Thursday, May 30, 2013

Moving Twice, Going Nowhere....but a Chance to Restyle

This week will mark two years since we did it....moved twice...and went nowhere.  But out of that dismal process came my chance to restyle a space I was never happy with in our home.

We had our wood floors refinished on the first floor of our home two years ago this week.  I hope I never need to do it again. But I do have some tips to share with you if you choose this mission.  I could have lived out my days with my floors the way they were, but my husband was embarrassed when company (family, mostly) would come over.
BEFORE:  foyer, just inside front door.

BEFORE:  center of open floor plan, under breakfast table.
First, get at least two estimates - we got three. It pays not only from a monetary standpoint, but also to listen to the methods each prospective contractor would use. Then, go with your gut....on every aspect.  My contractor said there would be little to no dust, but my gut said otherwise.

For me, going with my gut paid off ten-fold.  It involved over $100 in plastic and frog tape, and more than 40 hours of my labor, taping every orifice and light fixture on the first floor, plus, every doorway and recessed light on the second floor, to seal off any residual dust.

Taping process: center of open floor, breakfast area, before the move.

Taping process:  Family area, before the move. Note the wall-to-wall cabinet units/TV, stereo speakers, as well as the  wrap-around sectional, and rug & chairs (foreground) - all either ditched or reconfigured after the move.
And did I mention that I moved - twice - and went nowhere?  I spent hours, first photographing inside cabinets (so restocking would be easier than relying on memory), then boxing everything from those same cabinets in the dining room and family room, and placed them in the basement.
Cabinet contents, packed, labeled and stored in basement.
We scheduled movers the day before and one week after the floors were completed.  The movers moved furniture into the sunroom, the basement, and (the heaviest pieces) into the garage.  Then everything (except the garage contents) was covered in a lightweight, cheaper plastic - for good measure.
Existing basement contents, covered for good measure.
Furniture in basement, covered.

Sunroom, filled, not yet covered.
Garage, heavy furniture pieces

The sanding process began around 8am, and by noon we were approving the stain.  The stain had to be mixed to match the stairs, as they did not need sanding, just resealed.  The trickiest part of the process for me was sealing off the kitchen from the rest of the open floor plan - I had to create a makeshift curtain of the plastic, taping heavily on door frames where there was not a wall dividing the spaces.
IN PROGRESS:  Breakfast area, after sanding completed.  Upper portion shows the makeshift curtain created to seal off kitchen

IN PROGRESS:  Dining Room, after sanding completed.

IN PROGRESS:  Coat closet, matching stain to previous color, as the steps were NOT refinished, only resealed.

AFTER:  Dining Room, stained and sealed.

AFTER:  Breakfast area, stained & sealed.

AFTER:  Family room, stained & sealed.

AFTER:  Corner of breakfast/family room, looking toward DR (L) and kitchen (R).
The move back in (the following week) gave me the opportunity to switch things up a bit, without ruffling too many feathers.  We ditched the existing arrangement in the rectangular family room area, including two chairs and rug in front of the fireplace, the boxy TV within the three, side-by-side wall cabinets (broke those up too!), two 1970's era stereo system floor speakers, and the five-piece sectional couch that wrapped around two walls.

All my husband wanted was a chair suitable for his tall frame, to watch his new, big-screen TV.  Check!  What I ended up doing was taking the buffet/credenza from the dining room (same Henredon line as in the family room) and making it the center console in the family room, book-ended by two of the three wall-to-wall bookcases.  This made the perfect staging for the new, big-screen TV.  I took the third bookcase and flanked the opposite side of the fireplace.  I then made a flexible seating plan of the rectangular floor space.  I broke up the sectional couch, omitting the corner piece, and made a loveseat on one end of the room, and I placed my husband's new, wing-back leather recliner chair in conversation with the loveseat.   On the opposite end, near the fireplace, I placed two slipper chair sections of the couch in diagonal with each other, and then purchased a new, swivel bucket chair that can rotate in either direction - toward the two chairs, or toward the loveseat and the recliner.

