living on less

We’ve made some major changes in our lives over the past few months.  For starters, we got hitched in May.  You already knew that unless you’re just tuning in for the first time.  And if you are, welcome!

wedding

What happened next surprised us though.  A good surprise in retrospect but the type of surprise we weren’t totally prepared for.  It knocked the wind out of us at first actually.  We picked up suddenly and moved to Cape May, NJ.  Permanently. We quickly consolidated two houses into one small beach bungalow.  You could call it the great downsize of 2013.  We sold tons of furniture, donated pounds of clothes and narrowed down our favorite housewares.

milk paint table makeover & ship captain lamp

We made the decision to move in June after being faced with some tough issues primarily related to Ryan’s MS which he was diagnosed with last year.  I’ll save all of the gritty details for my future best-selling memoir.  Ultimately we decided what is most important to us is living a simple healthy life together in a place we love.  We made the quick decision to eliminate unnecessary noise and chaos and to leave the grind behind.  Why wait the previously planned 15-20 years to move to our beloved Cape May?  We packed up truckload after truckload and settled into our beach bungalow turned forever home in August.  Now we live somewhere between the woods of Cape May and the sandy shore of the Delaware Bay.  It is quiet, restful and simple.

beach

We’ve taken on a motto of living on less which is a bit of a change from my previous fill-every-closet-in-the-house lifestyle.  Who am I kidding?  Once a hoarder, always a hoarder but I have been making smarter decisions about what I actually need and what collected anecdotes make me happy.  We only have two closets in the entire house and one dresser each so excess clothing was the first to go.  It is kind of refreshing to have such limitations in a way.

vintage ship captain collection

But living on less doesn’t mean bare rooms and no fun. Trust me.  There will be lots of room makeovers now that we’re settled into our new permanent address.  Well, four room makeovers if I have my way.  Several are already in progress.  We have just four rooms in our 1000 square foot home and two bathrooms plus loads of outdoor space.  Doesn’t it sound freeing to only have to maintain four rooms?  All two and a half of us really do not need more space than that.

kitchen

Don’t get me wrong, we are not living in total seclusion here.  I still love the action that the city has to offer.  We make frequent trips “up north” but are thrilled to come home to our peaceful, collected abode by the sea.

bedroom

And being that I built a business based on beautiful things, the hunting and gathering will continue.  Joyfully!  I’ll continue to sell vintage and repurposed wares at The West End Garage in Cape May.  Let’s call that our flagship store, shall we?  Plus on our frequent trips to Philly, we’ll pop up at our favorite Clover Market.  And of course, I’ll continue to be a driving force with milk paint at Serendipity Shops in Doylestown plus it is available for sale online.  In fact, I have another demo coming up on November 17th at 1pm.

That’s our big news!  Coming to you from Cape May, NJ.  When the world gives you lemons, take them to the beach…

garden fencing and rakes

Well we took full advantage of that warm front that passed through over the weekend.  How about you?

We worked outside non-stop in Cape May.  Mostly on a garden related project that we originally thought we’d hold off on until spring.  However, we recently had some utility work done (not the topic fun blog posts are made of) so the yard was already dug up.  It just made sense to move forward with the garden layout now instead of waiting until spring.  Plus, the weather felt like spring anyway!  Bonus.

But before we can get to the fun part of the garden, actual gardening, we needed to work on the fence.  We inherited a homemade fence of horizontal 2×4’s done by previous owners post and rail style.  Their day had come.  It was time to remove the old fence and unfortunately I didn’t take a before picture but there wasn’t much to look at anyway.  The funny thing is that whoever installed the posts, installed them completely unevenly.  Instead of placing them 8 feet apart, they were like 7’9″ or 7’11”.  No two posts were the same distance apart.  But sturdy rails that they are, we were determined to reuse them instead of recreating the wheel.

picket fencing

We headed to Lowe’s and picked up a portion of the American dream.  Picket fencing in 8 foot widths.  Before finishing the unfinished fence, we temporarily installed them with the leftover posts.  This meant measuring and cutting a picket here or there to fit the aforementioned wonky post distances.

At the end of day one, we had what looked like a newly installed fence.  However, we quickly labeled each portion of fencing and removed them from the posts so they could be finished.  Once they’re finished, it should be easy to install them in order.

installing a fence

I thought we were moving onto the beginning of the fun part…customizing the fence.  Boy, was I wrong.  Painting a fence is so incredibly daunting.  We decided to use milk paint to stain the raw wood pickets a nice, custom mixed light blue.  At the end of day 2, they had a beach cottagey, blue washed look to them.  Fun!

