Thursday, December 29, 2011

A New Year in an Old Home

Art Deco cozy, from a vintage post card.

Over here on the actual doorstep of On the Doorstep, I'm expecting a few friends over for New Year's Eve. It'll be a small and quiet gathering, but I'll be busy the next few days pushing the vacuum around in my ruffled apron and pearls, and rustling up the cocktail meatballs and the cheese dip.

2011 has been quite the year. I met Mr. Man Friend when I least expected to find someone, and his sexy intellect, dependable support and handsome beard have been just what this lady needed. And I found this house, the home for my boys that I wanted with all my heart.

I've been one to romanticize things a little bit, but not a lot. Even as I'm talking cheese balls and champagne my furnace needs a new part and I've been disappointed with myself over all the things not checked off my list of things to do or repair, which is endless.

That said, I'm only discouraged occasionally. Why? Well, I think it's good to think about the future in terms of possibilities, and what you have going for you now. Realistically speaking what I have going for me now is this:

That beige makes me tired just to look at it.
It's a sturdy home, but it's lacked attention for many, many years. I hope that if I have the backbone and elbow grease to take care of it, it will take care of me, shelter my sons, and be the stage for many happy memories.

I also have this:
Bittersweet orange door. Awesome.

My sister Dyan painted this. I asked her to make a storybook version of my cottage home, just like I picture it in my mind's eye. She not only painted my dream, she came and sweated and scrubbed and sanded and carpentered her way through weeks of work to help that painting, that vision come true. Along with my Mom and my sons, Mr. Man Friend and others supporting me too. That's a lot to be grateful for, and a lot of blessings and enthusiasm to take into the new year.

I wave from my doorstep to you all--Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Passion (and a Dash of Paprika) for Vintage Planters

I'm with Dorothy Parker on a lot of things, but especially so when she said, "a little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika." I like to believe she was referring to some of the things I love just plain out of my rational head, like daisy swim caps, Corelle, and my beloved ugly lamps. I think she'd also include these vintage planters, which date anywhere in the High Golden Age of Kitsch, roughly 1940s-1970s. Check out my freshly curated (sounds like I picked 'em out of a Golden Kitsch Tree) treasury over on Etsy's website:

ON SALE Vintage Pla...

Vintage Wall Pocket...

Pink Wise Owl Trio ...


Vintage1950s SPRING...

Vintage Green Plant...

Squirrel Wall Pocke...

Burnt Orange Plante...

vintage art deco wa...

SALE - Midcentury M...

Vintage Retro Exoti...

Vintage Green Stove...

What's great about these planters is they're still everywhere, mostly still affordable, and in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and colors. What's even better about pottery planters is that, if you are given to more than one form of obsessive personality disorder, they've got you covered. Love aqua blue? Terriers? Cowboys boots? Aqua blue terriers wearing cowboy boots? There's probably a planter out there made just for you.

I tried for variety, but looking at this Etsy Treasury I curated, I can see that it ended up reflecting some of my other "dashes of paprika" (bless Miz Parker!)--chickens, Asian kitsch, the color green, and my somewhat psychologically troubling attraction to what I call "dorky color combinations" (the yellow deer on the red thing-y, the pink owls on the mint green log). I don't know what possessed me to throw in the Madonna planter, and as a non-Catholic I'm puzzled by it. Is it disrespectful to fill the Blessed Virgin's head with dirt and some nasturtiums? Beats me.

You don't have to use these as planters. They can be transformed into pencil holders, pin cushions, remote control caddies. I have a mermaid planter that I keep cotton balls and swabs in for the bathroom, and a small oval McCoy planter that holds business cards on my desk. I'm thinking I need a teeny one to hold my rings while I wash dishes. Spread that paprika everywhere, readers!

Renovation: Sisters Doing it For Themselves

Remember Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox singing "Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves,'" O MTV generation?

Yeah. It reminds me of me and my sister, Dyan. Aretha and Annie weren't singing about sisterhood in the sense of siblings, but of female solidarity. But for me and for Dyan, it's the same thing, really. For me it was about having the courage to leave behind a marriage that was predicated entirely on me being an accessory to someone else's well-lived life; for Dyan it was about having the courage to find, and create, what she loves. I guess you could say we're late bloomers; I don't think she'd argue that one with me.

