Shop Talk…Finds For a Cause at Fork + Pencil


IMG_3158On Bergen Street between Smith and Court Streets, hidden up a few stairs and behind a nondescript door, lies one of my favorite Brooklyn antique shops, Fork + Pencil. It is not the flagship location – which is right around the corner on Court Street – instead it is the newer warehouse store, focusing on furniture and artwork. And theoretically, it is not actually an antiques shop, but officially a consignment shop. The mix is eclectic, but there is always something interesting to be found. What makes the place special is the owner Alex and its mission – all profits after expenses go to charity. While this is good unto itself, I think it creates a unique shopping experience and better quality merchandise gets consigned there – people like to see their goods doing good.

The main floor is always a mix of large items with accessory displays covering every horizontal surface, artwork and mirrors on all the walls and chandeliers hanging everywhere. Eras and styles are all jumbled together in a highly enjoyable smorgasbord.

fork and pencil 1

Intriguing arched shelving unit mounted on a console table.


Mid-century mixes with colonial.

fork and pencil 2

Such a variety of lamps, like the pottery one above and this book stack one below…

stack of books lamp

…and this nicely miss-matched pair of cobalt bottles can be found everywhere.

cobalt blue glass bottle lamps

One of F + P’s specialties is porcelain and pottery. Lots of Staffordshire, Asian ceramics, like the big Imari bowl here, lustreware, Sevres and other French porcelain, and the list goes on.

fork and pencil imari

A favorite find is this giant polychrome transferware bowl. Birds and blossoms in the same place!


Their other great strength is art – etchings, engravings and all kinds of small works on paper, priced so well as to be worth more even than just their frames.

fork and pencil rose

Loved these antique carriage prints. Very Georgette Heyer!


The basement is more of an adventure than the upstairs and usually looks something like this, but there are always treasures to be unearthed with a little effort.

fork and pencil basement


A case in point – it doesn’t get better than this – a George Smith standard armchair found nestled in a back corner…


…and now nestling right here. Fresh from a Southampton estate, that chair lists for somewhere in the $6000 range new and even on sale rings up around $4000. Planning to re-cover it, but for now it looks great.


The artwork finds have been outstanding, including this Brooklyn view with its charming French mat and the small Chinese gouache below.


And an art triple play over just 2 visits yielded these…


…and this…


…and these…


…which mixed with this new offering from Dash & Albert, the Garden Path runner, and some beautiful antique lace curtains, has created an instantly decorated laundry room for about $500.

Garden Path Dash Albert hooked rug

There is a nice article about Alex and the founding of the stores in the South Brooklyn Post. And the original store around the corner is well worth checking out – many of the valuable “smalls” end up there.

Fork + Pencil
Warehouse: 18 Bergen Street
Main Store: 221a Court Street
Brooklyn New York 11201
718 488 8855  |
Tuesday – Sunday 11 – 7

Ticking Takes The Stuffiness Out

Ticking stripes have been on my mind for a while – actually for at least 15 years if not more – but it was only with the unearthing of this great back issue of Elle Decor that I could finally complete a post on it. It contains photos of Marjorie Wollan’s apartment that had lived in my mind as one of the first great “undecorated” spaces I had seen at the time. I am happy to report that the entire apartment lives up to my memories, but more than anything else, it was always this ticking stripe Chesterfield sofa on the cover that blew me away.

Humble ticking, traditionally used to cover mattresses, is tightly woven to keep feathers and straw inside where it belongs. As a result, it is also great for upholstery projects. My favorite use is on formal furniture like that Chesterfield, and more particularly on those pieces with a wood or gilt frame, such as Louis XV and XVI or Sheraton style pieces. The ticking makes “important” furniture look more casual and approachable and thus more modern. Designer Jan Roden does it here with another of my influential old tear sheets, using ticking on the French chairs, lending a relaxed feel to the room. You can see another favorite of mine – a Bennison roses print – on the chair in the corner.

Imagine this ornate piece without the casual stripes…

One of ticking’s biggest successes was in this hugely popular photo of the Odette Sofette from Mitchell Gold that Good Bones, Great Pieces author Suzanne McGrath used in her daughter Lauren’s first apartment. I think every blogger out there has it saved in their files. I think I was extra partial to it because I already have two Odette chairs in my living room!

