“We’re generous with our junk,” William Sherman (pictured left) offers, seated in his living room on a micro-suede gray chair, a reflective serving tray with a vintage wood-grain carafe resting on the coffee table a foot away. Junk, in Sherman’s case, means a pair of Sigurd Russell falcon chairs and two 1960s orange vinyl and walnut chairs that he and his partner, William Golden, have acquired while thrifting together over the past five years. And by generous, he means they’re happy to lend pieces they’re not using to friends.
As comfortable as they are with letting go of their possessions, the Williams are undeniably attached to each other. Since meeting via Myspace in 2006, the couple haven’t spent more than a few nights apart. They moved in together after six months of dating, and after looking at about 60 places all over the city, purchased their Humboldt Park condo in 2007. “I was ready to buy a place, and [I figured] we’re going to be fine together over the years,” Sherman says. “There was no question to commit over a ceremony [first]. The house is a big enough commitment to somebody.”
Since they each moved in with limited possessions, the couple began shopping for pieces together, scavenging for mostly midcentury vintage furniture at Andersonville shops, flea markets and thrift stores. By now, they’ve pretty much packed their 950-square-foot apartment (as well as a 500-square-foot storage space), so thrifting happens only about once a month. (Golden admits he sneaks out to Salvation Army on his lunch break and sends pictures of notable finds to Sherman for approval.) Their rule of thumb: If something comes in, something else must go out.
“What we do all day is create new designs,” Golden says, referencing his job as an art director at Ogilvy & Mather and Sherman’s role as creative director at Schawk Retail Marketing. “So when we come home to the same design, it’s like we should change it up.” For instance, they keep six screen-printed rock-music posters inside a frame in their bedroom so they can easily swap in a new design when they tire of the current selection.
Other collections are relatively static. The IKEA bookshelf (a stand-in piece of furniture, they point out) in the dining room houses 13 vintage ice buckets—an obsession inspired by a housewarming gift. “This one was a gift at my bachelor party,” Golden says, pointing to the West Bend Aluminum Company Penguin Ice Bucket. “My friends know me well.” Friends and family helped them locate the mismatched milk glass vases, bowls, decanters and salt and pepper shakers now on display in the kitchen and originally purchased to contain white hydrangeas and Garrett’s popcorn at their wedding last fall.
Ultimately, the decision to bring a piece into the house is less about statement-making or price tags (though occasionally they’ll find they’ve scored items such as the apple-shaped wooden ice bucket for $2 only to discover it’s now worth $50 on Etsy); it’s about what strikes them. Golden points to the religious painting Sherman found under a stack at a junk shop in Andersonville. “He found Jesus!”