Furniture in Madison: Off The Beaten Path

September 6th, 2012

Post by Becky

When people come to my home for the first time they often ask where I buy my furniture and art. I love this question because it means I get to talk about my passion for the hunt of all things beautiful (to me anyway). And hunt, I do. Endlessly. And everywhere. Just ask my kids how many times I've pulled the car over to examine a chair left on the curb (they LOVE it when I do that) or dragged them into a store so I can see what that cabinet in the window looks like up close.

But, to make the hunt easier for you, I will share a few of my secret and not so secret sources for furniture and art. While I buy a lot in Chicago, too, this time I'll focus on Madison, and the west side in particular.


1. Iconi Interiors, 534 W. Washington: When my daughter's friend came here with us she said, “This looks like your house.” Coni, the owner and designer, has a great mix of new and old furniture and housewares, rugs, etc. She has a fabulous eye and it's my favorite store for one of a kind lamps.

2. Atomic, 1021 S. Park. Atomic is only open on the weekends from 11 – 5. No website, either. Instead they spend their time searching for gorgeous mid-century modern finds. And I'm grateful for that because my favorite chairs are from here – both new and old. They are also licensed to sell Herman Miller. Lucky them!!

3. Century House, multiple locations: This is certainly not a secret, but it's still a favorite. My first purchase here was a George Nelson lamp many, many years ago. I also have a Jonathan Adler vase from the gift shop. This is where I go when it's been a while since a Design Within Reach catalog has appeared in my mailbox and I need a fix. 

4. St. Vinny's and Goodwill, again, multiple locations. You just never know what will pop up here. Sure, there have been many empty handed trips home, but I do have a sofa courtesy of St. Vinny's. It's got great lines and I love the fabric. The fact that it cost $40 doesn't hurt, either. These outlets are also a good place to find interesting frames and quirky housewares.

5. UW SWAP, Thousand Oaks Traill in Verona, Open to the public on Tuesdays 8 – 4, Fridays 8 – 2, and the second Saturday of every month. SWAP stands for Surplus With A Purpose and is the “property disposal operation” for the UW. In other words, when any entity of the UW gets something new, the old stuff comes here. You can find anything from old electronic equipment to test tubes to office furniture. I've picked up art, maps, great books, and a set of six Florence Knoll chairs (which are still waiting for a new life in my basement. Sigh.)  I almost didn't tell you about this one. It's that good.

6. Odana Antiques, 8201 Odana: I've only recently started haunting this place. It's a typical antique store where sellers rent booths to hawk their wares. The provenance varies widely, but I have pinpointed which booths I can find industrial and mid-century modern items. I've bought several pieces of art here and a metal cabinet I use as a bedside table. It's also a good place for gift shopping.

7. Oakwood Village Resale Shop, 6203 Mineral Point. It's only open on the last Saturday of the month from 9 – 4, and only from March through October.This is the resale shop run by Oakwood Village – the retirement community. All the items are donated and all proceeds go to a program they run that helps residents who are no longer able to pay. I have scored some gorgeous mid-century modern dressers and a desk here. They also have great 1950's kitchen wares and fun costume jewelry.

8. Craigslist. Another “place” that is a lot of work to find something worthwhile, but when you do it's a happy day! 


Happy hunting!