ALL POSTS TAGGED "vintage"

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Suitcase

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

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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.

Erica Reitman

Erica Reitman of VintageDesign.Me

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.

Erica Reitman

Design by Erica, Photo by William Brinson

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

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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:  Cutlery Box Before
And here is my new upcycled jewelry box, fully refinished and re-lined:
Silverware Chest That Has Been Turned Into a Jewelry Box
Read On To Learn How I Did It

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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.”

Time Capsule Houses

A home in Kenthorst, Pa. built in 1965.

Time Capsule Houses

A well-maintained mid-century kitchen

Time Capsule Houses

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.

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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:
spring 2014 clinch river antiques festival

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.  tower of antique cheese or pantry boxes

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.antique butter molds

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:mid-century modern corner chair at Clinton TN antiques festival

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. industrial style stage lighting More Antiques That Caught My Eye

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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:
antique french furniture from Eloquence

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:
antiqued furniture at high point market

3 More Antique Trends to Watch

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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!: Spring Hellebores in an Old Blue Vase

Joining the hellebore in their winter-banishing crusade are tiny, delicate crocus placed in an antique salt shaker:
Spring Flowers on a Bedroom Nightstand

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>> How to Make a DIY Bird's Nest for Spring

You can make your nest any size you like — even big enough to act as an Easter basket: Handmade Bird's Nest 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: Forsythia Branches Just Breaking Into Bud

And here they are just 1 week later, adding a happy shot of color to my living room:Cut Forced Forsythia as a Spring Arrangement

 Are you as ready for warmer weather as I am? How will you spring-up your rooms?

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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:unfinished wood bowl before

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?Refinished Wood Bowl Filled With Citrus

3 Steps to a New Bowl

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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! Beach House Bathroom Vanity Sink Area

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.Tight Shot of a Beach House Bookcase

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. Beach House Bathroom Framed Vintage Print

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.Beach House Rope-Covered Mirror

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

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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: 
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Before

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:
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Step-by-StepSteps: 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:
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Before-and-After

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:
Sophie With a New Stuffed Dog Toy

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

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I’ve found myself lost in one too many summer daydreams lately. As soon as warm weather arrives, I start yearning for the sand and water. Unfortunately, I wait and take my beach vacays once the dog days of summer have subsided a bit. When are you packing up and heading to the coast? Try not to make me too jealous.

Mood Board Monday: Vintage SummerVogue | Dream to Life | Blend Fabrics | via Miss Moss | Scott Lowe |  via T Magazine | via Flickr | Etsy

Come back every Monday for an inspirational mood board. Miss a day? See all the posts here.

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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: Distressed Green Dresser

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 .   Books Cut Into Initials

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So, have I mentioned lately that I love my job? No? Well, I do! I recently spent a few (blissful!) days in Charleston, SC touring historic homes and checking out their prestigious annual antiques show. I shared a few of my favorite antique finds last week; here are a few more goodies:

I’m obsessed with gilding — shiny gold objects draw me to them like a magnet. Gilding is the process of covering a surface, typically porcelain, wood or metal, with a thin layer of gold. Also known as gilt, gold-leaf and ormolu (from the French or moulu, literally ground gold) this technique is centuries old – early examples decorated the homes of Greek, Chinese and Egytian elite. Left: The mirror in the foreground is one of a pair of George the Third, English Regency mirrors from the early 1800′s  – $17,500. G. Sergeant Antiques To demonstrate the (top notch!) quality of antiques offered for sale at this show, the mirror in the background is the mate to one on display at NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Art — wow! Right: The massive horse’s head is a French trade sign from 1870. The gilding was applied over cast lead and is in amazing condition considering this piece would have been displayed outside a business and spent decades exposed to the elements – $4,500. Cunha St. John Antiques
Antique gold mirror and horse's head at Charleston Antiques Show

