Friday, July 31, 2009

Junk Philosophy - Part 2

Hey y'all! I'm back with some more junk philosophy. In part one I told you all about my personal theories for picking the good junk from the bad. Today, I have some tips for where to go to find the good junk. While there are many places you can go to find junk, they usually fall into two categories:

1. Junk in the rough: This my favorite kind of junk, simply because the people selling or giving it away do not realize that their junk has potential. This misconception on their part translates into cheap prices or freebies for you the junk lover. The down side to this is that you may have to wade through lots of unworthy junk in order to find a true diamond in the rough.

2. Previously discovered junk: This is the sort of thing you find at flea markets and nice second hand shops. Someone has already done the dumpster diving and estate sale gleaning for you. The upside of this is loads of the good junk all in one place. The down side is that the seller already knows the junk has great DIY potential and has priced accordingly.
Let's take a closer look at possible junk finding places in both categories:

1. The side of the road/some one's basement/attic/barn.

shabby telephone table previously known as "barn junk"

When it comes to prices, we're all pretty happy with free. Great free junk is often waiting to be found on the side of the road the night before trash pick up. It has also been found when family and friends need help cleaning out their attic/barn/basement. Sometimes it lingers at the end of a yard/moving sale when people really don't want to lug their junk somewhere else to get rid of it. Free junk has even been known to appear on Craig's List. The lesson here: keep your eyes open!
2. Junk Shops

Vintage paint-by-number coastal scene previously known as "junk shop that may collapse at any moment junk."

There are a lot of fancy vintage/shabby/french country shops out there masquerading as junk shops. I am not talking about those. In a true junk shop, stuff is piled everywhere in layers of dust, rust, and possible health hazards. The building is probably not up to code. You may find a hobnail vase full of dead insects next to a rusty saw blade, behind a classic parsons table. You will emerge from the shop covered in a layer of grime, but you will have gotten a bargain. Take the back roads during trips, or get lost in a remote corner of your state and you may just run into one of these hidden treasure troves.


3. Yard and estate Sales.

These are a bit tricky. It's easy to spend a Saturday running all over town and find only baby clothes, particle board furniture, and over priced "antiques." It's impossible to predict what you'll discover, but there are a few ways you can increase your chances of striking junk gold. Find out where the old people live. New neighborhoods usually have new stuff and young families, which is great if you're looking for some things, but not that helpful if you're looking for sturdy old furniture. Figuring out where the older neighborhoods are can help you find sales that are more likely to yield the good stuff. Church sales sponsored by congregations with a large number of older members can also be great places to look.


4. Goodwill/other Charity stores

Fresh kitchen table and chairs previously know as "Goodwill junk"

Not all Goodwills are created equal. Some have a surplus of clothing and newish household goods, while others have a ton of great old furniture and china. In general, I've found that the stores on the older sides of town have better stuff.


5. Other thrift and second hand stores.

Vintage typewriter table previously known as "Family Thrift Store junk"

There are lots of non charity thrift stores out there. You can find these in the phone book or by googling your city and thrift. They vary in quality, so it's worth figuring out where the good ones are.


6. Flea Markets/The Big Flea

As you may know, there are flea markets and there are Flea Markets. You are not looking for the tube sock/boot leg video/hemp blanket kind of flea market. You are hoping to find the piles of glassware/heaps of vintage linens/stacks of botanical prints kind of Flea Market. You can find the good kind through our friend Google. Many cities have reoccurring Flea Markets in conjunction with farmer's markets or at the fair grounds or expo center. It is a good idea to go into one of these places with an idea of how much you are willing to pay for something. Prices will probably be jacked up a bit (or a lot) but most dealers are willing and expecting to bargain. I was taught to politely ask, "Is this the best you can do?" or "Would you be willing to take $?" If you find the right kind of Flea Market, almost everything will be good junk, and though the prices may be higher than elsewhere, everything is still loads cheaper than new furniture prices.