But they’re still not ready to be re-hung on the fence posts.  We are planning to seal the milk paint in with tung oil which will protect the finish in the elements.  I can’t wait to share the color and finish.

tung oil

As soon as we can find time to oil them, we’ll re-install the fence and work on prepping the garden for spring.  I am planning on a perennial cutting garden since this space gets full sun!

Here are some of my inspiration photos for this garden space…

I am liking this rock border.

garden source unknown
source: unkown

Yes, I am considering a bike planter. Thoughts?  It seems like a very Cape May thing to do.

garden source french country cottage
source: French Country Cottage

While everyone else is on fall, I am dreaming about my spring garden .  Go figure!

All of that work in the garden had me inspired to bring a portion of it in.  I have been looking for a way to organize our belts for some time now (other than downsizing my belts because I have too many).

garden rake belt organization

I am sure you are no stranger to the idea of repurposing an old garden rake head as hooks for everything from jewelry to stemmed wine glasses.  Well, I decided to install our extra garden rake as a belt hook.  However, I did not remove the handle.  Honestly, I felt guilt cutting a perfectly fine rake in half.

garden rake belt organization

This was a no brainer.  After cleaning the rake followed by a hemp oil application to moisturize the wood, I positioned it against the wall near our master bath.  All set and the belts have one place to live. I like that I can see them all.

garden rake belt organization

And if I get bored of it, I can still use the rake outside again.

kitchen updates

Do you remember way back in January 2012 when I posted about our galley kitchen makeover? No, you don’t? Maybe you saw it on pinterest because it continues to get lots of looks and pins. But don’t fret if you didn’t, I will show you where we came from and where we are today.

kitchen before and after - pallet wood backsplash

We started with 80s laminate everything in this room.  Cabinets, counters, floors, backsplash.  Everything was laminate except the appliances and ceiling.  I love the 80s but that’s just too much laminate for my taste!  So in 2012, we resurfaced the laminate cabinets with paint and the laminate wall got resurfaced with a pallet wood backsplash.

pallet wood back splash & painted laminate cabinets

Those updates got us through but it gets even better with the long-awaited addition of hardware. Think of it as jewelry. Yes, even better!  Jewelry.

I suppose it isn’t really a makeover but more like make-up. She needed foundation and some accessories.

kitchen before & after

Check out those bin pulls for the drawer fronts! This is my favorite new addition adding just a dose of industrial charm.

pallet wood back splash & painted laminate cabinets eith industrial pulls

kitchen drawer industrial pulls

We added simple brushed nickel knobs for the cabinet doors. I scored the hardware on ebay. The knobs were only $1 each!  And I’ll tell you a secret that will have my husband rolling his eyes, I’d change out these knobs in a heartbeat if I could find just the right vintage jadeite knobs.  Always, a work in progress, my friends.

pallet wood back splash & painted laminate cabinets

You might notice some other updates as well. The dishwasher got upgraded out of necessity. I actually found the old appliances charming unlike all of the laminate surfaces.  Not charming.

We opted for a stainless dishwasher to go with the stainless refrigerator that the previous owners had already put in. Do you know you can pretty much only find standard appliances in black, white & stainless these days without going the custom route. An almond dishwasher to replace the last one was impossible to find.

indsutrial kitchen

I still love the almond colored stove and it’s now vintage charm. Isn’t she cute?

pallet wood back splash & painted laminate cabinets

I don’t even mind that the appliances are mismatched in this room for some reason. Let’s call it eclectic.

pallet wood back splash & painted laminate cabinets

You’ll be happy to know that the faucet got an upgrade as well. That needed to be done in my opinion.

pallet wood back splash & painted laminate cabinets

But let’s talk about functionality of the finishes in here, shall we? I’ve had tons of questions and comments about the paint and pallet since the first post back in 2012. The paint (over laminate) has held up impressively well with a few minor chips around the drawers. That was one of the influencing factors for finally putting on pulls. Plus they look good!

As a reminder the paint was water based latex (BM Woodmont Cream) over water based primer although the recommended application is oil based primer. Still, this isn’t so bad, is it? You can read more about the paint application here. Ahh, the power of paint!

pallet wood back splash & painted laminate cabinets

Now for the pallets…either you love ’em or hate ’em. We love ’em and haven’t had a single issue since we glued these suckers up. More about that here.

pallet wood backsplash

Do you like the addition of the copper lid that turned a pleasant shade of green? I do!  I’m smitten with it and have been looking for just the right place for it for years.

copper lid turned dish towel rack on pallet wood backsplash

There’s still more to do to round out this industrial inspired kitchen but I love how it is coming along.  Next project …the counters. The laminate wood tone needs to go!

pallet backsplash, laminate counter

Slowly but surely…resurfacing laminate one surface at a time.

