With a good eye for design, Ron Ariel can find a piece of discarded furniture on the curb and bring it back to life. He’s been doing so for the better half of his life. Ron spends the majority of his time in his workshop, restoring the potential in found pieces. You can catch Ron in action on HGTV’s Flea Market Flip and on Krrb’s Youtube channel where he shares his restoration expertise. His shop Relevant Furniture is full of refinished furniture and antique handmade rugs. Read on to discover Ron’s favorite tips and furniture-hunting locations in New York.
Hi Ron! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a native New Yorker, grew up in Long Island and Manhattan. I’ve been working with wood since I was a kid. I started when I was nine years old.
Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I currently live in Midtown East. I live there because it’s a quiet and relaxing neighborhood and convenient to get to my wood working studio. I can live in Manhattan and enjoy the bars and restaurants but be in a relaxing, quiet neighborhood.
What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?
The waterfront of the East River and the views. I can see Long Island City from my window. There are specialty shops and a fish monger and cheese monger all within two blocks from me. I also like the hustle and bustle that goes on all night.
What is your favorite place to go locally to discover hidden treasures?
I’m not telling! Brooklyn Flea is a good place to find unique accents, decorative furniture, accessories and textiles — and you can get a good lunch. I also like the Long Island Flea & Food.
As a kid, were any of your toys and clothes hand-me-downs? Stories please!
There was some hand-me-down stuff. I have an older brother who is two years older. I had my own toys because he was more into sports and I was more into cars. My mother was always saying that people furnish their apartments with things they find in the garbage. I took that to another level, and I do restoration on things that I can restore and turn them into something special and valuable.
Today, how often do you go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.? What is your modus operandi? Any personal tips you’d like to share?
I go to garage sales as often as I can. Depending on how much work I have, I could go every day of the week. But I like the last day of the sale when things are winding down to pick up the best deals.
Have you ever taken home an object you found in the street or dumpster? If so, what was it? And where is it now?
I’ve picked up several items on the curb. Sometimes they work out but more often than not, they are not worth the effort to repair or restore them and I end up throwing them out again.
Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
I am a collector. And I try to curate my collection as best as I can. Occasionally I get a cool, funky piece.
What is your most cherished thrifted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?
I found a set of four Danish designer chairs in the garbage. They were teak chairs in rough shape but it was an easy restoration. Someone offered me $3,000 so I gave them up.
Do you create/make things? What are you working on these days?
I’m working on reclaimed wood tables, small ones to fit the average New York City apt. I’ve got my own style that I’m running with. Business has been pretty hot so far.
By the way, what’s your day job?
This is my day job, I’m a furniture maker. I spend my days restoring, designing and building furniture. I also sell vintage handmade rugs.