Monday, November 18, 2013

Thrift Report: My Most Embarrassing Thrift Store Purchase Ever!

Hello friends!  Despite my good intentions, I didn't do much vintage shopping this weekend. The central U.S. experienced a "severe weather event" on Sunday....which translated into doing all my crucial errands for the week (oil change, car wash, groceries, etc.) on Saturday and then hunkering down at home on Sunday, preparing to run for the basement if the tornado sirens sounded. (Ah, the joys of the Midwest!)  Luckily, we escaped major damage where I live, but my heart goes out to all the people in neighboring towns and states who are dealing with the destruction today.

Since I don't have any new finds to share, I thought I'd back up a little. Lots of people have asked me about the painting above the sofa in my living room. It's a bit of a story. Yes, it was a thrifted find....sort of.

When I was planning the room, I knew I wanted a large, colorful piece of art for the wall over the sofa. I love art and have lots of framed pieces in storage, but I couldn't find exactly what I wanted for that space. I looked and looked, but came up short.

One day, in a local Goodwill, I spotted (from the back) a huge canvas with a big, chunky, patinated brass frame. When I approached it and saw the front, though, I was appalled. The frame and scale were perfect, but it was ugly. U-G-L-Y. I mean really, really bad.  It was also $49.99!!!  (What's up with the crazy pricing, Goodwill?!)

(My favorite part is the oversized, doomsday sun.)

I walked away that first day, but over the next week a plan to started to hatch. What if I primed over the hideous painting and painted something myself? Could I pull it off?

A week later, I went back to the GW. Unbeknownst to me, it was 50% off day! On the bright side, that made my painting a much more affordable $25; on the dark side, the store was packed to the gills, with checkout lines snaking down the aisles.

After a moment of hesitation, I snatched up the painting and got in line. There were at least 30 people ahead of me (sigh), but I was committed at that point. That's when the humiliation began.

First, let me be sure you understand the sheer size of this painting. I actually haven't measured it, but I know (from standing in line with it for over an hour) that it comes up to my armpits. And I'm tall! Here it is next to a door, for a scale reference:

You can probably guess that I was a bit "obtrusive" as I stood in line for 60 minutes with this thing. Countless people asked to see the painting. Many of them complimented it (???) and a few gave me inquisitive looks. One lady asked the price. When I told her, she scoffed and said, "Chiiiiild, get OUT!"

I finally made it to the register, only to have the cashier ooh and ahhh over this hideous painting, HOLD IT UP IN THE AIR to get a better look, and call one of her colleagues over to admire it. Yep.

Finally, I was free. I rushed the door as fast as humanly possible with an armpit-height painting in tow, when suddenly a woman yelled, "WAIT, painting lady, WAIT!"  This customer ran over, exclamed that she was in love with my painting because she is "from Chicago" and misses it, and asked me if she could make me an offer. (Her offer: $10. Also? That is totally not Chicago.) Honestly, by the time I extracted myself from the store, wrestled this huge thing into my car and drove away, I was questioning my judgment.

Once home, I pretty quickly primed the canvas so I didn't have to look at the creepy cityscape any longer, then set it aside. It wasn't until two nights before my living room reveal photo session that I decided to tackle it any further.

Feeling inspired, I grabbed every last tube of acrylic craft paint I could find (I have quite a collection from previous DIY projects and such) and taped off the frame with a little frog tape. Lacking an easel, I set the monster frame on a kitchen chair, and basically went to town. I knew the general look I was going for, and had two key concepts in mind: abstract and colorful. Here's an in-process glimpse:

When I was finally done, I added a clear glaze, which gave it a nice sheen and texture.

I'm no de Kooning - I have no artistic technique whatsoever - but I think it turned out well, just in terms of decorative impact. And the great part is that the whole thing cost $25!

So there you have it: The story of my all-time most embarrassing thrift store purchase, now front and center in my living room!!!

How about you? Any embarrassing purchases you'd care to share?  What do you think of my little painting makeover project?

Wishing everyone a wonderful week!

