When a Los Angeles couple with a flair for Scandinavian style bought a 1961 tract home in Seattle, they had their work cut out for them (Part 1). The Aughts conservative budget led to them to discover what a knack they had for vintage sourcing (Part 2) and opened their own business doing just that.
‘Bit of Butter’ was born. “I was finishing up my dissertation and wanted something to do other than sit and write, so we started the [vintage retail] business,” Walker, an academic specializing in medieval manuscripts, explains. The name alludes to a Scandinavian adage that butter makes everything better. “We both have our PhDs and we’re researchers, so a kicking’ Saturday night for us is to get our books out and research a chair. We really like the stories behind the furniture, so something will become even more appealing once we find out its background. We have the stuff we have because we really love the designers.”
The Aughts might be considered hopping on the MC bandwagon a bit late, but the couple say they got into it when they were able. They’ve definitely seen more savvy sellers in recent years, with Goodwill starting to post anything with a Scandinavian label on their website, and Eustice cites American Pickers as another popularizer. “We’ve upgraded as our aesthetic changes. We still love teak but I think you can overdo it,” he says. “Recently we find ourselves gravitating more toward metal then we have in the past. That’s reflected in our new chandelier in the dining room.”
Instead of just Scandinavian, they’re now venturing into domestic designers. “We love George Nelson,” he continues, “and a couple of years ago you would have seen a lot more Selig Z chairs—they’re in the garage now and we’ve replaced them with Hans Wegner and Finn Juhl, better-made furniture.” Their tastes diverge a bit when it comes to smalls. Eustice has a thing for glass: “I’m drawn primarily to Scandinavian glass—iittala, Riihimaen, Holmegaard, Kosta Boda, etc. I love the way the designers play with color, form and texture, for example the icy shapes of Tapio Wirkkala’s iittala vases, or the fluid rings and swoops of Tamara Aladin’s vases for Riihimaen.” Walker, on the other hand, likes little stoneware animals from Japan. “I know Kevin would prefer those not come home with us,” she laughs. “Constantly editing is our way of dealing with collectibles. There’s a difference between collecting and accumulating.
We both try not to be completists, which can be a collector’s dream or downfall. We have pieces that are representative [of a category] so you can enjoy your displays without having a ton of stuff.” And as Eustice is quick to point out, “We haven’t finished furnishing the house; it’s a rotating museum, always evolving and revolving.”