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Book Report: “Found, Free & Flea”

Part of what we love about Ampersand Vintage Modern is the opportunity to resurrect old and forgotten objects from the past, shine a spotlight on them, and find creative ways to incorporate them into our own lives. A few months ago, while flipping through a new issue of Martha Stewart Living, I stumbled upon an article about Tereasa Surratt, a vintage kindred spirit.

found free and flea

Tereasa has recently written a book called Found, Free & Flea inspired by Camp Wandawega, the lake resort she runs with her husband.  The book—illustrated with beautiful photographs and fun and helpful asides by the author—tells the story of the vintage treasures they uncovered while renovating the camp and the vibrant, functional collections they assembled in the process.

Camp Wandawega is a lakeside hideaway nestled in the woods of Southern Wisconsin, less than two hours north of Chicago. The camp has seen many incarnations in the nearly 90 years since it was built: a speakeasy, brothel, restaurant, among others. The property was purchased by Latvian priests in the ‘60s and a decade later was serving as a church camp for families including that of the author’s husband, David Hernandez.

In 2004, Tereasa and David purchased the camp and soon began sifting through the layers of history. They unearthed decades worth of materials that inspired the look and feel of the new retreat they were creating together.

camp wandawega site map

Site Map. Photo credit: Camp Wandawega

To honor the humble origins of Camp Wandawega and tap into the nostalgic, vintage feel they were after, Tereasa came up with the decorating rule that would eventually become the title of this book: found, free & free. In other words, they would not employ any thing at the camp—object, piece of furniture, or decoration—unless it came to them as found (already on the premises), free (given to them at no charge), or flea (purchased for little money at a flea market, antique shop, or online). It is a very fascinating and frugal philosophy, and one that Tereasa stuck to with very few exceptions.

The result of this labor of love is the warm and inviting new Camp Wandawega and this wonderful companion book. Found, Free & Flea is chock-full of colorful photographs and great ideas for living with and displaying vintage collections. From a collection of vintage railroad lanterns clustered in the canopy of a pine tree, to a grouping of old cameras on a side table, to a wall covered in antique kitchen tools; every page you turn to evokes that quintessential vintage camp vibe (imagine living in Moonrise Kingdom).

found free and flea pennant display

This was the image that jumped out at me from the magazine. LOVE this idea for displaying vintage pennants! Photo credit: Martha Stewart Living.

camp wandawega hudsons bay chair

Recover a chair with a vintage Hudson’s Bay blanket…genius! Photo credit: Martha Stewart Living.

found free and flea bottle openers

Collection of bottle openers…cool. Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog

found free and flea pie tins

Vintage pie tins! Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog.

found free and flea vintage place setting

Use one of those pie tins as a charger in a vintage place setting…nice! Photo credit: Martha Stewart Living.

found free and flea vintage kitchen utensils

Antique kitchen utensils as wall art! Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog.

found free and flea souvenir shot glasses

A collection of souvenir shot glasses makes for a very happy hour! Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog.

found free and flea thermos collection

Vintage tartan thermos collection. Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog.

One of the great points that Tereasa reiterates throughout the book is that these “decorative items” are all functional and all put to use on a regular basis. It’s a principal that we wholeheartedly agree with! What’s the use of having an amazing collection of Fiesta ware or camp blankets if you’re not going to enjoy their use?!

I highly recommend this book. It is not only great eye-candy, but a terrific resource for anyone who loves vintage! In the 200+ pages, you will be inspired to tap into your inner-cheapskate and see if you can’t duplicate some of the perfectly displayed collections on your own and without breaking the bank.

camp wandawega ad

Image credit: Tereasa Surratt

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