Sharing with:

A Living Space
The Dedicated House
The Shabby Nest

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Q&A

I'm sorry I've been MIA since my living room makeover reveal last Thursday. Here's the abbreviated version of my week:

  • WiFi at the house went out. Had to post my ORC reveal from a McDonald's parking lot on the way to the airport (yay free McD's WiFi!).
  • Spent nine hours getting to Corpus Christi for a work conference. Long story short, our airplane was "broken," the pilot wanted to fly anyway, and the FAA said "no!" Got to know the Dallas airport really well.
  • Got to Corpus Christi -- brief high point when I saw the view from my hotel room:

  • Small breakdown when I realized that the WiFi in my room only worked when standing in the bathtub with my laptop held over my head.
  • Had a run-in with organized crime. (Not joking.)
  • Flew home and immediately came down with a nasty cold virus.
  • Cable man spent five hours trying to fix broken WiFi. It sort-of works now, in one room.
Let's just say it wasn't my best week!

The bright spot in all of this was coming home and reading all the sweet comments and messages about my living room makeover. Thank you!

And then yesterday, Linda from Calling it Home (of One Room Challenge fame!) tagged me in one of those "7 Things About Me" posts that have been going around -- thanks Linda! -- so I though that would be a nice way to delve back into blogging after my weeklong absence. So, without further ado...

 7 Things About Me!
1. Why do you blog?
I started this blog back in 2011 as a way to promote my Etsy shop. I've never been a super regular blogger (obvs.!), but I still find it to be a fun creative outlet. More importantly, though, I've "met" a lot of fellow thrifters, vintage and design lovers through blogging. To be honest, it's meeting those fabulous people that keeps me going.
2. Top 3 favorite books.
Oy. What a hard to choose, but I'll give it a shot!
1. A Moveable Feast/The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.
I read both of these when I was very young, and they probably affected me more than any other books, ever. I can't choose between them - they go hand in hand for me.
2. Nadja by André Breton.
Another defining book for me -  it shaped my world views and definition of love. In my 20s I was obsessed with Dada and Surrealism. I also wore a lot of black, went to a lot of poetry readings, and smoked a lot of cigarettes.
Nadja livre de poche.jpg
3. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon.
This book came along at just the right time in my life. It reintroduced me to the joys of literature and reading after a long period of creative burnout. Chabon is, in my opinion, one of our best living American writers.
3. What is your daily uniform?
I don't really have a consistent daily uniform, but I do have a "shoe-niform."  I neeeeever wear shoes! From November through April it's boots; from May through October it's sandals. (Is that weird?!)

4. Cook from scratch or ready-made?
My friends and family are laughing at this question. I can make fancy cakes and pastries with 40 ingredients, but I cannot scramble an egg. The last time I tried to saute chicken (ca. 2002), oil exploded all over my kitchen and I had to repaint. Making spaghetti and sauce from a jar is mentally exhausting. Lean Cuisine is my friend and constant companion.
My little brother is a chef; I blame him for soaking up all the cooking genes.
5. Favorite purchase of 2013?
Once again, a hard question! I blog endlessly about stuff I buy, so it's hard to choose. My blue velvet Craiglist chair; my thrifted bar cart; my giant brass peacock? 
Honestly, my best purchase of the year was probably my storm door. I know - boring, right? But it's a special security door, made to look like a regular glass storm door. It has unbreakable glass, a super tough steel frame, and a really secure locking system. It makes me feel like I'm living in a fortress! I installed it on my back door a couple months ago, and I love it so much I'm getting one for my front door, too. If you have ANY concerns about security, or live in Murderville USA like me, I highly recommend this door!
6. Dream career?
In my dream world, I own a bricks-and-mortar vintage and home decor shop in a picturesque city that looks just like the cozy bookstore in "You've Got Mail," except it's full of home stuff instead of books. Or I do full-time volunteer animal rescue work. Or both. :) 
7. Red or white?
I have such an aversion to red! It may be because it clashes with my coloring, or because I'm naturally drawn to cool tones, but I almost never choose red for anything. A few of my favorite white spaces and places:
Thanks for reading! Happy weekend, all, and here's hoping for a less eventful week-to-come! 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

One Room Challenge: THE REVEAL!

