Misha Chernov of River Run, Weekend Treasure Hunter


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Member Spotlight— Misha Chernov of River Run, Weekend Treasure Hunter

Photo by Kim Praast Photography

Full time elementary music teacher, Misha Chernov devotes her weekends to hunting for secondhand finds. Every Saturday and Sunday, she hits her circuit of thrift shops to scour for goods. Misha is counting down the days to the weekly yard sales in Reston, Virginia, the first post-war residential community. Once school’s out for the season, Misha will be rolling up her sleeves and refinishing some of the pieces she’s acquired. “Even if I fail dabbling in the DIY world, I know I’ll at least have a good laugh while trying,” she says.

Misha Chernov took a moment out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us. Thank goodness she did! We couldn’t think of a better person to ask about finding high quality vintage finds. Her Krrb corner, Riverrun is one of two sites (she also sells on Etsy) she keeps stocked with beautiful and unique items at reasonable prices. Check it out for yourself!

Hi Misha! Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and where do you currently live?
During the day I can be found singing, dancing and playing instruments with my students. I feel fortunate to spend my days during the week as an elementary music teacher in Fairfax County. On the weekends, I’m a Northern Virginia thrifter and reseller on Krrb (my corner is Riverrun), and Etsy (my shop is Riverrun2). I was born and raised in Cranston, R.I. in a quaint little neighborhood called Edgewood, near Narragansett Bay. I now live in Reston, Virginia about 20 miles outside of Washington, D.C.

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A French Provincial chair Misha picked up during one of her weekend shopping sprees. Photo: Krrb.com/mchernov?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format

What is the best thing about living in your neighborhood?
The trails and lakes and soon-to-open Silver Line on the metro. Reston is the first post-war planned community in the country and was founded by Robert E. Simon, who still resides in Reston and just celebrated his 100th birthday.

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This card catalog was found in the basement at an estate sale. Photo: Krrb.com/mchernov?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format

How did you get started in vintage furnishings?
In 2010 I bought my 700-square foot condo and moved in with very little furniture. I spent that summer in Rhode Island dreaming up ideas for what I wanted my new space to become. While browsing at a consignment store I started chatting with another customer. I find thrifters to be some of the friendliest people! He told me about a local auction that was being held that night, at Trudel’s Auction Gallery, so I went. I felt like I had just discovered this big secret! So this is where all the amazing vintage furnishings go! I didn’t buy anything that night but I did nervously raise my bidder card at one point. When I returned to Virginia I started going to weekly auctions, thrift stores and estate sales to find vintage pieces to furnish my home and to resell.

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A painting of a dog by artist Nancy Hornstein. Photo: Krrb.com/mchernov?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format

Do you have any favorite memories of “treasure hunting” for vintage pieces?
My favorite treasure hunting experience was at the estate sale of artist Nancy Hornstein. Her framed artwork was displayed throughout her home, it was all beautiful but at a price I couldn’t afford. However, as I ventured into the basement I noticed a stack of canvases leaning on top of an old refrigerator. As I was reaching up to take them down I knew that I had just uncovered something very special. There were seven unframed canvases—all early oil paintings of Hornstein’s. They were stunning! One of the paintings is hanging in my condo and another I gave to my mom. My favorite vintage piece I own wasn’t found by treasure hunting, but rather it was a gift. It is a large brass plate with the Star of David in the center surrounded by Arabic writing that my Grandfather gave to my mom when I was born. Allegedly it was a gift for naming me Michelle (even though she didn’t actually give me that name). Through the years my mother reminded me that when I got my own place someday I could have the brass plate. It’s now displayed above my fire place.

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Photo: krrb.com/mchernov?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format

What do you look for in a vintage piece?
Looking for vintage pieces is like a real life game of Memory (you know, the children’s game where you flip pairs of cards over to try to remember where you have a match). I spend hours reading design blogs, like Apartment Therapy, Emily Henderson, and Design Sponge, looking at beautiful rooms and spaces and analyzing the furniture in them. Then when I’m out thrifting, if I see that same piece at a low price I’ll buy it. Right now I can only purchase small pieces like chairs and side tables. If it can’t fit in my wagon I can’t get it. This size limitation is a good thing, as it forces me to be highly selective.

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A tufted velvet chair for sale on Misha’s Krrb corner. Photo: krrb.com/mchernov?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format

Any personal tips you’d like to share for people looking on their own?
If you go to an estate sale, start in the basement. That’s where some of the coolest stuff can be found, as people tend to store the really old pieces in the basement. Get there early if you want to have first dibs but be prepared to pay top dollar. I prefer to buy low so I try to get there early on the last day when everything is 50-75% off. Always ask to bundle things to get a discount. Go regularly to thrift stores because the inventory is constantly changing. When scoping out treasures at a thrift store or estate sale, look high (really high, like way up on top of shelves) and low (really low, like hidden under clothing racks), and not just eye level. Find out where the nearest auction house is and go!

When buying furniture many of my customers ask me, “Can you tell me the story behind this piece?” I would invest in vintage pieces that you want to be part of your own story.

Where do you go locally to discover hidden treasures?
I have three different thrifting routes I map out, stopping at 7-10 thrift stores along the way. If there is a good estate sale I’ll add it in to that particular route for the day. I’m not as organized as UPS’s no left-hand turns, but I’m pretty close!

How do you determine if a piece is high quality?
High quality means different things to different people. I try to think of potential buyers and what they want. For one buyer high quality might mean an industrial piece that’s weathered; for another it might mean a Mid-Century or French Provincial chair with great lines that they can reupholster. For another buyer it might mean a mint condition Hollywood Regency brass bar cart. I try to shop with their different definitions in mind.

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A brass bamboo bar cart won at an auction. Photo: Krrb.com/mchernov?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format

What kind of vintage pieces should customers invest in?
When buying furniture many of my customers ask me, “Can you tell me the story behind this piece?” I would invest in vintage pieces that you want to be part of your own story.

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Photo: Krrb.com/mchernov?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format?auto=format

How would you describe your personal style? Does it differ from your shop’s style?
Each of the spaces in my small condo have a different vibe to them (or at least that’s what I had hoped to create!) My entry way is industrial; my living room is modern global; my dining room is a throwback to the 1970’s; my kitchen is kitschy; my bedroom is feminine rustic and my bathroom is Hollywood glam. I would love to keep most everything in my shop! Until the pieces find their new owner, I get to enjoy them.

Thanks Misha!

  • Wow..Wonderful Ideas.. Beautiful Decoration.. Great Thanks for sharing.. Awesome Thanks..

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  • Thank you June! I appreciate the kind words.

  • June

    There are so many great ideas here. You obviously have a great eye for design too. You have inspired me! But until I have the courage to go to an estate sale myself, I’ll be visiting you on Etsy. Thanks for the tips!