I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to moody blue libraries, but I think this one designed by Nate Berkus is by far my favorite! The gallery wall yes, and also the white frame sofa upholstered in blue and white ticking!

And to quote House Beautiful directly: “Natural linen on the tufted sofa and ticking stripe on the settee keep the living room of this New York apartment from being ‘too stuffy or precious,’ says designer Ashley Whittaker.” You can just see the ticking stripe peeking out on the framed sofa on the right. This is one of those spaces you just know would be comfy to live in.

Another incredibly relaxed space from the late Chessy Rayner’s Southampton home has a stripe covered settee among an eclectic variety of furnishings. More photos from this lovely home can be found here.

Ticking is also great at balancing ethereal whites and florals in the bedroom. Here it anchors a Louis XVI style settee in this dreamy bedroom.

And it looks fabulous scalloped with the stripes playing off the curved edge – either directionally with the stripes or against them. In this Jane Moore designed space the scallops on the coverlet run in the same direction as the stripes – which by the way, play off a Bennison floral once again. I know I have another great image of a scallop edged coverlet that runs in the other direction, but no matter how much I have looked for it I can’t find it. Bummer!

In this bedroom by Lars Bolander the narrow ticking stripes trace the curves well – like giant scallops!

The closest piece to Marjorie Wollan’s sofa that I ever came across is this Ralph Lauren Mayfair tufted chair. But I think it would be relatively easy to find a vintage tufted piece and have it recovered in ticking.

See! Ticking really does take the stuffiness out!

I loved this regency chaise with its tiny ticking stripe – another one of those things I wanted to buy but had no room for!

Camille over at The Vintique Object just had great posts on the Odette Sofette and on ticking too – take a look!

Related Posts:
A Windsor Smith Revival…Camel-Back and Sheraton Style Sofas

Image credits: 1. Elle Decor Feb/Mar 1996, 2. House Beautiful December 2003, 3. House & Home October 2007, photo credit: Virginia Mcdonald, 4. Traditional Home, photo credit: Max Kim-Bee, 5. Elle Decor March 2010, photo credit: William Waldron, 6. House Beautiful February 2010, photo credit: Francesco Lagnese, 7. via One Kings Lane, photo credit: Thibault Jeanson, 8-9. via Cote de Texas, 10. Country Living, October 2012, 11. Elle Decor March 2008, photo credit: Kang Kim, 12. via Chiarabelle’s  Flickr account, 13. credit unknown.

Shop Talk, Or Better Yet, Shop Walk…Mid-Century Modern and Other Antiques Along Meguro-Dori

I think it has been more than a year ago at least that I promised to do a full shopping guide to the vintage and antique stores in the Meguro neighborhood of Tokyo. Commonly referred to as Interior-dori, it stretches along both sides of Meguro-dori (dori meaning street), south-west of the Meguro train station from just past Yamate-dori, all the way down to the central post office. After my last post mentioning the lack of furniture available here, I got a few kind complaints as to the truth of that statement and thought it time to fully investigate and report on this unusual cluster of stores. These adhere to that “car dealership synchronicity” adage I have talked about elsewhere (here and here, for example) and numerous people, mostly couples, were browsing on the public holiday earlier this week. With a complete lack of parking and the train station a bit of a walk, the density of shops is needed to bring the public.

My tour starts at the intersection of Meguro-dori and Yamate-dori and heads along the south side of the street walking. I stop in at most of the shops on both sides, although there are a few I missed, so the list is not exhaustive.  There are also stores tucked away in the back streets near by, such as the lovely Found, but those are not on this tour. Many of the merchants are listed on the MISC (Meguro Interior Shops Community) webpage and the shopping map to the area that can be picked up at participating stores. Both for those really looking to furnish a home to those just looking for small gifts and Japanese styling, it is a fun outing.

While most of the stores are channeling that mid-century vibe or at the very least European shabby-chic, one of the first stores on the south side of the street is Chapter, featuring Japanese antiques.

One of their specialties is repurposing, so antique ranma (transom panels) are turned into consoles, dining tables and wall dividers. There is quite a collection of them at the back of the shop. They have great vintage milk glass fixtures too.

I thought this was ingenious – tucking a hard to use small tansu into a larger modern piece of furniture.

