decorating! If you have any questions, please just ask me in the comments section below.

See you again in June with another Make Me column! - Lisa

(images/text: lisa tilse)

Happy Weekend!

I have so much to write about today, lots of great stories, but I'm tired so I'm going to take a blog break since I have loads of prep work to do for next week! What is happening next week??? Ohhhh fun times!  My dear friend and creative partner-in-crime, , will fly to Hannover to work with me for a week! We begin the styling and photography part of our book next week and I can't wait! It will be very satisfying to see our ideas come to light and she and I work so beautifully together that I know nothing but love will go into this project which will show in the work, I'm sure. Creative work is like that, you get out what you put in it emotionally. I've been very busy ordering props and getting what is needed in order for us to make a huge dent in this project with her and well, it's Friday afternoon and I'm tired after running around all week. I want to have a glass of white wine after my final skype meeting today and chill out. You know that feeling, right? When you just need to rest and get yourself mentally prepared for a huge project? It's funny, I felt today like I really needed fresh flowers - but nothing from the store - something wild. And I was thinking where in the world I would find them as you can't just run into someone else's yard with a pair of scissors, right? So after my husband and I went on a lunch date, there was this random lady selling lilacs on the street that she cut from her yard - a bunch for only 2 Euros, and well... I couldn't resist. And I couldn't believe it. Look at these beauties in deep purple and a pale violet...

My home smells like a dream. That is definitely enough to make a weekend more beautiful, isn't it? And so affordable and special. I love that this stuff happens when you need it the most. I was really craving fresh cut blooms and these are just perfect. They looked so pretty wrapped in newspaper with their perky blooms peeking out as we walked home. I kept thinking of how much it's those little moments in life that mean more than anything else. The simple things. Do you find this too? Like things happen at the right time and often you are struck by the fact that they were the easiest and most simple things?

And by the way, the trick with preserving floral branches is to either cut an "X" at the bottom of the stem to open them up or hammer the bottoms lightly. You want to spread the bottom of the stem so they can drink water easily. As we were walking, this lady came out of her little clothing shop and told my husband how to preserve them longer - out of the blue - she just walked out from her shop and explained to him how to gently hammer them. I just smiled. I love my town. I love openness and caring and simple, beautiful little things. I hope you can find something simple and beautiful to cheer you this weekend too. Try hard to find something while your out and about that is cheap or free but that warms your heart and take note of what it is. That way, the next time you need a lift, you have a note of what lifted your spirits the time before. For me, it's always flowers, good friends and well, the love we feel from others who care.

It is a holiday here in Germany on Monday, so I'm taking off, but I'll be back on Tuesday to blog so I'll meet you back here then. Have a wonderful weekend!

(images: holly becker)

Design Crush: Modular Storage System

Let's talk about how much I love this clever storage system and how much you will in a moment after you see this photo below, ok? It's by a Danish company called and is sold piece-by-piece so you can customize it to suit your needs. This certainly isn't a new concept, modular storage systems have been around forever, but I really love how this one looks all styled up and that some of these are shaped like houses - co cute! What do you think? Would you do this?

If you live in Germany and want to order these, visit . If you live elsewhere, directly.

Do you love this or not? Thoughts? I want to do this so bad!

(image: car moebel)