Friday, February 25, 2011

Let There Be Lights

I've always had a thing for lamps. In the evening, I love the way they cast a beautiful glow in a room, changing the mood of the space altogether. Their illumination brings about a coziness, creating a warm and inviting environment. When it comes to vintage lamps, I've found that there are endless options available and can usually be purchased for little money. I typically do very little to alter a lamp, so as not to compromise the integrity of the piece. In the case of these lamps, I simply gave them a good cleaning with soap and water. However, when it comes to electricity, safety is a must. Luckily, only one of the four featured lamps below needed new wiring and it was quite simple to do, find out how here. All of the lamps below were purchased at random flea markets and cost $10.00 or less. They were originally used as desk lamps, but with a little adaptation, they have morphed into a variety of other lighting sources. With no further adieu ~ let there be lights!

The Find

This is the general condition of a common vintage desk lamp when I find it ~ pretty nondescript and not particularly appealing to the eye. But with a little coaching, even these modest looking lights can be transformed.

Wall Lamp

I ran across the wiry skeleton of an old lampshade (this one cost me $1.00!!) with its fabric already missing. I thought this might be an interesting shade to add to a lamp.

However, I opted to attach it upside down to do something out of the ordinary. I placed it over the socket and screwed the light bulb in (this holds the shade in place).

The blue/white plate is a treat my son Reagan brought me from Russia and the blue/white enamel house number is from Paris.

Since it's purpose is not for task lighting, I rather like the exposed bulb and I think the end result is quite clever.

Map Light

This wonderful old school map is a feature in and of itself, but with the addition of this old desk lamp, it really becomes a standout. I found this vintage light at Canton for $10.00.

I rewired the light and added a switch for an easy on/off function. It has a beautifully aged patina that has evolved over time.

I then hung it directly above the map. It now casts an illuminating glow and at nighttime it serves as the perfect night light.

Reading Light

I needed a reading light to go beside a chair in a bedroom.

To hang this light, I drilled a hole into the base of the lamp and attached it to the surface with a wood screw. I think the intricate detail of this lamp is lovely!

I added a neutral linen lampshade and now this lamp completes a favorite spot to rest, read or sip a cup of coffee.

Nothing thrills me more than to find a good deal. These lights were certainly more than that and now have added wonderful ambient lighting to our home. With a little searching, I'm sure you will be able to find unique lighting for your space as well.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Estate Sale ~ Slip Slidin' Away

A couple of weekends ago, I cautiously ventured out to an estate sale with Rachael, my junking sidekick. I say ventured, because the week prior was when the big ice storm hit North Texas. We had been cooped up for awhile and were feeling the itch to get out and scavenge. The roads were still pretty treacherous (for Texans that is) and consequently it took us over an hour to drive what ordinarily would take about 25 minutes. By this time our tummies were rumbling, and for Rachael and I, rumbling means grumbling. So, we made a quick detour by the grocery store, grabbed a snack and were on our way. Thankfully, our blood sugars leveled out pretty quickly and we were back on task. We continued to pass by many a stalled vehicle on the side of the road, and many others that were "slip slidin' away." Our main concern, aside from arriving at our destination safely, was to get there in time to stake our claim on some undiscovered treasures. I must say, it was well worth the the effort it took to get there. We came across as number of finds that we were happy to bring home, some for projects we are working on as well as a few treasures to keep for ourselves. Here are some of the goodies:

Vintage Mirror

A beautifully mottled mirror, detailed wood carvings and lots of character ~ what more could you ask for? I leaned this one up against the wall on a bedside table in my guest room. A nice addition for guests that might like to sneak a peak on the way out the door.

Conveyor Belt Strap Section

This strap from a section of an old conveyor belt was quite the find. When I saw it, I envisioned it as an interesting piece of wall art. I think it contrasts beautifully against the slate colored wall.

Oversized Apothecary Bottle

This jumbo vintage apothecary jar is unusual and rich in color. I positioned it on a night table to complete this cozy vignette.