Brunch + SC was one of the first of five or six different Brunch outlets (Brunch Branch, Brunch Works, Brunch Time, etc.) all selling their modern versions of furniture inspired by the mid-century. You can see on their logo map below that they stretch all along the street and line both sides.

Each shop has their own particular pieces, but this photo gives a general sense of the style.  There was a western couple shopping here and the sizes of the furniture seemed normal and comfortable. Much of it is teak and order made. Really great chairs (think Wegner Wishbone) at these shops – and they are currently having a chair fest through September.

Brunch Branch nearby had charming garden items.

I had to go into chambre de nimes just based on that stacked luggage in the window.

Everything inside the shop seemed to be imported from France and the place had a real les puces vibe. This was the first of many places that also stocked vintage church pew chairs with a pocket in the back for prayer books. They are super popular here in Japan and I’ve seen them often elsewhere, particularly at the Penny Wise.

And the first, but not the last of the day, of the sewing machine base consoles. New Jersey to Japan – they are everywhere.

The next shop AMS seemed to be different owners on different floors, but the ground floor was full of vintage chandeliers and country-style antiques, including windsor, ladder back and the ubiquitous church chairs.

Next was Junks featuring all kinds of great vintage goods, mostly from the USA, including some favorites of mine such as wooden delivery boxes, printers drawers, old globes, authentic mid-century furniture…

…and this fabulous bottle drying rack for 39,800 yen ($509), which might seem expensive but…

…a similar one was for sale on OKL for the same price on the very same day.

And Becky at Buckets of Burlap just recently put her vintage zinc bottle dryer up for sale for $500.

Gallery S featured a combination of vintage and new furniture, but seemed to specialize in hats. Yes, hats. Love the wooden and painted iron desk and chairs on the right out front.

Tucked away upstairs across the small side street is Point No. 39 which looked promising just from the sign alone! And the word repair was quite intriguing as that is hard to find in Tokyo.

It did not disappoint, being stuffed full of great lighting, furniture and decorative pieces.

I loved the giant sunburst mirror. And by the way, it is also a bicycle store. Go figure!

File Home and Interior was full of gorgeous housewares and also boasted one of the prettiest kitchens I have ever seen in Japan.

Turns out there are a few more File shops across the street including one that actually designs and installs kitchens.

After File, things petered out and before reaching the big Meguro post office I decided it was time to cross to the north side of the street. Anchoring the end on the other side of the street is the giant four floor Geographica. The second floor is home to a charming Italian restaurant Il Levante where I stopped for lunch. There are not many choices for food along the main drag, so I recommend it for a rest or meal.

Geographica was stocked with English antiques – they even carry Sanderson’s line of William Morris Fabrics – and at times felt a bit like a gentlemen’s club. Lots of dark wood, bentwood chairs and framed engravings. One really useful thing they stocked was a full line of knobs and pulls and other hardware. And I love these brass train racks – how great would one of these be in a bathroom? They also have a Yokohama factory shop where they do their restorations.

Pour Annick had more of the golden wood mid-century inspired furniture as well as some fun quirky items.

What about one of these bright stools for the teen bedroom project I am working on?

Since the previous shop that involved climbing stairs was such a success, I made sure to go up to Blackboard.

I was rewarded with industrial chic and some real mid-century pieces.

The curated display of found objects was inspiring too. I forgot to check if they are actually for sale. Blackboard also had some great English language design books.

Roughly across the street from Junks on this side is their sister shop Moody’s full of more vintage furniture and lighting. Many of the pieces had big signs advertising their origins, whether it be Heywood-Wakefied or Eames. It felt like there might be a great find lurking in here.

Meister is one of the leading stores on the street carrying modern versions of those same mid-century design icons, including Nakashima style wood slab tables.

This Eames molded plastic rocker is available for order in a full range of colors and was about $650.

A new Eames rocker in the US is $549 at Herman Miller or Design Within Reach.

I didn’t go into Stanley, but just the idea that there might be somewhere to have custom upholstery, rehupolstery and slip covers made here in Tokyo was revolutionary. If anyone goes in to inquire about a project, I’d love to hear about it.

The De Mode shop felt the most American of all the shops, channeling the rough luxe thing. Check out those industrial light fixtures! They have Tolix style chair too. If you click into their website, they seem to have a number of other fabulous locations, including a warehouse. Definitely something to explore next!

