Would you have taken this troll home?

I admit I was caught up in the moment. An estate sale in my very own town, in a mid-century home whose inhabitants had lived here for at least 50 years. The house was packed with great stuff and the basement was dank, dingy and dirty. In other words, perfect. After a cursory tour, I sniffed out a beautiful old mirror that I was able to negotiate for a tenth of its value. I paid quickly and was headed out the garage door with the mirror under my arm. And then I saw this table. Filthy and long-unappreciated, I casually asked what they wanted for it.

They had to have thought I was crazy. The thing was filthy with car grease and smoke and God knows what else over the years. Both the top and the lower shelf had been covered with a speckled yellow linoleum, secured around the edges with chrome trim, but the bottom shelf had lost most of its trim, so the linoleum piece was barely hanging on. I knew it was old, and I knew no one had monkeyed with it in so long that it would be a good candidate for a makeover.

I handed over the $5 and away I went.

The project took months, and mostly because I was lazy.

My first task was to get rid of the linoleum and chrome and finally discover what was hiding underneath. The top surface was just as I’d hoped: protected for 50 years. Rough and begging for an upgrade. And anything would have been an upgrade.

I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned it. I really didn’t think the dirt would come off. When the paint turned out to be a cream color, I couldn’t believe it. I honestly thought the stuff was cooked on, it just looked so roached and black.

After cleaning, I scraped paint off. The bottom shelf was a really pretty dark stained wood, which suggested the idea of highlighting the natural wood on the shelves.

Then I sanded. And sanded some more. I was lucky enough to have found the perfectly beautiful and breezy day to do it on; it was no chore at all.

I grabbed whatever stain we happened to have in our workshop and I got down to staining the shelves. The color for the legs and such was also an easy decision; it’s elephant gray, a color we have a ton of. After staining and painting, I put two coats of poly on it and almost called it done.

Somewhere along the way, my husband suggested I make the drawer knob white. He thought it would give it a little “umph” and I think he was right. I didn’t actually paint the drawer pull; it is just how I found it, only scrubbed clean.

I think it turned out gorgeous! And now I use it as my printer stand/ an extension of my desk.

Of note: The table is identified on the underside of the drawer as “Davidson’s Furn. Co., Kansas City, MO.” Davidson’s was a high-end furniture store that opened in Kansas City in around 1918. At one time, they had a 20,000 square foot show room. And, of particular interest to me, in the late 1950s they acquired the remaining furniture stock of the local Abernathy Furniture Company, which had closed up shop in the 1950s.

 

Photoshop and Restoration

It’s pretty rare that I find a piece of furniture that I like in my price range that doesn’t need some kind of attention, whether it be a thorough cleaning, tightening of screws, paint job, Windex or something. In order to decide which direction I will take on its upgrade, I use my graphic design chops. My most recent case in point: this door-less Empire style tiger oak buffet. It’s got amazing bones and the original bevel mirror, and all of its drawers are in tact and accounted for. But how do I make it look fabulous with no doors below and old, unsightly wood exposed?

tiger oak empire buffet

Tiger Oak Empire Buffet

Well, that’s just it. I don’t know. So I start playing with the image on Photoshop. I can add whatever color I want, whatever texture I want, whatever design I want…

I just started playing with colors on it, and the jury is still out on what to do with it, but I have some ideas now. It appears as though someone tried to give it another stain/poly job and it didn’t do it any favors. So we’ll see. I don’t want to have to paint the whole thing but this poor thing has been through so much, I just don’t know if she has another life exposed in her.

I found a few examples of buffets like this that were painted. I’m weighing all options.

What do you think?

Empire Buffet painted by Moxy Liberty

EPIC Day of New Treasures Seen (but sadly, nothing bought)

Yesterday, my friend Sherri and I had lunch and went thrifting. We were in her neck of the woods in North Kansas City, so I was thrilled when she wanted to show me some thrift stores and antique malls I hadn’t been to yet.

The day started out awesome when I came across a stash of Scrabble games at the first store we went into. A quick call to my artist friend Beth Hanna of Baha Beauties to gauge her interest in them and we were out the door. Almost. I was drawn to and delighted by this chair so much I had to snap a picture. As someone now living in a mid-century home, I have become more interested in the designs of the day, so I have new appreciation for such things. And we then marched on.

Mur-Mill Chair Mid Century

Chair by Mur-Mill Fine Furniture, Owensboro, KY

(I did a little search on the Mur-Mill label on the back when I got home and turned up zilch.)

We checked into an antique mall in the neighborhood and had a great time teasing each other for our tastes (that don’t always match) and reminiscing about items similar to things owned by our families in days gone by. And then we came across this.