7. Junktique shops

Coffee table previously known as "Class and Trash junk"

Junktique shops fall somewhere in the middle of true junk shops and those vintage/shabby/french country fake junk shops. Almost everything in the store will be good junk, but things still might be a bit jumbled. You can often haggle some over prices, and if you're looking out for something in particular, the owners are usually willing to take your information and contact you when they find something they think you'll like. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between these shops and their high priced cousins. If the area is pretty swanky and the rent is likely to be high, then the shop is probably not going to offer up any bargains. If the shop is in a outlying or more run down area, the rent is likely to be lower, and the prices much better.

I'm sure I missed something, so be sure to comment if you think of other tips. I hope all of you are ready to go out tomorrow and find some awesome junk!



Thursday, July 30, 2009

Isn't it lovely?

Julia, from Open Hand Living, gave me this awesome blog award. Thanks Julia!
I'm super late at acknowledging and passing on the blog love - I blame it on the fact that VBS is this week, and my crew of six very sweet ( and very wiggle wormy) little boys has worn me out!
Anyway, you are supposed to pass the love and award on to 15 other blogs. Due to all the worn outness, I'm going to put my own spin on the award and nominate all the blogs on my blogroll. These blogs are both big and small, but every single one is full of great ideas, humor, and inspiration. So, turn your attention to the lower right side of your screen, and go visit these awesome blogs! They will rock your socks off.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bench Pressed - Resolved!

Remember when I talked about re-doing our storage bench in the entryway? Well, after I painted it over the weekend, I decided that it needed a little extra tweaking. Now it's all done and I LOVE it! I'm so happy with it, that I decided to participate in Transformation Thursday over at the Shabby Chic Cottage, and Do it Yourself Day at A Soft Place to Land.

This is what the bench looked like before it got a much needed makeover

Because it had several layers of textured paint, it received a good once over with our new orbital sander. I have to say that Brad and I had a lot of fun playing with our new toy. I'm sorry there aren't any pictures, but we were racing a thunderstorm.


After sanding, we wiped the bench down really well with damp paper towels. After it dried, I gave it a coat of Krylon white spray primer. This was my first time using Krylon, and I have to say that I really prefer Rust-Oleum.


Once the primer dried, it was time to open my free quart of Glidden fresh guacamole. This was definitely a lesson in the actual paint color being quite different than what it looked like on my computer screen. I still love the new color, but it turned out to be much lighter, with a more yellow undertone than what I expected. I gave the bench three coats to get really good coverage. I've finally learned to be patient and apply multiple coats. Glidden is probably the nicest quality paint I've ever used on furniture, and I honestly could tell the difference.


After the paint dried, I liked the bench, but felt like it was still missing something. I mulled it over for a little bit, and remembered how crazy the blog world is over numbers. I decided to jump on that bandwagon, and I'm so glad I did!

I'm crazy over my new bench. I just printed out the numbers, carefully cut them out, and used mod podge to attach them to the bench. After they dried, they got two more coats of mod podge over the top. I was a little worried about the color running, so I tried one on paper first. Yup, the color ran like crazy, but I really wanted numbers. I armed myself with a wet paper towel and went for it anyway. I found that if I carefully wiped around the edge of each number as soon as I applied the mod podge, I could successfully remove any grey streaks from the black ink.

And now for a 360 view of the entryway with the new bench.

Love it!

Thanks to Glidden for the amazing transformation!

Now, go check out all of the other awesome DIY transformation posts!



Monday, July 27, 2009

Junk Philosophy Part 1

One thing I get asked fairly often, is how to spot good junk and how to make it work in your house. I don't think I'll ever go out and buy rooms of new furniture. For one thing, it makes me cry to look at the price tags on most quality new furniture. For another thing, I'm just not a fan of the showroom look. I like the roost to look as if the rooms have evolved over time. When I started to think about this topic, I realized that my junk philosophy is sort of involved, so I decided to break things down into three parts. Today I want to post about how to spot good junk and envision it made over. Later on I'll post about sources for finding good junk, and I'll do a final post about some tricks for getting your junk and new furniture to mesh in a room.
I have some rules for buying used furniture. You don't have to stick to these, but they have worked really well for me.