AFTER:  The family area.  Top photo shows the TV viewing area; bottom photo shows seating area around fireplace.
My dining room actually looks better without the buffet/credenza, and it gave me a chance to get closer to where I'd like that room to be - more of a library.  I moved another leather wing-back chair we had stored in the basement into the corner of that room, and purchased a light for a small leather-top table I bought at auction to set beside the chair, in front of the window (photo is dark, hard to get optimal lighting for a good photo).

AFTER:  The dining room.
There's still a  lot of things I'd like to do in styling my home (like recover those chairs in the DR for starters), but one thing's for sure - I don't want to refinish floors ever again - at least not while I'm living in the house!

Linking with Debra of Common Ground: Be Inspired #142

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Personal Memorial

A tribute, to my father, on this Memorial Day (Decoration Day, as it is also called).  He fought during WWII, mainly in Italy.  He lost his leg while keeping watch for the enemy in a foxhole.  My mother once said she dreamt of his injury the night it happened.  Mom stood by Dad, through the pains of raising three war babies born in '43, '44, and '45, until he returned in '46 (pictured), after months of recovering in an Army hospital, and a Purple Heart for his service.  

Dad and Mom had six more living children together - I am #9.  Dad used to scare Mom when he would take the older kids out into the ocean with his leg removed.  Then there was the time that Dad & Mom were traveling on vacation with all nine of us, in the station wagon, and he had his prosthesis off when pulling into a gas station.  Dad opened his door, the leg turned such that the leg (with attached foot, they were wooden then) was facing opposite its rightful position, and the attendant looked horrified, to which Dad responded, "With this gang, you never know whether you're coming or going".  Always a humorous, loving man, Dad's artificial leg became a source of entertainment to many grandchildren, who would drop small toys inside the side vent hole to see them disappear, only to once again watch them reappear as Papa would remove the leg (imagine the little ones' looks on their faces seeing his stump!).

This past March, I visited the American History Museum in DC and snapped the two photos above - a reminder of Dad and the sacrifice he made for my family - and yours.  He never talked about the War, as much as many of us would have liked to have heard his first-hand accounts.  There are a few letters saved which he had sent to Mom through those years - always censored first by the US Government prior to their shipping overseas.  They spoke of family, devotion, and hope for the end of the War and safe returns.

There's a lot of first-hand accounts of history of WWII that I don't know, but a couple things I do know for certain.  One is that the mental wounds of war, now labeled PTSD, were unmentionable in the days of my Dad's service and my growing up.  But Dad suffered, mostly in silence, and so did Mom.  Another thing I know for certain is that the physical remnants of War remained with my Dad throughout his life - bits of shrapnel emerging through the skin and needing removed surgically, periodically.  When the Boston Marathon bombs exploded on those innocent victims, I immediately felt empathy for the survivors, knowing the struggles they will inevitably be dealing with in their future.  As do all veterans of war, any war.

I am thankful, especially today.  For family, for our country, for service, and for our history, both known and unknown. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Be Our Guest!

Of all the rooms in our home, my guest bedroom is certainly one of my favorites, and for several reasons, all of which have one common denominator:  everything in it is collected over time.  It's styled with a little Country French bedroom set & various other pieces of furniture either bought at auction, estate sales or antique shops; the textiles are in some of my favorite pale colors; and it's home to most of my antique & vintage purse collection displays.  The room enjoys morning sun (there's a glimpse of the window on the left, in the photo below, and there's a swivel rocker just in front of the window to allow for curling up and reading, or just looking around.  Come, be our guest!

This is the view from the door, as you enter the room.  The vintage bedroom suite is Country French in painted yellow with florals & applied wood trim, but I mixed it up with an existing brass bed instead of the matching head & foot boards to keep it from feeling too matched. The stool at the end of the bed was slipcovered and purchased from Sweet Melanie.  

Detail of items displayed on top of chest of drawers.

Vintage fashion display and mesh purse tree collection beside chest of drawers.

