layering a window seat

Yesterday was one of those days where I packed in enough activities to fill a few days. Man, I got so much done that I am actually sore.  I planted 80 bulbs in an hour using my tried and true electric drill/auger method.  Can’t wait to see those babies bloom in the spring.   Prior to that, I started out the day finishing up this window seat nook in our living room.

vintage military ammo trunk turned window seat by Circa Dee

Our living room is pretty big.  It was originally two rooms (small living room and a tiny bedroom) that a previous owner opened up to make one large space.  I love how open it is but it still calls for two different zones.  I sort of think of the TV watching area as the “family” room and this side as the “living” room where we have a sitting area and then a bar cart to the side.

We added roman shades and vintage toile drapes.  In fact, the roman shades are the only things that are brand spankin’ new in this space.

vintage military ammo trunk turned window seat + toile drapes by Circa Dee

Before I go any further, please allow me to insert a beautiful “before” picture here of this side of the room.  This house was screaming bad 80s (and in some cases, still is) so it is a real joy to recreate.


I should also point out that I lost the battle on painting all of the maple stained trim in this house.  When paired with the new bright roman shades, it doesn’t seem that bad however I would like to de-orange it a bit with a darker stain.  But of course that is a daunting task that I am really not ready to embark on.

You may remember the drapes from the dining room in our previous house.  It’s funny how different they look in here.  Rather than using drape hooks this time, I went with rod clips so I could easily loop them over the fishing rod curtains rods.

vintage toile drapes

Yes, I said fishing rods.  One thing about making the beach house our permanent residence is determining how much “beach” to mix into the decor.  After all I don’t want to turn this place into the set of the Golden Girls.  Or maybe I do actually.  Blanche had quite the social life.  Anyway, I am still experimenting with how much beach is too much.

I digress.

The fishing reels and one of the rods are special because they belonged to Ryan’s grandfather and father.  I like how they’re on display but also totally functional for this space.  That seems to be a recurring theme since we moved.  Many of the things we chose to keep with us are sentimental and family heirlooms so we’re trying to find ways to not only admire them but actually use them as well.

repurposing fishing rod and reel as curtain rod

As soon as we decided to move, I knew this trunk was going right in this space.  The reason is two fold.  1)  This window is just calling out for a seat and the trunk was just the right size.  And 2) storage!

vintage military ammo trunk bench + orange kilim rug by Circa Dee

This is a vintage navy ammo trunk with its original labels.  You know how I feel about vintage military accessories.  Maybe you don’t.  I love them!  I tried to sell this one once upon a time when I didn’t need a huge ammo trunk however it didn’t sell.  Obviously no one saw my bench vision in the ginormous trunk!  We added castors so it easily moves as needed.  It can actually double as a coffee table too sans the pillows.  I’m sure I will be wheeling this out of the window to make room for a Christmas tree sometime soon.

vintage military ammo trunk bench + orange kilim rug by Circa Dee

Did you notice the cushion?  It is the perfect size for the trunk and it came off of a metal bench that we already owned.  A bench without storage so it didn’t make the cut in here.

window seat trunk

I know you spotted the rug.  Is it not the most perfect selection of loomed wool that you ever did see?

vintage military ammo trunk bench + orange kilim rug by Circa Dee

Let me tell you that an area rug was a must have for this little space.  It never felt complete without it.  I wanted to ground the space.  This Turkish kilim number did exactly that.  After drooling over very expensive kilims and overdyed wool rugs online for months, I found this antique one at an estate sale last week for a steal.  Plus a nicely coordinating one that I can’t wait to share too!  Jackpot.

vintage military ammo trunk bench + orange kilim rug by Circa Dee

I’m pretty happy with how this space came together.  It is functional and full of vintage style.  I even snuck in some mixing bowls on the windowsill.

  beach bungalow window seat

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

drop it like it’s hot

It’s official!  We’re getting married!

Yeah it’s been official for awhile but it’s really, really offic now because we dropped 100 wedding invitations in the mail.  They are on their way to mailboxes all over the country.


And even one to Japan!  (As if I have to prove it.)


This is happening!

It’s go-time now with just a few months left of planning.  The engagement period sure has flown by.  Although we’ve been engaged since April, we didn’t start planning until September so I guess that’s why.

But you know what has been our hands down favorite part of wedding planning?

Cake tasting.  Duh.

carrot cake

Over the holidays, we visited a local bakery and sampled flavor after flavor of divine cake.  We ultimately settled on the rich and buttery pound cake but it was a tough choice!

pound cake

swan pastries


We took home lots of samples.  Trust me when I say none of this went to waste.  What wedding dress?

let them eat cake

Ryan and I had a fun time touring the bakery’s kitchen.



