Let’s do this AA style: “Hello, my name is Camille and I’m addicted to buying old boxes.” (Well, and jewelry too but that’s another matter). Old boxes are a great decorative way to stash unattractive, everyday stuff in plain sight. For instance, I have a little cane-covered box filled with crafting essentials in my living room so if the crafting bug strikes while I’m watching TV, a project is within easy reach.
I particularly love old boxes with drawers so I couldn’t pass up this cutlery box (AKA silverware chest) at an estate sale recently for just 9 bucks. The box’s blond or maple finish was popular in the 50s and 60s so it’s safe to assume that it’s more than 50 years old. Personally, I’m not a big fan of mid-century blond finishes and this one was in particularly rough shape with lots of scratches, dings and a big water stain on the lid so refinishing it with a more traditional, darker stain was definitely on the menu. If the felt liner had been in better shape, I might have considered leaving it as-is but the fabric was dirty, picked and even worn through in places so I decided to re-line the box as well.
Here’s what I started with, it truly is massive, easily double the size of most dresser-top jewelry boxes:
And here is my new upcycled jewelry box, fully refinished and re-lined:
Read On To Learn How I Did It
If you’ve been following along on my antiquing adventures then you know 2 things about me:
1) That I spend a fair amount of time at estate sales.
2) That I’m all about a serious bargain.
Enter this perfectly distressed, cane-backed French Provincial headboard that I recently found in an Oak Ridge, TN garage for… wait for it… just 10 bucks! I couldn’t believe the estate sellers had priced it SO low — especially considering how hot French antiques are right now. I vaulted over a pile of old lumber, pulled off the price tag and hot-footed it straight to the check-out table to pay before anyone else could lay claim.
Once I placed it in my guest room, I remembered one small detail about older headboards — they’re short. Often much, much shorter than modern headboards. So short, in fact, that the pillows dwarf my new French beauty: Learn my designer trick for making this headboard much taller
Antiquing is one of my favorite pasttimes but I especially love it in the spring when the sunny, warm weather encourages southerners within a few hours drive of east Tennessee to clean out their basements, barns and attics and set up shop in the tiny hamlet of Clinton, TN. Hundreds of antique dealers and just ordinary folks fill booths lining the streets for a day-long antiques fest where you can find everything from rusty old chicken feeders to antique French linens:
As you might imagine, an antiques show in the south will include a fair amount of primitive and country collectibles, like these wooden cheese boxes. Also known as pantry boxes, these round wooden containers were the Tupperware of their day. Filled with dry food items and stacked in a cool location, they protected goods from vermin and were a necessary fixture in every home to keep food fresh before refrigeration.
Another kitchen staple of yesteryear are butter molds. These plunger-and-cup style molds first gained popularity in 18th century Europe before catching on in America as well. The handcarved designs allowed homemakers and dairy farmers to imprint the molded butter with their farm’s logo, the family’s initials or just a decorative design.
But primitives weren’t the only pieces for sale. The rising popularity of mid-century Modern furniture guarantees them pride of place in many of the dealers’ booths and shops. This chartreuse yellow vinyl corner chair is one of a pair and had already sold by the time I discovered them:
Industrial items are another trendy collectible that I’ve noticed popping up at more antique shows. These two stage lamps were a steal at just $225 for the tall aluminum one and $89 for the smaller wooden one. More Antiques That Caught My Eye
If you saw Liz’s decorating trends post you know that she and I recently spent several (blissful!) days taking in all that’s new and notable in furniture, accessories, lighting, fabrics and more in High Point, NC at the world’s largest furniture industry trade show — or as I like to refer to it: Disney for Designers.
While I certainly enjoy checking out the trendiest fabrics and finishes, the highlight of each Market visit for me is spending a few hours strolling thru the Market’s Antique & Design Center. Here, 60+ premiere antique dealers showcase centuries-old European rarities, architectural salvage, mid-century pieces and funky vintage finds.
Antiques have always been a go-to for interior designers but with each passing Market, the collected-over-time look is being realistically reproduced by more and more manufacturers. Although most of the items I point out below are available to-the-trade-only, meaning you have to go through an interior designer or dealer to buy them (sorry!), they’re just a few of the trending antique styles that caught my eye. So, the good news is, if you love antiques, like I do, they’re super hot in the design world right now — whatever type of vintage items you prefer, display them proudly!