This is the dresser/bureau, opposite the bed. Flanking the bureau are two cases displaying some of my vintage and antique purses.

Close up of dresser/bureau top & vanity items.

Left side of dresser/bureau: display cases of vintage & antique purse collection.  The glass display sitting upon the small chest is a vintage Du Barry Beauty Preparations cosmetic counter display case.
Right side of dresser/bureau: display case of mostly vintage children's purses.

Vintage desk & chair in corner of room.

A chippy, painted cedar chest sits along the left wall upon entering bedroom.  An old, wooden machinist's chest holds more vintage beaded purses, as do the Ryker display boxes on either side of the chest.

If you'd like to visit and see more of my home and collections, leave a comment, and I'll oblige with a future post, sharing one room at a time.  Each is different, and I promise they're not all set up with so many displays, but I have tried to concentrate confine corral style much of my purse fetish in this room.  It's a nice, quiet place to go, whether you're a guest or a resident.

This is a first for me - I am linking up with:
 Debra Oliver's Common Ground, "Be Inspired #141"
Jennifer Rizzo and her "Fabulously Creative Friday Linky Party"
Courtney's French Country Cottage, "Feathered Nest Friday"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Extravaganza - exponential!

My sister, M, and I traveled to Cincinnati to meet up with sister J to hit the Springfield Extravaganza this past weekend, but it was only one of three main events we accomplished.  Friday was spent celebrating J's official retirement party (from  noon to almost midnight!), and Sunday morning started off by participating in Cincinnati's 2013 Annual Arthritis Walk.  And did I mention we spent six hours Saturday evening - up till 3 am (crazy, right?!) sorting through mostly linens we had purchased in bulk from a picker of ours in Wisconsin. Then made the four-hour trip home Sunday afternoon.  Yes, the weekend was an extravaganza - exponential!

We were up early Saturday am, ready to tackle Springfield, Ohio's Extravaganza and Vintage Marketplace event, even though it had rained Friday and the threat of rain was 50/50 for our day.  The extravaganza's an event we've been to several times before, held each May and September during the locale's annual flea marketing schedule.  Since the Vintage Marketplace was incorporated into the extravaganza last year, the size is now ginormous - over 2,000 vendors!

Here's what the scene in Springfield looked like, pretty much everywhere you turned that morning, but even the threat of bad weather does not deter those of us on a mission (just ask anyone who attended Junk Bonanza in the snow last month in Minnesota).  If the photo looks dark, it's because it was very overcast at that hour.  One guy situated himself right smack in the middle of one intersection, selling cheap ponchos - probably not so cheaply, but we didn't ask. And the rain held off during the time we were there, all but a few sprinkles once or twice.
Springfield is set up on the Clark County fairgrounds, so there were lots of vendors on the pavement, many in the fields themselves, and the Vintage Marketplace vendors were in both buildings and tents (which were pitched on the pavement), located in the central areas, near food vendors.  Here's a look at a couple of the higher rent districts:
The GOATS 1 building, home to several Vintage 'Marketplace vendors.

This is another area, tents on pavement, for Vintage Marketplace vendors.

Then there was the low rent district (the fields and pavement perimeters), where we mostly hung out, for these reasons:  1) it was closer to where we parked, so hauling was more convenient, 2) the treasure hunting was truly more in flea marketing style, where you actually hunt and dig for the gold, so to speak, and 3) the overall vibe and exchange with dealers just felt better, can't really explain it.
Here's a couple of photos to best explain what I mean:

Now, if you saw a sign like the one pictured above, what would you do?  We were all over this dealer's goods, starting with a basic curiosity, and ending up with the best exchange of conversation and some of the best finds of the day.  Our dealer came to be known as "ND".  Here's ND after we both had piles that made us smile (he with cash, us with wares).
ND was a chap originally from England, currently residing in Pennsylvania, and his brother still lives in England.  He travels back at least twice a year to literally dig for treasure, and his story was quite interesting.  In Victorian times, landfills were located in ravines, where the oldest castaway items (turn of the 20th century) would be thrown into.  Eventually, a layer of dirt (about a six foot deep barrier) would be placed on top, followed by subsequent, more current trash items.  ND and his brother would dig deep for items like bottles, apothecary jars, crocks, and various other collectibles that we folks in the states can't get enough of.  Digging has now become prohibited, so these guys now are clandestine, "stealth" nighttime operators, and have a way of digging six feet under, tunneling through to the crème de la crème, or lowest level.