1. Solid construction is a must. I always put my weight on a piece of furniture and give it a little wiggle. If the legs do the hula, there's a problem somewhere.

2. Drawers must be dovetailed. I'm a little snobby about this. If I'm going to invest the time in re-doing a piece, I want it to last for a long time. I just say, "no!" to stapled or glued drawers.

3. I only buy real wood. Laminate and particle board can be painted, but it's tricky. There is plenty of real wood out there.

4. I tend to stay away from things that need total reupholstering. Like boats, upholstering is a pit you throw money into. If you really love a piece and don't mind spending the money, go for it.

5. Think good bones and clean lines. It's really hard to go wrong if you stick to this.

6. Reimagine interesting objects as something else. I'll show some examples of this below.

This is an example of what not to buy. I can't really think of a possible way of saving this sofa. The lines are strange, the bones are bad, and the complicated construction would cost a fortune to upholster.

This ugly sofa has more hope. The lines are classic and the tufting adds a sense of elegance. All it needs is sanding, priming, and new paint. While the orange upholstery wouldn't work in my house, I think it has a certain charm and could be amazing in another house with the frame painted a crisp white, glossy black, or even a fun beachy color like pale aqua or spring green.
The following pieces are all from Class & Trash, my favorite local second hand shop.

I love these vintage ice boxes. They don't even really need a new paint job. I would love to see these in a dinning room or breakfast nook for extra storage. If you want to get a little imaginative, I think the smaller white one would look amazing in a bathroom, while I could see the blue number tucked in a nook as a linen press.

This dresser is full of potential. Dressers are one of my favorite second hand buys because they are so easy to re-do, and can be use in a million ways. For this one, I would add some paint and change the hardware. I could see it in a bedroom, entryway, or dinning room.

This picture is full of great ideas waiting to happen. Vintage windows can have a new life as artwork, picture frames, and even coffee tables. I think the cubby would be awesome in a craft room or office. I would paint the whole thing white, or maybe a pretty green or blue, then use modge podge to attach coordinating scrapbook paper to the back of each cubby. I'm on the look out for some biscuit boxes like the ones on the top right. They are great for tucking under a coffee table to hold blankets or magazines. You can also use them on a shelf like you would a basket, or stack them to create an end table.

After dressers, chairs are my next favorite second hand finds. Most just need a coat of paint. I'd love to see the rocker in a nursery. It would have a whole new life with a simple seat cover and some paint or stain.
Here are just a few of the junk re-dos that live in the roost.

Old suitcases and train cases make great storage. I'm always on the lookout for more of these!

I so love my card catalogue turned TV stand. When we build, it might end up in the dinning room as a buffet or in the craft room as extra storage.

This shelf used to be a window valance.

Dated microwave cabinet turned shabby chic buffet with the help of paint and new hardware.

Little red folding table

A coat of white paint and new hardware instantly lightened this chunky nightstand. Ya know how black has a slimming effect on people? Well, white seems to have a similar effect on heavy looking furniture.
Any other tips for picking the good junk from the bad? Please share!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

lighten up

Way back in May, when I made my summer break to-do list, fixing up the bathroom ranked number one. I started off with a bang, making an easy-peasy no-sew sink skirt, but things pretty much stagnated after that. This weekend, Brad and I finally got around to taking a few more steps towards improving the 'ol water closet.
Note that the the pretend brass sconces clash beautifully with the stainless steal sink/mirror unit. Yeah, this was driving me crazy.

