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Category Archives: Thrifting

Being Happy with Where I Am

Being Happy with Where I Am

January is definitely the month of self-improvement, or at least affirmations of self-improvement. I guess I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. This post will, therefore, be rather self-indulgent and fairly meander-y (because after a long day at work fighting bad guys, the last thing I want to do is write up an outline for a blog post).

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Something that I’ve been struggling with lately is feeling dissatisfied with what my apartment looks like, and letting that make me really depressed.  Yeah, it doesn’t look like a picture out of HGTV. And yeah, it’s a work in progress. And no, I still don’t have art for over the TV.  But what I want to focus on is not what is wrong with my apartment or what I want to change. Rather, I want to focus on what is working and try to find more ways to make moments that are working.

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On step I am taking in this direction is participating in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  So far, I am really digging it. It’s a realistic way for me to make progress on getting my apartment in shape, but not in a picture perfect way. Just in a normal people, with normal lives, trying to make their homes a little more beautiful.  After just scrubbing the crap out of my floors and vacuuming behind and underneath furniture I don’t usually move, plus adding fresh flowers, my apartment already feels a million times better. Who’d have thunk?

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Sort of in the vein of being happy with what I’ve done instead of focusing on what I want to do, I am sharing pictures of my bar area. I’m happy with how this “moment” in my apartment looks.  Everything in it was either thrifted, DIY, or is an heirloom.

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My GREAT GRANDMOTHER made that charcoal horse drawing. I’m obsessed. It’s still in the frame I got it in, because I’m scared that if I change the frame, the picture will disintegrate. This came into my life just at a time when I was really wanting more horse art, and the fact that it’s an heirloom (I have only one other real heirlooms), well that was awesome.

I painted the little owl painting, and blogged about it here.

I found the small deer antlers at Brooklyn Flea for $20.

I MADE both the deer and moose taxidermy. It’s papier mache, and I’m pretty stoked with how it came out. I will try to post a tutorial soon.

I got the dresser for $35 on craigslist and the distressing you see is REAL distressing because that’s exactly how the paint chipped just from being old. No faux distressing for me. I’m currently debating repainting it, but part of me loves the original paint finish.

Here’s this area all dolled up for the holidays, with a garland of pom poms and bells that I made (tutorial from A Beautiful Mess). IMG_0519

So I guess what I am trying to say is this: I’m going to be proud of myself when I am awesome, and go easier on myself for things that aren’t perfect. And keep my floors clean. 😉

Happy New Year, my dear readers! I am so glad you are on this journey with me.

Love,

Rachel

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Out of my comfort zone: Tomato Red

Out of my comfort zone: Tomato Red

In my decorating, I’ve been sticking to blue, white and yellow. I know my boyfriend likes them, I know they look good together, and they are safe.  I would throw in more pink as often as possible, but that makes the man a little uncomfortable.

Here she is with nothing in her. Next to my insect poster.

Here she is with nothing in her. Next to my insect poster.

So when I started painting this cabinet for the kitchen a light teal color, I thought it would be fine because it was blue-ish and we generally agree on blue. I had rolled on one coat, and was starting on the second coat when he came out. He saw what I was doing and goes, “We’re painting it that color? I thought we were done with that color.”

And with that, we were on the way to the hardware to pick out a new color that we could both agree on. The deal was that I would buy the paint, and if I didn’t like it, he would buy replacement paint and the paint for the next thing that I wanted paint. I could live with that.

I wanted to go with a fuschia. I figured the kitchen was my space and so I would do what I wanted and get away with bright pink. But that apparently was not in the cards. After a lukewarm discussion in the paint aisle (I won’t say it was heated, but it was definitely not room temperature), I selected a bright red – bordering on pink and orange.  As the paint was being mixed, I was getting more and more apprehensive.

Doesn't she look nice with my aqua bowls?

Doesn’t she look nice with my aqua bowls?

I left the hardware store in a sour mood – really questioning this decision. There is nothing red in the apartment. It is not going to go with anything. I pouted the whole way home. But, boyfriend reminded me of the deal, and I sucked it up and tried to get excited.

Then, I thought about the great bedroom makeover from Kristin on the Hunted Interior – the one with the Kate Spade pallet of red, pink, aqua, teal and black.  I loved that room and it had both tomato red and lots of cooler blue tones.  I also thought about the bright red secretary and red drawers from Jenny at Little Green Notebook.  I swallowed my fear and started painting.

