Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Coming Up for Air

Hello, fellow bloggers and readers!   I'm taking this chance to come up for air before my next round of projects kick into gear, and to catch you up on recent adventures of Panoply.  Seems we've been awfully busy hunting & gathering with some better-than-usual estate events these past couple of months.  Sisters M&J just got back from a whirlwind trip to the northeastern area of North Carolina, where they worked hard, assisting J's daughter-in-law and parents with sorting generations of 'stuff' tucked away in a garage on the family's property.  They left early, last Wednesday morning, and returned Friday evening.  What they accomplished in between makes me tired just to think about it.  I had family and home obligations during that time, so I didn't go, but it's a good thing- it left more room to haul stuff back.

The crew involved three generations:  parents, children and grandchildren.  The tools of choice were a golf cart and a Kubota all-terrain vehicle to navigate the property's acreage without having to drive on and off the main road to enable accessing and carting the loot from garage to house for initial sorting.   Sorting became an organization task, separating the boxes as: 1) picks for resale, 2) yard sale designation, or for 3) personal retention.  Sister M took her Rav4, and they were loaded to nearly max capacity upon returning to WV when the trip's task was complete just 60 hours later.  The total job is not finished, but this was a really good push to make a dent in the family's project.

I joined M&J Saturday morning for what ended up being a twelve hour day to sort all of this:

Additionally, there were large items along the floor in the foreground (not pictured).  We had a system going:  M and J alternated unwrapping everything and making a first pass at cleaning items in the washtub just behind these tables.  I was in the area to the top and right of this frame, on the computer, listing and indicating for each of us.  There were a couple of neat collections among all the stuff, like this array of shaving mugs (with some glass mixed in this photo below):
Twelve hours later (72 for M&J), we'd managed to shift stuff from one set of boxes to three distinct piles of boxes.  For the record, my husband thinks we're crazy, but enjoys seeing us happy and having a good time together on our ventures.  This was my designated pile:
Sunday, I spent another eight hours (two with M&J to go through the linens received), and six unpacking my stuff, and cleaning what hadn't been cleaned. 
I started soaking linens while unpacking these goodies:  
I brought home a nice set of glasses with a 'C' monogram (nice coincidence that one of the family's surnames begins with the same initial as mine), a wonderfully large brown transferware tureen and underplate, Noritake china service for six + additionals, and Nippon blue & white china, including serving bowl with lid.  The lid to the tureen may show up on a subsequent treasure hunt, but for now I can think of several other ways to use it besides its intended purpose. 

Yesterday I finished resorting all of my stuff, cataloging what's in each box, and the linens are clean and folded (another five hours, totaling 25 hours for my involvement alone).  Everything's now ready to get ready for resale, lol, which will entail pressing linens, tagging and pricing items, and carting them to our antique mall booth space for styling (do you think we're crazy like my husband does, lol?).  M&J each have their own stashes to do the same with.  How fast and by what method each of us operates is as individual as we are.  We do, however, collectively & cohesively style our space vignettes from each, to achieve an overall complemented look.  And, of course, how fast it sells is almost totally out of our control.  One thing's for certain:  we're better at hunting & gathering than we are at eliminating (we tend to indulge in long periods of fostering finds before letting go).

J's gone back to OH, and sister M and I have plans to reset the store very soon, starting with a couple of large furniture items recently acquired.  We plan to break down a couple vignettes, relegating some smalls for an upcoming community yard sale in September, and bringing in some of these recent finds.  Hopefully, I'll have photos of all that by next week.

August....yes, August, is THIS week!  And with the last few days of break in the weather temperatures and humidity, it actually feels a little more like Fall here!  This October my younger daughter is getting married, and I've been gathering vintage items for that for over a year.  Next week family will be hosting a shower for her, and we've decided to have it at my house, mostly for ease of parking.  Somewhere in between I'll be forced to move a large portion of my guest room furniture and my basement boxes of vintage and antique items to allow plumbers access for some updates being planned.  