We'd priced some replacements at Home Depot and Lowe's, but everything decent and practical for the space was way more than we wanted to spend on a rental home. Enter my good friend, Rust-Oleum spray paint. I only recently discovered that they make some pretty good looking metallic shades. By good looking, I mean that they do not remind me of an 80's hair band colliding with Flavor Flav on the way to a Price is Right showcase showdown. So yeah, these tamer metallic shades are a very good thing. We picked up a can of clean metal primer (I am a total primer convert, I can't believe I was ever too cheap/lazy to use it) and a can of matte nickle. Brad handled the electricity element of this project as well as the sanding and spraying. I pretty much just washed the old globes. It's super nice to have a husband in a project-y mood!

No more clashing!

A little close up action. These look even better in person.

So now we've got the new sink skirt, the new sconce color and one more new thing...

Remember those tablecloths I made for the tea party? It turns out that if I just give them a little fold, they magically transform into cute guest towels.
I still have a few more things I'm hoping to get done in the bathroom before school starts, so hopefully I'll have one more update for you before September.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

This post is a little corny

Between my sister's birthday, my brother visiting from Nebraska, (this post may contain corn jokes, but I'll try not to make them at his expense) and a set of grandparents stopping by from out of town, we've had a lot of family gatherings this week. Family gatherings always mean favorite family dishes, so I thought I'd share one with y'all.

This corn casserole is a yummy cross between corn bread and corn pudding. It tastes like you spent hours on it, but it is seriously one of the easiest recipes ever. You only need one measuring cup. Small children could make this without breaking a sweat, which might explain why I always opt to bring this dish to potlucks and holidays.
You will need:
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole corn - drained
1 stick of butter - softened ( I use Smart Balance 50/50 blend)
8 oz container of sour cream (You can use anything from the real stuff to fat free and this still tastes great)
3 eggs (probably the reason this is so good)
1/2 cup sugar (Splenda should work)
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
Dump everything in a bowl and mix together until well blended. Pour in a lightly greased square casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until set.

Be prepared to share the recipe with anyone who tastes this stuff, it is amazing!


Friday, July 24, 2009

Give a Hoot!

Happy Friday y'all! This Friday is extra awesome because my most recent project fits in with two fun link parties going on today. First off, I'm participating in Frugal Friday over at the Shabby Nest because this project is all about using what you have to create a cute card that does double duty as art. I'm also linking up to Julia's party at Hooked on Houses, because you know I'm hooked on easy ways to jazz up presents, especially if they include little birdies.

Meet my newest birdie creation. This little hoot owl served as a card and extra birthday gift for my sister. You know I love to include birds in gift tags and presents, and you know I love to include little extras in presents that match people's decor, so this was right up my alley.
Here is the play-by-play on how to make the card and frame:
This felt gift bag from the Target dollar spot was my inspiration. I know my sister likes owls (she was even wearing a t-shirt with owls at her birthday party) but this little gift bag was too small for her present, plus I thought it would be more fun to make an owl that matched her room colors.

I eyeballed the gift bag owl to create this pattern. Feel free to use this as a jumping off point for your own owl projects.

I used two coordinating scrapbook papers to create the owl body and wings and just drew the eyes, beak, and feet on white printer paper.

This is the inside of the card. I got a little cheesy with my message, but that's just how I roll.

I purposefully made the card the right size to fit in a frame because I thought Hannah might want to display the owl in her pink, orange, and lime bedroom. This slightly battered dollar store frame was the only things I had on had. It wasn't quite the right color to matcher her room, but a few little tweaks fixed it right up.

I tore/sanded all the rough edges, then colored the whole thing with lime sharpie. I could have stopped there but I wanted a vintage look.

As always, white paint to the rescue! I just grabbed a couple of paper towels, dipped them in white paint, and quickly wiped the paint on and off of the frame until I liked the look.


Pretty easy-peasy right? Not to mention a very frugal way to make some art if like me, you find yourself hooked on sweet little birds!