Of course I saw these industrial sized whisks and imagined them repurposed into pendant lights.  But that’s just me.

industrial whisks

Has this post made you hungry now too?

reclaimed industrial bedroom

In just 3.5 days we took our space at the Philadelphia Convention Center from this


to this…

Reclaimed Industrial Bedroom

Reclaimed Industrial Bedroom

The display includes a vintage blueprint wall installation, a headboard upholstered with a vintage tablecloth and a garden trellis turned mirror.  Every feature in the room, excluding some of the textiles, is vintage or repurposed…and DIYed with love.

More about the industrial drapes can be read here and more about the upholstered headboard can be read here.

Home Show - Upholstered Headboard

vintage blueprint wall installation

More about the garden trellis mirror can be read here.

Home Show - Milk painted dresser

More about the club chair can be read here.

Home Show - minnow bucket light

Home Show - Repurposed Frames & Vintage Vanity


Home Show - Garden Trellis Mirror

Linking to:


Sometimes we grow up.  Ok its inevitable.  It happens.  We age.  We change. Interests change.

And rooms should evolve as their owners do.

My 30-year-old friends have a super cool South Philly rowhome.  Maybe you saw their kitchen renovation on the DIY Network.  They were living with a secret though.  It was in the room they call their den.  The den was straight out of college.  It basically housed all of their leftover furniture, CDs (yes we had CDs in college), DVDs and other early twenties paraphernalia haphazardly.

Leigh & Aaron looked to me for advice on how to turn the space into a room that would reflect who they’ve become.  On a budget.

No problem.  We established up front that the sofa would stay.

The maps in the room were also inspiration and they were to stay.  However, they really needed to be pulled together for a little bit more of a cohesive look.  In their before state, the map theme wasn’t evident.

The other “keeper” was the cool industrial built-in shelf that Aaron constructed recently.  But it needed to be highlighted for sure.

We came up with a game plan.  We decided the room would feature maps, have an industrial vibe and a recurring accent color of orange.

Having established those 3 items, we went shopping.

First for reclaimed wood for framing the maps and building the media console.

Next we shopped for pipes for the media console and curtain rods.

And canvas which was outfitted as curtain panels on curtain rods made of piping to drive home the industrial vibe.  Look out West Elm!

Because these two are handy DIYers I left them to execute the vision.  First was fresh paint.  Rejuvenate by Behr.  Second was organizing and purging.  What really needed to stay in the room?

Then Aaron architected a media console to coordinate with the industrial shelves.  The proportion and open shelves of the console helped to expand the space.

The blue bookshelf found a new home on an adjacent wall housing organized books and photos.

All of the maps were framed with dark reclaimed wood that was once used as trim.

Then came the accessorizing.  My contribution was reviving a plain photo album with an atlas page of Queens, where the couple used to live.

They upstaged my use of maps by making custom throw pillows.  Each pillow featured a different area – the town each grew up in plus the New York neighborhood they lived in early in their relationship.  It doesn’t get much more customized than that!  Did I mentioned they created the fabric and stitched the pillows?  And the orange throw pillows were created from a set of orange linen napkins.

So now that you know the plan, here are the full after shots of the grown up den.

A newly created map of Philly was added to the collection.

Lots of uses for industrial piping.

Bonus!  The space got a new flat screen TV.

Not a CD in sight.

Doesn’t it just feel more pulled together now?

Linking to Get Outta My Head Please

happy friday

TGIF! Seriously, thank goodness. Even if it is raining here. I am so ready for the weekend but first I’ve got a couple of winners generated via…

Sally & Rebecca, you’ve won a new car! Come on down! Just kidding. You’ve won yourselves some fab Vintage Rescue Squad 2012 calendars. Enjoy!  Thanks for all of your comments.

So whatcha up to this weekend? I am looking forward to working on a room makeover tomorrow for some good friends. Pics and deets to come but here is a preview of some of the elements we plan to incorporate into their den to transform it into a sophisticated and cozy space.



The goal is to keep to a tight budget and therefore DIY and repurpose the high style (read: expensive) elements. Obvi. Stay tuned!

all in

After the holiday wind-down and the slow junking start to the new year, I am happy to announce that I had a wildly successful weekend in the vintage picking and repurposing department.  In just 2 days I got nearly a week’s worth done.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m exhausted so let me get to the featured treasure finds from the weekend’s estate and fleas.

Some good ones, I know. Can you believe this little brownie only set me back a buck? Unheard of! 

I never leave a seltzer bottle like this behind.

And some old shelf brackets round out the smalls.

