Resellers in Frazer on Route 30 is closing. The shopping center has been sold.
I am sure the warehouse and shopping center will be bulldozed for some form of progress some developer thinks is fabulous but what we are losing are local businesses and what about our post office?
Condos and apartment buildings and chain stores and big box stores will never, ever replace local businesses. Resellers has been one of my favorite businesses in Chester County.
My last purchase save a couple of Santa Lucia straw Christmas ornaments today was my reading chair:
Resellers was one of those places that you could go and find the unexpected and unique. From furniture to art to dishes to shabby chic oriental rugs, from the moment you walked through the doors into the cavernous warehouse space, the possibilities were endless.
And no, places like the Velvet Shoestring in Wayne can’t compete. And besides the Velvet Shoestring in Wayne lost me in the fall at the lack of hello. (There is nothing like being the sole, solitary customer in a store for over 20 minutes with multiple not so busy employees behind the front desk who are seemingly only capable of staring at you but not speaking to you that will permanently turn you off to a business.)
If you love Resellers, their time is limited, so go in before they are gone.
My near and dear ones like to tease me about my affinity for farm animals (cows, goats, and chickens in particular). I am told I will always be too much of a city girl to make a good farm girl (apparently I need to tolerate long power outages better), but a girl is allowed to dream, right?
So does that make me perhaps just an accidental country girl in the making?
Mind you, the teasing is in good fun, so I really don’t mind. What I do know is I love living in Chester County and especially like the rural aspects and the open spaces. I also love the fun of the hunt for cool pieces to decorate with, and Chester County is loaded with places and even warm weather flea markets. Jake’s Flea Market in Barto comes to mind. Except Barto is actually Berks County, but that is worth the drive I am told. I have not been yet.
Will I ever love long term power outages and trees pounding the house in storms? Probably not, but surviving this winter means I am hopefully better prepared next time and hopefully we won’t experience a next time like this winter for quite a while.
As many know I have developed an affinity for certain kinds of things that would be classified as either primitive or farmhouse chic. Vintage patchwork quilts, oil lamps, rustic candlesticks, and things like milking stools would fall into that category.
Milking stools, you ask?
Yes. They are fun and add whimsy to a room. I like old wooden footstools too. You can find them all over, and the price points should always be reasonable because they are so readily available.
A reasonable price point in my opinion maxes out at around $25. I see plain wood foot and milking stools at all sorts of price points, but if the cost goes over $25 , unless they are some truly amazing bit of woodworking I loose interest. I am a picker and bargain hunter at heart, sorry.
There is a big difference in my mind between a fine country antique and an item that has a utilitarian and real purpose that also can have a second life as a fun accent in your home.
I have two. One I found languishing under a table at Reseller’s Consignment in Frazer and one came from the Smithfield Barn in Downingtown. They both came in under $25 each. They are handmade and of solid hardwood and have three leg. Milking stools have three and four legs. I have been told by actual dairy farmers that the three legged stools balance the best on uneven surfaces.
One of my stools has three legs and the other four. I love the patina of the natural wood and oil them occasionally. I am not a fan of candy coating beautiful wood in milk paint. That is the taste of a lot of people and a good way to renew beat up wood pieces, but generally speaking not for my personal taste. I like those accents in the homes of others, it just doesn’t work for us in our home .
Anyway, they will never be a priceless heirloom, but I love them. People will actually sit on them and they make an amusing conversation piece. And some milking stools are simply beautiful examples of handmade craftsmanship.
I have always liked candlesticks. Not the shiny sterling silver variety although I do appreciate their beauty. The candlesticks I have always admired best are the simple ones especially Depression Glass era clear or etched candlesticks, simple crystal sticks, and those bulk-classified as “primitives”.
Maybe thirty years ago I started picking up a form of primitive – cool chamber sticks at church sales, garage sales, and flea markets. Chamber sticks are the candlesticks that look like they are in a little saucer and have a circular hook (for lack of a better description) for your finger.