UPDATE: Check out the 2014 update here.

cement counters-4511

vinyl + chrome = love

We’re just barely back from our honeymoon.  Still organizing life and most importantly all of our Brimfield finds!  However I couldn’t leave you hanging without a little dose of Circa Dee.

I’ve got a before & after for you from the archives.  I can’t hardly believe that I’ve never properly shared this project with you.  It is definitely one of my favorites around here.  In fact, there has been a debate on whether or not we should keep it for ourselves.  We don’t actually need this adorable retro dinette table & chairs however it fits in perfectly at the beach.  And we happen to have an open space for it.  Hmmm…

updated retro dinette  (2 of 23)

Of course I didn’t take a proper before shot. More like an in progress shot after we started taking the chairs apart.  As you can see they were covered in the original vinyl which was in bad shape.  And then there was newer vinyl (not pictured) haphazardly tacked on over the original.

IMG_5606

IMG_5607

Off it all came!  The chairs got updated with my modern spin on the original vinyl – bright aqua marine grade vinyl.  So fun!

updated retro dinette  (18 of 23)

Don’t you just want to sit down?

updated retro dinette  (10 of 23)

Now for the table… I love the original table.  Nice and solid.  What you can’t really see are all of the dings, filth and general wear & tear.  So ultimately we stripped it with the intent to stain the original wood with a more modern dark color.

IMG_5608

But at the end of the day we settled on a couple of coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in graphite.  I think it adds another modern punch that coordinates with the bright chairs very well.  I topped it off with a couple of cots of furniture wax.  It has a nice smooth finish.

updated retro dinette  (12 of 23)

And check out all of those legs!  We cleaned and shined up all of that chrome which really gives off the retro vibe.  All of that gorgeous chrome is the feature that is saving the table from staying in our home.  We have all brass accents so the chrome has to go!  Too bad for us but maybe good for you?

updated retro dinette  (8 of 23)

Wouldn’t you like to have a glass of wine at this table?

updated retro dinette  (20 of 23)

Linking to:  Miss Mustard Seed

another mantel to scape

Yes, you heard right.  There is another mantel in my life.  No, I’m not cheating on my first mantel.

art deco coastal mantel

I firmly believe you can never have too many mantels.  And you don’t need a fireplace to go with said mantel.  A really great mantel will add character and speak for itself.  Like this art deco one that I alluded to on Monday.  Check out the lines.  And the subtly distressed wood.  Love the imperfections.

art deco coastal mantel

As promised, beside the mantel sits my new favorite mid-century tweed swivel chair with brass tips.  And a box of driftwood for good measure.

mid-century tweed swivel chair

This vintage/coastal vignette is the new focal point of our beach house living room.  As our home should, it feels like the perfect mix of both Ryan and me.

vintage coastal living room/mantel vignette

This room is large in scale and was in dire need of further updating to get to this point.

Here’s the back story and before shot.

I’ll be honest, I had a mini-bridezilla moment a few months ago when I realized Ryan would be getting ready here for our wedding which means photographers would be set up in THIS ROOM!  It wasn’t ready!  This is what the furnished space originally looked like when we moved in 3 years ago…

living room before

It is like a time warp of someone’s grandmother’s house in 1992.  I began tearing down the thick vinyl wallpaper about 2 days in.  I couldn’t take it.  We did however embrace all of the wood trim.  I know most people would have walked in and painted everything white and called it a beach cottage.  We are going for a “rustic boathouse” look in this bungalow hence natural woods, brass, blues & greens.