I found it oddly reassuring to see that I can buy glass Ball jars here although I forgot to check the prices.

Lewis specializes in Danish modern.

And at the very end of the tour, almost back to Yamate-dori are three outlets of a recycle shop called Sone Chika. Japanese recycle shops are akin to thrift stores in America and are hit and miss like you would expect. There are definitely finds to be made, although no luck for me that day.

Most of the stores are open from 11am until about 8pm and Wednesday seems to be the closure day for the area. You might want to call ahead if you are interested in a particular spot. Be sure to click the Shop Talk tab in the category list on the right side of the blog for more store reviews and neighborhood strolls.

Related Posts:
On Dumbwaiters and Butler’s Trolleys…Non-Japanese Antiques in Tokyo at The Penny Wise and Found
Shop Talk…Discovering Antique Treasures in Nishi-Ogikubo

More Real Locations in New Jersey…Antiquing Along the Northern Shore

For so long, antiquing along the Jersey Shore has been my well-kept secret, or so I like to believe. Numerous shops, particularly a few large group ones, sell the contents of homes in the most densely populated state in the country, so you name it and it can be found. Being far from New York City has kept them more insulated than Westchester or Connecticut, where you might add hundreds to the prices and certainly Manhattan, where you would need to add an entire digit. More recently a few television shows on HGTV have highlighted some, resulting in greater traffic and its incumbent increased business. In this post, I am going to mention of few more of my favorites, knowing that it will be a double-edged sword. I want exposure for these great people and places, but worry that exposure will cause the supply of items to go down while the prices go up. But I honestly can’t resist singing their praises. So over the last few days I have been making my final visits in anticipation of my departure for Japan on Monday.

I started at the very north end of the “shore” in Red Bank, NJ. Along with numerous individual shops, there are two major antique centers, the Antique Center of Red Bank which has more than 100 dealers and the 40 dealer Monmouth Antique Shoppes across the street. Both are excellent, but for me the latter edges out the former in the way in which the dealers curate their stalls and the outstanding service the salespeople provide. Yesterday was no exception and we had a grand afternoon perusing everything from architectural remnants to fine linens.

Our haul included all the small decorative items below plus a wicker chair and amazing foldable Moroccan carved coffee table.

You can see the top of the table in this photo, with its lovely copper inlay, but it doesn’t begin to do it justice. I have always had a predilection for this style furniture and I hope its current uber-trendiness doesn’t spoil it for me. This one is actually for a project in Brooklyn, but I have a gorgeous brass tray table version as the coffee table in the beach house. Stumbling across these locally yields huge bargains as they really do get pricey as they move up the antiques food chain – just check out 1stdibs and you’ll see.

Directly across Front Street is the larger and better of the two buildings of the Antique Center of Red Bank. While definitely more of a mish-mash than the Monmouth Shoppes, it is a wonderful place to scour. Earlier purchases this summer include the gorgeous dresser I found at half price (plus even more discount for cash) for my bedroom.

I forgot to photograph yesterday’s treasures, but they included a small painted French bench with a kilim covered seat and a wicker plant stand. I had been hoping to check out a fabulous set of framed Vogue covers from around 1915 seen earlier this summer, but they had sold. No surprise there…

Heading south to Allenhurst, a small hamlet just north of Asbury Park, you come to my absolute favorite haunt, Shore Antique Center, run by lovely proprietors Chris and Rose. I haven’t walked out of there all summer without buying something for myself, whether big (think china cabinet) or small (think galvanized RR bucket) or something for someone else.

My girls had scored there too, including this mismatched pair of Maund prints we are calling their sister prints, each just the right color for their bedrooms.

Today was lucky for them too – a vintage straw hat for one daughter (just right for displaying on the hat racks bought the day before) and a hat box for the other (just right for organizing storage). I am sure those who know us personally can guess which one was which! Those items came from a shop within the larger center called “Time Was Antique Clothing” which happens to be the nicest vintage clothing shop I have visited in years. Nineteenth century wedding dresses, 1940s men’s bathing suits and 1970s platform boots all co-mingle in the artful displays.

Also still available at Shore Antiques Center are these fabulous green painted shutters. Try as I might, I can’t come up with a use for them. There are six of them…Somebody please buy them!