Vive la France: French-inspired antiques have been the design world’s darling for quite a while and they’re not ready to raise the white flag yet. I spied all the Louis (13-16) plus several Empire and Rococo gems at Market. Below is a reproduction Louis 16 (or XVI, if you prefer, AKA the same Louis who lost his head alongside Marie Antoinette) gilt settee from Eloquence. They’ve done a fantastic job replicating the handcarved details, even subtly distressing the gilt finish so this new piece looks as if it might have been found at Versailles:
Aged to Perfection: Weathered finishes are also nothing new and I spied plenty of legitimately timeworn finishes, like the salvaged wooden pediment on the left at Design Legacy alongside new pieces, like the bistro chairs and zinc-topped table at Dovetail, that have been distressed to look like they’ve spent decades outdoors:
3 More Antique Trends to Watch
Wooden bowls may be all the rage now but as a girl who grew up in the South with a world-class biscuit maker for a Mama, dough bowls — as we refer to them – are just part of the kitchen landscape. My mom has several, all family hand-me-downs and all round, not the oblong, trencher-style that you find when searching the term, “dough bowl” online.
To be honest, the only biscuits I’ve personally made came out of a can — but — I couldn’t pass up buying this bowl when my mom and I found it at a thrift store for just $1. The wood was stained, scratched and missing all of its original finish but for just a buck, I couldn’t really complain:
My initial idea was to refinish the bowl as I would any other old, wooden item by first sanding the wood then coating it with oil-based stain and polyurethane but, after a bit of research, I decided to restore the bowl the same way chefs keep their cutting boards looking new – and voila, much bettter, don’t you think?
3 Steps to a New Bowl
So, as you’ve probably heard by now, we’re throwing a holiday party — and not just any holiday party — a crafty holiday party where we’ll make the decorations, drinks and nibbles then show you guys how we pulled it off.
Our event space has a massive stone fireplace flanked by shelves so I decided to finally tackle a project I’d been planning for a while and cover a few of my coffee table books in leather. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m *all* about antiques and naturally wanted my leather books to look like they’d been around for a few decades so I originally planned on covering them in leather from an old bomber jacket. After unsuccessfully scouring thrift stores for the perfect piece of vintage leather, I decided to just purchase new leather then age it myself using the same tricks I use for distressing furniture.
And, voila, they turned out great — and the process was actually easier than I thought it would be. So easy, in fact, that I may have to make a few of these expensive-looking antique tomes to hand out as handmade holiday gifts:
Want to make your own antique look-alike leather books to add a timeworn touch to your home or as a cool handmade gift? Get crafting with all my tips and complete step-by-step instructions>>
We’ve teamed up with our friends over at DIYNetwork.com’s Made + Remade to throw a holiday party, and you’re invited!
Follow along as we craft the party decor, set the holiday table and cook up the menu. Along the way, you’ll get the step-by-step instructions and tips to throw a great party in your home. Catch up on all the posts here.
Once we’d tackled the painting and major carpentry projects (here and here) at my sister’s beach cottage, it was time to start decorating – my favorite part! As is true in any home, it’s the accessories that bring a look together and give your rooms personality — and — it will come as a shock to no one who’s read my Adventures in Antiquing posts that my favorite place to shop for accessories is at estate sales, flea markets and garage sales. Not only are the prices (WAY!) cheaper but I find the coolest stuff plus bits and pieces that I can upcycle into something new. And when you’re starting from scratch to fill a 3 bed/2 bath beach house — inexpensive and cool are your best friends.
Exhibit A: This sculptural, vintage whiskey decanter. Made as a promotional item in 1972 by Jim Beam to commemorate Key West’s 150th anniversary, the decanter’s colorful, kitschy subject and hand-painted details lured me over while the $10 price tag sealed the deal and earned it pride of place on the corner of the beach house’s bar. The fish on top actually lifts off to reveal the bottle’s opening. The decanter is empty but the rich smell of 40-year-old bourbon remains.
How cute is this little alarm clock?! Not very practical, but then who wants to be woken up when you’re on vacation anyway? My sister picked up this little cutie at an estate sale for just $4. Paired with a few shells we found (for free!) and a $2 ginger jar lamp that I covered in rope, this table has the coastal cottage look down pat.
I am absolutely in love with this ship’s model — my first and best Craigslist find (just $5!!). The ship’s prow was a bit battered (the previous owner’s son liked to “sail” the ship into the wall) and a few bits were missing but luckily the seller had kept them so my dad was able to make it ship-shape again. Surrounding the ship are zoological fish illustrations I printed (for free!) from this site then just popped into dark-stained frames.