Never a dull moment, but hopefully some breaks in between to come up for air.  I thought summer was supposed to be lazy!  Are you taking in deep breaths with all your activities?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Window Treatments - Not-So-Plain, but Simple

Window treatments can be a real money pit in a home's decor, and most folks explicitly stipulate in home sale contracts whether treatments stay (generally they, along with hardware attached, do). In my home, all the window treatments are uniformly styled with wooden blinds, no drapes or curtains.  In fact, the only curtain in my home is one shower curtain - in the bathroom I call mine (the Mr. and I do NOT share bathroom space in this house).
For an otherwise plain, straight-edged curtain, I recently added a deep, hand-crocheted vintage lace to the curtain, spaced and draped across evenly among the hooks. It was an easy styling for a great piece of vintage lace that was likely originally intended to trim a bed sheet.  To the right is a glimpse of the uniform all my windows in my home sport.

I have a couple of family members who have integrated some other easy styles into their window treatments that I'm sharing today.  One treatment is with the use of cloth napkins, dressing up a kitchen area.
Two napkins are draped over the center, and two of a different pattern are simply twist-tied and tacked at the corners.  How cute and easy is that?  For another look, at the kitchen sink window, the napkins are gathered and  twist-tied in a pouf.
The poufs are simply tacked into the window frame on each side.  Architectural salvage hardware adds a nice flair inside the window frame.  Vintage hankies would be another nice alternative for these two previous looks.

Another family member uses sheer fabric yardage to create a nice, transitional look in her home, three different ways. Each of these are in one large, open space - living room and dining room. Here's the first treatment, over a large picture window:
In this arrangement, the center of the fabric is shaped into a rosette pouf, the center pushed down and billowed around tissue paper, then simply tied with a hair tie (Goody's).  Then the fabric is draped evenly on each side until reaching the corners.  At the corners, and two more evenly spaced points along the sides, the fabric is simply gathered & tied off in poufs.  The remaining fabric simply falls just below the window ledge.

Another treatment, over French doors, utilizes the rosette pouf over the center, and then drapes over curtain tieback hardware at each corner.  The fabric then falls to the floor.
A third treatment, this time at a sliding glass door, drapes the fabric over sheer panels utilizing a double rod:
The panel on the left side falls to the floor, alongside the sheer panels, but the right side (where the door slides) falls only to the handle.

I really don't have a preference when it comes to window treatments.  I think if I lived near a coast, though, I may lean toward simple blinds, shutters or sheers.  Over the years, I've used draperies (pinch-pleats & shirred), blinds (vertical, horizontal, honeycomb), and valances (poufs, pinch-pleats, box).  One thing's for certain - you don't have to break the bank to create a little style in your home.  Vintage lace can be scoured from estate sales, napkins can even be purchased at a thrift store, and sheer muslin can be purchased inexpensively at fabric outlet stores.

How do you treat your windows?

Postscript:  I was super excited last week when I was featured on Common Ground's "Be Inspired Top Visited Links". Thank you, Debra, for continuing to host this party and allowing us all to connect with each other to showcase our weekly projects.  While my project was solely the work of a master seamstress, not my own, it was a pleasure to showcase Doris' talent and, at the same time, draw in new readers.  Welcome, new readers!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Masters - Taking a Lesson (No, Not Golf!)