Be sure to check out all the other great posts at the Shabby Nest and Hooked on Houses!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

bench pressed

Remember a few weeks ago when the blog world went nuts over Glidden's free paint offer? Well, yesterday my free quart of Fresh Guacamole arrived! I'm super excited because I can finally paint the bench in our entrance.

As soon as you walk in the door, you are greeted by this storage bench. Now, the mauve pink sponge painted look was ultra cool when I was in middle school and this bench lived under my bedroom window, but I've been itching to give it a good paint makeover ever since the bench came to live in the roost. The Glidden giveaway gave me the perfect opportunity to not only paint this cutie, but also dip my brush in a color other than white!
Of course one thing leads to another, and I haven't been overjoyed at the thought of sanding through several layers of textured paint. Brad (pretty easily) convinced me that we needed a new toy to help with this job, so we picked up a Black and Decker orbital sander last night, as well as a can of primer.
Hopefully, this little project will be done over the weekend! Has anyone else received their free paint yet? If so, what are your plans?


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

For me?

I've gotta say how surprised and excited I am to have been given my first ever blogging award by Christen at La Vida Lista!

Here are the rules/instructions that go along with the award:
-Thank the award giver (Thanks Christen! Your blog is too cute!)
-Copy the logo and place on your blog
-Link back to the award giver/s
-Name 10 things about you that people may find interesting
-Nominate and link up to 10 other blogs for this award
-Comment on each blog to tell them about the award!
Because Christen is a teacher, and I'm a school librarian, it seems like a good idea to pass this award on to another teacher and school librarian with very awesome home decor blogs!
1. Tracy @ close to home is one of my best friends and an amazing writer, photographer, and librarian! She and her husband are moving into their first home, so watch for some great before and after shots coming soon to her blog!
2. Julia @ open hand living is a teacher with a great knack for furniture transformation. I've just recently discovered her blog, and I'm in awe of the amount of projects she accomplishes each week!
OK, on to the 10 (semi) interesting things about me.

I really, really love tea. I have at least two cups everyday. If you've been to my house, you know I always have about ten different kinds of tea on hand. I even made almost free graphic art from old tea wrappers.
I'm a Harry Potter nerd. You know, the person who was there at midnight to buy the last book. The person who claps when they show the trailer for the next movie. The person who lists all the things they left out of the movies that made the books so much better. Yeah, that's me!
My husband proposed to me in the parking lot of a movie theater. It's a long story, but basically I kept unintentionally ruining his proposal plans, so he was running out of time to get that ring on my finger before our date ended. I was still super excited and cried and all that good girly stuff.
My most favorite band of all time is Carbon Leaf, a local band with a national following. I've been to too many of their concerts to count, but I still get giddy when they announce a show in the area.

I was named after my great grandma. When I was a kid it always bummed me out that I couldn't find key chains or jewelry with my name on it. For some reason, a lot of children's book feature characters with my name, so my mom started finding those for me. I have all the Hattie Rabbit books, and my mom found Hattie Bakes a Wedding Cake for my bridal shower.

Speaking of books, as a member of the high school book review committee, I read a lot of books. I was pretty shocked to figure out that I read about 60 YA books last school year! The Hunger Games was one of my favorites.

I love Christmas, and tend to go a little nuts-o with the retro Christmas decor. Be prepared for the frenzy to begin in November.


I really love games! I'm also super competitive. I think this might be a result of lacking any athletic skills whatsoever. To make up for this, I get a little crazy about winning Taboo, or Apples to Apples, or Uno, etc. etc.
I'm a big fan of camping and hiking, especially in the fall in the mountains!

Audrey Hepburn is my style icon. I think she was one of the classiest ladies ever. There is something timelessly beautiful about her!
OK, that felt like waaaaaay too much about me! I hope y'all weren't too bored - I promise to go back to home decor land for my next post!
p.s. I would love to know one interesting thing about all of you! I only know who about 5 of you are, so please come out of hiding and let me get to know you a little :-)