Heading 20 minutes further south, having passed the Antique Emporium of Asbury Park which I wrote about here the other day, brings you to Point Pleasant, another town chock full of antique and housewares dealers. My long time haunt Point Pleasant Antique Emporium is just off the main drag of town, although I have made finds like this and this at many of the other stores nearby. I honestly think I have been shopping there for 20 years! Unfortunately, this is the first year I have not had much luck in Point Pleasant, so other than the glass insulator photos taken earlier this summer, I don’t have photos to post. But I recommend it as highly as the others mentioned…

To simplify matters, here is a map showing the relationship of all the locations. With basic 10am-5pm opening times, it is impossible to visit these all in a day, even though the total distance from A to D is just 21 miles. But it would be well worth a long weekend visit…

Monmouth Antique Shoppes
217 West Front Street
Red Bank, NJ 07701

Antique Center of Red Bank
226 West Front Street
Red Bank NJ 07701

Shore Antique Center
413 Allen Avenue
Allenhurst, NJ 07711
(732) 531-4466

Antique Emporium of Asbury Park
646 Cookman Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712
(732) 774-8230

Point Pleasant Antique Emporium
622 Trenton Avenue (At the corner of Bay Ave. and Trenton Ave.)
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
(732) 892-2222

A little postscript…As I was getting ready to publish this post a neighbor brought by the recent “The Best Of” issue of NJMonthly magazine. Listed for “Best Antiques” are Antique Center of Red Bank, followed by runners-up Point Pleasant Antique Emporium and Antique Emporium of Asbury Park. I guess they are not actually such a well-kept secret after all. The final runner-up was Kanibal Home in Jersey City which I have never heard of. Makes me want to check it out…

Shop Talk…Navigating the Stacks at Yamamoto Syoten

Some antique stores always have primo stock while others are of the hit-or-miss variety. Yamamoto Syoten, a neighborhood antiques shop in Yoyogi-Uehara is the latter. A few visits will yield nothing of interest, and then “kapow!” and you want to buy the whole place. I had been hearing about it from local friends for years, but not actually visited until these past weeks, when I went with friends who are leaving Japan this year and want to stock up on memories. The key to visiting such a shop is a discriminating eye to help you sort through the mixture of vintage, truly antique, not actually old and just plain junk. Japan is not the only country that abounds with shops like these – they can be found all over the world -and they make for some of the most fun shopping around.

One thing found in abundance at Yamamoto Syoten is tansu (Japanese chests). Stacked 3 high in some places in the shop and arranged in tight rows, it is difficult to get a good look at them. I was happy there were no aftershocks while we were in there because I worried they would topple over on us. In addition to large mizuya tansu (kitchen cupboards) and iron strap isho tansu (clothing chests), they also have a large selection of smaller decorative burlwood tansu from the 1930-1940s era. Prices are reasonable and condition is good, although perhaps not excellent. In addition they had lots of vintage lighting, wonderful bevel-edged framed mirrors, piles of porcelain hibachi and many other bits and bobs. The tight quarters made photos difficult, but you can get the flavor of the place from these.

Perhaps the best way to show you what can be found is to highlight my friend’s purchases. She came through and plucked the best pieces and that is the way it always works with stores like this. It will take a while for them to recharge, at least on items like the ones below, but remember, every customer has their own eye, so you may see your own jewels there.

Neither of the light fixtures show to advantage sitting around back in her house. The wooden one on the table cast a soft glow when lit, with patterns coming through the fretwork. The larger iron and glass chandelier will be perfect hanging in her breakfast nook back in Atlanta. And the ceramic geisha pillow (used to preserve elaborate coiffures) is a great conversation piece.

My friend also purchased a big mizuya tansu with some nice details, a rustic ladder on which she is planning to display her vintage quilt collection from India and two huge blue-green glass bottles like mine that she will have turned into lamps when she gets home. And of course there is the requisite glass fishing float too. Sometimes I wonder if I have accomplished anything with this blog other than to turn all of the Tokyo expat community fishing float crazy!

She bought two huge senbei (rice cracker) canisters as well which I forgot to photograph, but they looked much like the big rounded ones in this photo. And don’t forget, I got my fabulous and funky green lamp shade there too!

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