How that ties into the drywall and carpentry that happened in July is a bit murky, but that could have to do with the copious quantities of Southern Comfort we drank that week. Forgive me if my metaphors are a bit wobbly.

My sister arrived Mid- to Late- Plumbing Disaster Era, Mid-Century Move-out, High Season Mental Breakdown. She rolled her long hair up in a bun, mopped my laundry room floor, flung the last of the moving boxes in the back of my van, then put her hands on her sexy super-heroine hips and asked whether I needed any more help. It was just like that. She even showed up with super-heroine gadgets. Er, power tools.

My sister, saving my planet single-handedly with a hammer.
What we sisters were doing for ourselves was drywall. Lots of drywall. We decided that the walls in the Cowboy Bedroom, the one that was to be my master bedroom, the Lady Lair, were officially trashed with all the wrecked wallpaper, nail holes, and adhesive tar. With no desire or time to do a complete gut job, we decided we'd sheath the old damaged walls in a fresh layer. Half-inch drywall weighs 40 pounds a sheet, or 80 pounds in those two-fer bound sets they sell at home improvement stores. But I believe the proper phraseology to use while on active drywall duty is "these things weigh an ass-ton." Which was why our arms were aching and our legs hurting by the end of the deal.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Goodies in the Mail: Vintage Pottery

We loooooves us some stuff in the mail. Boxes on the doorstep? Absolutely.  In August I found the perfect thing for the middle of my living room coffee table. A Frankoma bowl, oval in shape, which mimicked the shape of the coffee table, and in green and brown, which are my colors. You learn in time, my pretties, how much I like green. It's a sickness, it is.

Is there any better sight, O fellow mail order shoppers?

Cue a few refrains of Julie Andrews singing "brown paper packages tied up with string...."

The great thing about this kind of stuff is that it's so readily available. Pottery was manufactured through the mid-century in great quantities by companies which produced affordable, mass manufactured goods. For those of us used to that meaning imported, poor-quality disposable goods, these things aren't the kind of junk we buy today in our local Stuff Mart. These were well-designed and often made to last. In the case of Frankoma, it was designed by John Frank, a 1927 Chicago Art Institute graduate who believed everyone should be able to afford a little bit of art for their home. That was a sound philosophy during the Great Depression, when he launched his pottery business, and still a good one today.

What it means for us today is good bargains. Frankoma and other mid-century pottery can be found in small town antique shops, flea markets and yard sales, a lot of it for under $25. For me, it was an affordable, fun solution for my coffee table, the very same 1960s Colonial Revival coffee table that split my eyebrow open when I was 4 years old. I like to point at it commandingly and say "I now OWN you, coffee table." It makes me feel better about the four stitches. A little.

Objects are greener than they appear. Or maybe I could just learn not to overexpose photos.

In the background you will see a VERY green 1970s era credenza/buffet piece that was priced right because the color was so wrong, but that's a story for another day. And the brown leather couch. And the aforementioned evil coffee table. These days, the Frankoma piece holds the remotes, the head of a Lego man, and the candy wrappers the boys are too lazy to get up and throw away. I suppose I should find something decorative and seasonal to put in it, there's a good girl, but really, boys live here. If I put pine cones in the thing, they'd fling them about the room. I'm lucky enough they aren't flinging the pottery about the room.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Renovation An Inch At a Time

I like before and after pictures. In a big gorgeous magazine spread, preferably. Of someone else's project. That is the junk food of renovation. Tasty, prettily wrapped, easy to digest, and not your problem.

In my own personal renovation world, I had to cook up my own satisfaction, and it meant getting things done down, dirty, and dusty. And about one inch at a time. In July we were still working hard to get any progress on the upstairs. We had carpet out of one room, paneling out of both. There were nails and carpentry staples and carpet tack strip everywhere.

It was at that point I started making some decisions that were based more on the time I had left to get moved in, the money I had available (practically none, and dwindling rapidly), and being too tired to really fight it anymore. This all sounds like a bad way to go, except that it totally wasn't. I think in a way it ended up keeping me from ripping out some of the charm of the house.

