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In the News: The Advocate

May 13, 2018

We could not be more honored to share this lovely article with Kate Ferguson in the Sunday Arts & Style section of The Advocate.  Full article below:

Tracking Treasures

The Internet and Good Old-Fashioned Legwork Can Pull Together an Eclectic Look for Less

by Christina Hennessy


Not quite tomb raiders, but treasure hunters nonetheless, Kate Ferguson and Christine Keane eschew ancient ruins for less dangerous locales to ply their interior decor larders.  They pay for their finds, too. 


"It really is about the thrill of the hunt," says Ferguson,who runs Palomino Bazaar, a New Canaan interior design firm.  "I love to see things in magazines and then find them for less.  Once you start, and you get an amazing steal, it becomes very addictive and hard to stop."


Keane, who runs Found, a home decor store in New Canaan, is equally smitten with possibilities that estate sales, auctions and flea markets hold. She fills her store with the vintage pieces and supplements them with new tchotchkes and gift items.


"I tend to gravitate toward furniture and objects that are timeless, unique and well-crafted," Keane says.  Banged up items get some TLC, such as a new paint job and small repairs.  "It's fun when the piece has a bit of history.  I think it makes it all the more interesting."


The idea of home filled with eclectic pieces is not new, as interior decorators have long worked with clients to pull together looks that are personal.  With the rise of digital commerce, however, it became inevitable there would be a demand for designers who were willing to scroll through page after page of online sites to find steals or sought-after items.  As for good old-fashioned legwork, clients look for help there, too. Ferguson and Keane fill a niche between a complete DIY project and one where a designer pulls together a comprehensive look for an entire room (although they both can do that, too.)


"My bull's-eye client is someone who wants to live in a home that feels collected and personal, but not perfectly polished," Ferguson says. "They want the layered look, but may not have the time, skill or passion to pull it together."


She and Keane will search Craigslist or eBay, or head to more recent additions to the resale markets.  In its second decade, LiveAuctioneers host thousands of auctions from around the world. Chairish is an online marketplace of one-of-a-kind vintage items. Apartment Therapy Marketplace (which recently acquired lets people find new homes for their castoffs and replace them from people doing the same thing. In 2014, the Local Vault debuted, a Greenwich-based online marketplace designed for buying and selling "pre-loved" upscale home furnishings and decorative accessories decor from private sellers, designers and retailers in the greater Westchester and Fairfield County areas.


These sites complement an existing trove of treasures that can be found at auctions, estate sales and flea markets, such as the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market in Danbury and Brimfield Flea Markets in Massachusetts and retail stores, such as Found. All these choices can be overwhelming, and not everyone has hours to sit online or wait out auctions, or travel far and wide for flea market and estate sale finds.


"I take a person's wish list and go looking for the items," says Keane, who often sets out as the sun is rising to get in early on the deals at estate sales in Connecticut and beyond.


The clients who approach Keane and Ferguson largely have decided to trade the speed and efficiency of new furniture with the reward of filling their space with one-of-a-kind vintage and antique treasures. And there are deals to be made.


Ferguson offers a tale of two dining room tables. A 10-seat mahogany inlaid round dining room table listed on 1stdibs looked nice. Listed at upward of $12,000, you might be able to talk the seller down, or you can head over to Local Vault, an online service out of Greenwich that cultivates luxury new and pre-owned furnishings. A similar mahogany dining table was under $2,000.


Keane's store is not a virtual marketplace, but she provides options for customers. On a recent day, one could choose between a new $800 mirror or a $326 vintage driftwood mirror or an original 1970s oil painting for about $600 or a pair of found sconces for $138. 


As for Keane and Ferguson's provenance, they come from different backgrounds. Before opening the store two years ago, Keane worked in fashion design for Liz Claiborne and Talbots, and, later, at Juliska in design and visual merchandising.  She did staging and interior design projects when she had the time. Ferguson started out in anthropology and archaeology. 


Trained in looking for quality and good design, they say beauty is still in the eye of the beholder. "There are a lot of things to think about in buying a piece, but sometimes you just end up buying it because you love it." Keane says.


There are the ones that got away, too - something Ferguson tries to prevent. "If I love the piece, I don't think twice about buying it." That is the occupational hazard of a treasure hunter, of course. A collection of pieces just waiting for a new home. "I know someday, I'll have a place for it." 













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