Like a bad date who spends two hours picking at her salad in silence, many mass-market decorative items are devoid of any charm. Skip the cheap boxed sets of coordinated pieces, and instead troll flea markets, antique stores, secondhand shops, yard sales, ethnic fairs, and, of course, any places you travel to for items that through their aged look or unique craftsmanship have something special to say about the world they came from.
At one of our favorite fairs, the Brimfield Antiques Show, we picked up these oddball pieces. The carved-wood bear lamp, probably from the 1950s, caught our eye immediately, despite his half-broken lightbulb socket. A few quick repairs, a modern shade, and a prominent spot on an end table, and he was reborn. The bubble-headed sheep, crafted from heavy-gauge steel, might not have been intended for target practice, but someone with a rather large gun apparently thought otherwise. We liked his weathered look and I-will-survive attitude, and gave him new life with a dust-off and a white display space—where he stands out in stark relief, daring guests not to ask about him.