In the twin's room was a built in desk that I wavered all over the place about whether to keep or rip out. At first? Keep it. Discover the ooky pinkish paneling went behind it? Rip it out! Running out of time? Keep it! Then I was going keep it, but replace the top with a new counter.  And then......duh. What was I thinking? I kept the desktop, which was metal edged and topped with old sheet linoleum, dark blue, and marbled throughout with lighter colors:

We will fight to the death to defend our linoleum!

 This linoleum was built like serious TANK. It wasn't cut, scraped, faded, dinged, stained, warped, or bent after at least a solid 40 years. And I was about to set two 7 year old boys loose in this room. Why mess with it?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Adventures in Vintage Wallpaper

After writing last night about my angst with damaged vintage wallpaper, this morning I was wandering around the blogosphere and found another recent post by another blogger, Sara over at No Pattern Required. Seems Sara and her Ma were about to take on a bathroom painting project in what Sara calls a "1950s time capsule condo." What they found, and peeled away, was a little mini excavation site of wallpaper layers behind the bathroom mirror. First, I'd like to ask them to come on over and paint a few of my bathrooms. Those rooms are stinkers to paint, and they always end up taking longer even than usual because I get irritable, stop for a cocktail break, and then spent half my time scowling at some miniscule one-inch strip of wall between the vanity mirror and a cupboard instead of getting down to business. Anyhoo. These gals had already decided they were painting the bathroom, and the wallpaper excavation wasn't about agonizing over whether to save any of it (and honestly, it doesn't look like they could have, anyway), but only the fun of seeing what was under there. They found pink stripes, a cheerful yellow floral, and mod daisies. A little history tour of the bathroom, without the guilt I had with my bedrooms. I love it! You can find the blog post here. And here's a photo:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

S'long Cowboy: vintage wallpaper that can't be saved

It was along about the same time that all the plumbing systems in my house seemed to implode (along with my general mental health) in late June, I was faced with a pretty tough decision. It seemed to fly by at the time but looking back, it was a painful one for a person like me-- history junky, vintage aficionado, lover of all things old.

How do you decide NOT to salvage vintage wallpaper?

I did. And it wasn't easy. After my most excellent, hard working 16-year-old son Grant patiently pried off all that weird and disgusting plywood paneling in the first of the two upstairs bedrooms, readers will recall from a previous post we found this:

A Victorian romance novel exploded in here.

I can't describe how big and beautiful and full blown those roses, asters, forget-me-nots, arabesque scrolls and soft greys and peaches were. Just listing all those words sounded like poetry, yes? The wallpaper had been printed on heavy-weight paper, and the stamping process left thick amounts of color on the surface, giving it this sort of substantial, embossed look you never see anymore. Compared to this, new vinyl wallpaper is a sad, flat, and distant second.

Over in the other bedroom, we had to take out an entire wall and all of the carpet because of a bathroom faucet leak that had gone undetected for weeks and possibly months while the house was unoccupied for a year and a half. Since we had already demolished one side of the room, and the room was badly covered in cheap vinyl paneling that was already falling off the walls, Grant decided to take it all the way with his crowbar. I was attending to plumbing disasters in the nether regions of the house when he shouted, "Ma, c'mere!"

What he found hidden behind vinyl paneling were cowboys:

A cowboy with a red shirt and fringe chaps. Yi-pi-ti-yi-yay!
I hope the photo shows some of the detail, including the mountain range and ranch house in the background. The cowboys are about 8 inches tall, and they are interspersed with even larger cacti. My immediate thought was: little boys lived in this room. I considered it good Karma that this house had known and loved little boys before. Bless this mess, past and present!

Craft: Christmas Birdies

It's almost 1 a.m. people. That's how it gets right before Christmas. I spent the evening stitching instead of writing, and this is what happened:

A little bird told her: don't quit your day job.

I quit before starting the fourth one, a little brown job for my oldest son. I'm going to post and go to bed!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Blog Review: Retro Renovation

(Note: Periodically I'll do reviews of other blogs that I find useful, informational, inspirational, or cool. After I give 'em a shout-out, I'll add them to the blog roll. This is the first one!)