D for drywall & dana

After removing the wallpaper, we painted (and discovered a hidden D!).  I believe the blue we chose is called January Frost by Valspar.

painting

And from there, we just moved those hideous couches back in their places and went to the beach for the next couple of years I suppose.  Slowly the side tables and things got changed out but the couches stuck around for far too long.  Ryan tried to convince me that they were vintage but they weren’t what I had in mind and we both agreed that they were very uncomfortable.  Last fall we found a comfy sectional for the space and then things really started to evolve around it.

coastal cottage living room

A lantern turned lamp with a modern shade got added to the mix.

vintage lantern turned lamp

Green shutters from Phantastic Phinds flank either side of the window.  There are lots of aqua touches throughout the room.  I will share the other half of the space in the near future.

art deco beach house mantel

I found this cage 2 summers ago and turned it into a coffee table with casters and a piece of glass.  It houses an anchor and other rotating coastal treasures.

vintage cage turned coffee table

Let’s get back to the mantel though.  The inaugural coastal mantelscape is a bit monochromatic.  I already have some plans to brighten it up for spring but let’s review…

vintage ship wheel

I found that large picture at a consignment shop a few years back.  It is actually a woodburning of a lighthouse scene.

lighthouse woodburning

The vintage bookends are new to us.  We seem to be collecting ship captains around here like our Gorton’s Fisherman painting that now hangs across the room.  And the old man Ryan needlepoint.  I love them all!

fisherman bookends

But doesn’t it look like this captain is wearing lipstick?  Hey, whatever floats your boat! Ha, get it? Boat.  Captain.  Ok…

ship captain bookend

That wraps up where we are with this space at the moment.  More to come I’m sure!  I am already looking for an updated lamp shade for the ship wheel sconce on the left that I purchased from another vendor at West End Garage.

art deco coastal mantel

What’s currently on your mantel?

Linking to:

frankenstorm

Happy Halloween everybody! It sure looks spooky around these parts thanks to the wrath of Hurricane Sandy – dubbed Frankenstorm here in the northeast.  On Monday, I posted a bit panicked about how our favorite coastal town of Cape May, New Jersey would fair.  Well, I am here to report that Cape May won the battle with Sandy.  Hooray!

Unfortunately our neighbors to the north did not make out as well as Cape May.  My heart goes out to all of those folks just up the coast.

Ironically our home town to the west in Pennsylvania seemed to be more battered than Cape May as well.  We lost power in PA on Monday evening and as of writing this have not had it restored just yet.  Our town is full of beautiful, mature trees – one of the draws of the neighborhood.  However, not all of the trees withstood the wind gusts.  Some toppled over on our power lines.  We were nervous for the large trees surrounding our house but they all stood strong.

After about 36 hours without electric and heat we decided to venture back east to Cape May.  That is when we learned that ironically the coastal town was in better shape than our Montgomery county town.

And that we had internet.  Hooray again!

It is amazing what lack of electricity can do.  I forgot what day it was, never knew the time and flicked the light switch on a ridiculous amount of times out of habit.  Living in the dark is not fun.  Oh and neither is wearing 2 pairs of pants to sleep.  

Anyway, back to the positive news around Cape May…

Boarded up beach houses suffered minimal damage

For the most part, sand dunes did their job as barrier

Only a few roads were sand covered

Everyone’s favorite Cape May landmark, Congress Hall, overlooks the sea

Sandy makes a grand exit leaving town with a show of clouds

A little bit spooky for Halloween

A flock of beautiful cranes bathed in the storm’s remnants

Again, I can’t stress how fortunate we are.  We have some flooding around the house.  Ok, our front yard is a pond but nothing we can’t manage compared to what others are experiencing.

I hope you are your family are safe, dry and warm this Halloween.

just another manic monday

After a fabulously gorgeous weekend in PA, it is a cold and rainy Monday.  And that is A-ok with me.  It is forcing me to stay in and catch up on some work.  However, last week was pretty great for sourcing and selling vintage finds.

First let me tell you, yesterday was Clover Market…ahhmazing.  As always.  We had a fabulous crowd!  Sunny skies and fun neighboring vendors too.  My first customers of the day were from Massachusetts.  (Hi girls!)  They traveled to Philly all the way from Mass just to visit us at Clover.  How cool is that?  If you are considering making the trip, November 4th is the last Clover of the season!  I guarantee you’ll find some unique holiday gifts and a few gems for yourself.

Prior to my frantic day-before-Clover prep, I took some time to shop and work on a room in my own house.  It is no where near ready for a reveal but let me show you a few treasures that will be in the room.

I seriously fell in love with this needlepoint old man.  Isn’t he sweet?  When I first found him, I thought that I would sell him.  (I’ve been on a vintage needlepoint kick lately.)

Then the more I looked at him, I knew he was a keeper.  Now call me crazy but he totally looks like an old man Ryan.  And my mom agrees. So call her crazy too.  I mean seriously, I think this is what my fiance, Ryan, is going to age to look like.  I’m pretty sure he even has that hat already.  Ryan currently has a shorter, darker beard and the same blue eyes. We’ll check back with him in another 35 years.

So old man Ryan stays.