Storage that’s both practical and beautiful is not a new idea. Left: What looks like a really tall hat box is actually a cheese keeper. Refrigeration is a technology we take for granted but 100+ years ago, this beautifully embellished pottery dome prevented cheese from drying out while keeping it cool and mold-free, circa  1875 — $9,500 Jerry S. Hayes MajolicaRight: For centuries tea was a luxury that only European, and later Amercan, elite could afford. To protect their stash from rodents or light-fingered servants, small locked boxes were used. Soon, the boxes that held the precious tea became a status symbol in themselves employing exotic and rare materials like ivory and tortoiseshell. English tea caddy, circa 1830 — $5,300 Sallea Antiques
Antique majolica and tortoiseshell tea caddy at Charleston Antiques Show

My two pups are the center of my world and judging from the high number of antiques I spied featuring man’s best friend, dogs have long been considered members of the family. Left: This sweet pencil sketch of greyhounds by artist Felix O.C. Darley may have been a study for one of the many books he illustrated. Darley was one of the 19th century’s top illustrators; his work helped classics by Dickens, Longfellow, Hawthorne, Washington Irving and Edgar Allen Poe (to name a few) come to life — $750, American Eagle Antiques (no website). Right: A pair of skillfully carved mahogany whippets support a Carrara marble top on this Neapolitan console which was crafted in Italy, circa 1820 — $46,000 from Yew Tree House Antiques.Antique pencil sketch and wood furniture at Charleston Antiques Show

*Check back next Wednesday to see some of the amazing private homes and gardens I toured in Charleston.

MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 1
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

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:Sigh: Charleston — my dream city! I must have lived there in some previous (and terribly glamorous) former life because I feel absolutely at home whenever I visit. The nice folks at the Historic Charleston Foundation invited me down to check out their 10th annual antiques show and peek inside a few of the city’s (amazing!) historic homes and gardens and I couldn’t get my car packed up quickly enough.

One of the nation’s premiere antique events, only select dealers are invited to show each spring in Charleston; independent auditors screen each item before it’s offered for sale to guarantee authenticity and provenance — so, none of my bargain-basement finds here. I’ll share more antiques plus some pics from my home and garden tours later but here are a few of the pieces that caught my eye:

Named for Sweden’s King Gustav III, Gustavian furniture features Neoclassical (Greco/Roman) details and a decidedly French flair — Gustav was a frequent visitor to the French palace of Versailles and modeled his court’s style after the pieces he saw there. Unlike French furniture of the period which was often gilded or shellacked, the Swedish craftsmen continued to paint their pieces in matte, pastel shades — creating the signature look that’s so desirable today. Below:  “Mora” tall case clock, circa 1800 — $8,600 and 1 of a set of 6 hand-carved chairs, signed Sven Anderson — $12,000. All available from Dawn Hill Antiques  Antique Swedish furniture at Charleston Antiques Show

I spied this Queen Anne chest-on-stand from a distance and had to get closer for a better look. It’s gorgeous, don’t you think? The wood is in amazing condition — especially considering this English piece (circa 1710) is over 300 years old. That’s right, this dresser is older than our country. Check out the fanciful arched detail on the skirt — beautiful! — $18,000. Available from Jayne Thompson Antiques Antique wood furniture at Charleston Antiques Show

Although most of the items at the Charleston Antiques Show were centuries old and European, there were a few early 20th century American gems like this charming carved bulldog head that opens up to reveal a brass-lined humidor so a Victorian gentleman could stash his cigars within easy reach — $1,900. A Bird in Hand Antiques Antique tobacco storage at Charleston Antiques Show

 *Check back next Wednesday for more of my trip to Charleston.

MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
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

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My love affair with stately, opulent marble began in college and my first trip to Italy. Semesters spent in art history class poring over photos of classical sculpture and architecture didn’t prepare me for experiencing it firsthand. By the end of Day One, I was hooked and my quest for Carrara marble began.