This Crane Chef Kitchenette features not only two burners, a sink and a fridge, but the fridge even has a small freezer spot. It even works “perfectly”, according to the tags. And for $450, someone is going to get really, really lucky on this one. I imagined it being perfect for those tiny homes that are so popular nowadays. Sherri thought it would be cool to have on her patio, where she does a lot of entertaining. But we left it behind for someone else to find.

Vintage Crane Chef Kitchenette

Vintage Crane Chef Kitchenette

We then came across this oddity, as I’d never seen anything like it. The tag called it a “Lavabo”. Turns out there are many available (for the right buyers), but none I found in my research looked like this; most are ceramic and many are painted. I think it’s a devastating display (sans the chicken feathers and God knows what else in the basin). So we snapped the shot and carried on.

Next up was this colossal painting that once graced the entryway into the historic Savoy Grill in Kansas City. It is probably 7′ tall and 15′ wide and the gold frame is stunning. The lights inside of the castle light up! A little cheesy for me but Sherri was in awe. A little research shows that the piece was put up for auction with many other items from the space in 2012. Details here. Price tag on this beauty is a cool $50,000. It is a real stunner.

Savoy Grill painting

Savoy Grill painting

Savoy Grill painting

Savoy Grill painting

The last thing I snapped a shot of was this crazy little antique crumb brush. I see antique crumb catchers from time to time and even picked one up for myself once, but I guess these brushes don’t usually get my attention. A quick Google search turned up all kinds of examples. The snake-like shape on this one got my attention.

Many years ago, it was common for wait staff and even hostesses at home to use these brushes and catchers to clean off errant crumbs and debris from table tops to keep things tidy. It’s still done in some higher end restaurants today, but they don’t typically use items this fancy.

Antique Crumb Brush

Antique Crumb Brush

Silver Crumb Catcher - MJ's Collection

Silver Crumb Catcher – MJ’s Collection

So that was the day. I had so much fun, didn’t spend any money and we learned A TON.

Onward!

Problem Entry Finds its Answer

My husband and I have lived a few places together. We have lived in larger homes with lots of space, and we’ve lived in hotel rooms. Right now, we’re somewhere in the middle. We have a little slice of heaven in Liberty, Missouri with a nice fenced-in yard for our three dogs and our home is just under 1,000 square feet. Compared to the hotel rooms it’s palatial, but our furniture was bought several years ago for a much larger home with much larger rooms, so we’re trying to adjust.

Which brings up the point of our entry way. It is small and leads into a room that we are struggling to make do with our current furniture until we feel like the timing’s right (first in line: 2015 tax bill, new washing machine, etc.), which means we really don’t want ONE MORE piece of furniture in the living room. But where to put our keys when we walk in the door?

I came up with what I think is the perfect solution, after having cruised ebay and other sites for “floating shelves”. New shelves cost hundreds of dollars and old ones, well, they were too ornate for our 1963 home. So I found this drawer at an antique mall in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It was more than I would ordinarily spend ($24- *GASP!*) but the size and color were spot on as-is.

Initially, I thought I would just have the hubby put it up as is, with the patina and the weathered look, but Mr. Wonderful was pretty adamant that it wouldn’t work, considering the living room has a brand-spanking-new coat of paint on the walls AND the trim, which is now stark white. It’s a crisp look and he felt like a rubbed-out old catalog drawer would clash, and I’m sure he was right. But we both liked the turquoise color, so we agreed I would paint it the same color, just without the wood rubbed through and with the inside of the drawer painted too. But, I insisted, the drawer pull stays.

So I painted it. I would have been cool having it attached to the wall by its side, so that it still acts like a drawer, but hubby and I negotiated again and decided it would be attached to the wall by it’s bottom. The only problem is then that the bolts he attached them with would be visible, so I had some thinking to do.

The solution came one afternoon when I was looking over some old retro napkins I had bought some months earlier. I decided that their designs would be FABULOUS with the color of the shelf, so I cut out two pieces of cardboard that exactly fits in the bottom of the drawer and I covered them. One was covered in one of the napkins, the other with a piece of embossed white wallpaper I had just picked up for $1 at an estate sale. Then I inserted them into the shelf to see which one worked best. The white option showed best with the stark white trim around it, so that’s what I picked! I hope you like it; we sure do!

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Before!

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Before!

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The entryway before.

Funky Fun Facebook Page

In progress! Which insert to use and what to decorate it with – all small items considered!

Mcclellan etryway key-catching solution

Putting the shelf up meant big bolts, because we may decide to hang hooks off of it for my purse, which is like a bag of bricks. So the challenge was to hide them. Voila!