Here's a sampling of some of the items we got from ND:
Pretty cool, right?  These are items you see priced anywhere from $40 - $100 EACH, depending on the venue you browse and/or shop, but we scored some deals with ND.  The largest one here was cracked, but the others were in pretty good condition (I wanted a nested set so I got the largest one for that reason).  Great graphics, great price, and great story.  I'll be fostering these for a while before deciding on whether or not to sell them.  I think they'd look great in the bathroom to dispense cotton, Q-tips, and maybe manicure utensils.

There was a lot of painted furniture at Springfield but, I must say, it all starts looking homogeneous once a trend catches on.  That's not to say that I don't like painted furniture, but most of what I saw just reminds me of the 'antiquing' that was so popular in the '70s, apart from one or two pieces that stood out from the rest.  There were lots of industrial items at Springfield also, and here's a Tony McCray galvanized table that I've been thinking about since the weekend, but didn't buy:

The sticker price on this was $375.  My vision for my sunroom could include an item like this, or the warehouse cart that I wrote about in a previous post here:  
And here's another item I bought, to satisfy the Art Deco diva within me:
This is a pencil sketch, signed by Cote, titled, "French Dolls".  It is very much in the style of Icart prints, and it features Flappers with their boudoir dolls.  I collect many Flapper-themed items, mostly purses, and a few other things, including two boudoir dolls.  I'll be keeping this print, an original dating from the 1920's - 1930's.

Out of the 2,000+ vendors at Springfield, we may have hit 10 or 12 - that's about one half of one percent of all the vendors, for cryin' out loud!  We didn't stress about it though, because we know we can go back, or go where the road is less the back road shops or the outfield fleas, or the little elderly lady's estate sale....and find some great deals and great stuff.  It was just fun being a part of the event, and soaking it all in (no pun intended).  Plus, we had many other things we needed to check off our to-do lists on this trip.  I was just happy to get home and get in bed at a decent hour!  And my car's still not unpacked!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Getting Ready for Summertime!

My sister and I styled our booth space today - my first day back after vacationing last week.  We put together a couple small vignettes that evoke memories of summers past.  This Saturday (May 17th), our little part of the world will be hosting an Armed Forces Day Parade, so fluffing up the booth space was not necessarily intended toward that end, but we both knew we'd be busy before Memorial weekend, so this is what we did:  we set a scene for an All-American iconic summer outing at the drive-in, no less!
Several months ago, we found some awesome drive-in paraphernalia that came from the Kanauga Drive-In Theater of Gallipolis, OH (which closed in 2008).  The display includes an open blue vintage suitcase, holding a vintage, 48-star flag and drive-in theater aisle marker #10.  Below that, there's two children's red folding deck chairs with a classic red & white cotton tablecloth, and an aluminum case on top, containing the drive-in theater speakers for the car windows (with two more speakers on the floor).  To the right, on the bench, there's the picnic basket & cute repurposed, vintage red & white fabric pillow, wooden oar and authentic, Maine lobster fishing buoy below, and a 'Yarmouth Rescue' license plate topper.  I scored the buoy & plate topper several years ago on a trip to New England, and the oar just last Fall (and it has Massachusetts graphics on it).

This is the back of the display....a 1960's Murray child's tricycle, in near mint condition.

