Never Shoulda’ Let You Go….

Since this is our forever house, I’m trying a slow approach to design - waiting for the just right pieces.  (And who am I kidding.  I have three kids 4 and under… any process at anything is slow these days.)

It’s made me a little trigger shy to go out and get pieces I find on Kijiji or UsedRegina.  I wait it out, and ask, “Is this reeeeally what I want?” - which means I’m sometimes too late.  Or sometimes I’m just dealing with people who don’t answer e-mails.  That’s awesome too.  

Then I end up with items I’ve filed away that haunt me, and I think… “grrr… if only I had jumped on that one sooner.”  Here are a few of the things I’ve been looking at:

This round table.  It eluded me.  But not without my best efforts.  THe seller said they’d be out of town for a few weeks… and then never got back to me.  I want a table just like this (wood in good shape, round, pedestal style, not a dining table) to go in the corner of our living room.  I’m going for this sort of look:

Design by Lauren Buxbaum, Nate Berkus Associates

But alas - despite numerous unanswered emails (to the point of, “am I creeping you out?!”) — this lovely table escaped.  And I have not been able to find anything similar for months.  Bah.

And then I found this one.  It could have worked instead of the round pedestal one… And I flipped and I flopped.  It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.  But it was kinda’ neat.  Potentially amazing.  But hard to say from the picture.  Was it unique and beautiful?  Or shabby and a little odd?  I couldn’t decide.  And such flippy-floppery meant I waited too long and it sold.  So the table search continues…

For the bedrooms in our house I went with very basic, cheap flush mount fixtures, in hopes that I could either find some great second hand  fixtures or do some nifty DIY’ing, when the inspiration struck, to replace the plain flush mounts .  So when I found this chandelier for a good price, I thought it could potentially be great in the master bedroom.  I’d whip those shades off and replace the bulbs with some big round modern ones.  Giving more of this vibe…

Design by Janell Beals, House of Fifty

But I hesitated, because we have so much grey in our bedroom and I kind of want to add some warm metals instead of silver or chrome.  I blinked, and I missed it.

Speaking of warm metals - how about this shiny brass fixture beloved by some old granny?  It’s actually sitting on the counter in our laundry room awaiting a paint job - either white or pale robin’s egg blue.  It’s obviously super feminine (notice the sweet petal details?) and will go in L’s room.  Hey!  One that didn’t get away!

This one I actually went to look at.  It sort of threw me off.  Looking at the picture I thought it was a sofa table, and might work as a console table in the entry.  But the description said “coffee table”.  So then I thought I could upholster the top and make a cool bench.  But when I went to see it it was too high to be a bench (especially upholstered), and too low to be a console table.  And some of the fluting details were a little too 80’s for me.  Sayonara weird brass table…

And while we’re on a brass kick… look at this beaut.  Mmm.  WHY did I hesitate?!?!?  (Because for some reason I always feel like it’s not worth it to pack up 3 kids and drive across town to pick up a $10 picture.  I don’t know why I feel that way.)  But this one sold before I could say “JUSTINE.  Pack up those kids.  NOW.”  I would have maybe put the print in a modern white frame in the powder room and used the gold frame for another art grouping I’m working on.  Kicking. My. Self.

And these ones I hesitated on too.  I think the coloured mats threw me off.  But the botanicals on the black background are kind of hot, no?  Not that I need botanicals anywhere.

This was a weird one too… pool table pieces.  I saw those legs, and thought “I don’t know what I’d do with those, but whatever I do could be awesome.”  I could use them to create a coffee table, or a bench, or SOMETHING.  It was really hard to tell the scale of the legs from the picture, but I didn’t waste any time asking for measurements, like I often do.  I just asked if they’d sell the legs separately.  And for some reason the seller never replied… but the ad was renewed a couple of times.  Maybe my message went to their spam folder?  I don’t know.

This one was actually a little pricey.  I get it, it was a legit antique.  And I would probably want to desecrate it by upholstering it.  We just weren’t meant to be together.

