Gayle’s View: Interesting Customers

Darwin, Brent and I, as co-owners of STARS each work a weekend a month on the “floor” as managers. I worked this last Saturday, and driving home at the end of the day, I had to reflect on all the activities that take place in 8 hours at one store.

It never seems to fail that at least one old friend or acquaintance comes in. Saturday a.m., Gary Schink, a fellow lover of early American Country dropped in. He bought fragments of an old hand-woven blue and cream coverlet to be made into pillows. While standing and visiting with him, he spied old shutters hinged together and made into a screen. These were a wonderful putty color and the paint was old. (I personally have about 8 sets of old shutters in various places in my home, and I think they give some architectual interest to almost any room.) Gary decided he had to have the shutters and these were added to his purchase.

A young lady came in the early afternoon who was buying western stuff for, of all things, a resort in China. It seemed to odd to us, but she, giggling, said the Chinese love that look. She left with two pairs of cowboy boots, an Indian blanket, kid’s books, a 47 volume set of Zane Grey novels, a copper wash boiler, a copper ashtray in the shape of a sombrero, birch picture frames,and western lamps–one with a moose motif. She said they love anything with a moose or buffalo theme. It all worked together and will look great.

Another young lady came in the early afternoon who was looking for things to furnish a miner’s cabin in Bisbee, Arizona that her grandparents had bequeathed to her. She bought two chairs–one that I would have bought if I’d had a place for it. It was a wooden arm chair painted in a soft green. It was the type of chair one usually sees in dark wood upholstered in a heavy tapestry, but the
painted wood and the upholstery (which had been redone in a beige linen) gave it a fresh look.

These were the most interesting transactions of the day, but I’m sure each purchase, however, large or small, has some sort of a story behind it.

Signing off,

Gayle’s View: Citrus Filled

My quote for today:

“Cherry was under the spell of its peace, its simplicity, its beauty…..she had never dreamed of anything so informal, so comfortable, so complete.”

The Secret of the Marshbanks — Kathleen Norris

I’m like so many people who are drawn to old things….I am also attracted to old historic buildings and places. So today I write about a stay at the oldest operating hotel in Palm Springs. It is the romantic Casa Cody Inn–founded by a cousin of the legendary Buffalo Bill, Harriet Cody who settled there in 1918.

In previous stays I had walked by Casa Cody and wondered what it would be like to stay there. All one can see from the outside are stucco walls covered with various vines–some of them flowering and Spanish style iron gates. I had the feeling that a secret garden lurked behind those walls.

I made reservations in March for my son, Erik, and grandson, Aaron to stay there for a week. What a delight to walk through the arched gated doors into a setting of low one-story adobe buildings–all with litle paned french doors opening out to the pool. I was enchanted.

There are 27 single story accommodations located in 8 early California hacienda style buildings, each surrounded by bougainvillea and citrus filled courtyards.
Our rooms inside were sponge painted in coral pink with turquoise trim. Low-beamed ceilings, a tiled separate kitchen with a chunky table and four chairs gave off a cozy feeling.

Aaron picked grapefruit every morning, and I lounged by the pool, reading books and watching the three cats groom themselves in the shade.

By the time we left, I was thoroughly charmed and had the feeling that I had traveled back through time. I can’t wait to go back next year.

Have any of you had a similar experience somewhere? I’d love to hear about it. You can contact me at

Gayle’s View: Brent in Country Home!

I’m back to work after a week’s vacation (more about that another time).

One of my STARS partners, Brent Heeb, is featured on a full color one-page spread in the April 2007 issue of Country Home. The magazine features a collector every month with a photo of the collector. (page 48)

Brent is shown with shelves behind him of the green pottery known as Floraline. He started buying this up several years ago when it was inexpensive and easy to find. Most pieces were purchased for under $12.

The pottery, manufactured by McCoy, was created specifically for florists in the 1960s. To quote Brent in the article, “Three or more my be a collection but I want a mass of whatever I have my eye on. It’s just a whole lot more interesting.” He owns more than 100 pieces of Floraline.

The April issue of the magazine is devoted to “earth friendly, eco-savvy green” decorating (a most popular topic in all periodicals now and it’s about time). We are proud of Brent for recycling all those old green pots!

signing off with a smile….Gayle

Gayle’s View: Vintage Clothing

My Quote for the week:
“I’d rather be looked over than over looked.” –Mae West

I’m talking about wearing vintage fashion and mixing all sorts of great things into your wardrobe.

Not for the timid, the conformist, the unimaginative, or the uncreative. But it can great fun and most affordable. A jewel-toned cashmere sweater can range from $18-$40. There are skirts, dresses, blouses, shoes, handbags, hats to choose from.

Today’s fashions and styles are often inspired by great designs from the past. Ralph Lauren is a prime example–Many of his fabrics and clothing designs are reminisce nt of another time.

The sweater pictured above with the rock ‘n roll figures is from the 1950’s. Price $28. I saw a recent photo of Kate Hudson in a recent issue of Elle magazine wearing a heavy belted sweater over a limp cotton skirt and “Frye” type” boots. Pretty cute.

All these items all previously worn, of course, but then so are the vintage gowns that the film stars wear on the red carpet–picture Julia Roberts accepting her Oscar in a vintage Valentino gown. After all there is such a thing as dry cleaning or laundering and most of the garments are natural fabrics.

Over the years all of us involved in the STARS world have purchased and worn these items. Our Marcee Melton, a dealer and employee, fashions new clothes out of vintage fabrics and clothing and wears them in a most becoming way.. One of my fashion icons is Diane Keaton, who started a whole rage with Annie Hall and continues to mix up her look in a most intriguing way.