Several weeks ago, a friend of mine called the night before trash pick-up (yea, you pretty much know the rest of this story, but it's got a funny twist).  Her neighbor was throwing away a great little garden bench. So, I rushed right over in my Rav4 and picked it up.  My sister and her husband, my partners-in-crime, agreed to store the bench until we were ready for it to be set in our booth.  Well....her husband worked on it to fix a couple of rotted joints (hence, trash).  My sister liked it so much afterward that she decided to keep it (!), and purged her vintage chapel pew on her porch instead.  She spruced it up with a good coat of white, then added one of those new free Valspar samples from Lowe's on the grooved panel sides.  Here it is:
We placed the white quilt, repurposed vintage fabric [new] pillows, and a few vintage cotton tablecloths on the bench, and some bottle carriers below.  That little rag rug is pretty cute too (it's folded in half) - it's made up of seven hexagons, sewn together as a circle rug.

The photo above shows the bench's side view, where my sister trimmed the grooves with one of Lowe's free samples of new Valspar paint colors (the coupons were in several Spring issue magazines such as BHG, Real Simple, HGTV magazine).  Fun fact:  I caught an exact likeness of that little yellow stepstool featured in Episode 1 of Season 6's "Mad Men" in Betty Francis' kitchen.

Here's the macro view of our current little country kitchen vignette in our booth space.

A statement of disclosure here regarding American flag etiquette...  We love our country, our flag, and what it stands for.  We own (take responsibility for) what we styled here, but realize it may offend those who follow flag etiquette strictly.  Flag code states that it [the flag] should never be draped or used for decoration; instead, bunting should be used in those instances.  We have displayed it here with utmost respect for its iconic symbolism associated with Memorial Day.   It was sourced from a local estate, and I suspect, like others we've had in years past, it will soon be purchased and waved high on a flagpole, in its rightful place - rather than in a box, where we found it, obscured by a lifetime of belongings.  We feel we have it in a good holding place for now, and liken it to a rescue.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Paradise Found & Treasured

Taking a break from the normal blogging, I am sharing family time in our part of the world we consider our paradise......
This is the view from our location on Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, BWI
My husband & I love this island, its people and its way of life.   It is our place to decompress.  May is a very quiet month on the island, just after high season ends (April 15), but before the weather gets too hot. Very near the equator, the weather varies only by about 10 degrees from its 'winter' season to its summer.  In May, the air temp is usually 84F by day, 78F by night, and the water is typically 82F, even at 100 feet below sea level (we are scuba divers).

Before going on vacation, I stressed about not being home to get mail (mostly packages from some great fellow bloggers!), restyle our booth spaces, etc., but I've quickly settled into this laid back scenery.  And I was still on the hunt. Pictured below are the kinds of things I collect while here:  any color of tumbled glass (I'll sort the keepers from the toss backs on all of these later), the very white shells and any parts of shells with yellow hues (at top, which I love), a few pieces of dead coral (the brain-like piece on the right in the middle of the photo as well as the piece to the left of it), and the bleached white spiral shells at bottom.  I even picked up a found penny which had coral bits attached to it.  I love to arrange these small bits in old spice jars I have, which have cork stops and raffia ties around them, and place them in places where I'll see them frequently:  my desk, the bathroom, etc.
While here, we've enjoyed lots of scuba diving, snorkeling, walks on the beach, and quiet inactivity just sitting in chairs watching the water glistening like diamonds in the afternoon sun, and seeing the sun set like a giant ball of fire through clouds of pinks, blues and yellows.  It's truly magnificent without ever looking the same twice.  This year, we experienced an atmospheric phenomenon called a "sun dog" - google it to learn more about this fascinating occurrence.  The photo below is what we saw- it was essentially a complete rainbow around the sun, midday - with no rain before or after!  

The locals say that this has occurred before, and it typically portends of a change of weather, usually unfavorable, but ours continued to be nothing less than more beautiful each day.

It's always nice to be back home, even after such a wonderful trip, mostly because I'm fairly certain we'll enjoy yet another stay here in paradise in the future.  There may even be a couple of chairs waiting for us in the shade, if we're lucky.  But just getting to go is fortune and blessing enough.   Where's your paradise?