I bought a 1930's era home, but I did what any 21st Century gal would do about it-- I hopped online and got to browsing the interwebs. What I found was that I am far from the first to hatch a bloglet about home ownership or house renovation, and I definitely won't be the last. I just hope that I'm not the worst! But I don't consider that proliferation of homey-housey blogs a problem. Out there in the blogosphere are hundreds of like-minded souls. It's good to know, while I'm sniffling and trying not to cry about wrecked bathroom tile, there is probably someone else, somewhere, about to put a crowbar through a window, either by tantrum or by accident (I don't judge).

But if you're going to start with retro design blogs, you have to start with Retro Renovation. You'd probably have to end there, too. Launched in 2007 by Pam Kueber as part of her own mid-century remodeling project, the blog is sleek in design and friendly by nature. The feature photo of Pam wielding a cordless drill and wearing a 1950s cocktail dress is all you need to know. This is a woman who comes across like the neighbor down the street who knows all the best junk shops, mixes her martinis strong, and has a dry wit about her obsessions.

 Copyright 2011 Retro Renovation

We all need a friend who knows how to rock high heels and power tools. Preferably at the same time.

Retro Renovation is a clearing house of information for anything having to do with homes and interior design in the years 1930 to 1970. Vintage steel kitchen cabinets, pinch pleat drapes, era-authentic paint colors, atomic age furnishings--- you name it, Pam's got something to show and tell. And she doesn't just enthuse, either. She shares product links and sources for services. She does her research on the history of the American lifestyle from those decades and relates them in fun ways. I learn something valuable every time I visit her site.

What I admire most about her blog is the tagline, "love the house you're in!" That's pretty revolutionary thinking when we're living in an era of rampant consumerism that markets dissatisfaction with everything so it can sell granite counters and lawn irrigation systems and endless, expensive permutations of keeping up with the Jones'. She casts a smart, critical eye on the raging remodeling trend that might in fact be erasing a very important part of our recent history. While I'm so glad I found my house and it found me, I'm also glad I found Pam for ideas, inspiration, and sources. She'll always be welcome on this doorstep.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mid-Century Merry: Christmas Trees

The box I dig straight out of the Christmas decorations come December, the things I look most forward to seeing every year, are the bottle brush Christmas trees. I have a small flock of them that congregate on my fireplace mantel. Two of them are new, but the rest are mid-century vintage ones that I've collected from flea markets, antique stores, and from Ebay and Etsy. I try to purchase one every year, and this year's was from Etsy:

No fruit salad was harmed in the making of this tree, but Carmen Miranda is missing her hat.

They make me laugh. This year's addition has pine cones, oranges, lemons, bananas, and little flecks of mica chips for sparkle. One of mine has aluminum spangles and looks like someone's cat got a hold of it. Another one has mercury glass balls in ivory, pale blue, and pink. Some were made here, some in post-war Japan.

They seem to be part of an era where industrialized, commercial goods and the wonder of plastic were quickly taking hold; yet the objects still have a simple charm, a connection to a quaint rural past we could still remember first hand at that point. I look at these and I see not only their quirky cuteness, but also the ghosts of Christmas past.

I found surprisingly little about bottle brush Christmas trees and their history researching them online. Vague and non-authoritative sources conclude, rightly so I expect, they are descendants of the feather trees popular in 18th and 19th century Germany which landed on this side of the water with colonization. Those same sources mention the Addis Brush Company's first attempts in the 1930s to make an artificial Christmas tree based on their twisted bottle and toilet brush manufacturing design. This also makes sense, but there is no mention of when the miniature forms began cropping up as decorations. Perhaps they became popular at the same time as Japanese imported "Putz" or miniature papier mache cottages for creating village scenes.

My collection could grow a little bigger-- I only need about another 24 linear inches to fill on the fireplace mantle. But where I could once pick up plainer, smaller versions for a few bucks at garage sales, now they are a ten-spot and more. Rarer, more elaborate ones are into the stratosphere for things that are probably best considered ephemera. I saw a lovely, large, 14-inch high tree recently, cloaked in mercury balls, for $149. Too rich for me. I'll continue to shop for bargains, and enjoy what I have. Should you happen to own a few of your own, lucky you, and Mid-Century Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When Renovation Goes Rotten: Plumbing and Panic

June 2011

When we last left our unsuspecting homeowner (that would be me), we were discussing mystery odors and malfunctioning plumbing. One does not have to be a general contractor to know this combination never bodes well for one's sanity or checkbook.