Antique Baltimore Buffet Makeover

We lived in Baltimore for about ten months. While there, I found myself enjoying the old architecture, the history and fabulous thrift stores full of antiques. On one of my outings, I came across this buffet. It was in a thrift store I rarely went to and it was sitting at the end of a clothing row, away from the other furniture. The price was $15. It was dirty, no, really filthy, but I could see the beauty underneath. The wood was still good and the intricate carvings on the legs, doors and skirt were fabulous. So I bought it. It wouldn’t fit in my trunk (rental car that week) so I had to arrange to come back and get it. When I did, this nice older gentleman employee helped me load it, so I paid him $5.

buffet before

So for $20, I had this beauty. It sat on our covered porch as-is for months. I stared at it many nights on that patio, wondering what I would do with it. I thought maybe I’d paint it red. I thought maybe I’d use chalk paint, as that was the trend. I thought, I thought, I thought.

It was two years later that I actually took paint to it, and these photos represent the crossroads. I couldn’t decide if it needed more paint above the doors and I also needed to order replacement antique pulls. So I put it to a vote on my Facebook page. People were all over the map on this one, but the consensus was that it was looking pretty darned good.

Usually I like to research the maker and find corresponding pieces online to tether to. Unfortunately, the tag that might have told me where this came from or who made it is gone from the back of the buffet, but no matter.

It has a place of honor in my living room, right underneath a stained glass piece I commissioned from one of my best friends, Beth Hanna of Baha Beauties.

$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-17$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13$15 Antique Buffet Facelift in Action - Options 1-13

 

 

Nothing Chair Has Glamorous Past!

This poor chair has been with me since 1994, when my son was born and I was setting up my first, very own “home”. It was, undoubtedly something that my grandparents picked up years ago at an auction, as they were known to do that here in Clay County.

Let’s see – this chair has moved with me no less than 10 times (let’s see: Pittsburg-Topeka-Creve Coeur-Overland-St. Charles-Virginia Beach-Virginia Beach-St. Charles-St. Peters-Miami-Liberty-Baltimore-Liberty) in that time. I never paid much attention to it. If it’s had a place in my home, it’s had a slip cover on it. It has always looked just as it does in this pictures: Blah.

It was only recently that I checked the underside to find this label: Brent’s Homes furnished Complete 716-722 South Main St. Los Angeles, Calif. Naturally, I was curious. And guess what I found? Practically NOTHING! The only thing I could find was a reference in the Advertising Cyclopedia, using their catchy “Homes Furnished Complete” slogan as a teaching tool, and a 1922 Los Angeles Directory with their name included.

Not one piece of furniture, not one ad.

So here it is, world, the only surviving piece of Brent’s Furniture.

And it has a weird splatter paint on it and nasty blue corduroy. There is another layer of fabric underneath the blue, and the deep maroon color holds some promise, with the understanding that the spatter paint goes and this is as gorgeous as I think it is underneath. I would guess it’s oak. We shall see.

Another project just made the list.

antique chair labeled Brent's Homes Furnished Complete 716-722 South Main St. Los Angeles, CALIF

antique chair labeled Brent’s Homes Furnished Complete 716-722 South Main St. Los Angeles, CALIF

antique chair labeled Brent's Homes Furnished Complete 716-722 South Main St. Los Angeles, CALIF

antique chair labeled Brent’s Homes Furnished Complete 716-722 South Main St. Los Angeles, CALIF

antique chair labeled Brent's Homes Furnished Complete 716-722 South Main St. Los Angeles, CALIF

antique chair labeled Brent’s Homes Furnished Complete 716-722 South Main St. Los Angeles, CALIF

antique chair labeled Brent's Homes Furnished Complete 716-722 South Main St. Los Angeles, CALIF

antique chair labeled Brent’s Homes Furnished Complete 716-722 South Main St. Los Angeles, CALIF

Even Damaged Slag Lamps Are Beautiful!

So there I was, cruising my favorite local thrift store and there it was. This beautifully imperfect slag lamp, in two pieces – just sitting there looking sad!
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Having never bought or even thought about buying one of these hard-to-find treasures, I had no idea about, well anything related to it. I texted an artist friend of mine who can do just about anything, including make stained glass, and asked her if she could help me fix it up. “Is it slag?” she asked. Slag wasn’t a term I’d had any exposure to. “Huh?” was my answer. Needless to say, she bowed out quickly, which left me to internet research.

The lamps and their bases are typically made from pot metal, Pot metal—also known as monkey metal, white metal, or die-cast zinc—is a colloquial term that refers to alloys of low-melting point metals that manufacturers use to make fast, inexpensive castings. (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pot_metal)

The slag glass is kind of a tan color when it’s not illuminated but when the light is on it turns to a pretty golden yellow. It’s missing one of the slag panels and another panel is glued together pretty clumsily. AND the metal needs to be repaired in one place. Luckily, the base is still in near-perfect condition (a scratch or two) and the finial was in tact.

Despite its imperfections, this beauty has still earned a place in my living room and it is so freaking gorgeous. My husband even turns it on from time to time to greet me when I come home from work.

I saw two of these exact lamps for sale on eBay last week for $600 or $900. What the what? Wanna’ know what I paid for this one? 🙂