And this one… is what inspired the whole post.  One I’m crossing my fingers doesn’t get away.  A runner - only $30! It’s hard to tell the condition and colours from the pictures, but I reeeeally want to check it out.  It might look really cool in my kitchen, or the hallway.  But I’m on e-mail #2 to the seller (first one didn’t get a response… but the seller lives in an area of Regina that got some flooding this weekend, so maybe they were preoccupied.  Or maybe my email went to spam.  Or maybe they’re lazy and didn’t take the ad down.  Maybe they were recruited for a Mars mission and had to leave suddenly.)  Anyways… wish me luck!

Starting to get around to framing some art for the kids’ rooms - M and I are both excited about this vintage Canadian Red Ensign flag. #canada #vintage

Starting to get around to framing some art for the kids’ rooms - M and I are both excited about this vintage Canadian Red Ensign flag. #canada #vintage

Vintage Bamboo Frames

When looking for items online always remember to look at the seller’s list.  On Used Everywhere or Kijiji you can click to see what else the seller is offering.  And sometimes, if they have multiple items, you can scoop up a bunch at once.  When I picked up my task lamp I also scooped up some great vintage bamboo frames:


Funny, because the same room that I showed you with the task lamp, also had a great big bamboo frame.  Emily Henderson and I must be on the same wavelength:

I really like the look of bamboo frames in the right context.

Tropical or “zen” themed room = NO.

But something more eclectic, and less theme-y?  YES.

Unfortunately, the previous owner went themey:


But as soon as I took the pixelated computer print-out “art” out of the frames they began to look more sophisticated.  

I’m not sure what I’ll put in these frames.  But it’ll have nothing to do with palm trees, panda bears, or cruise ships.


The finish is a silvery gold (goldish silver?) and the tiniest bit chippy, which I like.

The mattes have an weird mottled look, so I plan on wrapping them in fabric - probably just a natural linen.


Art for the Little Ones

As I’ve let the design plans for the kids’ rooms simmer in my brain, I’ve been surfing Etsy for art that might work for their rooms.  I’ll have to hit up some used book stores and thrift stores before ordering anything online, since much of what I’m looking at is vintage bookplates and posters.  I like the vintage route for art since it is affordable, beautiful, unique, and adds so much character.

For L’s room I already have the Month by Month prints from Sarah Jane Studios.  I bought the little notecards long before I even had kids because I loved them so much.  So I’ll definitely be putting these in her room somewhere.

(“October in Polka Dot Wellies" from the Her Month by Month series by Sarah Jane Studios)

I also want to play with florals in her room - because where else can you do this with abandon than in a little girl’s room?  I often call her “Sweet Pea” so I’ve been on the hunt for vintage seed packets or books or illustrations of sweet peas, like this one:

(Sweet Peas and Nasturtiums [laser print of seed box] from Victorian Rose Prints)

Or perhaps a botanical print like this one:

And wouldn’t those yellow sweet peas look lovely paired with these little yellow butterflies?

(Both prints from Early Bird Sale)

She also adores animals, and has a particular affinity for puppies (one of her first words) so I’ve been searching out dog breed illustrations like these:

(Vintage Dog Breed Illustration from Iowa Jewel)

For the boys’ room vintage maps are such an easy go-to for art.  They’re interesting, beautiful, educational, and still pretty neutral.

(Antique Topographic Map of Canada from Reclaimer Vintage Goods)

M has some ideas of his own, though.  He’d really like some superhero pictures in his room.  And though he’s never watched anything Avengers-related, he’s obsessed with them and has a few toys and colouring books with them.  I kind of cringe at the thought of something character based being featured, but this minimalistic poster is pretty cool:

(The Avengers Variant Poster from William Henry Graphic Design, also comes in blue)

Though I’m not sure he’d find that sufficient.  Another route I’ve considered is framing vintage comic books. (Though it’s quite the hunt finding one that looks cool, features his favourite characters, yet is without anything scary or any scantily clad women on it!  Sheesh.)

(The Avengers No. 151 Comic Book from Sidewalk Comics)

One item I’m totally kicking myself over not purchasing is this 1921 Canadian flag.  My kids really like flags, and they might find it cool that pre-1960’s our Canadian flag was actually different.  This flag is linen, it’s cool, it’s patriotic, it’s historical, it’s beautiful - what a treasure!  But I waited, and it sold, and I can’t find anything like it online (for a decent price).  Darn.  Seriously kicking myself.

(Historical Upper Canada Flag from PapillonArtBoutique)

This old bookplate is pretty cool, but given its age it’s missing a lot of provinces and actually has the old Saskatchewan flag, which may annoy M or confuse my kids as they learn.  So I’m not sold on it.  And really I just want that old linen flag.  

(Flags of Canada from Peony and Thistle Paper and Print)

I obviously won’t be getting all of this, but the hunting sure is fun…. We’ll see what I end up with!

Home of Caroline and Anthony Borgman featured in Period Living

Home of Caroline and Anthony Borgman featured in Period Living

Chair Shopping

I shouldn’t have done it.  But I went looking for chairs in the online used ads last night, and there was a veritable treasure trove!  It had me pining for some great chairs.  Most would need to be taken to a real-deal upholsterer though.  And, oh yeah, I have no need (and no space!) for new chairs.  But let’s dream together, shall we?

First, there were a whole bunch of Louis-style chairs for about $75 each.  It’s more than I paid for my other two, but it’s not bad.  Only these two are left unsold, and they’re asking $100 per chair. Meh.

 But for a while there last night (when there were 3 other similar chairs for sale) I was imagining having a full set and using them as dining chairs…

(From An Angel at my Table)

(Design by Samantha Pynn, Photography by Virginia MacDonald, via Decorpad)

I’m a sucker for this style of feminine wing chair.  This one is $50.

I’d have a tough time deciding what to do with a chair like this… Probably lose the tufting and use some pretty patterned fabric like this floral one here:

(Design by Amanda Brooks, via Garance Dore)

…Or go with something classic and simple like a pale grey or cream linen:

(Photography by Stacey Brandford, Design by Sarah Richardson Design, via House & Home)

…Or a cool graphic tartan that juxtaposes the curvy feminine lines:

(Design by Summer Thornton, via Chicago Home & Garden)

And how about this super cool boxy chair?  Not exactly my style, but a good chair nonetheless.  And only $20!!!

It feels really modern to me, but similar chairs look lovely in this traditional home:

(Photography by Phil Crozier, Design by McIntyre Bills, via House and Home)

How cool would it be in a masculine grey tweedy/herringbone fabric?  

(Design by Sarah Richardson, Photography by Stacey Brandford, via Globe and Mail)

…Though this navy velvet is tempting too:


(Mercer tufted club chair from Canvas Home)

And these chairs are not for everyone… (They look like something Emily Henderson might pick out.)  But I love their unique shape. $60 for the pair, but since they’re probably an acquired taste, I’m sure I could get them cheaper.

They seem like they’d be so cozy to curl up in.


(Design by Ashley Whittaker, featured in House Beautiful)

I’d maybe lose the tufting on the back (or maybe not?), and probably the skirt, and go with a navy or charcoal velvet. to simplify them a bit.  

(Design by Emily Henderson)

Or since I’m totally dreaming, some worn butterscotch leather.  Yes.

And the backs could look really cool with some nailhead detail. Yes. Yes.

(Design by Eric Magnussen, photography by Raúl Candales, via Elle Decor Espana- This is obviously a totally different piece of furniture… but you get the vibe.

And while we’re in that funky/trendy mode, How about this hanging wicker chair?  So retro.  But so fun.  

Such a cool beachy vibe, too:

(Design by Emily Henderson)

(Home of Ione Skye featured in Domino Magazine, via Flickr)

But $300?  Not.  Ever.  Happening.

And that’s it for my imaginary online shopping spree.  Well, for chairs, anyways.

Design by Chris Mead, Photograph by Tim Street-Porter (via Country Living)

Design by Chris Mead, Photograph by Tim Street-Porter (via Country Living)

Country Kitsch, anyone?

When tying to explain that I like “country” style (because people ask me that aaaall the time in everyday life.  OK, no they don’t.  But I’ve had the conversation a handful of times.), it’s hard to express what country style means to me.  Because in my mind it is not your stereotypical “country” (tons of plaid, roosters, sunflowers, or cow print, for example).  I like a clean, neutral, more modern approach to country that is largely void of kitsch and clutter and anything related to the country trends of the 90’s.

But I think there’s room for a little kitsch.  For example, one of my favourite country home inspiration pictures is from this New York farmhouse featured in Country Living:

(photo by Michael Lupino for Country Living)

What do I like about it?  The bead board wainscoting, the neutral colour scheme, the weathered wooden table, the white dishes… but I reeeally like that vintage cow poster.  It’s kind of charming, and cool, even if it is a little theme-y and kitschy.

I kind of want to feature something similar in our farmhouse - maybe in the dining room.  I think the key is to present it in a modern way (i.e. a simple, minimal picture frame, or a modern arrangement of the artwork), and to stay away from anything too “theme-y” elsewhere in the room.

So, lets turn to Etsy, shall we?

I love the look of vintage illustrations, and one (usually) cheap and easy way to get these is to find old children’s storybooks:

Vintage Lithograph Farming Posters from beanandbag on Etsy

Large Book Plate Print circa 1930s from Totally Old School on Etsy

Antique Linen 2-Sided Book Page from Totally Old School on Etsy

Antique book from on Little Beach Designs on Etsy

Since most of these illustrations tend to be small they would work well for a salon-style or gallery arrangement of pictures in different sizes of frames.  (I did this in Little M’s nursery with a vintage Smokey the Bear storybook.)  You could cut out pages from the books, or if the covers are really pretty, like the green one above, you could feature a group of storybooks in shadow boxes.  Or you could use just a few small illustrations framed with oversized mattes to create a bigger piece of art. (See an example of this below)

You could also expand your search to other educational materials, such as posters or flashcards:


1913 Vintage American Agriculture Print - Wheat from Holcroft on Etsy

(*Side note: this shop also has plenty of great vintage fruit and flower botanical prints if you want to replicate the look of Sarah Richardson’s farmhouse master bedroom!)

Design by Sarah Richardson, photograph by Stacey Brandford

Vintage Educational Classroom Poster circa 1966 from Luv Me Two Times on Etsy

French and Spanish Vocabulary Flash Cards from Totally Old School on Etsy

Vintage Playing Cards from 30one on Etsy

If you find a large educational poster you could hang it unframed (like in the inspiration photo from Country Living at the top of this post) or find a simple frame for it.

If you had a set of flashcards they would work well framed in a symmetrical arrangement, like this one by Cameron MacNeil in House & Home, June 2011 issue.

I really like the use of a little vintage valentine in the bottom centre frame.  How about this one?

Boy and Cow Vintage Valentine Card from Paper Prizes on Etsy

Another idea for creating a larger piece of art is to frame one, or several pieces of fabric, such as table cloths, tea towels, or - my favourite - old grain sacks.

Vintage Farm Scene Tablecloth from Uncle Bunks Trunk on Etsy

Rare Grandma Moses Barkcloth from Chenille Bliss on Etsy

Vintage Farm Print Novelty Fabric from Thoroughbred Threads on Etsy

Assorted Vintage Grain Sacks from Linens Lace and Lattes on Etsy

Wouldn’t those grain sacks look awesome in plain black frames?  I’m going to scrounge through the old barn and some nearby shops to find some of these, I think…

And if you can handle the really kitschy stuff, a needle point or paint by number could look awesome, if presented well, like this cottage from Country Living:

Old paint-by-number paintings displayed on a shelf.  (Photo by Aimee Herring for Country Living)

Vintage Paint by Numbers Horses from Lady Libertine Vintage on Etsy

Vintage Needlepoint from Lady Cluck’s Vintage Treasures on Etsy

Vintage Embroidered Pillow Case Set from Patchworkz on Etsy

And my favourite?  This set of 6 farm animal puzzles.  I imagine them assembled, glued to a white matte, framed, and arranged symmetrically:

Vintage Farm Friends Six Puzzle Set from Jody’s Vintage on Etsy

So, there’s your fill of country kitsch for the day!  I think the key to using stuff like this as art is restraint - use simple framing, in a fairly neutral room scheme, without too much else that fits a farm or country theme.