What's the best thing a friend can say to you when they walk through your front door for the first time since early 2020?
Chloe Alexander and Meredith Paulson, friends and roommates who run the page out of their own cool house, have spent months saving their favorite pieces from estate sales and OfferUp meetings for their first in-person event. That's meant plenty of time in the 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan Chloe's parents serendipitously lent her when her own car broke down right before Covid hit, the pair lost their jobs, and Cool House got its start.
"The key to the way we source furniture is we literally haul our asses, like, hours and hours," Alexander says of the duo's long trips around the region in search of Italian leather sofas and cantilever chairs. Seattle's vintage furniture market is too competitive, too expensive to allow for reasonable resale prices, so they travel. "We spend so much time in my van."
It's been a good time for it. The pandemic catalyzed a shift in attitudes toward the home—mostly in that so many of us suddenly wanted to decorate it. After days spent looking through Instagram's Explore page (and back up at our own apartments), popular styles evolved from a vague preference for midcentury modern to an obsession with specific designers and the rare vintage pieces proffered by shops like Cool House: a brass-and-glass étagère in the style of Milo Baughman, vintage Ikea squiggly mirrors. (Both, by the way, available at the Pipe and Row popup.)
That demand has bolstered other Instagram-based local shops like Cool House, each with its own ethos—and an increasing connection to brick-and-mortar, in part through Seattle's proliferation of pandemic passions turned popups. Massive Crush, which deals in furniture as well as kitschy vintage objects, recently brought some preloved goodies of their own to West Seattle's Doll Parts. In the Comfort Of slings unique postmodern pieces on Instagram while running a booth at SoDo's Epic Antique.
But even as in-person events become more viable and common, don't expect these shops to log off anytime soon. "Especially in the age of Instagram, design is, I feel like, so much more accessible to everyone these days," Alexander says. "Everyone wants to have that cool house."