The downstairs bathroom was becoming the source of much pulling of hair, gnashing of teeth, and drinking when no one was looking (again, that would be me). The floor had adhesive carpet tiles. Translation: The floor had (approximately) four years of dog hair, mildew, other people's bathroom yuck. All together now: eeeeeeeewwwwwwwww. Shudder. My mom saw mauve tile under there, which while not beautiful, was at least tile and not <shudder, gag, squeam> carpet in the bathroom. She started ripping up the carpet squares........and the tile came ripping up beautifully with it. The tile grout was dust. Under that lay plywood sub-floor, so we aimed for that instead. One clean up project had become demolition.....

At the back you can see a row of the mauve tiles that came breaking up everywhere, and the humble monument to Dave's friendship-- my new toilet. In the foreground is my swanky new bathroom floor: plywood sub-floor with glue.

Meanwhile back at the upstairs bathroom, there was a creeping odor and that mauve-brown-pink-tan toilet that flushed one square of toilet paper per 168 gallons of water.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mid-century Merry Christmas!

Post WWII was a giddy, giddy time for America. Christmas must have been especially so. The war was over, the boys were home, and times were prosperous. We'd discovered a new materialism that seems now so quirky, fun, and innocent. Print production entered the modern world as we now recognize it and there was a burst of magazine publishing and advertising featuring the lives people wanted to lead: futuristic, elegant, comfortable, and clean. Here's a cookbook cover that features a gelatin mold with a brandy flame and maraschino cherries. I have no words:

Source: via Laura on Pinterest

I love the colors and designs from this time period, and they fit my little house so well. I've put together a board on Pinterest of a few of my favorite things. Enjoy your Mid-century Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 9, 2011

When Renovation Goes Rotten

June 2011

Reality blows. And leaks. And smells bad. And costs money.

This post isn't going to be pretty. Across the blogosphere and magazine racks are pretty, pretty pictures of rehabs and renos. Glossy countertops and soft, modern colors with unusual decor items so cool you just know that hipper people than you dwell there. People that you both envy and want to invite you over for coffee.

This is not that post.

This is the most beautiful thing here. Abandon hope for anything hip.
After a house has been standing empty for 18 months, things are going to start going wrong. No one's around to notice.

When we first arrived at the house in June, Grant (my teenage son) and I had arrived with crowbars and box cutters for removing ugly carpet and even uglier paneling from the house. It was hot, smelly, dusty work and we sneezed and cussed and nursed sore arms and backs every night. But we ALSO felt smug and superior. Hardwood, baby. Who covers up that? We LIBERATED that floor, that's right! (High five!) You get the picture. It was hard not to feel like we took this thing on and (cue theme from Rocky) conquered the uglies.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

If you're going faux....

If you're going to go faux, faux all the way. This is my philosophy on "silk" or "faux" flower arrangements. Like the Christmas wreath I put together for the front door:

Because nothing screams Mother Earth like green rhinestones and glitter.
There's something so "dentist office" about fake flower arrangements that are trying to mimic nature. And while there's a lot of high quality silk flowers made out there, they still never really fool anyone. So I'd rather just go completely over the top with the flowers that never existed in nature, like green velvet leaved poinsettia flowers. Granted, it looks like a Be Dazzler threw up on the whole thing, but isn't that sort of the point of Christmas anyway? If it doesn't light up, throw a strand of bulbs on it. If it doesn't sparkle, throw on some glitter. The grape vine wreath is (ta-DAH!) actually natural, which I guess kinda violates my "faux all the way," but you get the idea, and the twiggy brown-ness grounds all the glitz.

This was thrown together with discounted items from Hobby Lobby in five minutes. This is single working mom Christmas decorating and (repeat after me until you believe it) I am not ashamed. Merry Christmas!

Lamps I have loved....

