My mom is like a thrifting ninja. As she browses the flea market fields or scans second-hand store shelves, she always turns up with the best finds. And I’m not talking about the kind of finds your eccentric aunt brings you when she cleans out her attic. Nope, my mom will turn up with that last teacup to complete your set of thrifted China, or miniature impressionist painting of a plantation home. She brings home the good stuff. A couple of years ago she gifted me an old Samsonite suitcase, which I graciously accepted (I mean, who says “no” to old suitcases?), and then I carefully stored it in my basement until I knew just where I wanted it. As my nursery remodel came together I knew that the suitcase would soon find its home in that little girl’s room, but the problem was, the suitcase was a faded navy blue and looked pretty dull and out of place amongst the other white, yellow, and coral nursery furniture. So I decided to paint it! Painting suitcases can kind of be tricky business, so let me share a few tips and tricks I learned along the way!
Let’s Get Started
Interior designer Erica Reitman has a definite design point of view — how can you tell? The tagline of her website (VintageDesign.Me) says it all: “I Will Kick Your House’s Ass.” And that, she does very well. Erica strives to help homeowners make their homes look “bangin’” and when she’s not working her magic in homes across the country, she’s offering up helpful design tips and advice online. As we’ve done in the past, Design Happens dares to go beyond the interior design photos we’re accustomed to seeing and talks to the designers who actually created some of these stunning rooms. This week, we’re chatting with Erica Reitman.
D-Happ: Tell us about your website.
ER: I created VintageDesign.Me to be a spot online where people can go to get great advice, learn an easy tip, or read about my favorite resources. I really try to stay focused on tangible, real-world value and results, so I don’t do inspiration posts or random mood boards that don’t relate to anything (though I love looking at those things on other people’s sites!). I get how valuable everyone’s time is, so I always want people to come away feeling like: “I’m SO ready to go do this random decorating thing that I’ve never thought about before” after reading one of my posts. I also try to stress that while, of course I’d love for you to hire me to come decorate your home, you really don’t have to because e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e has it in them to put together a great space that makes them smile when they walk through their front door. And yep, I do mean everyone.
D-Happ: How would you describe your aesthetic?
ER: My overall aesthetic is kind of like a mosh pit at a Pearl Jam concert in 1992. I love, love, love the graphic, colorful design of the 60′s and 70′s, and really dig mixing pieces from that era with newer modern pieces. Big, bold pieces of art make me smile, and vintage anything always gets me revved up — especially if it comes from a flea market or a thrift store. I do tend to lean more toward more masculine interiors, and so I especially love working with guys on “dude designing” their spaces. So I guess my aesthetic is eclectic/vintage/arty/masculine/70′s/chic?
D-Happ: Where do you source inspiration?
ER: My favorite source of inspiration is vintage interior design magazines and books. I recently moved to Los Angeles, and the flea markets here are pretty amazing. So I often find great old issues of Architectural Digest, Town & Country and House and Garden magazines that I buy for a buck apiece and then pore over at home.
More of Our Talk
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
We are all about bringing your outdated spaces current to the modern age. We want you to love your surroundings and we strive to help you make that happen. You know this about us.
When we see orange shag carpet? Our take: “Rip it out!” Old-school floral wallpaper hanging in the bedroom? “Start scraping!” Those pastel-colored kitchen appliances from the 1970′s? “Um, no.”
So, that’s our usual stance at HGTV. But then, THEN — CNN.com introduced us (well, me) to “Time Capsule Houses.” And friends, they’re glorious. They’re so bad, and so wrong — that they’re wonderful. And apparently, there’s a market for them.
“Homes stuck in another century might seem like they’d be difficult to sell,” says CNN’s Henry Hanks. “But some buyers are interested in ‘time capsule houses’ — especially those built in the middle of the 20th century.”
A home in Kenthorst, Pa. built in 1965.
A well-maintained mid-century kitchen
Photos Courtesy CNN.com
My fellow blogger, Liz, pointed out that there’s an actual “retro reno” movement going on out there. Places like Retro Renovation will help you remodel and decorate your home in mid-century and vintage style.
