An occasionally updated chronicle of estate sales in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

"It's such a guilty pleasure..." Lynne Stiefel, Pioneer Press

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winnetka What's-Not-to-Like?

Recently a reader sent me an email which ended, "There's a story behind every estate sale, not just a messy house to be picked over by strangers." That's worth keeping in mind as we go through this Winnetka home together.

The pairing of that rug with those curtains implies someone with a sharp and confident eye -- which implies either a designer or someone with a knack for home decorating and a certain amount of money. My money's on the latter.

This room also had a large collection of Horizon magazines. For those of you not of a certain age and mindset, Horizon was a high-end, hardbound quarterly of the early- and mid-seventies that focused on the arts, architecture and design.

Whoever these people were, they were definitely my kind of people.

That being said, the wallpaper on the ceiling of this dining room reminds me of something out of the last act of 2001: A Space Odyssey. But no harm done -- we've all made mistakes. My dining room once featured teal-painted bookcases with Chippendale tops made out of foam core.

This is a lovely breakfast nook and I have nothing bad to say about it.

Except for this damned wallpaper.

Which should never have been applied to an HVAC duct. First, there's the whole optical illusion-quality to the thing. Then there's the realization of how much time and care went into putting that wallpaper on that vent just so. Look at the edges -- they even matched up the pattern. You don't find that level of craftsmanship just anywhere. Someone lived here who had an even greater attention to detail than me, which is saying something.

I desperately wanted a photo of this guy's sweater against that wallpaper, but this was the best I could do.

The people who lived here were so wealthy, their silverware was gold. I've never had the impulse to get gold silverware. But for those who can afford it, I say, "Bravo, sir or madam."

Do people still take pictures of their babies, naked, on bearskin rugs or thick shag carpeting or whatever fluffy surface they happen to have handy? I want to know, because I think it would be cool to pair them with photos of the same people in the same state, thirty or forty years later. This looks especially old. I don't think it was one of the owners' sons or daughters. Perhaps one of their parents or grandparents. But they had this hanging in the hallway for all to see, so they apparently had a thing for family or tradition or both.

The people who lived here collected art. Something I'd applaud under any circumstances.

Their taste was eclectic.

Interesting. Even odd.

I overheard that the man of the house owned a greeting card company.

Maybe that had something to do with it.

Apparently they collected these ceramic reproductions of food, too.

I'm not sure how I feel about this stuff.

On one hand, they're incredibly realistic and deserving of our admiration.

On the other, I can't really say I see the point.

I think it might be amusing to serve this to guests and see how they react.

In summary, I think a family lived here who had a certain amount of money and taste. A peccadillo or two as well, for which no one can blame them. They owned their own business, which I've heard is the surest road to wealth this nation has to offer. They liked the arts, and supported them as well, and deserve credit for that. They maintained a connection with the generations who came before them, and were good, decent people. I wish I'd known them. And I wish there were more like them.


  1. In the third close-up of the ceramic food, what are the black blob and orange speckled things supposed to be?

    It looks like a ginormous ripe olive and brazil nuts sprinkled with paprika.

  2. I don't know what the black blob is. Maybe caviar? I think the orange speckled things were supposed to be some kind of bread-like things. At any rate, don't they look delicious?


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