a pair of folding chairs.

A week or so ago my neighbor, nnK, came over with a present for me.  She’d found a pair of vintage folding chairs that she thought I’d like being given away free on Marketplace .

Yep, they look right up my alley don’t they?

They were pretty grungy though, but what can you expect for ‘free’?

So I gave them a good scrub using the Dawn Powerwash that I shared on Monday.  Then I gave them a quick coat of Dixie Belle paint in Drop Cloth.  Once dry, I sanded them vigorously because at this point I had decided that I was going to keep these for the summer house and I like my stuff distressed.

Next I dug through my stash of transfers looking for just the right thing for these chairs.  Ultimately I pulled out two of the old Prima Marketing transfers that were originally designed by IOD (before they went their separate ways).  These were both favorites of mine, so I decided this was the perfect time to use them.

The Seeds transfer on the left is the small version.  It also came in a large size (and I’m still hoarding two of those).  I did a little search while working on this post and I couldn’t find a single source for the small version of the transfer.  Bummer, this was my last one.

The French Pots II transfer on the right can still be found here and there online.

The two chairs were the perfect addition to the summer house.

As was the little vintage green lamp that I purchased at a garage sale recently.

Once again, I snazzed it up with a little section from a transfer.

I don’t actually have electricity out in the summer house, so this lamp is really just for looks.  But its green base made it the perfect addition to the space.

I also purchased that vintage fly swatter at a garage sale.  There was just something about the old-fashioned simplicity of it that appealed to me.

And since there aren’t any screens on some of the windows out there, it makes sense to have a fly swatter handy.

I’ll continue to keep an eye out for more garage sale finds to add to the summer house.

But in the meantime, it’s coming along nicely I think.

cheap, temporary art.

I shared my summer house makeover with you guys a few weeks back …

It looked a tad under-dressed at the time.  It was a spur of the moment decision to re-do it and I only used things that I had on hand.

Since then I’ve added a few more pieces to the mix that I’m going to share with you over the next couple of days.

I still need to find some awesome things to hang on the walls, but for now I decided to whip up a cheap and easy temporary solution until I find things I like better.

I found a couple of clip boards at a garage sale for 75 cents each.

I cleaned them up, gave them a quick light sanding and then painted them with Dixie Belle’s Kudzu.  I’d already used Kudzu on the table base, and also inside the cabinet, out there so it was the obvious choice for the clip boards.

Next I pulled out some transfer scraps and pieced them together on the clips.

I have to confess that I did not let my paint dry long enough before adding the transfer.  That combined with the fact that I was painting over a glossy metal, meant I had a little bit of trouble with my transfer pulling up paint instead of putting down a transfer.

So, do as I say, not as I do.  In this case, make sure your paint is fully dry and adhered before adding a transfer to a questionable surface like this one.

That being said, I’m always less perfection-y when I’m making something for myself.  I don’t mind a few flaws.  Especially since these were just going out in the summer house which is really just a glorified shed.

Next I had to search high and low for a book called Medicinal Plants that my picker Sue had found for me a year or so ago.  I knew I had it somewhere … but it wasn’t in the stack of books on the front porch, it wasn’t in the cupboard in the q branch, it wasn’t in the workshop … dang, where did I put that thing?

Oh yeah, ha, I put it out in the summer house.  Duh.

Sue knew I would want to scavenge the botanical prints inside the book for future projects like this one.

There are plenty to choose from, so I’m sure I’ll be using them for years to come.

Although that rose print would have been perfect with the rose themed transfers on the clips, instead I chose two prints with more subdued colors for the summer house.

Initially I planned to hang them on the wall, but once I got them out there I decided I liked the look them sitting on the ledge instead.

So for now, that’s where they will stay.  I’ve got a couple more items that I worked on for the summer house coming your way this week, so be sure to stay tuned.

the summer house.

As many of you know, I have a small outbuilding in my backyard.

Over the years it has been a storage shed, a potting shed and a summer house.  But back in 2014 I turned it into the photo cottage.