Next up is a corner hutch in fabulous aqua blue.  We moved this guy right into the beach house living room to serve as a bar area.  It took the place of an oversized dark bookshelf.  The change really opened up the corner visually and invoked a little beach cottage whimsy with the color.

Funny thing is that the guy I bought this from kept telling me how I could refinish the paint but I thought that was the best part!  I suppose I will fix the cabinet pull though.

I love scouting antique scales.  This particular one is a fudge scale.  The flat marble base is a great area for displaying books and things.  I can’t keep everything though so I will probably sell this one.

I picked up this enamel top cabinet a few weeks back.  It is pretty beat but I hope to revitalize it with Miss Mustard Seed milk paint soon.

So what did you do this weekend?  Find any good vintage treasures?

I’ll be spending the rest of the week gearing up for our monthly sale this weekend at the Brick & Mortar.  We’ll be rolling out the Miss Mustard Seed milk paint line.  If you are a local DIYer, you must stop by Saturday or Sunday to see all of the wonderful colors and products!  I may even have Miss Mustard Seed’s new book in stock too!  I’ll keep you posted.

Linking to Mod Vintage Life, Apron Thrift Girl

lighten up

I want to thank everyone for all of the kind words and outpour of love.  The response to our engagement as been just so overwhelming!  I apologize that I haven’t responded to each comment, email and message individually.  It is a very exciting time for us and we really appreciate the support!

Oh and you may be interested to see that I added a pic of me in the now infamous pink sweatpants on the engagement post.  You can get a glimpse of us just minutes before the proposal and have a look-see at the atrocious pants.  I also added the perfect sunset pic.  Anyway, enough out about my poor fashion choice. 

Back to some vintage treasures!

A simple project today!  A little bit of paint goes a loooong way.

A couple of years ago I picked up this large, old trunk at a yard sale for dirt cheap.  Since then it has played cocktail table on the screened in deck at our Cape May home.  It has great features and I love the big dovetail construction.  But it was the color of dirt.

On a whim last weekend, I decided it was time to de-dirtify the look of the trunk. The mousey brown just didn’t cut it. I dry brushed on some ASCP cream allowing the brown to still show through.

I went right over the hardware in some places but also allowed the grain of the wood to pop.

It really visually lightens the place up now as the cream color recedes right into the wall of the house. The trunk suddenly seems less bulky.

I love how the sides turned out.

To finish it off, I sanded with a fine grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface.  No wax on this rustic piece! 

Linking to:  Restore Interiors

navigating the atlantic

Last summer I found a fab map of the ocean from 1984 that shows how to navigate the Atlantic locally between New Jersey, Delaware & Maryland. Since I am not captaining a boat any time soon, I decided naturally it would look best framed at the beach house.

The bright map was destined for one of the bedrooms. The aqua of course is lovely and would make a nice addition to the master bedroom but the yellow plays into the nautical palette of red, blue and yellow in the guest room.  It was a tough decision but it is now in the guest room.  It helps as we need a few pops of color in there.

 Here’s my assistant debuting the newly framed map…

After I allowed this map to sit around for months, Ryan took over and built a custom frame with scrap wood.  We like to build frames here at Circa Dee if you haven’t noticed.  The map is a unique size not found in retail frames. I think it was 22×24 inches so it had to be custom.

Ryan had the brilliant idea of using plexiglass on both sides of the map so that you can see the interesting details on the back about navigating the sea such as mileage and where stuff has sunk and stuff like that.  Can you tell I don’t know anything about navigating the sea?

Ryan, please show us the back. Thank you.

Getting plexiglass cut is much quicker than getting regular glass cut. You can get plexiglass cut at your local hardware store on the spot. In my experience, it can take up to a week to get glass custom cut. However, glass is about half the price of plexiglass. You weigh the differences.

He secured the plexiglass in with Glazier’s points.  I never knew what those little pointy things were called until now.  And they’re brilliant.  They come in a pack of 50 for a couple of bucks.  Perfect for framing projects.  You can also sneak a peek at some of the “stuff” on the back of the map.

Ryan totally owned this project.  He painted the frame in “Butterfly” yellow which we got for free at the Ace Clark + Kensington paint promo on Saturday.  Seriously, we go to Ace a whole heck of a lot.  They know us there and even let us bring Wilson in.

So after 6 months of me doing nothing with this old map, Ryan swooped in and gave it a new home which I totally love…even if I have no idea how to read it…hopefully our guests will…and will come with a boat to take us out on!

Linking to:
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