I know how to sew, but I also know how to calculate my personal satisfaction when it comes to time & money spent and what I get out of it.  That's why I called on a local pro to make a slipcover for a chaise lounge I've had now for a couple years.  Here's what the chaise looked like when I bought it:
I bought the chaise at auction, and it was like new, upholstered in a Waverly print of violets, and I placed it in our sunroom.  It wasn't a fabric I would have chosen, but it was beautifully finished, clean, and oh so comfy! For the past two years, I have been wanting a slipcover.  Last Fall, I helped a friend move who, in turn, gave me a bolt of 10 yards of leftover duck / sailcloth fabric she had used for her family room couch.  BAM!  I called a local textile shop and found a seamstress who makes slipcovers, and she put me in her cue for late October.  Disappointed that she didn't call me back, November came, and I got busy with holidays and didn't want to fool with the project.  At Christmastime last year, I decided to put a French matelasse twin bedspread and sham on it, to tone it down so it would blend better for the holiday and winter season.  Here's what it looked like last winter:
For those who follow me, you know it's not easy for me to convince Mr. P. that decor can change more than once in one's lifetime. He didn't like the coverlet, and he wanted the original fabric back.  But I also knew he wouldn't like a slipcover so, like I said before, I didn't want to fool with the project. Spring was coming, so I granted him his wish and removed the coverlet back to the original floral.

Long story short, my seamstress, Doris, came through about a month ago, and drove to my home for the initial fitting for the slipcover. She immediately unfolded that 10 yards of fabric and began her magic.
 She has been doing this for over 50 years (!!), worked in two - now defunct - retail stores in town (one of which my mother had worked in for a short time).  When she finally told me she was 88 years old (!!!), I simply couldn't believe it.  She was on her knees for over 4 hours during the fitting, with hands nimble and  mind sharp!
I told her I wanted to take notes in case I ever did decide to do this on my own, so she was very gracious in providing instruction as she went, pointing out particulars, such as nipping curves and tucking generous selvages into edges.
She made sure the corners were tucked Army-sheet tight.
Doris marked the edges of both side of fabrics tucks, where seams would eventually be.
I loved her tools:  her trusty scissors, knee pads, a wooden ruler, nubs of chalk, a box of stainless steel t-pins (she complained about having a hard time getting the same size replacements, as many of hers were getting dull from use), and an old can opener magnet to have the pins at the ready - all in a plastic supply tote.
She had me fit and pin the cushions, allowing for the cording (the appearance of ticking in the fabric is actually the shadow cast from the sun shining through the blinds in the sunroom's overhead windows).
Three weeks passed, and Doris came over today for the final fitting.  Humorously, she said, "I'll bet you thought I was gonna die before I finished your slipcover, didn't ya?"  She was worth the wait!  Her work is so meticulous and professional.  She brought a roll of quilt batting, to help smooth the fabric for a better fit (sorry, fuzzy picture).
She cut the batting to fit over the cushions, just enough to wrap each of the two.  Stuffing the cushions was tricky - Doris did the backrest cushion while I snapped a photo, but it took both of us to wrangle the long cushion into the slipcover.
Doris uses metal zippers for her cushions.  Next, she assured a great fit by tucking, taping and tacking. For tucking, Doris used a similar approach as when she fitted the slipcover, taking her ruler to push the fabric down into the side seams.  But this time, she used bits of the batting to stuff in, adding to a clean, smooth finish.
 For taping, Doris sewed one side of the back, and continued to the underside of the pleated shirt, with velcro tape for a zip-lock close.
Finally, for tacking, Doris uses upholstery tacks to clean finish the underneath selvage, and further pulling the sides down for a nice, tight fit.  I let her show me how she does this, and the spacing between, but did not complete the process, for ease of taking on/off.  Knowing Mr. P., I would have to return to the floral soon after Doris' departure.
For the finish, I asked Doris to stand by the chaise so I could take her photo.  She obliged, rightfully proud.
Recap of my chaise lounge slipcover project:
Original gavel price of chaise lounge at auction:  $250
Cost of 10 yards of heavy duck / sailcloth:  $0
Cost of labor and additional materials for slipcover ("list of findings" as Doris called them):  $190 (less than half of the estimates I calculated online).
New friendship struck with Doris, the Master:  Absolutely Priceless!