Initially I thought it would be the perfect spot for staging photos of my furniture.  However, I was never really totally happy with the results.  It seemed like the lighting was always wrong.  At certain times of the day the giant red carriage house that is about 20′ away casts a pink light into the space (those walls above are white, not pink), at other times the sunlight poured in … but a little too much, which cast weird shadows.

Plus, over time that painted floor started looking really beat up.

I began using it less and less for staging photos.  Last summer I realized I’d need to re-paint if I still wanted to use it that way, but I never did get around to doing that.

So this year I’ve decided to turn it back into a summer house.

What’s a summer house you ask?

sum·mer·house
/ˈsəmərˌhous/
noun: summer house
  1. a small, typically rustic building in a garden or park, used for sitting in during the summer months.

It’s small, it’s rustic, and it’s in the garden, so I think it qualifies.

Just so you have a starting point for reference, here’s how much I had let the place go …

Yikes!  That’s embarassing.

Since I was having some ladies over to tour my garden this past Saturday (you’ll read more about that later in the week), I made a last minute decision to clean up this mess and turn the photo cottage back into a summer house using things I had on hand.

First I emptied everything out and used a shop vac to get rid of cobwebs.  Next I scrubbed the floor and then hosed it down.  One of the benefits to a wonky old shed like this is that you can just put the hose on the ‘jet’ setting and blast away.  Wouldn’t it be convenient if we could clean our houses that way?

At this point, I admit that the paint is peeling and chipping everywhere and it really could use a fresh paint job.  But since I won’t be using it for photos, it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Next up is the fun part, furnishing and decorating the space.

I had purchased this charming old strawberry basket at Reclaiming Beautiful last week and that was the inspiration for going with a green color scheme.

I have a few fabulous vintage green items to use as decor such as these crusty old garden tools …

And this chippy old bird cage …

So I started with re-painting the inside of the chippy cabinet that’s out there using Dixie Belle’s Kudzu.

It’s such a gorgeous green, and it created the perfect backdrop for the couple of pieces of chintzware that I hung on to after selling most of my non-collection 😉

You can read about the last time I gave this cabinet a makeover, and why the bottom is the original chippy paint and the top isn’t by checking out this post.

Next, I dug through the remaining stash of furniture out in my carriage house and pulled out a table.  I purchased it back in 2016 at a garage sale.  Back then I took a vote here on the blog and everyone thought I should leave the green legs ‘as is’.  So I did that, but stripped the top and my sister gave it a coat of clear wax.  We used it to display merchandise at the carriage house sale.

Once again I was tempted to leave the legs ‘as is’, especially since I was going with a green color scheme.  But I didn’t love that precise shade of dark forest green.  So I painted the base of the table with the Kudzu also.  I sanded the heck out of it though, so I ended up with a distressed look that reveals a little bit of the darker green underneath.

Next I sanded the top of the table lightly and then used Fusion’s Liming Wax to brighten it up.

By the way, this is what I love about using wax on bare wood.  After a few years of wear and tear you can sand it a bit, add a fresh coat of wax and it looks like new.  If this were poly, you’d have to either strip it, or sand it all the way back to bare wood to re-coat it.

I used a chair that I already had on hand.  It’s one that I use as a prop in many of my furniture photos.  It’s not exactly the look I was going for, but for now it will do.

I had hung onto the chandelier that was out here before it became the photo cottage, and now I’m really glad I did because I still love it.  It’s not actually wired up (there is no electric out here), but it’s still pretty to look at.

I used spray adhesive to glue photo copies of old black & white photos to the candle tubes.  I had done this before, but the photos were badly faded after six years in storage, they needed to be freshened up.

I have to say, I have no idea if this would be a fire hazard on a functioning light fixture.  However, since this one is just for show it doesn’t matter.  But use caution if you’re going to try this on a real chandelier.

Finally, I dressed up some terracotta pots with a couple of Classic Vintage Label transfers and added some white geraniums.  Somehow potted geraniums on a window ledge always make me happy.

It’s still looking somewhat empty in the summer house, but it’s a start.