I like lamps. I like Etsy. I like finding lamps ON Etsy. Though it launched as a place for artists to shop their creations, it's also become an absolutely awesome place to find vintage items. While Ebay is certainly grand, it at times seems like some dude who's cleaning out his garage, whereas Etsy sellers have an eye and appreciation for the design and artistry of what they're featuring. Ebay is an expedition. (Don't get me wrong; it's an expedition very much worth taking, and often). But Etsy is like shopping in a candy store. Here's a sample of sweet lamps I found and created an Etsy Treasury. Love this! Enjoy!

'Lamps I have loved' by lbmillsaps

Lovely or looney, love those vintage lamps!

Stunning Mid Centur...

Boomerang Esque Ve...

Mid Century Chrome ...

Vintage Mid Century...

UFO shaped hanging ...

Pair of 1950s Mid C...

Big and heavy mid c...

Vintage Mid Century...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

House heroics: tearing out carpet and walls

June 2011

It turned out the getting the keys didn't mean moving in, not right away. There was too much work to be done up front to even consider bringing boxes over. It meant arriving with crowbars and carpet cutters.

It's my firm belief there is a factory in some remote industrial city in China, and its entire job is to churn out acres upon acres of beige/tan carpet that only the unimaginative or apartment landlords ever use. However, there must be a lot of unimaginative people and apartment landlords (and unimaginative apartment landlords) out there who think this stuff is da bomb. I bet there is enough manufactured to carpet the Earth---cheap, bad, and ugly--- about 8 times over annually. However, in my little corner of the planet, it was coming out. It was going to be a lot of back breaking work.

I, however, have discovered the best inexpensive tool ever for back breaking work. Ta-DAH: teenage son:

You can pay him in sandwiches. Lots and lots of sandwiches.
Yes, it does look in the photo as though Grant arrived from Handyman Heaven, and I sure felt like it by the end of the day. He was my house reno hero that week.

In one of the upstairs bedrooms, the room that was going to belong to my twin boys Ben and Joe, the carpet was a badly stained (what did they DO up here? Oh. Don't answer that.) hold-over from one of the worst design eras in American history, the eighties. Country-blue tweed sculptured carpet. Combined with paneling made of cheap construction grade plywood stained this curious, nauseating brownish pinkish hue. Remember this photo (above?) Yeah, the one with the goats (in my fevered nightmares).
Those became the priorities that first week of ownership: getting that hella stink o' carpet out of the house, and making that room fit for habitation for children.

We had our triumphs that first day:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quickie cool stuff: mid century modern vases

I'll be honest. Dept. 56 stuff doesn't rattle my cage much. I like Christmas decorations that don't scream Christmas decorations. My favorite thing to do is dress up stuff I already have for the holiday spirit, like this pair of mid-century modern vases (Unmarked. Can anyone identify?) that my sister gave me for my birthday. I was all swoony about their leaf motif and green color, and both those design details lend them toward holiday foo-foo.

Of course I had no idea crab apples grew on yew branches. Who knew?

Lots of vintage items which make themselves right at home in older houses the other months of the year might just need a little twist or a few extra accents to make them holiday ready. Consider canning jars, brown transferware, white milk glass, ruby pressed glass, and even old enamelware as possibilities, especially if you already have them gathering dust in some cupboard. I have a few pieces of avocado green glass I'll be experimenting with. You can also check out my Christmas Decorating board on Pinterest; all items have an element of using found or vintage objects that aren't traditionally Christmas-y, or things you may already have on hand. Have fun!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A brief and profane essay on moving

It's taken until now to get "moved in." I started in June. I found the Doc Marten today, in December.

As soon as I found out, in May, that the mortgage was approved, that my closing day was set, I started with strapping tape and sharpie markers and cheerful ambition. I packed books and out-of-season clothes and dishes I use only occasionally, neatly wrapped and appropriately labeled. I ended in July with my sister and me humping boxes and tubs down the apartment building stairs (no elevator, of course) in the dark hours of the night like a couple of criminals on the run, sweating and swearing. Of course by that time we had approached van load 8,645 to the house, and were simply exiting with plastic tubs full of random crap--tubes of hand lotion, a handful of orphaned socks, a stack of unmatched Tupperware lids, and a basket of cleaning supplies from under the kitchen sink.

It was at this time the Doc Marten went MIA. One of a pair of thick-soled maryjanes, my go-to basic black winter shoe. It went out of the apartment in one of those aforementioned random assortments of crap, and was never seen again.

