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Treasure Hunters Feel at Home at House of Paul

Quality pieces await careful shoppers at the store, well stocked with used furniture and reconditioned appliances.


Recently a friend who shares my passion for treasure hunting tracked down an antique sofa at House of Paul, where she not only found it at her budgeted price but had a most pleasant time doing it.

That's part of the game, of course. What fun would it be if all the merchandise were treasures? Finding a disposable piece that can be transformed provides nearly the same thrill as discovering a truly fine antique for peanuts. And the attitude at House of Paul is down-to-earth. They're selling used furniture--some quality, some firewood--and there are no airs whatsoever.

Good shoppers these days are well aware that pieces from yesteryear are almost all made with better materials and a greater attention to craftsmanship than a lot of today's goods.

So tracking down a well-made old sofa can make more sense than going for something right off the assembly line. At House of Paul, you can count on owner Paul to know which pieces are worth reupholstering and which are not.

First off, there was a small-scale, tuxedo-style sofa in a coral corduroy that didn't need a thing--not even a shampoo--and at $289.50 it probably didn't stay on the floor the day.

Dining room sets--or parts of them--are plentiful. Some were tacky when new, others are splendid after many years. An Ethan Allen dining table, with two leaves and four chairs (two arms and two sides), was in excellent shape and only $500.

A dining set with three leaves, seven upholstered chairs (the eighth was damaged in the earthquake) and a handsome china cabinet was a bargain at $1,290.

Some fun stuff for a song included a Victorian reproduction shaving stand that only needed a little slicking up for only $34.95, and a marvelous small occasional table for $98.50.

But further delving brought up a Widdicomb dresser in mahogany for $500, a charming light pine hall tree stand with beveled mirror for $289 and an Old World four-poster cherry queen-size bed from Henredon for $700. Because the canopy is missing, I suspect one could negotiate.

A major part of the business at House of Paul is in reconditioned major appliances, all of which carry a 60-day warranty on parts and labor. Prices on major brand refrigerators with the freezer on top average between $200 and $300, and washers and dryers usually sell for $150 to $180.

The pickin's were small the day of our visit, which was the first of the month, "'because that's when people move," said co-owner Paul Coulam, whose father opened this store 28 years ago. Dad has since opened another branch in San Diego, (619) 542-1166, and son Paul runs this original location. Obviously, they're doing something right.

* House of Paul, 13550 Sherman Way, Van Nuys. (818) 988-1369. Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Major credit cards accepted.

Weekend Super Sale: A new shipment just arrived at the Wallpaper Bin, which certainly qualifies as a sale. Wall coverings from Sunwall of America, beautiful fabric-backed vinyls that retail for $24.99 per single roll, will sell for $9.99. Some Pickhardt plus Siebert (USA) light reflective papers that also sold for $24.99 per roll are $8.99.

* Wallpaper Bin, 17139 Ventura Blvd., Encino (818) 788-1291; and 4255 Main St., Ventura (805) 642-6422.

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