Hopefully once I can get out there and find some garage/estate sales, I can add a few more pieces.  I definitely need to find some things to hang on the walls.

But for now, it’s presentable.  And it didn’t cost me a thing.  Well … actually the geraniums were $1.68 each at Home Depot.

How about you, do you have a space at your house that you can refresh using things you already have on hand?

by popular demand.

Welcome to the final post in my weekly Wednesday tour of our own home.  By popular demand, if you can count about five people as ‘popular demand’, today I’m sharing Mr. Q’s home office space despite the fact that it is not terribly picturesque.

I have to admit, while I was in there taking these photos I realized that there are a few more Q touches in the room than I thought.

One of my favorite things is the framed trio of old plat maps that are hanging on the wall.

I found the frames at a garage sale and they just happened to be exactly the right size for the maps.  The maps came from an old Washington Co plat book that Mr. Q’s dad had for some reason.  When he died, we inherited the book.

I framed the three that I thought would have the most meaning for Mr. Q.  Lake Elmo, since he worked in the park there at the time.  Marine on the St. Croix, since he was born and grew up there.  And Stillwater, where he now works and spends a lot of time at his favorite coffee shop, The Daily Grind.

Another of my favorite things in the room is the union jack desk.

This was one of my earlier painted pieces from long before I had a blog.  And this was the 2nd time I painted it.  I originally painted it in a pretty aqua blue.  At that time this piece was in our guest room.  I probably wouldn’t have chosen to stage it with a yoda mug and an orange disc golf can cozy, but hey, you guys wanted to see this stuff!  Or at least five of you did.

Comically enough, the union jack desk is only one of three desks in the room.  I guess you could say Mr. Q likes desks.  He also has a library table style desk opposite the union jack desk that is devoted to setting up his various games.

This desk was a hand me down from my friend Terri.  I think it would look amazing painted, but when I suggested that to Mr. Q I believe his response was something along the lines of “it’s fine like it is”.  In other words, Mr. Q really only cares about function and couldn’t care less about form.  Lucky he’s married to me, right?  Otherwise our house would still have all of its original wallpaper in country blues and mustard yellow.  And he’d also still be wearing the same jeans he had in 1989.

Here’s the game that he’s playing at the moment.

Yep, I have no idea what that is or how to play it.  But if you really want to know, leave a comment and I’m sure that Mr. Q will be happy to enlighten you.

The third desk in the room is a fabulous secretary desk that we purchased while picking up a mid-mod set of bedroom furniture.  The sellers were an older couple that were moving out of their home of 40 years and into senior housing.  We were there for the mid-mod set, but they mentioned that they were also selling this antique desk.  I jumped at it because I knew it would look amazing painted, and I love painting empire style pieces.  If I remember right it ended up taking us three trips to get all of the furniture back to our place.

But as you can see, this desk never made it to my workshop either.  Mr. Q commandeered it for his office to hold his massive computer screen.  The library chair is another piece that I purchased to paint, but never got there.

The real pièce de résistance in the room is the recliner.

I’m sorry.  There just isn’t any way to make this chair any prettier.  Although I have to admit it isn’t quite as bad as Frasier’s dad’s recliner (does anyone else remember that show?)

There is a back story to this chair too.  It originally belonged to my husband’s grandparents, Bud & Mickey.  Mickey died when she was 98, and Bud almost made it to 101.  Mr. Q was very close with both of them.  When they moved to some senior housing near his work in their early 90’s, he made it a habit to have lunch with them every day.  And he continued that right up until Bud died.

Bud and Mickey were quite honestly two of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  Mr. Q inherited many of Bud’s best qualities including his gift of the gab.

Anyway, when they started getting more frail they purchased this recliner.  It’s actually one of those lift chairs.  Press a button and the thing will lift you right out of it.  Although they paid a lot of money for the chair, neither one of them ever really liked it and they rarely sat in it.  But Mr. Q loved it.  He insists that it’s one of the most comfortable chairs he’s ever sat in.  He would always sit in it when he spent time with them.  So Bud & Mickey insisted that when they were gone they wanted Mr. Q to have the chair.