These chamber sticks I found were mostly pewter, and occasionally pottery. The porcelain ones are also pretty but somehow too fussy for my taste. They never cost a fortune. They were inexpensive accents I picked up for anywhere in the range of $5.00 to $15.00 and they added a touch of home to wherever I lived. (My love of candlesticks and oil lamps is all my mother’s fault.)
I never considered myself a true primitives or country person as far as decorating styles went. Some people just take it too far and too dark for me. Too much plaid and gingham ribbons, wooden carved-out hearts. But when I started exploring Chester County I began to appreciate elements of country and primitive in decorating.
I have fallen in love with primitive candle holders. Punched tin lanterns and especially primitive candle sticks known as hog scrapers. When I first developed this candlestick crush, I wrote about it.
My crush is now a full-blown love affair. Made of iron, tin, and even pewter the simplicity of them is so beautiful.
Some people consider them rustic and too beat up. I see the lighting of our forefathers.
Hog scrapers were the go to lighting of average families in Colonial America. My research indicates these candlesticks have not only British roots but Dutch, French, and German as well. Which of course makes perfect sense given a lot of our country’s early settlers.
The name “hog scraper” comes from the similarity in shape and appearance to a tool made for scraping the bristles off of a newly butchered hog (yes a reality of farm life, but yuck…and yes I like pork roasts.) I have read while researching that people actually used hog scraper candle holders for this purpose but none I have stumbled across this far have had any hog bristles snarled up in them. Which is probably for the best, that might gross me out. (I have a thing for chickens, cows and goats but less so for live pigs. They just smell.)
My first primitive candle holders came from The Smithfield Barn. They turned up when someone brought them contents of an old farmhouse. From there I have hunted them in various locations but rarely buy them from traditional antiques dealers because they mark them up too much. Also, I am a practical person and I know I like these candlesticks, but know my knowledge base of age and dating them is somewhat limited. So I would rather not break the bank.
These candle holders seem to date from Colonial times through a good part of the 19th century as America moved west with the pioneers. Stylistically it is my opinion that some candlesticks described as “mission” have their roots in these primitives. I am no expert, but that is my opinion.
I have seen them on Etsy and Ebay. The prices range from inexpensive to ridiculous in price. I recently came across some new reproductions that came into Reseller’s Consignment in Frazer but they were brand new reproductions and felt too light weight-wise in my hand. I think part of why I like these candle holders is the comfortable, solid feel of them. The new reproductions feel like a Xerox copy to me they are so light. Kind of like the difference between truly old oil lamps and the newer reproductions.
I know I seem to preach a lot about decorating on a budget, but that is just the way I am made. I am not the one who wants a decorator, I want my own stamp on my home. And I love the thrill of the hunt for pieces. I hate to say I use high end antique store and antiques shows to educate myself and my eye, but I do. They provide me with an invaluable resource.
That being said, if you live in Chester County or close enough to it, be sure to add the Chester County Antiques Show to your schedule. It is a lovely show and the dealers for the most part are happy to talk to you about their pieces and antiques and collectibles. There was only one dealer last year that I did not find particularly convivial and unfortunately that was Stevens Antiques in Frazer. The attitude of whomever was running their booth the day I was there wasn’t what I would describe as warm or welcoming.
This year the Chester County Antiques Show is April 4, 5, and 6 at the Phelps School in Malvern. This show benefits the Chester County Historical Society which is an amazing resource and they are always doing cool stuff.
It’s December! Christmas decorations can make their 2013 Christmas season debut!
I made a wreath yesterday.
Including the wreath form it cost me $6.51.
Gently used and vintage Christmas decorations is how.
Yesterday I made a stop at Resellers Consignment Gallery on Route 30 in Frazer. In the front of the store as you walk in there is a jumble of gently and not so gently used Christmas decorations . These decorations include ornaments, ribbon, pinecones, wreath fixings, you name it. You have to dig through, and I hope you’ll dig gently if you go, so you don’t break things for the next person.
Hanging up throughout the store you will notice, much as is the case at places like the Smithfield Barn in Downingtown, there are also artificial Christmas wreaths galore. The wreath I found (plain and unadorned) was 25% off, and if you’re in the market for an artificial tree, they are loaded with them at Resellers – big trees, not the table-top variety.
Everything that went on my wreath except for the florist wire, came from Resellers yesterday. And yes, everything cost me $6.51. I also believe that I could make a wreath for just about the same amount if not less from fixings at the Smithfield Barn.
My point is simple: you can decorate for Christmas on a budget. There are enough people in this world that jettison Christmas decorations on a regular basis, that if you look at places like Resellers, Smithfield barn, thrift shops, church sales, and so on you can find pretty much everything you need.
The only thing I do not buy it any of these places are used or vintage lights. I am not an electrician, so I have no clue what is in good condition or not.
Decorating for Christmas just puts you in the mood to get a little holiday spirit. And yes, I have inside wreaths and outside wreaths and I don’t do it all every year, I tend to rotate my ornaments and decorations.
If you put your Christmas decorations away carefully, they can and do last. I put artificial and pinecone wreaths on hangers in my attic covered with big clear trash bags. If it is a year where I am making a natural wreath out of fresh greenery, I removed the ribbons and decorations that can be salvaged at the end of Christmas and put them away as well.
I am a fumble fingers with a hot glue gun, so the only thing that go on my wreaths are things that I can wire on with florist wire.
I don’t want to put specialty stores or craft stores out of business, but there are a lot of Christmas decorations that you can source quite reasonably and a gently used or vintage condition.
I like to do what I consider tasteful decorating for Christmas. I don’t do a million lights and inflatable things on the front lawn. I mean no disrespect to those who chose to do this Griswold Family Christmas style of decorating, but truly I do not need my decorations to be able to be seen from space!
Fun fact: I had an uncle that when I was a child that used to go to little overboard with Christmas decorations, including music being piped from the roof. Loudly. And this was before National Lampoon and Chevy Chase made overboard Christmas decorating so infamous.
You won’t find anything adorned in my home before December. Some years I get things up early in December, other years it’s a couple weeks into the month before I begin.
I also really try hard not to overwhelm my rooms. I look at it the way Coco Chanel looked at jewelry: she had a famous quote about taking one piece of jewelry off after you are dressed and about to walk out the door.
Have any of you begun decorating? What is your favorite thing to do?
Also if any of you know of any church sales or fleamarkets or Christmas festivals coming up with a gently used Christmas ornaments and other holiday things for sale, feel free to leave a comment.
Chair $40 at Eclectic Market in Malvern, floral needlepoint pillow $8 at St. David’s Church Fair a few years ago, and chicken pillow $4 at St. Paul’s in Exton during AngelFest
Truly, you can hire that interior designer if you want to but you don’t have to. You don’t have to be design challenged and you can find the time. I get inspiration from all over. People like Lara Spencer and Cari Cucksy inspire me. Not Martha Stewart any longer. Besides her issue with bloggers she is way too comfy with pastel paints and washes and she is enough to make you dream in crème de menthe which is too close to Kmart green and similarly pastel nightmares, but I digress.
Lara Spencer used to be a host on Antiques Roadshow. A lot of people know her from being an anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America, and from Flea Market Flip. Now she has a book I Brake For Yard Sales and a series by the same name that made what appears to be a limited debut on HGTV. I say limited because HGTV is a little hard to figure these days. They replay a lot of home crashing series but no real gardening shows any longer and don’t have a lot of air time (in my opinion) on some of these fun shows like I Brake For Yard Sales or Cash & Cari.
Chair one of a pair $18 for both Smithfield Barn. Sampler pillow embroidered by me and other pillow a gift
Why I love watching ladies like Lara Spencer and Cari Cuksey is because they show you it is not a beige, beige world and not everything has to be all matchy-matchy. They give you great re-purposing ideas too.
I have never needed to hire an interior designer or decorator. And I know a few who are amazing. But in this economy, why not train your own eye and save some money? At least do some of the leg work if not the whole thing?
I did our new house by myself with my sweet man (and a terrific carpenter who built us amazing bookcases and storage benches). Fortunately our tastes are compatible. Or should I say he is a man who will actually communicate about house stuff?
unknown watercolor – approximately $20 from Smithfield Barn in Downingtown.
I guess I am kind of sort of quasi-traditional with a dash of quirky . I like vintage and I like the lines of a lot of older furniture. I like a more country or should I say less formal kind of look as in what some would call “farmhouse chic”, but if you are expecting mad for plaid with ruffles, gag me with gingham, so notmy style. Yet I am not so casual as in Cindy Crawford icky denim love seats or lots of plastic things. Comfortable and pretty works but not a frilly gilded lily. And also a component of my home to be considered are things from my childhood home I liked and wanted to emulate.
And interestingly enough, my sweet man and I both had mothers who loved to check out estate sales, so you could say we sort of inherited this treasure-seeking meets bargain hunting fun.
I do think my style is uniquely my own and can’t be pigeonholed as one particular category because to me what I have done is a little bit of this a little bit of that. I have put what I love into my home and it is a house where every room is used. No, the living room is not for teenagers to play video games in, but neither is it some shrine to formal living and roped off with a velvet rope except for special occasions and sherry by the fire.
I like pops of color and am not afraid of color. I don’t like wallpaper. I can admire it in other people’s houses in small doses, but would rather look at a colorfully painted wall than wallpaper. I remember once being in a house in Massachusetts near where the Brimfield Antiques show is held. You would have thought they house would have been New England fabulous, right? It was instead a study of contradicting and competing wallpaper. Every room was papered and even the halls. And nothing complimented or flowed. The house literally gave me a pattern headache. And the owner was so house proud too. But they loved their house, so that was what mattered.
I have a glass bowl my sister gave me one year for Christmas about ten years ago. It was inadvertently color inspiration for a lot of my current living room. The bowl is a beautiful almost cranberry crossed with raspberry kind of color. With it in mind I found a traditional Chippendale hump back sofa of similarly colored damask circa late 1950s or early 1960s at Reseller’s in Frazer for $125. Yes, really. It was a lucky find that had sat on the sales floor until it was reduced, reduced, reduced. It was in pristine condition and the only thing it needed was the legs dusted.
At the Eclectic Market on King Street in Malvern one Saturday last fall I found a vintage wing chair in a pattern that was palatable, and compatible to my sofa. Yet it isn’t nauseating matching like furniture garanimals. And this sturdy chair was…wait for it…forty dollars. Yes $40.00.
It is that easy. A little time and effort and it actually comes together. Not all on one day, but it does come together.
You all know by now that I love barn picking. And yes, the Smithfield Barn in Downingtown is that awesome. Kristin has a fabulous eye and thanks to her I can actually identify some country antiques now that might impress an actual farmer or if not that an antiques dealer or two.
I also will check out yard sales and estate sales and church sales and country auctions and resale shops and flea markets.
I love Frazer Antiques and the dealers who work there are so incredibly nice and patient with my 10,000 questions. They are helpful too.
Resellers Consignment in Frazer is also a favorite haunt and they get fabulous stuff all the time – even vintage table linens, crystal, lighting fixtures, garden ornaments, artwork and china. Not just furniture. But the trick to them is if you like it, buy it because much like the Smithfield Barn, stock move quickly because the pricing is reasonable.
And I can’t forget Garage Sale Chic Chester County. Now there is a woman with a terrific eye! And without her I would not have my pot rack for $60 in my kitchen and the only floor lamp I have ever liked in my life.
I bought the furniture pieces mentioned because among other things they are sturdy, classic pieces I can reupholster some day and still love them. And that is part of developing your eye: imagine what something might look like stained differently, or painted, or reupholstered.
I love going to places like Clover Market (Ardmore, Chestnut Hill, and Philadelphia in the winter at the Armory) because I might spy something fun and quirky. The true kings and queens of repurposing are vendors there like Nanny Goat Antiques, Chairloom, and Brandywine View Antiques (who should also be visited and often in Chadds Ford), so I also always leave with great ideas.
I go to high-end antiques and craft shows to educate my eye as much as anything else. I don’t really buy at those shows, I am not in the demographic they shoot for – I am just average. But you need to educate your eye, because that is how you learn. And trust me, I have seen and be able to recognize some pretty amazing things in thrift shops and picking barns as a result.
I eBay too for small stuff like vintage table linens and locating the vintage plates and even cookware I like to use. I also will swap things with friends and so on. I am an insatiable bargain hunter with a knack for barter (I am told another word for it is “hondle”.) It’s fun.
At the end of the day, I want my home to reflect me, not someone else who doesn’t live there. I want it to be homey and personal. And what I hang on my walls isn’t running away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art or something. I prefer things I see by more local artists and unknowns altogether. One of my most favorite things is a watercolor in a simple wood frame I bought for $20 at the Smithfield Barn. It’s no Wyeth and never will be, but it makes me happy. I buy what I like. It doesn’t have to impress anyone, I just have to like it.
little table from Berwyn estate sale a few years ago – about $15. Candlestick and dish $5 from Harriton Fair at Historic Harriton House ten years ago. Print on the table of Chester County Farmhouse a gift
Another example is the little painting my sweet man found for me recently. Nothing fancy, but some unknown artist did a print of a farmhouse I love to photograph and have photographed in West Nantmeal Township. To me I would rather see things like that on someone’s walls than framed posters of art reproduction. Do you have a First Friday celebration in your community or near by? You might pick up a cool piece of art at a First Friday. Or check out local art shows. The art show prices are generally high, but if you like the artist, take down their information and contact them after the show. (For fun and funky art and high end crafts try Past*Present*Future in Ardmore )
Home is where your heart is, so to me that makes decorating where you hang your proverbial hat easy. Assemble your home to make yourself happy. I like looking at Architectural Digest, but I don’t want to live in Architectural Digest. I would rather live in something most probably found in Country Living Magazine, truthfully.
My photo of the same farmhouse in the print above!
I do Pinterest. It to me is like a giant cork-board. I will pin rooms that inspire me, things I might want to try, recipes, and so on. I will also ask my friends how and what they did if I like what I see. I am not dumb, I will not do work a professional should do so you won’t see me putting up dry wall and slathering mud on, but I can do basic painting if I have to and goofy things like sponge painting stair risers.
I do have a pretty good eye for color and special relationships and I can hawk a bargain. And most of all I still like looking even when there is nothing I need to buy. Window shopping is fun and inspirational.
So while you might find some in the Exton or King of Prussia Malls, chances are you will find me in a consignment shop , yard sale, or barn hunting for treasures.
My late father always said if you can read, you can learn to cook and I think a similar vein can be applied to decorating your home. And taste evolves, so what you like today could be completely different from ten years ago and twenty years in the future might be different again.
All I am saying is start small and just try. Then if you really don’t have a Designing Women gene, find someone to help you. But they should understand that you are the boss and listen and have a compatible personality.
I don’t know if I am doing it right or wrong. I just know what I like (and I know my limits.) It has been a process of trial and error over time. Kind of like when I experimented years and years ago with purple eye shadow. Some ideas work better than others. After all if you hate the color the walls are painted, you can always paint them a different color.
And oh by the way, this coming weekend is an OPEN barn weekend at Smithfield Barn.
I am not one for those milky pastel chalk paints and I think chalkboard paint should be banned as a decorating idea. Sorry but I am sick of seeing every piece of vintage and antique furniture looking like it was attacked by kissing cousins of Pepto-Bismol. not everything needs to be in pastel or a chalkboard.
And while I do think that white milk paint look has it’s place in beach houses, I just think it has been too done. And done again. As a matter of fact my sole criticism of dealers who go to Clover Market in Ardmore, PA is not only their pricing at times leaves a lot to be desired (I mean let us get real a lot of those people pick at places I haunt so I really know some of the mark-ups) but there is soooo much of the same stuff and it is all candy coated for lack of a better description. Show me the wood once in a while! Don’t make it all look like a French meringue cookie and think that will hide the fact the piece wobbles.
Mind you I was a long time fan of Rachel Ashwell shabby chic and loved it when she had her TV show. She used to go to flea markets and show you how to repurpose vintage finds. kind of like what Cari Cucksey does on her HGTV show Cash & Cari. But not everything was coated in paint. Moderation.
Do I like some painted furniture? Very much so. My mother for example has a piece I have loved since it came to be. She found an antique country armoire easily 25 years ago and had an artist faux paint it and a carpenter convert the inside so she could store china, crystal and serving pieces. It definitely makes a statement and is useful storage. And the painting is beautiful – and not milk paint or pastel chalk paint. You can appreciate the artistic side of it and the lines of the piece aren’t whited out and it is sturdy enough to survive the apocalypse.
My personal approach to painted furniture is if it didn’t start out life as a piece of painted furniture chances are I will not paint it. It’s just not me in the long run. Maybe my tastes will change on this, but I do not think so.
As far as furniture goes I am definitely of the school that believes older is better. But I want pieces that can be used. I don’t want to live in a mini Winterthur or the Modern Museum of Art.
I make no secret of the fact that I haunt picking barns, resale shops, consignment galleries, flea markets and garage and church sales. I will barter, swap, and hondle. It never hurts to ask if a better price is available. One reason I like places like the Smithfield Barn in Downingtown and Resellers Consignment in Frazer is the prices are not only unbeatable but OMG there is a constant turnover of variety and really cool pieces…and I can see the wood.
Yesterday when I went hunting for my garden bench, I saw this crazy slipper chair with a matching foot stool. The piece was probably late Victorian but a prior owner had reimagined it in yellow leather. The chair was usable as is and under a $100 if memory serves and the foot stool was around $50. The pair was so fun and quirky that if I had the room they would have been a total impulse buy. Oh and the chair wasn’t painted in pastels, an added bonus.
The thing about buying from Resellers that is fun is the listed price of an item will automatically decrease based upon number of days on the sales floor. But the prices are already old school estate sale prices so if you like it when you see it, buy it because chances are it won’t be there when you go back. And I have seen many furniture and antique dealers cruising the aisles of Reseller’s giant warehouse too. IF items last there more than 60 days they go to 50% off.
Some people can’t believe people will go to secondhand stores and picking barns for items for their home, yet amusingly enough if the same items show up at fine furniture dealers and antiques dealers they are “darling” and “must haves”.
When you buy a piece of gently used wood furniture, treat it right. Don’t rush to cover up its natural patina with paint, try cleaning it and polishing it. I am a big fan of Williamsville Wax – it is a blend of beeswax, lemon oil, and other natural oils and supposedly the company uses a recipe for this that has been used since Colonial times.
And don’t be afraid to have fun with your furniture. It can still be fun and comfortable and not look like you picked it all out from Ikea and Raymour & Flanigan. And believe it or not, you can have nice things around kids. You do not have to live with plastic. That is an added bonus of some of these furniture finds- the prices are so good that say an accident occurs you can actually afford to have the piece recovered or repaired and it is actually worth it to do so.
The other thing is this – educate your own eye- go to antiques shows, check out design magazines and Pinterest boards and create your own inspiration. Face it, while many would love to say they had an interior decorator or whatever, the reality is most can’t afford that and when you connect to your own rooms in your own home it is far more satisfying. And it really is home.
So this summer I discovered a gardening book I just loved. Truthfully I have not enjoyed a gardening book as much in easily twenty years. The book is called Suzy Bales’ Down to Earth Gardener.
Anyway, I had found this book completely by accident and bought it on a whim. I am so glad I did. It was like this author was speaking to me directly and got how I gardened. And the author happened to like a lot of the same plants as I did, including David Austin English roses. I have a friend whose David Austin English roses have move with her she loves the so much, but I digress.
So I have this rose I planted last fall on a whim when I found it on sale at a local nursery – Del Vacchio’s on 352. It was supposed to be a shrub so I planted it adjacent to a walk. Well, it has developed a far more rangy habit and I was faced with either a rigid pruning or moving it. I did not really want to move it. Something in Mrs. Bales’ book as far as her approach to roses made me think – she said she lets her roses grow how they want, so I thought “why not?” and ordered a topiary form for the garden. The form arrived a few days ago and I put it up. So simple a solution and it so works!
This is part of the fun of doing your own garden– you can try your ideas out and it’s much more cool (at least to me) than walking around after some random landscaper has put their commercial version of your vision to work. It is just more satisfying.
So today I was almost ready for a truss by the time I got it in place, but I finally found the garden bench I had been searching for. I wanted a small to medium sized vintage concrete or wrought iron bench for a corner that is a little wild but felt right for a contemplative spot.
I have been looking and looking and looking. These vintage benches are not only hard to come by but darn tasty in price most of the time. I have had dealers and pickers and flea market pals on the hunt. Saw a heavy white but slightly shabby chic cast iron bench at Brandywine View Antiques but it was a little wobbly and priced too high for me considering the wobbles. You see I wanted a bench that I could experiment with, but not too dear in price if it only lasted through a few Chester County winters. From a practical standpoint, there is only so much garden furniture I was to shift, store, and cover.
Well this afternoon on a whim I stopped at Resellers Consignment in Frazer. They get a lot of odds and ends of all types of garden furniture in all the time. A couple of weeks ago they had some really large concrete garden benches and I didn’t get them….because they were more than the price I had in my head that they should be and big enough that I had no clue how I would move it off their sales floor.
So outside I saw a bunch of great looking vintage wrought iron furniture and so on outside e front door and wondered if I would just end up with a mesh backed garden bench that I would somehow have to find room to store over the winter, but the little bench I saw was part of a pair and well I definitely did not want to store a pair. One of the owners was on site and offered to split up the pair, but then he said “well I do have one old concrete bench that is a little beat up that hasn’t made it onto the sales floor.”
Music to my ears!!!!!!
He showed it to me and it was love at shabby chic bench. I never wanted anything new, I wanted something I could plop in my garden today, yet had the look of belonging there for years and years. The price was right too: $40 because it did have a little mend in the seat.
So I hauled it home and maneuvered it into place. Somehow I managed on my own although I shouldn’t have. I have my bench! I have plans to plant daffodil bulbs around the cement bench “legs” and I think in a year it will be like the bench has always been there.
I get so much satisfaction from my garden. It is a simple pleasure, yet so rewarding. Try a little gardening. It is so good for the soul !
It’s so funny. I have never intentionally set out to collect anything, I have just found things I like I want in my home. Yes for me, collecting is pretty much that simple.
This year I have purged a lot of stuff that no longer interests me. For example when I was barely out of my teens I had a fascination with certain kinds of old glasses – sherry and cordial sized. But realistically, I am not the generation who sips sherry by the fire, so I jettisoned them. They were pretty, I loved them once upon a time, but now I want things I can also use.
To an extent I like a LITTLE BIT of what would be classified as “country things”. I am not however the gal with Holly Hobby Country wallpaper borders complete with hex signs and sun bonnets. Nor will you find little gingham anything around my home.
The things I like are to an extent things of my childhood that I grew up around or admired in the homes of others. I love gorgeous period antiques but for me to live with furniture pieces, I need things I can use, and use every day if I so choose. So I love things like furniture with simple and elegant lines – I love wood. Not deep heavy burdensome Victorian finishes but beautiful woods with simple, clean lines, and their more natural hues and stains.