FIVE coats of paint later (ladies and gentlemen, buy the best quality paint you can when going dark. I didn’t even buy the cheapest and it still took FIVE coats to get the coverage I wanted), and I was in L-O-V-E. The color was soooo good. And sooooo bright. And so unlike things I’ve done before. Breaking my mold felt so good. I was finally liberated from my self built prison of white, blue and yellow. Finally, I was free to mix colors with reckless abandon (OK, maybe with just *more* abandon than I previously had done).

It’s funny, because in college and even when I was younger, I used to decorate with whatever pleased me. Things were usually super saturated bright colors and jewel tones, and everything generally went well together, even if it wasn’t exactly stylish. Somewhere along the line, I stopped just buying and selecting things I liked, but started selecting the things that I thought I should use. The result: I was fairly unsatisfied with my apartment – it felt pretty, but not very me.

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This kitchen cabinet is the start of something new. While I will still have to compromise to get the boyfriend to go along with whatever I am feeling, I have learned that following my gut instinct has the best results. While I was busy trying to please others, I wasn’t pleasing my boyfriend’s design tastes nor my own. Go figure.

We love the red. It’s fun and different and the start of a new era.

What do you think? What have you done decorating-wise that made you uncomfortable but turned out great?

Love,

Rachel

Lipstick-on-a-pig dresser

Lipstick-on-a-pig dresser

There comes a time in life when you move in with your boyfriend. And you HATE his furniture. It’s black laminate crap from Walmart. A whole set of black laminate crap.

You spend days and weeks dreaming of the perfect mid-century modern dressers, or reclaimed wood pieces. And then you realize that you already spent all of your signing bonus on moving, movers, a new couch and a trip to the Dominican Republic. So, this is not really a sob story (because all those things were pretty awesome), but it is a story about me spending money in some places and then not having money for new dressers. (And yes, I looked at local thrift stores and craigslist. Duh. DC thrift stores and craigslist both kinda suck when compared with NYC and Princeton thrift stores.)

Ugly crappy black laminate furniture that does not jive with my decor tastes.

Ugly crappy black laminate furniture that does not jive with my decor tastes. This is what it looked like about 3 days after moving in. Excuse the mess. Or don’t. Whatever.

So you come back to reality and you kindly let your boyfriend move his ugly furniture into the apartment, and then when he turns his back YOU BUST OUT THE SPRAY PAINT AND MAKE THAT SH*T SO MUCH BETTER! (“Sorry, sweetie… Uh… I went to the store and when I came back it was just painted and had new hardware. I have no idea what happened!”)

And, like last post, there is no fancy staging or anything because the rest of the apartment is still coming together slowly. And I don’t want any readers out there to feel bad about themselves when they see all the awesomeness in my apartment, and stuff… er…uh… Yeah. That sounds good.

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So I sanded it lightly, used some Kilz primer (the good stuff), and then gave it three coats of white satin spray paint. Then I switched out the hardware from those ugly steel pull thingies to these brass Martha Stewart cup pulls. At $1.98 a piece, they are affordable AND stylish. Oh, and they are gold colored, which obviously my boyfriend LOVES, just like he loves all my paper mache taxidermy (oh yeah, get excited because that’s coming soon).

Ahhh... That's better...

Ahhh… That’s better…

The only problem with painting it white is that now the poor quality materials shows (like the fact that the spaces between teh drawers are not all even).

Regardless, I am very happy with the transformation. And I put the dresser on casters, so now I can roll it around easily and stuff.

The dresser won’t last that long, since it’s poorly made crap, but this pig looks SO much better with just a little white and gold lipstick. Until I can get some new stuff or have a major thrift store score, this will work just fine.

Love,

Rachel

I’m Back. I missed you.

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I’m Back. I missed you.

Hello Blogland,

I am back from the dead. I guess being dead in blog land is actually being alive, as in living real life, interacting with flesh and blood people instead of internet people. Weird though. And like any resurrected zombie, I am HUNGRY! Not for brains and flesh or anything like that, because, let’s be honest, ewwwwwwww. But hungry to resume blogging and to resume creating.

It has been a crazy six weeks since my last post (ewwwwwww). Shameful. But wanna know something cool? Even without creating new content, I have had a pretty steady stream of visitors! Neat, huh! I guess I must be slightly relevant or something. Or people just really want to see one of these things.

A lot has happened in the last six weeks. For one thing, I finished my first year at Princeton! This means I only have one more year of grad school to go. Four is a lot of years of grad school. In fact, if you don’t count the thumb, you almost cannot count to four on the fingers on one hand. I mean, I know how to count to four on one hand, since I am in grad school and everything, but it’s cutting it kinda close.