Well, I guess you just can’t say no to that, can you?

But you can insist that it go upstairs in Mr. Q’s office 😉

Well, this concludes the updated tour of our house.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I wasn’t sure I would make it all the way through.  It seemed like an awfully big task, but like so many things, if you just take one step at a time the next thing you know you’ve got ‘er done.

If you missed any of the posts, here are the links back to all of them.

the deck.

the photo cottage.

the front porch.

the living room.

the piano room.

the q branch.

the kitchen.

the pantry.

the world’s smallest bathroom.

the dining room.

the principle bedroom.

the guest room.

Be sure to check back on Friday, I have the most adorable trio of painted chairs to share with you guys!  See you then.

 

the dining room.

Today we are continuing the tour of our house with the dining room.

This room was added on to our 1904 farmhouse by the previous owners.  I’m guessing they added it sometime in the 70’s.  They salvaged the wood for the paneled walls from an old barn that was being torn down.  I’m sure they intended the room to be a family room, but since we’ve turned what was likely the formal dining room into a piano room, we now use this room as a dining room.

Over the years I have thought about painting the walls white, but I can’t help but feel like I might regret that down the road.  And once it’s done, there’s no going back to the original patina of the red barn wood.  Here’s a photo that shows that more clearly.

Back when dark stain was really in for wood floors, I had the wide pine floors in this room stained dark and I really regret that decision.  I wish now that I had left them alone too.  I’m not sure how difficult it would be to strip the dark and go back to a natural pine.  Maybe one of these days I’ll pursue that.

But in the meantime, I’ve tried to add lots of light colored furnishings to help brighten up the room starting with the huge Welsh cupboard on the back wall that houses my non-collection of ironstone.

I purchased this cupboard via Craigslist and then painted it in Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen on the outside and Fusion’s Linen on the inside.  In some lighting situations the Fusion Linen looks more grey, but in this room it has a strong green undertone that I don’t really like.  I’ve been meaning to re-paint that since I initially finished this cabinet back in 2015, but I haven’t quite gotten around to it.

  And gosh, I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since then!  Obviously it’s not an urgent matter.

I also whitewashed the cedar table that Mr. Q made.  He made it at least 25 years ago.  It was originally finished in a very shiny poly and the cedar was quite orange.  The whitewashing totally updated the look of the table.

The chairs were also a Craigslist find.  I painted them in Annie Sloan’s Old White and recovered the seats with old grain sacks.

I have another large piece of furniture painted in a shade of white in the room.

I purchased this bench at a garage sale.  Well, technically, my friend Meggan texted me about it and then I sent Mr. Q over to buy it.  The owners said that this bench was originally from Belgium.  I painted it in Miss Mustard Seed’s Farmhouse White.

This bench is a good example of milk paint that has continued to chip over time.  One of these days I should sand it down and add a water based sealer like Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat to halt any further chipping (much like I did with this uber chippy chair).

Are you wondering what is on the wall behind the bench?  I’ve ‘wallpapered’ the walls on either side of the window using old rolls of player piano music.

They are just stapled in place, so when I get tired of them they will be easy to remove.

The ‘Charles Strand’ sign hanging above the clock is from the general store that Mr. Q’s great grandfather owned in Marine on the St. Croix, MN.  I found this photo from 1910 that shows the sign hanging above the door.  How cool is that?

I love how those guys are all just casually standing around in front of the store, probably telling tall tales.  I’m quite sure that one or more of them have to be Mr. Q’s ancestors because that is obviously where he gets his love of socializing.  I can totally see him hanging out down at the general store with a bunch of cronies.

Now, don’t be fooled by these photos into thinking I’m one of those people who keeps the dining room table fully set all the time.  I just thought it would be fun to dress it up for you guys.  I even pulled out my grandmother’s glassware.

The amber depression glass was perfect for a fall table.

After sharing all of these pretty pictures of our dining room with you, I now have to admit to the truth.  Our dining room is seldom used for actual dining and it almost never looks like it does in these photos.  It is far more often used as a storage facility.