And when I can’t find exactly what I want – I make it. Yard/estate sales are a great place to buy candles. Sometimes they’re in pristine condition, sometimes, not so much. For candles that are dented, scratched or just plain ugly — cover them up. Learn more about this under $10 project and get my instructions here.
It’s taken 3 years of DIYing over family vacations but the beach house is slowly coming together. What do you think of our improvements?
MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Bedside Table Before and After
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update
If you’re a pet parent, like me, you know that you can never have enough storage. Leashes, food, treats, grooming supplies and most importantly — toys — take up a lot of space. My older pup, Madeline, long ago lost interest in stuffed animals but my 3-year-old Schnoodle, Sophie, believes a girl can never have too much stuff.
Initially, I spent big money in pet stores on adorable, interactive toys she would toss up in the air a few times then happily destroy. After several months of this, I stumbled across a big box of 25-cent stuffed animals at a yard sale and haven’t paid retail since. After a thorough cleaning in the washer (hot water with a few drops of bleach) and extended tumble in the dryer, Sophie’s second-hand victims (um…toys) are good as new.
To store her stash, I bought a large wicker trunk, painted it black, added a bronze crest I found (where else) at an estate sale, slid it under a table in the living room and used it to keep Sophie’s toys within easy reach. For years the trunk worked fine but this spring my ability to find bargain toys exceeded Sophie’s ability to destroy them. Luckily, I already had a thrifted basket on-hand that, with a little makeover, would be perfect for containing the overflow:
The basket was too tall to slide under the side table so removing the handle was the first step and I wanted to give it an antique look (I envisioned an old fishing creel) so it would better blend in. Here’s how I did it:
Steps: 1-cut ties holding handle in place 2-remove handle 3-thoroughly coat basket with spray stain (I used 2 coats) 4-choose an embellishment, I decided to repurpose an old belt 5-cut off excess leather at the top and bottom 6-attach belt to top of basket using super glue then clamp in place 7-flip basket over and glue a thin piece of wood to the bottom (I just snapped the end off a wood shim) 8-secure belt to wood with thumbtacks or nailhead trim 9-add felt pads to the basket’s bottom to protect your floor
And, voila, my once-plain basket now looks like it belongs in a house filled with antiques:
Best of all: the easy-to-access toy basket gets the Sophie Seal of Approval. Buh-bye little buffalo, looks like the bell has tolled for thee:
MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
Adventures in Antiquing: Clinch River Spring Antiques Fair
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 1
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 2
Adventures in Antiquing: (Easy!) Beachy Candle Makeover
Adventures in Antiquing: Repurposed Wooden Tray
Adventures in Antiquing: Crushing On Carrara Marble
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Clock Repurposed as a Frame
Adventures in Antiquing: Classical Busts
Adventures in Antiquing: Vintage Avon Bottle
Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor
This time of year is my favorite for so many reasons: warm weather, spring flowers, longer days…but the thing I love most is spending sunny weekends outdoors hitting the local antique fairs. Thanks to the favorable weather, most fairs take place in the spring and fall — check this list to discover one near you.
The closest antique fair to HGTV’s Knoxville HQ is less than 20 minutes away in the Mayberry-esque hamlet of Clinton, TN. Each year in early May and October, this sleepy Southern town draws antique and collectible dealers from throughout the Southeast for their Clinch River Antiques Fair. Best of all, mixed in with the professional vendors are lots of locals who’ve cleaned out Grandma’s attic, barn or basement — so, although the prices and quality of antiques vary dramatically from booth to booth, there’s so much to choose from that I never leave empty handed.
Here are a few of the goodies I spied:
A coat of bright green paint and a liberal sanding give this 60-year-old dresser a kicky update — $150:
Mixed in with the antiques were a few crafts. How clever are these?! Old Reader’s Digest books cut into initials — such a great idea for a kids’ room or nursery – $15 .
After recently spending a few (blissful!) days in Charleston’s historic peninsula touring private homes and gardens, I can attest that gardening is a full-contact sport in the Holy City. From manicured formal gardens to rambling flower-lined paths, Charlestonians definitely know how to rock their green thumbs.
In addition to full gardens, flower-filled windowboxes were everywhere:
Formal gardens boast mounds of color and charming weather-worn statuary:
Charleston’s sub-tropical climate provides ideal conditions for South Carolina’s state tree, the Palmetto Palm, and camellias whose ruffly flowers are synonymous with the South: