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Shop Stop: Mora’s Antiques

May 30, 2010

Canny display

Returning from the gorgeous Quail Botanical Gardens last weekend, we decided to stop in the small Inland Empire town of Lake Elsinore for lunch. As a child my family lived here for a short time, and even now it looks very much the same as I remember it from 40+ years ago. The businesses may have changed since then (there’s even an outlet mall along the freeway here, now), but unless a visitor is into boating on its namesake lake, I’m not sure many take the turn off the 15 Freeway to check out this town of just over 50,000 people. But, they should … in the 1900s Lake Elsinore used to be known for its mineral hot springs, and architectural traces of that therapeutic history still stand downtown. From an era when sidewalks were wooden, the gingerbread look and feel of the main hot springs building is still intact. The Main Street area is also well-preserved and still looks very much like a small California town center from the 1950s/60s. Whenever I visit I try to remember what a particular building used to house based on my memory; funnily, the one business I remember clearly is a bar called The Wreck. As a kid I loved its sign’s kooky, multi-colored 60s-style lettering, and it’s still there, unchanged. But, the main reason I enjoy going to Lake Elsinore now is to visit Mora’s Antiques. Proof that worthwhile shopping can be found off the beaten path, Mora’s boasts an eclectic array of goods for style-hunters. This time we were instantly attracted by strung-vinyl vintage patio chairs and matching footstools, one white, one turquoise. Checking the tag on a chair I saw a price of $65 … but did that mean $65 for each chair? … and what about the matching footstool? I’d check later, but for now I wanted to see what was in-store …

Satisfying mix

Mora’s mix is one of my faves: lots of cool old garden things, western style antiques, vintage decorative objéts and lots of great textures. Everything from cool blue chunks of slag glass in a twisting-grapevine motif fountain, to woven basket bottles, to Mexican tile-topped tables has a place here.

Stylish ingredients

Vintage garden items abound and there’s plenty of raw material for great outdoor display. Especially if your look involves worn textures and aged patinas on a variety of materials. The green-painted concrete frog came very close to jumping into my shopping cart; he had great attitude as well as a nice worn-painted surface.

Sweet patio dressing

This sweet metal patio set had a nice worn painted-metal finish, and would perfectly complement an old Hollywood terrace or poolside. Add a turban, a faithful butler and cocktails are served. There’s also a nice assortment of outdoor statuary, like the somewhat gloomy-looking saint in the foreground.

Floor to ceiling cool

Signs of the old west are here too, and like the cool embroidered shirt at top, would kit-out the urban cowgirl of today in fine style. Any one of the antique trunks would make for great storage or a useful side table, and the chenille-work cross-and-roses cushion would look fine on a modern settee.

Vintage treasures

Smaller objects in cases could easily find a place on a lady’s vanity or nightstand. There’s a kind of faded glamour here, but the look speaks to a time when women didn’t leave the house without a hat, gloves and French perfume — and, unlike today, only sideshow denizens sported tattoos.

Shell extravagance

I really loved this vignette inside the shop’s window that featured assorted shell-encrusted items. The largest, a birdbath, was really thoughtfully constructed and contained bottles with geometric and floral mosaic designs made of tiny, carefully-placed shells. Again, texture’s the story here, along with a very pleasing pale color palette.

Oh, Suzzzanne

I enjoyed seeing this frothy, pink-skirted dress, with its shiny embroidered bodice, especially when I saw that the dressmaker’s dummy had the name of husky-voiced actress, Suzanne Pleshette, on it. Written in pencil in large letters, the writer doesn’t seem entirely sure how to spell Miss Pleshette’s name. I love stuff like this! Mora’s Antiques is a really fun shop to visit and there’s lots more to see than I’ve shown you here. They also have a great variety of Old West and rancho artifacts and decorative items; sadly my photos of them weren’t usable. In business for 9 years, co-owners, Vicki, and her daughter Jamie, have a real knack for finding just the right thing to complete your décor, whether you call it eclectic, shabby chic, funky cowboy or vintage Hollywood. Oh, and the shop also sells art pieces by Chad Mora, Vicki’s son; that’s the next post (his work’s terrific, so watch for that). And, those patio chairs we saw outside the front door as we walked up? The $65 dollar price tag was for each chair and its footstool, but Vicki said we could have them for $100 — all four pieces! That’s $25 bucks apiece, and unheard of in LA … Mora’s, in Lake Elsinore, is a must-see on your next trip down the 15-South or visit to San Diego; here’s their info:

Mora’s Antiques, 142 N. Main St., Lake Elsinore CA 92530; 951-245-5326

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