You see, this is the only space inside the house where I can store my completed pieces until they sell.  I can line up as many as six or seven pieces of furniture along the walls in this room.

Right before I left for Florida I sold six pieces of furniture.  That pretty much cleaned out my inventory making this the perfect time to get some pictures of the dining room without extra furniture lining the walls.  Hopefully it won’t stay empty for long.  I’ve got a few Christmas projects to work on before I get back to painting furniture though.

There is just one room left on our house tour, Mr. Q’s study.  After I mentioned it here last week he decided to clean it out, which led to re-arranging the furniture.  He’s totally game to let me share it with you guys, so I’m planning that for next Wednesday.  Remember, keep your expectations low, but be sure to stay tuned 😉

the guest room.

Today I’m resuming the tour of our house with the guest room.

A couple of years ago when we had the upstairs floors refinished, we took the opportunity to swap the guest room and Mr. Q’s study.  This is the smaller of the two rooms and it was kind of a tight squeeze for Mr. Q’s study.  Since he’s in there all the time, and we rarely have house guests, it seemed silly to continue that way.

It meant getting rid of the full sized guest room bed and bringing in a twin sized bed.

I found the headboard at a garage sale and painted it with Homestead House milk paint in a color called Ochre.

I applied a Prima Marketing re.design transfer to the wall above the bed.

If you’ve ever wondering about whether or not they can be applied to a wall, they sure can.  It was easy enough to do, and it has held up perfectly well.  Down the road if I get tired of it, I will just have to sand it down somewhat and paint over it.  I don’t think actually removing it would be an option.

I have a chair that I painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s Apron Strings at the foot of the bed.

I’ve added a few vintage pieces to the room that echo this gorgeous coral color including a hat box, and old book and a crocheted dress that my grandmother made for my mother when she was a toddler.

The jelly cupboard stores board games.  It’s a piece that I painted to sell, and it never sold so eventually I just kept it for myself.

My weakness for pretty vintage china is apparent in the display hanging over the cupboard.

I also have a weakness for toy telephones for some reason …

and old typewriters …

And they all make their home in the guest room for now.

There are only two rooms left in our house that I haven’t shared here yet.  The dining room, which I’ll try to photograph this coming weekend, and Mr. Q’s study.  I’m still debating the merits of including that room on the tour.  It’s home to an ugly recliner and lots of piles of stuff.  I’m just not sure it’s blog worthy, and I’m also not sure Mr. Q will want to cooperate by cleaning it up a bit.  What do you think, should I try to talk him into it?

 

the principle bedroom.

Are any of you fans of Sarah Richardson?  If you’re not familiar, she’s a Canadian designer and has had several decorating shows on HGTV.  This summer I’ve been watching her makeover her cottage on YouTube.

None of that is really relevant to this post except to explain that she always calls the master bedroom the ‘principle bedroom’ instead.  And the feminist in me rather likes that idea.  I googled it, and apparently this is a Canadian thing.  How about it my Canadian readers,  have you always called it the ‘principle bedroom’ too?

Well, today I’m sharing our principle bedroom as we continue the tour of our home.

If you’re new to my blog, you may not know that we totally revamped this room back in the summer of 2017 from the floors on up.  We started by hiring some college guys to refinish the floors.  I chose to go with a matte finish and I absolutely love how they turned out.

They aren’t perfect, but then again they are over 100 years old so how could they be?  Matte finishes are always better at minimizing flaws than shinier ones.  The same is true for walls and painted furniture too.

Next up we painted the room in Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Gray.  I’d seen so many people raving about this color online so I went with it.  In hindsight I wish I’d tried a few more colors and found a better choice for my room.  This color tends to turn a sort of pinky beige in both early morning and late evening light.  It just goes to show that you really can’t pick wall colors based on pictures you’ve seen.  You need to get samples and try them on your own walls in your own lighting conditions.

After painting, we added a faux ship lap wall (which is painted in Dutch Boy’s Cotton Blossom) behind the bed with the help of handyman/neighbor Ken.

We modified a full size antique Eastlake style headboard to fit a queen sized bed, and I painted it using Homestead House milk paint in Coal Black.

I also painted a pair of mismatched pieces to use as nightstands, but for them I chose Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Grain Sack.

The bench at the foot of the bed is one of the rare instances when I chose not to paint something.

I used some of my non-collection of vintage advertisement hangers to hang a few of our travel photos on the wall next to the closet.

And in case you are wondering, yes, that is the only closet in the room and it’s pretty small.  It just contains my current season’s wardrobe.  Mr. Q has a closet in his study for his clothes, and we both use the guest room closet for our off-season clothes.  I just moved the summer clothes into the guest room.  Yep, it’s that time of year.

 I keep my non-hanging clothes in an old jelly cupboard that is also painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Grain Sack.  I added a couple of Prima Marketing transfers to the doors.

These are an old design called French Pots III.  Unfortunately this design is discontinued.  You may be able to find it online, but no promises.

I’ve made a couple of tweaks to this side of the room since we originally finished it.  I brought in a companion for Lulu (the black manikin).

Collette, the dress form, has been stripped of her original covering and then dressed back up with another Prima Marketing transfer called Catalogue (sorry, also discontinued).

I also hung the vintage laundry drying rack that I found at a garage sale this summer on the other side of the cupboard.

I find that I’m often adding things to a room, or moving things around from room to room so that a space just keeps evolving.  I’ll never be one of those people who decorates and room and then considers it ‘done’, never to be touched again.  How about you?

the world’s smallest bathroom.

Today we’re moving on in our house tour to the one and only bathroom in the house, which is just off the kitchen next to the pantry.  In other words, a long way from the bedroom at 2 a.m.

Well, technically it’s a long way from the bedroom at any hour, but it seems especially far in the middle of the night.

That’s probably the biggest ‘con’ to living in an old house.  I don’t mind not having a dish washer, or central air, or an attached garage, or laundry facilities on the main floor.  But we sure would love to have a bathroom upstairs.  We looked into it once and we simply couldn’t justify the expense.  When we consider expenses like these we think ‘how many trips would we have to forgo to have a bathroom upstairs?’, and in this case it was at least 4 or 5.

So instead we make do with the world’s smallest bathroom.

I ended up having to recycle some photos for this post that I took way back in 2014 when my blog was new.  The weather has not been cooperating around here lately.  It’s been rainy and gloomy and generally not conducive to getting photos of a small dark bathroom.

But I haven’t changed anything in the bathroom since then, so good enough!

Much like many of the rooms in our house, this one has seen a couple of different looks over the years.  When we moved in it was wallpapered in pink and blue and had some hideous square stick-on linoleum tiles on the floor.  We swapped out the sink and toilet, added the wainscoting and re-wallpapered in a Waverly pattern of purple and green violets complete with a matching border.  Come on, I bet some of you remember when Waverly was all the rage.

Eventually of course all of that wallpaper had to go.  We took it down, had the walls and ceiling skim coated, re-painted, added a heated floor (absolutely one of the best things we’ve ever done, and not terribly expensive at all) with ceramic tile and some new light fixtures, all around the same time we re-did the kitchen.

The only things that have remained from when we moved in are the tub and the mirrored medicine cabinet over the sink.

I’ve debating changing the medicine cabinet out, but I’m glad now that I’ve kept it.

By the way, those light fixtures on either side of the mirror may look like they could be original to the house but they are reproductions from Rejuvenation.  If you have an older home and are looking for some period style lighting, be sure to check out Rejuvenation.

The tub sits in an arched alcove and I imagine it would be rather difficult to find a replacement of exactly the right size.

The shower curtain came from H & M Home.

You have to get creative about storage in a small bathroom.  We have one tiny linen closet plus the medicine cabinet and that’s it.  So I keep my makeup in that old metal tin, and makeup brushes and q-tips are in those galvanized containers hanging on the wall.

The wall mounted soap dish came from Restoration Hardware.

We use an old stenciled bucket for trash.

I debated even including a post about the bathroom in this Wednesday house tour series.  There just isn’t much to show.  But if nothing else, maybe it will make the rest of you feel pretty good about your own more sizable and luxurious bathrooms 😉

Be sure to check back next Wednesday when I continue the tour of our house with the master bedroom!

the pantry.

In last Wednesday’s post you saw the door to our pantry.

Despite the signage, that door doesn’t really lead to any public phones.  I got that sign at Junk Bonanza many years ago and it’s been on the pantry door ever since.

It also doesn’t really lead to a pantry.  Instead it opens onto the stairs to our basement.  But there is a 12″ or so ledge around two sides that we’ve taken advantage of by adding some built in shelving and calling it a pantry.

Once again, let’s start at the beginning though.

Oh boy, right?

Yep, this is where we started.  How embarrassing is that?

At that point we had a solid door.  It could be closed so that no one could see this awful mess.  Closing the door is also a good thing because in the winter it blocks the radiator when open.

But as you can see, we have a window in this space.  And closing the door resulted in shutting out the light it allowed in as well.  So we decided we needed a door with a window to allow the light into the kitchen, and that also meant we needed to make this space presentable.  It would no longer be out of sight, out of mind.

I found the door on Craigslist.  It had to be cut down just a tad to fit our opening.

We then embarked on the big clean-out.

It was still looking pretty shabby once everything was removed.  That’s when we hired our friend Ben (Ben also did all of our sheet rock/archway building work in the kitchen … oh, and he has also painted our exterior as well, and he removed all of our popcorn ceilings on the main floor) to skim coat the walls and ceiling.

Once they were skim coated, I repainted.

It was already looking so much better.

Next I shopped around for more attractive shelving for the space.  I was limited to the 12″ depth of the ledge though and I just couldn’t find what I wanted anywhere.  Enter our favorite handyman/neighbor Ken.  He custom built shelving to fit the space and to suit our needs.

Now, here’s the thing.  As you move into the pantry, you’re also going down the stairs into the basement.  So we can’t actually reach the things on the top of the shelving unit under the window, or the things on the top right shelf or very top of the taller units.  They are just for looks.

Well, let’s be honest, there might be a few more items in here that are really ‘just for looks’.  This is the perfect spot for displaying a few of my non-collections like the bluebird china, vintage scales and flour sifters …

and don’t forget the vintage tablecloths.

Uh, that’s a lot of non-collections, right?  I guess denial is not just a river in Egypt.

But I also like to use awesome vintage (or maybe not so vintage) containers to store mundane, but more practical things.  The taller breadbox holds the cat food, the smaller breadbox holds Keurig coffee pods.  The other vintage breadboxes hold Kleenex.  The enamelware bucket holds cleaning rags.

Vintage locker baskets hold paper towels and toilet paper.

The wall opposite the shelves, which I practically have to do contortions to photograph, is painted in black chalkboard paint and contains a message that I try to live by.

That wall also houses the light fixture.  I swapped out the plain glass shade that was on it originally for this fabulous vintage one that I found at a garage sale.

The pantry was the absolute last space in our house that we tackled.  We’d redone every other room, and some twice, but we didn’t get to this one until we’d been in our house nearly 20 years.  It was so easy to just shut the door and ignore it.  But now that it’s pretty, it’s one of my favorite spots.  Especially in the evening when the sun starts going down and it floods the pantry, and now the kitchen, with light.

Do you have a space like this in your house?  You know, that one area that you’ve been neglecting for a really long time?  Please tell me that we’re not the only ones who took 20 years to get something done!

treat the cheese nicely.

Welcome to the next installment of our house tour series.  Today we’re visiting the kitchen.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you’ve probably figured out that I don’t really cook.  You’ve wondered how I can find the time for a full-time job, plus a blog, plus furniture painting?  Well, the answer is, I don’t cook.  OK, maybe that’s not the full answer, but it’s certainly part of it.  Any cooking that takes place at our house is usually done by Mr. Q, and occasionally even by my sister.