What say you? Can you appreciate this resistance to modernize? Heck, are you someone who would actually purchase one of these homes? Let me know what you think.
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
Wow, that was some kind of crazy winter, right?! For those of you still suffering through the winter that just won’t die — my humblest apologies — but for those of us in warmer climes: Yay, spring’s here! And, for me, the arrival of spring means it’s time to head outside, scissors in hand, to find any early bloomers that I can bring inside to brighten things up.
First to flower in my backyard is hellebore (a.k.a. lenten rose). Their heavy, droopy blooms on short stems are best displayed in a vase with a small opening. Here, I have them in what looks like an expensive Wedgwood vase but it’s actually an old Avon bottle that I found at an estate sale for the irresistible price of … wait for it … 10 cents!:
Joining the hellebore in their winter-banishing crusade are tiny, delicate crocus placed in an antique salt shaker:
The cardinals that have reigned unchallenged in my backyard this winter have been joined by a variety of other birds, including robins. I love the idea of using bird’s nests as a spring decoration but would never want to deprive some poor bird of their handmade home so I simply DIY-ed my own bird’s nest complete with tiny robin’s eggs. You can make one too while watching your favorite show. Get crafting with my step-by-step instructions>>
You can make your nest any size you like — even big enough to act as an Easter basket:
This is also the perfect time of year to force a branch to bloom indoors. Good candidates for this include fothergilla, witch hazel, Bradford pear, cherry, quince, redbud, lilac and my favorite: forsythia. Here’s what the forsythia branches in my backyard looked like when I cut them; the buds were just beginning to swell:
And here they are just 1 week later, adding a happy shot of color to my living room:
Are you as ready for warmer weather as I am? How will you spring-up your rooms?
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
You guessed correctly if you chose option B. Stephanie Atkins made a winter wreath using old sweaters, bringing texture to the mantel design.
We randomly chose one person from the comments, and Robin B. is the winner of this month’s issue of HGTV Magazine and a green HGTV zip-up jacket. Congrats!
Check back next Wednesday to decorate a new space.
If you saw my previous post, you know that outfitting my sister’s beach house with accessories with lots of coastal charm for small $$ was a must. Searching estate sales, flea markets and yard sales for beachy accessories that fit our budget wasn’t exactly easy — but it sure was fun! Here are a few more of our favorite thrifty finds:
Any Avon fans out there — recognize the green glass fish? Yep, that’s right, it’s actually an old Avon bottle which once held foaming bath oil. The bubble bath is long gone but the little jadeite koi’s charm remains — and for just $1 at a TN flea market? Wrap it up; I’ll take it!
Birdhouses are great — and not just for sheltering birds. We put this one, shaped like a lighthouse, to work as a bookend in our closet-turned-built-in bookcase. Like our other beachy bric-a-brac, this birdhouse has a storied past. My mom bought it at a prison. Yep, a prison — the Maine State Prison in Thomaston. Unique in the nation, the prisoners here are taught real-world skills in upholstery, woodworking and garment making. The money raised by this ingenious program goes toward reimbursing the state for the prisoner’s room and board as well as paying victims’ restitution and prisoners’ child support. Although you can’t shop their store online, you can check out the prisoners’ handiwork and if you’re ever in Maine, drop by.
I love zoological prints. They’ve been trending for quite a while … and, as with anything trendy, they can be expensive. Luckily, it’s the internet to the rescue — several sites offer printable scans of public domain prints for free — yes, FREE! Vintage Printable and Graphics Fairy are two of my faves. Just print the images onto a high-quality paper (aka not standard printer paper), add a mat, then pop them into a frame.
Getting crafty with items we already have is another way we save money while filling the beach house with accessories we love. My sister and I bought this wood-framed mirror at an estate sale thinking it would be a good fit for the hall bath. Unfortunately, it was too small. Then my 18-year-old nephew scored this great boat cleat for only 50 cents which inspired us to cover the mirror’s frame in rope then “tie it off” to the cleat. Want to make your own? Get my step-by-step instructions.
MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Nautical Knick-Knacks
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