The first bit of marble awesomeness I bought was a small bedroom lamp. I’ve since graduated to these big beauties (below). You can find them on ebay, 1stdibs and V&M but be prepared to shell out the big bucks. The lamps themselves are pricey but shipping is the real budget-buster. Plus, because these date mainly to the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s (Art Deco and Hollywood Regency periods), the wiring will need to be replaced meaning more $$.

To score a marble lamp within budget, hit local antique or thrift stores and, of course, estate and garage sales. Before purchasing, carefully check the stone for chips, cracks and discoloration. A good cleaning with mild dish soap and a toothbrush will do wonders, but marble is porous so if the lamp has spent decades exposed to cigarette smoke, regaining its original creamy color will require professional help.

Oh, in case you’re wondering: I paid $35 for the lamp below at an antique store which my dad and I then rewired for around $12, $15 for the drum shade and $18 (a total splurge) for the crystal finial.marble table lamp with lenten roses

How amazing is this bowl?! I found it full of stagnant water and rotted plants at an estate sale. It was so grimy that both I and the seller initially thought it was concrete. After wiping off a layer of black slime (eww!) I could tell it was marble and knew I had to have it. The price: just $10 — a real steal. Of course, I tweaked my back man-handling it back to the car…but….it was totally worth it.  carrara marble planter with orchids

Here you can see the planter’s detail. The marble isn’t polished but the lion’s heads and banded detail are well carved. carrara marble planter with orchids

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As you guys know, I love a good estate sale. One of my favorite places to search for treasures is the garage — but I’m not looking for tools. I’m on a quest to find broken bits with potential — like drawers, keys or old knobs that have been separated from their original piece of furniture or vintage harps, finials or other electrical hardware — essentially anything with character that I think I can repurpose.   

A few months ago, I discovered a 4-foot board with a carved detail along the top and beautiful raised acanthus leaves at either end. The seller found it in a barn and had no idea how old it was or whether it once framed an elaborate doorway or was part of a long piece of furniture, like a buffet.  The white paint was crazed and chipping – just how I like it. The seller seemed shocked that I even wanted a beat-up old board so he priced it low – 2 whole dollars. Originally, my plan was to strip all the paint and stain it but once I had removed the chipped paint and sanded it smooth, I decided to leave it as-is.

Topped with glittered pinecones, blue Spruce and holly boughs, my found molding makes a beautiful, rustic swag above the entry to my kitchen:

Here you can see the acanthus leaf detail on the ends — pretty, right?! Totally worth a dusty, dirty scavenger hunt in the wood pile.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of finding new uses for old things. I’m the person you see huddled in a corner at an estate sale turning an object this way and that, brow furrowed, envisioning what it could be used for. Take this old wooden toolbox. It was filthy – as all great estate sale finds are — filled with rusty, old screws and nails and only partially painted yellow. A thick layer of dust covered both the box and its contents so it definitely had some age and looked to be sturdily hand-constructed.

I knew it would make a great magazine rack and I knew I had to have it:chipped yellow paint on old toolbox repurposed as a magazine holder

Other uses I considered: Filling the 3 compartments with potted herbs in my kitchen; using it to hold rolled towels in a bathroom; or as a caddy for organizing craft or gift wrap supplies.

The $8 price tag seemed fair for its condition — dust, rusty nails and all. Once home, I dumped out the metal bits then gave it a good once-over with the vacuum. I then sanded all the surfaces to remove loose bits of peeling yellow paint and smooth the rough areas. Then, I stained it with an oil-based wood stain (Minwax Early American). BTW, I only use oil-based stains. I know some people swear by water-based because there are less fumes and the dry time is much quicker, but I’ve found that wood better accepts oil-based stains resulting in a richer, deeper color and less streaking.

Upon closer inspection, the toolbox is a mishmash of materials: the end pieces are pine, the sides are beadboard and the handle  –  I think — once belonged on a broom. You can see in the photo below how the mismatched woods took the stain differently, which for me,  just adds to its vintage charm:  old toolbox repurposed as a magazine holder

 So, tell us in the comments below, how have you repurposed items in your home?

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