Small Milk Bottles

These glass milk bottles are so basic, but I still have a fondness for them. Lined up together across a table or window sill, they make lovely vases for single stemmed flowers. I filled them with wooden lettered beads and perched them on a shelf.

Charcoal Drawing

I would love to know the story behind this unfinished drawing. It is amateurish and incomplete yet I find it so intriguing. I casually mentioned to my son, Gavin, that I might have an artist finish it up and he quickly reminded me, "You can't do that...another artist can't finish someone else's art." I so love that he gets it. :)

Vintage Linen Table Scarf

Black and cream ~ my color scheme ~ perfect in every way. Vintage linens with this color combo are difficult to find. I used this one as a table runner on an antique farmhouse table in our breakfast nook. The beautifully dried hydrangeas (my favorite flower) are from our flower bed.

I'm so glad Rachael and I braved the elements that Saturday morning, "slip slidin' our way" to an estate sale. It made for good memories with a dear friend and also landed us a bounty of wonderful undiscovered treasures.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"That Old Chest in the Garage"

Shortly after Papa & Nana passed away last spring, aside from the grief everyone was experiencing, the family had to go through the painstaking process of sorting through things at their home. We came upon an old chest that sat next to the freezer in the garage, that to the best of my knowledge had been in the exact location since the early 1970's. It was dirty and dingy, covered with paint spills, grit and grime. Nana and Papa had used it as a catchall for all sorts of things. It's drawers held a peculiar selection of items, everything from old brass candlesticks and glassware to garden tools and oil cans. Nat recalled that the chest had resided in all of their family's previous garages as well. Although the dresser had no real earthly value, it appealed to Nat and myself, I think because of the staying power it had sustained down through the years. Thankfully, the others in the family seemed happy to pass it on to us. It has now been coaxed back to life with a little elbow grease and some stencils. I was inspired by a similar piece of furniture I had seen at Anthropologie.

Due to the amount of dirt and oil on the dresser, a good cleaning did not suffice, so we (Nat was such a trooper and helped me out with this step of the project) had to strip it down to the bare wood. I'm sorry to say I did not take a photo of this for you to appreciate it's "before" condition.

I then positioned and taped stencils of numbers and letters on each drawer. Next, I painted over each stencil with acrylic black paint.

After the paint dried, I distressed the stenciling by lightly sanding over the numbers and letters. To complete the project, I brushed on two coats of clear satin varnish (allowing the first coat to dry completely before applying the final coat).

I'm quite pleased with the finished product and think Nana and Papa would be proud. It now resides happily in our home...thankful that someone saw it's potential. And just maybe someday, one of our sons will see the beauty in the not so perfect and desire to have "that old chest that was once in the garage" for their home.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Window Dilemma

Recently, I had a dilemma with a couple of my windows. They were nondescript windows that lacked architectural interest and character. I decided to enhance them with some vintage door headers. Although these lackluster, standard windows were not much to look at, with the addition of some souped up door headers, these ordinary windows became extraordinary. I ran across these headers at various flea markets for less than $10.00. After giving them a good scrub, I added some funky hooks and attached the headers above the windows.

Guest Room Window

I love the shape of this header. These hooks are new, but look old. I purchased them at the local hardware store and aged them by soaking them in vinegar overnight. I added enough hooks so that each tie would have it's own.

The end result ~ these curtains seem so ethereal to me.

Office Window

I found these vintage hooks to be so unusual and the real bonus feature ~ they only cost $1.00 each at Canton.

The beautiful vintage laundry bag with the crumpled satin ribbons was a gift from a friend of mine. She so graciously shared this with me primarily due to the dog named "Buster" that is hand embroidered on the bag (so special as our beloved "Buster" passed away about a year ago).

The hand embroidery is exquisite. Thank you Rachael. :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fun, Funky, Functional Tables

Okay, so tables may seem like a less than exciting topic, yet this utilitarian piece of furniture cohabits with us all. However, on occasion it can be a challenge to find just the right table for a particular need. Every now and then I run across something unique that in one way or another grabs my attention. Eventually, these unrefined items have ended up as tables in my home. Please know, none of these projects are expensive or difficult. I will be providing step-by-step "How To's" to these and other projects on future blog posts.