Second thing, Pinterest! I mean, I know that sounds old and trite, but I was way behind the bloggers in getting into Pinterest. What a great way to spend 3 hours 10 minutes on a study break. I think the reason why I like Pinterest so much is because it’s like watching a BUNCH of HGTV episodes really quickly, where you can skip straight to the reveal. And, while there is a lot of cool stuff on Pinterest, there is also a lot that I don’t like on it, like HGTV, so it’s really helping me hone my style.

Third thing, I am moving out of my apartment next week.

Fourth thing, I am MOVING TO VIENNA. AUSTRIA. In case you didn’t realize, Austria is a whole other country. I am moving there for the summer, but whatever, it’s still moving there. And I am pretty sure I will move there when I graduate anyway. I cannot WAIT to take Suits and Aprons there! Vienna is a great antiquing place. Plus, I am going to try to find an Austria cooking class and then will share my creations with you! Seriously guys, Europe.

Fifth thing: No. I am not having a baby anytime soon. But I had a friend who had a baby back in January. A sweet little girl. I said I would make the baby a high chair. It is now May. I am finally presenting high chair to mother and baby this weekend. I’m a little slow. But it’s cool, because I think babies don’t sit in high chairs until they are around 5 or 6 months anyway. And this high chair might even be for a slightly older kid. Not sure. Not a mom.  But either way.

I got this high chair at a giant rummage sale. I painted it with this awesome yellow homemade chalk paint. I sanded and distressed it. Then I applied a coat of antiquing glaze. Then I stopped and thought long and hard. A high chair is something a baby sits in. The baby might chew on it. (Why? Because babies put pretty much everything in their mouths, and since this chair is so awesome and looks like a gumdrop, it’s definitely getting mauled). The baby will be eating food stuff off of it. And what kind of friend would I be if I used some unsafe substance to seal it?

Also, babies are messy and will spill and maybe draw on things with markers as they turn into toddlers. So I wanted a strong finish.

I just didn’t think furniture wax was up to the challenge, and it might be soft enough to come off when the child chews on it. So instead of waxing, I applied many heavy coats of Krylon’s Crystal glaze. It’s durable so I figured it wouldn’t get chewed off easily, and it would be less likely than wax to transmit any chemicals or what-have-you.

Sixth, all this talk about toxic painting products reminds me of things that have been ticking me off on Pinterest: STOP PAINTING THINGS YOU EAT OFF OF. Most paints are not food safe. That chalk board cheese plate that has been pinned like a million times? Probably causes cancer. I’m not saying that if food comes into contact with a painted surface for a minute that you will get sick, but if it’s going to sit there for a bit, really think about whether you want to put those chemicals in your food. I haven’t ranted about this on Pinterest because that would be an annoying thing to do. But that’s my 2 cents.

OK, I will come up with other things to share. But now I’m going back to bed, and then I’m hanging out with some flesh and blood peeps while I get my summertime on.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Blogland, I missed you. It feels good to be wrapped once more in your sweet, megapixel embrace. We’ve had many good memories, and we will make many more in the future. And I, for one, am freaking excited!

Love,

Rachel

Another French Bulletin Board

I have been sitting on posting this project for a bit, because I was waiting until it arrived at my best friend’s place. It was a birthday gift. Her birthday was in January, but better late than never, you know? You can see my other French bulletin board here.

I bought an ugly old French bulletin board at Salvation Army. Then I recovered it with this awesome Suzani print that I bought online at fabric.com. Have you been to that website? It has SO many different awesome patterns at very reasonable prices. (*They are not paying me to say this, I just really like their website.*)

Once recovered, I added some ribbon. A super easy project that makes a lovely present.

Seriously – how freaking awesome is this suzani print? With the adorable little seahorses? The yellow and brown and pink? I am freaking obsessed with this fabric.

That’s all I got for today, folks. I will try to be more on top of blogging, but like, only if I feel like it. Because I am not going to let blogging become another obligation on my time. I just want it to be funny happy time.

For the love of seahorses!

Rachel

More Thrifty Finds: Meet Chloe

School has been a little insane, which has impacted my blogging and my crafting/DIYing.

But, I did get a chance to do some fun thrifting. I found this adorable owl plate for $0.79 at Salvation Army. Her name is Chloe.

Chloe was a major score!

Chloe goes perfectly with my decor too.

And I found this lovely green pitcher for $1.50, I think:

I am loving these two ceramic horse heads. I am not sure what they are. I think they might make really cool book-ends. They aren’t quite heavy enough, but I can fill them with sands.

What color should I paint them? I am thinking gold. Thoughts?

I am loving these ceramic horses. Cannot wait to paint them. They were only $1 each.

This darling little plate was only $0.49. I have nothing else like it, but I hope to someday.

Check out this sweet rhinoceros! $2! I may also spray paint, but I am not sure yet. It’s just so interesting and adorable.