What a joy Doris was to have in my home!  She is just 4 years younger than what my mom would have been this year.  Though she was very different from my mom, she was also very much the same, and it felt like a little visit from my mom, having her by my side.  I'm so happy she came into my home.  And, after we hugged and she drove off (yes, she still drives!), Mr. P. came in to see the finished product.  His only comment:  "She does really good work doesn't she?  But I still like the green (really?  green?) better".
So, before I return to the floral (before the finished product, I was negotiating the change with Mr. P. by saying it would be a nice neutral for the Fall and Winter seasons), I took photos of the chaise with some neutral pillows in the sunroom.  I'd say I'm getting one step closer to how I want this sunroom to be.  After all, I'm taking lessons from the Masters. 
Now, if I can get my industrial cart back from the store display, and hang my recent chandelier purchase from a friend that's currently stored in the basement, and maybe a sisal rug.....hopefully Mr. P. will find it all irresistible.  Changing decor is definitely a process in my house.  But  it's a results-worthy process.  :)
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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Holy Cow! What a Sale!

Billed as WV's largest estate sale this year, I can honestly vouch for that after attending this weekend's opening day, just nine miles north of Charleston on WV I-79.  Helen's House of Antiques (formerly known as a lumber warehouse), all 20,000 square feet of its contents, is being sold in a series of weekend estate sales by one of our local antiques dealers, Chuck Hamsher, of Charleston's Purple Moon (Purple Moon Estate Sales).  Holy cow!  They even had a wooden cow for sale (about the size of a calf)!  See for yourself (first two photo credits, Douglas Imbrogno):
It's hard to even imagine the magnitude of the work that went into organizing this series of events, knowing from personal experience in hosting estate sales how taxing the detail is.  The warehouse has been sectioned off, so as to stage the sale into a number of weekends.  The host has said it will continue for as many of four weekends (July 5-7 being the first of the series), until the contents diminish.
The photo above shows only one section.  On this first weekend, there were eight sections distinct to me and sister M, who went with me on this fantastic sale.  You can see, in the upper section of the photo, makeshift walls and plastic, separating other sections of the warehouse yet to be uncovered.

Having attended the owner's attempts at auctioning her inventory prior to her death, and knowing the widower was quoted as saying they "lost their shirt" in that venue, we weren't expecting to find good prices, and thought we would be in and out of the sale.  In fact, we were betting many of Helen's original prices would be what the host would start with on the first weekend. Wrong!  We were pleasantly surprised!

Very quickly, our hands were full, and there were no baskets or shopping carts.  We found a wicker tea cart  (for sale) with two shelves, vintage aqua/green - like sea glass - and started loading our smalls. Others soon caught on, but not before they would look at our cart, and all the smalls loaded on it, and think it was another display for their personal picking!  "Sorry, these items are ours" - we must have said that at least two dozen times.  They were loving our things as much as we were!  I got to the point where I was saying, "I'll sell it to you once I get outside"!  I scored a super vintage bingo cage and stand, complete with Bakelite handle and wooden balls, and I could have sold that at least six times!

And packing the cart?  Let me just say - we had things stacked and nested almost twice as high as the cart was, a spectacle to behold, at the very least.  For big ticket items, you had to grab a staff member and have them write a ticket up, giving you a copy, with your name, phone number & time on the ticket.  I guess if you didn't claim it by day's end, it was up for grabs again.  We only had one such item.

Two hours later, we found ourselves in line to check out, hot and sweaty.  M said she felt like she had just finished cutting the grass, and my mascara felt like it was melting.  Another dealer from our mall was there, and she said "it's like going to the Y - this is a workout!".  There were no drinks or food (a suggestion we made for following weeks), and we did not use the restrooms.  We loaded our car, found we still had room, and went back in for another round.  The second time was not as intense, we didn't purchase as much, and the crowds were beginning to thin out.  But it was definitely no cooler inside with fewer people. Multiple fans were trying their hardest to tame the humidity and rising temps.