I abhor the current trends with regard to painting furniture because I feel good antique and vintage pieces are being ruined and sent to chalkboard and pastel paint furniture purgatory. I am also sick of people calling themselves vintage and antiques dealers because they cover rickety furniture that is not necessarily worth saving with pastel paints and chalkboard paint.
Some people I know who are real dealers do a little of this with style, but not every piece in their inventory looks like it vomited pastel paint or *must* have a chalkboard. I am a grown up I don’t personally want to live with little girl doll house furniture or people to mistake my furniture for particle board garbage from WalMart and Ikea. Sorry to sound snobby but, I like the real wood. Let that oak, cherry, poplar, walnut, whatever shine through. Love the natural beauty. Besides, wood pieces with normal wood finishes shining through will transition with you through whatever personal style evolution. Chalkboard paint and too much pastel paint is as bad as houses that are so beige nothing stands out. And when you are tired of that stuff, you will find yourself leaving half of it on the curb for trash day.
I like a mix of old and new, and I have learned to trust my eye. And I look at stuff – antiques stores, thrift shops, consignment stores, picking barns, garage sales – even if I am not buying I look. I look at how professional stylists are putting together rooms in magazine layouts. You never know where a good idea might come from. But at the end of the day, what I do reflects my personal style and what makes a house a home to me.
I want every room to be able to be used. Now granted I prefer to keep the teenagers out of my living room, but that is self-preservation as much as anything else LOL!
Since moving out to Chester County I have become fascinated once again with some primitives. Candlesticks in particular. (Yes I know some of you are wondering if I have fallen out of love with plain milk glass nesting chickens, and the answer is no of course not. But everything in moderation and my better half already thinks I have chicken issues….)
So anyway, for years I have had a black tin painted Toleware chamber candlestick that I picked up many years ago for $5 or $10 at the white elephant tables at Historic Harriton House on their annual September fair day, and between there and at St. David’s Fair and thrift shops for equally low sums over the years a few other chamber candle sticks. They are just a little touch I like. They look friendly and homey to me.
Recently out at Smithfield Barn I have come across a few primitive cast iron candlesticks. They are very Pennsylvania and New England. I thought they were fun so I bought them. All were $10 or less each, incidentally. I just liked their look.
So now I have researched them, and one is a primitive chamber stick (it has a finger or thumb hold and looks like it is in a little bowl), one is a “courting” candlestick (it looks like it is a spring in shape with a little wooden knob that can move the candle up as it burns), and one is a “hog scraper” “wedding band” candlestick ( it has a little screw to push up the candle like a lot of the cast iron ones do and it has a little metal band, maybe of brass that looks like a “wedding band”.)
Now I know mine aren’t fine antiques, they were used in a house in the country somewhere but I like them. If these were the fine antique versions of themselves, they would be hundreds of dollars each. Mine will be used and enjoyed. As a matter of fact you will still see cast iron candlesticks even in modern decor – Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, and other places. And they are found a lot in European countries as well. But for my taste, nothing beats the American primitive form of cast iron and tin candlesticks. Some are painted, some are not.
Cast Iron Vintage Shave Ice Tool – found for $2. Just a random display piece but is in full working order that I actually could use it!
If candlesticks like this interest you, check your more country antiques and vintage shops and picking barns- I saw a few at Frazer Antiques last week, but they were a tad tasty in price for me – I admit it I am a bargain hunter. You will also find country primitives like this throughout New England in places like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. I think some of the most fine antique and vintage shopping you can do is in Maine and Vermont in particular.
Anyway, what bargains and cool vintage things have you found recently that you love?
Amongst rather unattractive things Aunt Tilly jettisoned from her home are some really fun things. Old, new, antique, collectible, and in between. Yes there is a lot of stuff that qualifies as dead furniture, but there are gems. I saw a handful of empire sofas today that yes would require reupholstering (some due to wear, some due to fabric choice), but they were beautiful.
Stuff is pretty much priced to move too.
And no, I did not buy that chair. I wanted to, but my better half nixed the needlepoint of it all. And it is under $100 too :<(