And the last great thing I found was this little cloche. The plate is heinous, but cloches are lovely no matter what. I may just get rid of the plate and keep the cloche itself. $3.

Well, that’s all folks.

Maybe I will have something more interesting in the future. Also, let me know what color you think I should paint the horse heads.

Love,

Rachel

I’m Linking Up (To the tune of “I’m Coming Out”)

No Minimalist Here

Gold and Brass and Plastic: Thrift Store Scores!

Gold and Brass and Plastic: Thrift Store Scores!

I went to Baltimore a few weekends ago to hang with my BFF. We did some MAJOR thrift store trips, including stopping by an incredible non-profit salvage yard called Second Chance that hires ex-convicts and trains them on how to remove architectural features from buildings facing demolition so that the pieces can be salvaged. It seems like a great program, and they had AMAZING stuff ranging from antique furniture to old wood ovens to giant mantlepieces. If you are in Baltimore or anywhere near, I recommend stopping by. They have 5 or 6 warehouses. FIVE OR SIX WAREHOUSES. You read that right.

It's hard to photograph hallways and stairways. No good angles.

Since I wasn’t looking to install a whole mantleplace in my apartment, I didn’t get anything at Second Chance. However, a few of the many thrift stores we hit up that day (three or four?) had some great stuff.

I have been looked for thrifted owl stuff for ages to no avail. On our second swing through the houseware/chotsky section, BFF found this guy (moral: always go through each section twice). She didn’t see the potential, but I had told her that if she saw ANY owls that I had dibs. It is plastic, about 12 inches tall, and has a wall-hangy thing on the back already. How much? $2.99. Maybe a little steep, but owls are hard to come by.

I know you don't see the potential, but just wait!

Well, first thing I did was spray paint my new friend gold.

After spray paint, before antiquing glaze. Starting to see it, huh?

Then to make it look like, well, an antique, I coated it with Valspar antiquing glaze, making sure to get the glaze into all the little nooks and crannies.

He looks so regal sitting on the wall, at the top of the stairs now, doesn’t he? He needs a name…. Hmm….Suggestions? What about Philbert? Eugene? Ooooh…. I am liking Eugene. I will let it ruminate for a little bit before I make it official, but I am liking Eugene.

Standing guard at the top of the stairs - always vigilant and always welcoming me home!

So now you are probably thinking that the painting below Eugene is a little weird. And you would be right. It’s a little weird. But the frame is awesome. I got the painting for the frame at another Baltimore thriftstore for $8. I almost passed it up, but so glad that I didn’t.

Nice size, lovely patina. Ignore the bizarre painting - you can change that.

I am actually planning to switch out the oil painting with one of my own. Guess what I’m going to paint!? Guess!

AN OWL!!! I’m gonna paint a little owl friend for Eugene and it will be awesome. Boyfriend may have called me the weird girl with lots of owls earlier today. But I only have two now. You haven’t met the other one yet (you will). But two owls does not a “crazy oil lady” make. Just saying.

Didn't need to do anything to this. Perfect as it is.

I got this mirror at the same thrift store as the picture frame. I think the mirror was $20. Which is WAY more than I like spending on thrifted good. But it was awesome. And I knew I would regret it. So I bought it. Super good decision.

Because now, the gold owl and frame, and this brassy mirror all hang at the top of my stairwell, making an interesting statement. Not sure what that statement is yet, but it’s interesting at least. 🙂

I dig it. You may or may not. But that’s OK. I have fun new pieces to talk about, and my new friend, Eugene.

Another shot of my new triptic of thrifted finds.

It’s really hard to get a good photograph in my stairwell. The light is terrible and the angles are impossible. Apologies.

I hope I have inspired you to get thrifting. But just remember, if you find something awesome, you should buy it. Because if you don’t, I will. And then you will see it on my blog all awesomized and you will kick yourself for letting it get away.

You have fair warning. Ready, set, thrift!

Love,

Rachel

I’m Partying Here:

French Country Cottage

Common Ground

Happy Hour Projects

Tater Tots and Jello

Funky Junk Interiors

Be Different, Act Normal

The Tablescaper

Between Naps on the Porch

House of Grace

Coastal Charm

A Diamond in the Stuff

Not Just a Housewife

Type A Decorating

Giggles Glitz and Glam

My Uncommon Slice of Surburbia

Domestically Speaking

Saavy Southern Style

DIY by Design

A Beach Cottage (Though their linky party is a little glitchy today, and poor Mrs. Beach suffered a terrible bug bite. Get well soon!)

No Minimalist Here

Somewhat Simple

The Shabby Creek Cottage