Again, it’s another adventure in the world of antique malls, shops, and flea markets. I’ve had great fun playing with these old clothes and accessories, so by gosh, I’m not going to be 80 and say I wished I’d done that! But Darwin did tell me I was too old to wear anklets with heels.

On that note, I sign off, Gayle

Gayle’s View: A Sentimental Journey

A quote for the week:

“Have nothing in your houses you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
—-William Morris

When I first read that quotation over 25 years ago, it gave me much pause for thought. I understand the useful part–that is obvious. But it took me years of study, exposure, and self-knowledge for me to be truly sure of what I believed was beautiful. I have come to love old things–handmade furniture with original, alligatored paint–the crustier the better.

A scrub top table can make my heart beat faster. Women’s work inspires me–homespun textiles, tatted lace, embroidery, cross stitch samplers, and quilts and the stories they tell.

My favorite quilt quote:
“So they are all in that quilt, my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, my loves and hates. I tremble sometimes when I remember what that quilt knows about me.”

(An excerpt written in a letter by a long-ago woman who spent 25 years stitching on one quilt.)

At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, I declare that being surrounded by these objects helps to give me the patience and stamina to get through life’s hurdles–I think of the people and their long ago hardships and sacrifices.

I would hope that each every human heart could come to realize what they love. It makes life so deliciously exciting. It might be decorating with nature’s bounty, bird’s nests, pretty rocks, seashells–or it might be valuable china or lava lamps. I try to be accepting of each person’s idea of beauty…I do not want to be guilty of “taste arrogance”. (Years ago, I once scoffed at paint-by-numbers, tramp art, and anything orange….what did I know?)

It is a learning experience walking through the STARS stores–one man’s junk is another’s treasure. Who knew so many of us would come to want rusty garden stuff….yet years ago, the famous clothing designer, Betsy Johnson had a rusty iron bed pictured in House Beautiful in her New York home.

I collect original oil painted winter scenes to set about in December and January. Last year I added a quite charming paint-by-number farmhouse covered in snow. It fit right in….

Signing off, Gayle

Gayle’s View: A Week at a Glance

What goes on in a week?

A complimentary copy of the March/April issue of Oregon Home arrived at STARS because our stores are mentioned inside, along with photos of items from STARS. In a lengthy layout titled Design Matters), there are pages of photos covering the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s,’60s and ’80s furniture and accessories. It also mentions many other stores in the Portland area which carry these types of items. We have been seeing a progressively heightened interest in mid-century furniture in the last few years. We have several dealers in our stores who specialize in this era. Pictured above is a view from our …more STARS store.

When film production companies come to town, and if they need props, they invariably come to the STARS malls. Many of us are movie buffs here so it’s exciting for us to hear all the inside scoop. And late last Friday afternoon, the prop
people came and bought a bunch of stuff. We found out the movie is called UNTRACEABLE and will star Colin Hanks (son of Tom) and gorgeous Diane Lane. We’ll keep you posted.


The Palmer/Wirfs Expo Antique Show was last weekend, and I attended the early buying on Friday, as I always do. It’s right up there in my favorite things to do. I sold out of a booth there with a group of friends for years, and I always said I’d rather be there than on a cruise! For me, it’s much more than a treasure trove of a marketplace–it’s also a social event–visits with so many fascinating good friends and talented, artistic dealers.
To each his own and this is what I LOVE….SIGNING OFF, Gayle

Gayle’s View: A Fundraiser Dinner


Photo at left–a corner of Otto-Heeb dining area with mercury glass and fruit oil paintings.

To all who enter here:

I am going to be writing about my take on collecting, decorating, entertaining, and gardening. If you are passionate about any of the above, you will understand that these are lifestyle choices. And it seems fitting that I should start by relating to you a description of a recent dinner party I attended.

February 17- 7:00 pm – a fund raising dinner for Our House* hosted by my STARS partners Darwin Otto and Brent Heeb.

The dinner for twelve was at their 3-story townhouse (I will tell you more about that another time). But picture a white background, built-in bookshelves, plantation- shuttered windows, wood floors, and then, in your mind, fill it with collections galore and antique furniture.

The dazzled guests were invited to tour their entire home and while doing so were treated to canapes and beverages of their choice on old silver trays. These were handed out by Darwin, Brent, and Darwin’s daughter,Darin, wearing white bib aprons with their names stamped on in black letters.

Each room offered multiple collections–Fiestaware, roadside pottery, mercury glass, old leather bound books, miniature cupboards, portraits, tiny cowboy boots, and in the upper hallway, Darwin’s varied and fearfully wonderful collection of old brooms and brushes–artfully arranged. All different sizes and shapes–some worn down to the nubs.

In the living room, two tables for six were set with Oregon plates made by Meier & Frank on the centennial birthday of Oregon’s statehood. There were mismatched pressed wine glasses, old sterling, white star-shaped candles placed in early cafe-au-lait bowls and white tapers. Each guest had a personal menu with a small silver-framed initial by their place setting. The effect was magical–as was the evening.

The first course was cream of broccoli soup with star-shaped croutons served in white Fire-King bowls. The salad course was served with chilled forks. The dessert was a sight to behold–poached pears covered in a rich wine sauce. We were all appreciative of the details and the solicitous service. Goodie bags (a la
the Oscars) were presented to each guest at the end of the meal. When we left, we were lulled into a delicious sense of being surrounded by beauty and inspired with ideas for our own home design and entertaining.

*Last year 70 dinners were hosted by talented volunteers to raise funds for Our House, which supports patients living with HIV/AIDS. For more information, go to

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