Printer's Tray ~ I ran across this printer's tray at an antique store. It made for a fun table that we needed in our sitting room. All that was required to make over this table was a glass top and some legs made from plumbers pipe and floor flanges.

Printer's trays like these are also readily available at flea markets and on Ebay. The handcrafted basket was a purchase from Bajalia Trading Company.

A variety of miniatures fill different compartments of the tray. The tiny bust of "David" is from a trip to Florence. We bought the ivory elephants on a mission trip to China when Nat and I were first married.


Stop Sign ~ What teenager wouldn't like this funky table in his room? It has always been a favorite of the boys. It currently lives in Gavin's room.

I constructed it from a stop sign (purchased not stolen :) and some old bowling pins that I found at the Round Top Antiques Fair.


Grate ~ This table fashioned from a vintage floor grate functions so well as a side table for this small slipper chair and was super easy to make.

I love the already existing patina on the grate and left it is perfect to me.

Laundry Basket ~ This table began it's life as a collapsible laundry basket. I found it on an excursion to the Round Top Antiques Fair. All it needed was an inexpensive piece of glass on top to transform it into a functional bedside table.


Vintage Stool ~ I ran across this vintage stool at Canton. It has such a lovely patina on it. The crackled paint is fabulous in it's natural state. I wouldn't think of doing anything to change this piece. It makes an ideal resting spot for books (a collection from Nat's childhood) or a cup of coffee, conveniently located next to an easy chair in our living room.

Projects like these are easy and affordable. Almost anything with a flat surface can be transformed into a table. The next time you are in need of one, perhaps a little creative "out of the box thinking" can produce fun, funky, functional tables for your space as well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Expressions From the Heart

You can't help but know that Valentine's Day is quickly approaching with the abundance of jewelry commercials on TV..."Every kiss begins with K." (I think it's a given that this commercial was voted the "Most Annoying Jingle" in our household). Regardless, it causes me to stop and reminisce about memorable gifts from the past and realize that some of my most treasured ones actually have very little monetary value. Although these tokens of love weren't costly, didn't come in little velvet boxes and by most standards are far from perfect, they make me feel loved every time I see them. To me, these heartfelt expressions of love says it all.

Nana's Charm Bracelet ~ A treasured keepsake, this belonged to Nana when she was a teenager.

"I Love You, Nat" ~ I received this from my hubby-to-be via snail mail when I was in college. It was dark and dated so I gave it a coat of cream spray paint.

Gavin's Flower ~ Lovingly created by Gavin in elementary school. I gave it a "shadowbox" effect by hotgluing it atop the glass of a vintage picture frame.

Corbin's Recipe Holder ~ I love this recipe holder that Corbin made in kindergarten (it has his little thumbprint on it). It's holding Nana's crepe recipe that she gave me years ago (so yummy!).

Teacup and Saucer/Pearlized Initial ~ A heartfelt gift Reagan picked up for me when he was in Switzerland. The letter "D" was a gift from my friend, Pamela.

Heart Shaped Rocks ~ A freebie ~ We gathered these heart shaped rocks on leisure walks, an idea I stole from my friend, Janet.

The Girl with a Broken Arm ~ A gift from a Brussels flea market ~ Nat nailed it, absolutely perfect!

Mimi's Cookie Cutters ~ My mom passed these vintage cookie cutters on to me. They have dished up many a sugar cookie (too bad the boy's favorites are chocolate chip!).

Vintage Silver Spoon ~ Sharon of the "Bless your Neighbor" blog gave me this imprinted cheese spreader yesterday....Just Because. The truffles, compliments of Kelly of the "Healthy Happy Eater" blog.

Scrabble Letters ~ Nat surprised me last year with a box full of Scrabble letters that he purchased on Ebay. Definitely one of my favorites! So many uses...I love spelling out names and using them as place cards for table settings.

Tokens of affection needn't be expensive to convey the sentiment behind them. Some of the most meaningful and treasured ones are simple expressions from the heart.

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