That being said, having a gourmet kitchen is pretty low on our list of priorities.  We are very happy with having a mostly functional kitchen instead.  We have the basics; a stove, a microwave, a sink, some cupboards and a fridge.  None of which are fancy or expensive.  And in case you are wondering, no, we do not have a dishwasher.  But who really needs one for just two people who rarely cook?

But you know what?  Let’s stop here and put this kitchen in perspective by hopping into the time machine and heading back to 2006.  This was another of my domino effect decorating projects.  It started out with a plan to put in a new sink and counter tops, re-paint the cupboards and walls and tile the floor.  But it ended up morphing into something a little bit bigger.

To begin with I started out by removing the existing wallpaper in preparation for painting only to find that the lower half of the walls were covered with a thin layer of hardboard.  When we pulled that off, we discovered that the board had been put in place as a quick fix for plaster walls that were in really terrible condition as evidenced by this old page out of my ‘home redecorating’ scrapbook.

At that point my friend/picker/co-worker Sue and her husband kindly offered to help us remove the plaster so we could put up sheet rock instead.  Looking back, I still can’t believe how generous that was of them.  I’m pretty sure I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

That lead to the next unexpected decision, to open up the wall between the kitchen and the piano room.  You see, Sue’s husband accidentally got a little carried away with the sledge hammer and went right through that wall to the other side.

Rather than panic, we decided that it was sign that we should open up that wall and I’m still grateful to this day that he did that.  This change added much more light to the kitchen and really just opened up the entire first floor of our house.

Since we had the walls down to the studs, at that point it made sense to update the wiring in the kitchen and why not put in some counter top lighting as well, right?

Luckily Mr. Q’s brother Joel was able to help us out with that.

We had also planned to rip up the linoleum and do a ceramic tile floor instead.  We had even purchased all of the tile.  However, when we pulled up the linoleum we found wood floors underneath.  So instead we had the wood floors refinished in a checkerboard pattern.

The dark squares are stained and the light squares were left natural.

We hired various people to do most of the rest of the difficult work including sheet rocking the walls and ceiling, and putting in that new arched opening to match the other existing arches in the living room.  Plus putting in new counter tops, a new sink and faucet and tiling the back splash.

I still love the simple white subway tile back splash 13 years later.  It’s a timeless classic that works really well with the age of our home.

We also purchased new appliances back then, and as I’m writing this blog post I realize that means our kitchen appliances are all 13 years old too.  Yikes!  They’ll probably start dropping like flies soon.

We have just the one wall of cabinets and we never even considered replacing them.  Doing so would be expensive and I like the charm of these originals.  They are in really good shape considering they are over 100 years old.  I did switch out the knobs though.

They badly need to be repainted at this point though, maybe I’ll get to that next summer.  Next time around I’ll likely use Fusion paint for its durability.

Those cupboards at the very top originally had solid doors.  We cut out the inserts and replaced them with chicken wire.  Since they are up so high it was never practical to store anything we needed to be able to access on a regular basis up there.  So it made sense to make them decorative instead.

I have them filled with white (not all of it is technically ironstone) china serving pieces.

The rest of the decorative details were up to me and as per usual there are a lot of garage sale finds in this room.  That sisal runner in front of the cupboards was purchased at a garage sale and it’s the perfect size for that spot.

The little cupboard above the radiator by the stove is also a garage sale find.

I keep some of my favorite dishes inside including my french cafe au lait bowls, my numbered plates from Target and a couple of ironstone pieces.

My favorite garage sale find in the room though is the pair of plates hanging on the wall between the pantry door and the bathroom door.

I’ve learned that these are Norwegian cheese plates.  I had found an article once that said the writing on them roughly translates to ‘treat the cheese nicely’, but I’ve since lost track of that article.

  If any of you out there reading this know anything about these plates, I’d love to hear it.

Anyway, I paid just $1 for these plates and the man selling them said they had belonged to his Norwegian mother.  I love them, and even though they didn’t come from my own Norwegian grandmother I still treat them as though they did … and I also always treat the cheese nicely too 😉

Be sure to check back next Wednesday when we’ll take a look behind that pantry door!