Doc Marten: missing in action. It went in-country. Well, more like in-carton.

I noticed it missing when I was getting out the fall/winter shoes in September. Leave it to me to lose one half of a $100 pair of shoes. Why couldn't I have lost a flip-flop? No, no, I have to really lose where it hurts. It turned up, today, in a box of infant clothes, which I likely may never have opened again, my ovaries being on permanent hiatus. I just happened to be sorting boxes in the right closet, karma met destiny met Doc Marten.

My move was complicated by multiple locations. I had to move what was left of my belongings out of my former home; I had to move from my apartment; and, I had to move stuff I'd stored at my mother's house (thankfully, in the same town). At any one point I had my Man Friend, some girl friends, a random assortment of Guy People from work and from around, my mom, my sister, and my son, making a few trips up and down the stairs (did I mention no elevator? I want you to know. Because we suffered).

Here's the top five things I learned from moving:

1. I'm not moving again. They are either carrying me out feet first, or dragging me out by my hair.
2. I'm not a saver; I'm more of a thrower. And I just divided up belongings in a divorce (I was heartbroken to leave the beer stein collection behind. Heartbroken, I tell you). You'd think I'd be traveling pretty lean. Nope. What I learned about myself is that, like every other American: - You are one stack of shit away from an episode of hoarders.
Truer words were never spoken.

3. If your Man Friend's Best Friend is nice enough to help you move, it's best not to crush said friend's spleen with your sofa.

4. It isn't going to fit. It isn't going to fit in that van load, it isn't going to fit in your front door, and it isn't going to fit in that dining nook just like you pictured. Forget it.

5. If you didn't label the box when you moved, and you didn't unpack it in the first three weeks, and you still haven't looked in it, you probably don't need it. Except for that missing Doc Marten.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dresser rehab: from ick to masculine gray

Until I bought the house, I was living in an odd house sharing arrangement with my ex, which involved one house for the kids, and two apartments (one mine, one his). It was an unhappy situation for everyone, and finding my new doorstep was as much a huge relief that chapter of my life was behind me as joy that my future was ahead of me. Investing in my future, money definitely got spent in ways I enjoyed spending (area rugs and fresh paint) and in ways I didn't ($%^#! plumbing).

What wasn't in the budget was a huge sum for furniture. I was lucky to have the must-haves, namely beds, already. I found some things (curb shopping) and Mom gave me a few other items. But in the end the biggest furniture need with almost no budget to speak of was a dresser for my oldest son. I really had no plans other than a series of laundry baskets.

On other days I've not been so keen on all the stuff the previous owners left on the property (rolls of brittle and crumbling roof tar paper, a bashed up pool table) but I almost overlooked my solution here, which was a twelve-drawer dresser lurking in a damp corner of the basement.

Let me be clear here: it's a piece of crap. It's "vintage", but it was cheap fiberboard and plywood furniture when it was new, and time has not been good to this thing. It was at one time road-sign yellow, and then had been painted an odd, sickly dirty silly-putty pink. It was covered in dirt and infested with spiders.

Anyway. A coat of paint will do wonders for even crappy furniture. Here are my befores:
No inner casing. We're talking quality, folks.


And then here are the afters: I'm not bragging; it's still not a good piece of furniture. But it looks a heck of a lot better, fits in a teenage boy's room, and if I find something better, roomier, and swankier later, I can move on.

I do like the clean lines and the gray against silver.

Confession time: It took me 18 billion years to get this painted. I'd do one drawer face a weekend, or every other weekend, for it seemed like ages, while I kept up with plumbing disasters and drywall projects. Poor kid had no place to rest his clean skivvies. I think he figured I'd never get done.

Still, a piece of furniture can almost always be made to look better, no matter how ugly the start. In the interest of sharing other (and frankly better) ideas, I put together a board on Pinterest. Have fun!

Quickie cool stuff: vintage ephemera

Today I received some Etsy finds in the mail:

The "Furnished Room" sign is from Salvage Nation. The architectural book plates are from theCandyShoppe. She's also got a lot of fun things for scrapbook enthusiasts as well as maps, old botanical and medical illustration plates. These are all headed for my oldest son Grant's room, which you'll see more of in future posts.