I reeeeeeallllly can't believe it's here - REVEAL DAY!  In case you're just joining in, I've been attempting to make over my living room from top to bottom in just six weeks, as part of the Calling it Home One Room Challenge. You can catch up with my makeover progress here.
This past week has been insane. I realized last Friday that I really needed to finish up my room by Sunday the 3rd, since it was the last sunny day (for photographs) in the forecast before I had to leave for a work trip to Texas on Thursday morning. Argh! All those last minute projects that I planned to finish up on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday had to be pushed back to the weekend. Panic set in. I had a couple of sleepless nights and a couple of small projects had to be cut, but I did it! 
Now, brace yourselves for photo-palooza...

So excited to finally have a bar cart!

This table used to be gunmetal-gray. I think it's much prettier in gold!
No smoking in my house, but I thought this ashtray was too pretty not to display!

Every single thing in the photo below was thrifted...did I mention my budget for this project was almost zero?

This black and white photo was in a stack of pictures that my grandfather brought back from Italy in WWII. I had it enlarged and framed:

My new (old) chandelier originally came from a home of the same vintage as my house. Thanks to
my mom for finding it and my dad for sacrificing his Saturday to install it!

Dear black door: You're starting to grow on me.


That rug sure is good camouflage! Gus was exiled from the living room during all the
makeover madness. He seized his opportunity to sneak in and "hide" while I was
distracted taking photos. :)
In case you're interested, here's a quick list of my sources (in a nutshell, 95% of the room was thrifted/secondhand):
  • Wall color: Benjamin Moore Seapearl
  • Sofa, bookshelves: IKEA
  • Blue chair: Craigslist
  • Plaid Pendleton throw on sofa: thrifted
  • Bench: Thrifted
  • Rug: Safavieh via Overstock
  • Coffee table: Three Chairs Company (several years ago)
  • Sideboard: Yard sale
  • Coat rack: thrifted
  • Bar cart: thrifted
  • End tables: all thrifted
  • Lamps: all thrifted
  • Artwork/mirrors: all thrifted/secondhand
  • Chandelier: vintage/secondhand
  • Green throw pillows: Target
  • Black and white throw pillows: IKEA
  • Glassware and bar accessories: Target and vintage/thrifted
Finally, MANY THANKS to Linda from Calling it Home for allowing us mere mortals to follow along with the amazing and accomplished designers and DIY bloggers participating in the One Room Challenge. I can say with complete conviction that there's no way on earth I would have finished this room by now -- or even by the end of the year -- without the motivation and accountability the ORC provided. Quite simply, Linda rocks!
Now hurry on over to the link below to check out the incredibe six week transformations that all the other participants accomplished. I know you'll be inspired!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thrift Report

Hello, friends! Are you all rested up from that extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning?  When I moved to Indiana years ago, I was horrified that the state didn't observe Daylight Savings Time. No "falling back!"  No blissful extra hour of sleep once a year! Not to mention that our out-of-sync time zones confused the rest of the world. I was sooo thrilled when we started observing DST a few years ago. It's the little things that make me happy. ;)

I didn't do much thrifting this week, since I was completely occupied with finishing up my living room makeover for the big One Room Challenge reveal this Thursday. I stumbled into one Goodwill on Saturday, forgetting that it was the first Saturday of the month and thus 50% off day. I should have probably run for my life, but instead I stuck it out and picked up a few things:

A set of seven mint condition Cera rocks glasses in a geometric gold and silver pattern. They kind of look like interlocking iron bars. I need to research the pattern, but thought they had a cool retro/industrial look.


And a couple of brass pieces -- a pretty, very HEAVY Art Nouveau style vase and one of my faves, a faux bamboo-railed brass tray. These are great sellers for me!

Finally, here's a find from about a month ago. I spotted this signed (undecipherable) and dated (1971) watercolor at a secondhand shop and wanted it for my home, but balked at the $45.00 price tag (because...yes...I am cheap).  I then couldn't stop thinking about it - a sure sign that I made a mistake and should have pulled the trigger - and was SURE it would be gone by the time I made it back to the store two weeks later. Amazingly, it was still there, and marked down to $12!!! Score!


Isn't it cool? It totally looks like an abstract from far away. I love the simplicity of it. 

Be sure to stop by on Thursday to see it hanging in my new living room for the big One Room Challenge living room reveal!

Linking up with these friends to check out everyone else's vintage finds!

A Living Space

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