So many bargains!  So many people!  M said afterward that she felt like she had gone to a party - we talked with so many folks (some we knew, some we didn't), felt so festive that prices were so reasonable, and got all jazzed up with the finds we scored!  Definitely a dealer's paradise.  The only caution I would mention is that the warehouse definitely had a dank odor about it (those allergic would need to be aware).  We tested many cabinet doors and drawer slides that had problems operating properly as a result of moisture issues. Using the sense of smell was key, too.  If it couldn't operate and it smelled, it was a definite 'No!'; if it smelled and could be laundered or scrubbed, a definite 'Yes!'; if it was questionable, then it boiled down to price and whether the risk was greater than the potential reward.  But prices on furniture were cheap:  a drop-leaf cherry gate-leg table-$50; original wood, Hoosier cabinet with flour sifter and two side cabinets-$300, as just two examples.

The sale will continue as long as the hosts find it weekend-worthy, through the remainder of July.  If your're traveling along I-79 in WV, take exit 9 (Elkview), and it's just quick jaunt off the exit.  There are even food and lodging along the exit, so it would be a great stop for a night.  Happy hunting!  By the way, the cow was stickered at $2,000, probably the highest priced item there.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Stagings of Our Retail Spaces

It's been a while since I've posted photos of our booth space styling efforts in the South Charleston Antique Mall, but sister M and I have been working our spaces continuously each Tuesday.  We've made both big and small changes, and we're now into the full swing of summer.  Here are a some shots of our recent styling efforts over the past month (descriptions for photos are below each one):
This is a shot of what we call our first booth space.  It has become a sort of cottage space in recent weeks.
Very summer-y in nature, we've added garden items galore, from concrete planters to flower frogs to watering cans, birdhouses and even an old well pump.
Chippy chairs, vintage luggage, and always a great selection vintage linens, both casual and dressy.  We've got milk glass, jadeite, and enamelware....
We have utility stools, window frames & picture frames...
We very recently acquired this 12-tin, 3-shelf pie safe, and just completed rearranging the space to show it off.

In our other mall space, just around the corner of the space captured above, we've added what we call ebony & ivory:
This is a nice little two-piece, step-back cabinet, to which we added some of our large selection of crockery.
Shelf detail.  We carry a lot of vintage hardware - this framed set of escutcheons is just an example of how to turn hardware into hanging art for the home.
Our state (West Virginia) celebrated its 150th birthday on June 20th, and this vignette paid homage to our roots. ;)  It was a celebration right smack in between Memorial Day and Independence Day, so we had vintage flags for both our nation and our state.
We keep a small space for the more refined display (as opposed to cottage, primitive or industrial), a vignette certainly more our norm in years past.  It's fun to see ourselves and how we've evolved over the past five years we've been in business together (my two sisters & I).  We've certainly shared our three styles in the way we display.  
This is the industrial cart we placed a few months ago (that I secretly hope doesn't sell so I can restyle my sunroom at home with it).  We have stacked it with a primitive table and handsome chair, as well as two bistro stools on the far right corner.
And lastly, this is our mid-summer vignette we styled today.  It's 'rusty gold', to quote Mike Wolfe of American Pickers - a rusty bike, yard ready!  It even has moss already growing on the seat!  Behind it are most of our summer smalls:  picnic basket, tennis racket & wooden oar; pillow, buoys, and there's even a fishing rod in the basket on the back wheel.
The little herb pots fill the baskets also, and I think the sign in the front basket says it all:  [needs] RESCUE.

The South Charleston Antique Mall is located off I-64, Exit 56 (Montrose Dr., easy on/off access) in South Charleston, WV (304) 744-8975.  We are open 363 days a year (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas days); M-Sat 10 am - 6 pm; Sun noon - 5 pm.  There's over 18,000 square feet (three floors + mezzanine) of space to explore, all reasonably priced.  If you're traveling our way, stop in and see us - Panoply's on first floor!

Sharing this week with:
Cedar Hill Ranch's Scoop #73
Savvy Southern Style #125
Common Ground Be Inspired #147