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.
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:
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:
So, tell us in the comments below, how have you repurposed items in your home?
The HGTV.com team recently visited High Point Furniture Market to rub elbows with the design world’s movers-and-shakers and take the pulse of what’s to come. After several days of (blissful!) interior design saturation, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that antiques are HOT! Think mid-day-sun-baking-asphalt-in-the-middle-of-the-Mojave-desert hot. To capitalize on the trend, most showrooms had a curated, collected-over-time look that mixed their newly-manufactured products with a few vintage-inspired pieces.
Traditional furniture and accessories have always been a Market mainstay. Reproductions of everything from heavily ornamented Louis XVI settees to pale Gustavian commodes have never really gone out of style; but at this Market they were joined by the real deal: centuries-old case goods, lighting, classical sculpture, architectural salvage and quirky, one-of-a-kind accessories.
Here are just a few of the goodies I spied at Market; unfortunately, most of these gems are available only to the trade so I couldn’t include links — hit local antique shops or online sites like V&M, 1stdibs or Ruby Lane to search for similar items.
*burled wood chest: Luisana Designs *early American ship’s compass: Design Legacy
*iron basket pendants: Bobo Intriguing Objects *carnival chick: Design Legacy
This vintage storefront greenhouse comes complete with reclaimed windows, wood flooring and a wood back wall. Each window is latched with a barrel bolt and the windows all have box supports to hold them open for ventilation.
Each greenhouse is unique. Designs are not finalized until materials have been procured. The final design is based on what materials are available at the time of purchase.
As I’ve mentioned before: I love antiques but, in particular, my heart skips a beat when I see European antiques — French finds in particular. Years ago, I discovered a gilt Rococo-inspired wall clock at a flea market. The clock face looked to be from the ’60s but the surrounding frame was hand-carved wood with applied gold leaf and appeared to be much older. At the time, I lived in Los Angeles and really had no use for it so it languished, forgotten, in my parents’ North Carolina basement for a decade until I rediscovered it. And, let me tell you, it was a very happy reunion indeed. I had recently purchased a round needlepoint of violets at an estate sale without a frame. Once I popped out the ’60s clock, I thought the Rococo frame and sweet, little needlepoint would make a happy pair.
And so they did:
One rule I follow when thrifting is to see a find for what it can be not what it is. Take this antique drawer I found at an estate sale. It was at the bottom of a scrap wood pile in a stuffed-to-the-gills garage. The home’s previous owner had been a never-throw-away-anything-you-may-someday-need type and had seen the potential usefulness of a small drawer that had long since been separated from it’s original piece of furniture.
What sold me is its runner-less construction. Runners are the wood or metal glides that help a drawer to smoothly slide in and out; without them a drawer is just a shallow box. I was on the lookout for a small tray that could do double duty serving food and drinks at parties and was big enough to neatly store magazines on my coffee table the rest of the time – I thought I could make this drawer work. The bottom was flimsy due to water damage so I added a plywood board to strengthen it then tacked on quarter-round trim to disguise my fix and handles on each end so it could really function as a tray.
Today marks the opening of the 2012 London Olympics, and I don’t know about you, but I have Olympic fever. Feeding my obsession? This collection of vintage Olympic posters. Personally, I am charmed by this lady fencer in the Paris 1900 poster, but if I had to pick a favorite, I’d go with this dizzying example from the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
Designed by artist Lance Wyman, this poster marries traditional Aztec design with go-go ’60′s pop art. How about you? Do you have a favorite Olympic logo? Will you be watching the Opening Ceremonies tonight? I’ll be on the couch, popcorn in hand, waiting for that torch to enter the arena.
I love antiques. My home is filled with them. I’ll admit that’s partly out of bargain-hunting necessity but mainly because, in many ways, I feel that antiques are better — better construction, better lines, better attention to detail — just better. They have a character, charm and history that new and mass-produced can’t match.
Take this winsome little vase. I discovered her at a rural flea market this spring covered in decades of grime. The milk glass color and classic Greco/Roman shape drew me in while the $1 price tag sealed the deal. Honestly, I didn’t recognize it as an Avon bottle until I’d cleaned her up enough to make out the label.
Growing up, my mother, grandmother, aunt — everyone in the family had matching dinnerware in their kitchen cupboards. Everything was super matchy-matchy and super boring-boring.
I’ll admit — I’ve regrettably fallen into the same ho-hum pattern. Those all-in-one dinnerware boxes are so darn convenient! But, I’ve been on a mission to break my family’s tradition of boring. It’s time.
I’m determined to buy all sorts of vintage plates to add variety in the kitchen. The varying colors are stunning, the looks are so different from anything in today’s mass market and let’s face it — they’re just plain pretty. The juxtaposition of styles takes me to a happy place.
This display of plates found at houzz.com is the exact look I’m shooting for. Come on, even if you’re not an antique/vintage-style lover, you have to admit that there’s something appealing about this colorful presentation.
What’s your take? Do you prefer dinnerware that matches, or are you interested in going rogue like me?
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