I grabbed this olive green chest of drawers. It had the perfect chippy patina that revealed an earlier coat of red paint underneath. The green over red reminds me of the vintage army medical blankets that are so hot right now and impossible to find. I want one! If you don’t know what I am talking about, check pinterest.

Anyway, this chest of drawers would look fab as a nightstand next to a bed dressed with the wool medical blanket.

Speaking of the service, I found this old storage box with awesome type.  It was used in the navy.  I think this would look amazing as a storage box that would be housed under a bench (since there is no lid)…in an entry way perhaps, to corral shoes and accessories.  Maybe with casters on the bottom.  What do you think?  I really, really love it.  Scratches and all.

Suitcases from different eras. The large blue one is wool, from the late 60s and in excellent condition. The brown leather one is much earlier and not in great condition but I love it just the same.  (I seem to love everything today but the truth is, I don’t buy it if I don’t love it.)

These 2 steelmaster metal card cabinets are in excellent condition. It’s like they were never used. Except I know they were because they held a neatly organized file system of 1970s teenage boy’s record collection. In fact, there were more card cabinets but I left ’em behind because I didn’t want to carry the rest.  Those cards were heavy. I am kicking myself now!

And finally, how much do I love this cart? It is a nice green color AND with the flick of a wrist it folds in half. Yup, love.

And I’m spent! But before I go, I will open up the link party for any other bloggers who want to share their vintage treasures. I’m working out the technical stuff, so you have to click through and then link up your post showing what you found this past week! Spread the word…grab a button and link back here. The link will stay open through Thursday.

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Her Library Adventures
Apron Thrift Girl

junk spectrum

Hello! Hello! Have your holidays kicked off with a bang this weekend?  Mine certainly did and I am exhausted! Besides indulging in festivities I also managed to source some fab junk that span the spectrum of fave vintage categories. So here’s what I’m buying these days…

Starting small with Ball mason jars. I see more soap dispensers in my future.

A rusty jar thingy. Anyone know what this was once used for? I have a transformation in mind.

A heavy contained floral frog.

I scored a pair of iron steps. These were used on an old horse & buggy so passengers could step inside. I hope to transform these into practical hooks.  Stay tuned.

I managed to find 2 old grain sacks in decent condition. I’m very excited about them!

An itty bitty primitive egg basket. Have you ever seen one so small?

More wiry goodness in the form of a small rusty pink pram. I’m thinking both of these would be lovely in a spring display.

A pretty sweet distressed leather suitcase. Loving…

I bought a whole set of Victorian iron fencing like the segment below in a private sale. I’ve got a few projects in mind for them. The fencing literally opened the door for me to many other picks. The woman who sold them invited me into her garage and next thing I knew I was sifting through piles of her family heirlooms and making offers in true American Pickers style. How exhilarating. I will be going back later this week to pick ’em up. Stay tuned for photos on those items.

One of my favorite finds this weekend were these old lab stools at a flea market in NJ. I bought them from a great dealer who also sells on etsy. He had such a neatly curated stash of industrial vintage. I am going to pair the stools with a wooden high top table we already own which will be in the man cave when it is finished. Is it bad that I am shopping for the man cave before construction on it has even begun? Maybe worse that I am shopping for the man cave at all considering I told Ryan he could style it. Hmmph. I can’t help myself.

And finally, my favorite this week. In another private sale I bought an iron patio set with 4 chairs in excellent condition plus a matching table.  The curves are awesome. Who buys patio furniture in December?

So although it is freezing outside and yard sales are long gone, there are still plenty of vintage deals to be done. Pick on!

Linking to:
Apron Thrift Girl
Her Library Adventures

quality over quantity

The good picks are slowing down as the temperature drops.  I only have 2 finds to share from this weekend but I think each are quite stellar and a bit Restoration Hardware-esque.

I’ve got a thing for crusty rusty old scales right now.  Who doesn’t really?  They’re hot!  The more industrial the better.  What do you think of my latest?  It is a very heavy cast iron 5 pound scale with a flat enamel tray.  You know how I feel about anything with enamel.

It has a 2 sided face.  One still has glass in tact.  The scale is by John Chatillion.  I researched this one and cannot find another like it.  The flat tray would have held meat to be weighed at a deli counter.  Have you ever seen a scale like this?

My other spectacular find was an old card catalog.  Horizontal.  Ten whole drawers long!  That’s almost too many drawers to fit in this picture.

The drawers all work and have their original hardware.  Wouldn’t this make a cool console table?

That’s all for this weekend.  It wasn’t a total wash though.  If you follow me on facebook, you know that I finally got my first Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  And I can’t wait to try it out this week!

Linking to:

Her Library Adventures