HOUSE: Newburgh + Scavenging

Weekend junk score.


We found this Arthur Umanoff bar cart at a junk shop in Kingston for $30 yesterday. The doors were missing, but I was able to make new ones very easily—handles to come. We’ve admired Umanoff’s carts since seeing one at an antique shop last year (way out of our price range), so this was a real score. It was hiding behind a row of discarded shutters and windows, stashed under a plastic roof in the lot behind the junk shop. I still can’t believe I actually saw it. I feel so smug looking at my $30 find and knowing I didn’t spend $500 for it!

The best part about this particular score (well, aside from bringing home a really nice piece of furniture) is that it came after spending a depressing couple of hours wandering around the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair, watching rich, old white people shop for overpriced furniture sold by rich, old white people. Yawn.

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  • Reply Adam October 14, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    What a great find! Congrats! I can’t believe what great shape it’s in. You’ve got a sharp eye!

  • Reply nicole October 15, 2007 at 11:08 am

    you do have a sharp eye. i would love to go bargain hunting with you (if you only lived closer). we have some pretty huge warehouses filled with antiques here that you can simply wander for hours on end.

  • Reply zan October 15, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I’m inspired by your finds, Anna. And way jealous.

    We spent the weekend in Vermont trawling for a nice, low dresser with simple lines, but came out empty-handed, with a similar impression of antique malls. And everything was colonial. I did find some nice textiles in a few smaller shops, though, and a faux-jade fish perfume bottle at a barn sale for a dollar, so it wasn’t a total loss.

    (And please tell Evan we tuned in to WVKR on our way up – it took me back.)

  • Reply October 15, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    ummmmm…WOW. That is such a score! Congrats!

  • Reply DiP October 15, 2007 at 8:12 pm


  • Reply lillie January 8, 2009 at 12:18 am

    perfect, i will keep my eye out at the local thrift stores… if only i get so lucky! thanks (:

  • Reply Sue January 19, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Anna, I’ve been loving your site for quite some time now but have never left a message. I have the chance to purchase this same cart and I absolutely love it. I was wondering how much work you had to put into it…did you have to dye the rush?, paint the iron? The iron on mine is white and I’m thinking of painting it black (do you think this would lessen the value of the piece?) The wood on the one I’m looking at has some water stains, do you think a light sanding and oiling will do the trick? I was thinking of hiring someone to do the restoring, but would love to do it myself, just need the confidence. Your site is a total inspiration to me. Thanks alot! 🙂

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 20, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Hi Sue! I’ve seen a lot of Umanoff pieces from this series, but I have never seen one with WHITE iron. That makes me think that yours was painted at some point — mine is just black wrought iron, no paint. I would suggest that you strip the white paint off and repaint it black. There are spray paints made specifically for wrought iron to give the same finish — I know RustOleum makes a good one.

    Despite having been left out in the rain, the rush on mine is in pretty good shape. I cleaned it well with a barely-damp sponge and some Murphy’s, and then went over it lightly with mineral oil to even out the color a bit.

    As for the wood, I’ve had VERY good results using Restor-A-Finish followed by Feed-N-Wax. Initially I had just been periodically oiling it with Danish oil, but the Restor-A-Finish is great for getting the tone even (mine also has some water stains, and the finish is completely gone in some areas). I have to re-do it every couple of months, but it only takes a few minutes and the wood really looks great. (Here’s a more recent photo, post-treatment.)

    As for retaining the value, here’s my feeling: This is YOUR piece of furniture. Unless you bought it as an investment and are planning to re-sell it to make money at some point, go ahead and do what you need to do to it to make it looks how to want it to. At the end of the day, you have to live with it. If you feel better having someone else do the refinishing, that’s great, but I think you can probably handle this. Feel free to email me if you run into trouble or have questions. 🙂

  • Reply Sue January 22, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Hello again, thanks for all the info. Haven’t actually purchased the cart yet, but will soon if I can get the dealer down to a price I’m willing to pay. I’m a bit leary of restoring it myself – this will be my first project, but knowing you’re available makes me feel better. One thing for now, with spraying it, (this is gonna sound stupid), I guess I’m just covering up the wood and reed basket, not taking the cart apart, right???
    PS – I absolutely love your chili recipe and make it at least every 3 weeks. I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over a year now and am always looking for a good recipe.

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