finding inspiration

November really brings a battle between Christmas enthusiasts and those standing-up for Thanksgiving from a decorating/shopping standpoint, doesn’t it?  I mean who doesn’t love Thanksgiving?  No one wants to skip the feast.  However, some are overlooking the cornucopia for the twinkling Christmas lights immediately after Halloween.  I’ve always been a fan of keeping autumn harvest decor fresh, until the day after Thanksgiving when it is game-on for Christmas decorating.

As I’ve ventured further into the retail world I can understand why Christmas comes immediately following Halloween.  It is a very glitzy, very short selling season.  A lot of effort goes into merchandising for the holidays yet the season is definitely shorter than autumn harvest.  Perhaps that is why we’re seeing it grow just a little more every year, annoying as it may be to poor Thanksgiving.  With that said, I may even be behind the eight ball in getting all of my holiday inventory on the sales floor.  Yes, I surely am.

For me, November is all about balance.  Autumn harvest at home with Christmas on the brain and in the store.  While looking for inspiration for the season, I found some of my favorite holiday themed signs that I’ve painted over the past four years.  Here are the highlights…

Santa on a barn door is definitely a favorite which I’ve replicated again and again.

rustic santa barn door

Holly Jolly Christmas is indeed available now at The West End Garage.

holly joll christmas sign

Believe is always a crowd pleaser.

handpainted believe sign on reclaimed wood

The deer is a favorite from last year and it ended up in the home of a family member.  I may just have to make another one for 2015!

oh deer

Probably not my favorite work but any reference to classic Bedford Falls is a winner!

wonderful life sign

I love the juxtaposition of the message and the rustic canvas here.

rustic joy to the world

Moose Lodge is another one that I’ve done a few times.  Not necessarily reserved for Christmas either.

moose lodge

How’d this one sneak in here?

Painted Signs on Reclaimed Wood - maryland crabs

And the original “On the Way to Cape May” sign!  This one started it all.

Cape May Sign

Well, we’re most certainly off of the Christmas track now and perhaps back on harvest.  The sunflower seed packet resides at my parents.  I didn’t have the heart to sell it.  It’s possibly my all time favorite.

vintage sunflower seed pack reproduction sign

I’ve got a thing for fonts and vintage inspired signs which led me to start a pinterest board dedicated to other handmade holiday inspired signage.  Check it out here.

Where do you stand on the whole Thanksgiving/Christmas decorating debate?

chicken coop coffee table

Our latest upcycled victim is a fantastic old crate which was once a chicken coop. I’d imagine that chickens were transported to and from auction in this coop.  Feathers flying as the birds were off to find a new farm to call home.

chicken coop coffee table-146

The coop is larger than most that I’ve seen in the past and a bit more rudimentary in construction. The wear and aging on the wood can’t be matched.  It has that perfectly weathered & washed out color that retailers like Restoration Hardware try to replicate.

chicken coop coffee table-148

We removed the door from the top of the coop as it was raised and not conducive to a new life as a coffee table.  Over the opening there is now a large piece of glass making it functional again.  We added casters to elevate the coop to coffee table height and, of course making it mobile.

chicken coop coffee table-164

I always love a good coop coffee table.  We’ve transformed a few over the years!  This one is for sale at The West End Garage.

chicken coop coffee table-157

Did you spy the Victorian pink baluster lamp?  Another new upcycle from Circa Dee!  This one might be a keeper though.  It’s still up in the air.  We’re working on this living space so we’ll see how things shake out.  That color & patina though…

victorian pink baluster lamp #upcycle #lighting vintage card catalog

 

favorite finds for the home

I’ve never properly shared my newest vintage obsession in my home.  That bright orange industrial school locker nestled between vintage French country toile curtains and an amateur ship captain oil painting.  None of it makes any sense but it doesn’t have to, does it?vintage locker, mohair chair, woodstove #vintage

And would you believe my number 1 picker and brother found that flaming orange locker on a curb?  No shame in his game.  Or mine since I paid him for his haul.  Destined for a landfill no more, my friends.  It now houses all of the wood stove accoutrements.

woodstove + orange locker

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we?  The wood stove is a brand new addition this winter.  It is serving us well as our primary source of heat.  Ryan installed the slate tile hearth and I must say that he did a bang up job bringing the rustic vibe I was seeking.  We picked up the iron log holder on our last trip to Brimfield.  I love this cozy corner in our home which is an eclectic mash up of so many vintage styles.  It has set the tone for the direction of the rest of our house.

woodstove, slate hearth

And do I need to mention the vintage walnut & mohair chairs again?  Because I will.  American furniture designer Ward Bennett for Brickel Associates circa 1970.  They go for about three grand on 1st dibs.  Unbelievable.  Let’s just say I paid less than 1% of that and didn’t have an idea of their value until I researched the label.  Neither did the seller obviously.  My most prized find to date!  It certainly pays to buy (or trash pick) what catches your eye.  Always trust your gut when shopping for vintage.

reclaimed wood plant stand, ward bennett mohair chairs, kilim rug

home for the plants

With the fear of frost looming at the end of October, we had to come up with a suitable winter home for our plant collection which was taking up residence outside and our deck.

succulents reclaimed wood plant stand-4993

They’re now sitting pretty in our living room amongst my favorite pair of vintage chairs.

vintage mohair chair, kilim rug,  reclaimed wood plant stand bookcase

vintage mohair chair, kilim rug, reclaimed wood plant stand bookcase, locker

terra cotta & olive, mohair chair

We came up with a game plan to extend our sunny bay windowsill in order to accommodate the plants and my favorite vintage pots, bowls and vases.  We started with fantastic weathered old 1×6 lumber that has almost a barnwood-like quality.  We needed 6 – 5 foot boards in total.  The boards previously made up a section of simple post and beam fencing in our yard.  Each was stripped down to expose the worn grain.  Two boards were paired together to make a 12 inch deep shelf.  Three sets of boards were attached vertically to one another to create a 3-tier shelf system.

simple DIY: reclaimed wood + pipe plant stand/ bookcase

Plumbing pipe shelving is not a new concept but we came up with our own simple plant stand version using pipes and fittings to connect the unit.  There are 2 connecting points on each shelf therefore we used a total of 4 – 9 inch plumbing nipples and 8 flanges which screw into the wood.  These also double nicely as book ends.  The plumbing materials were the most expensive part of this DIY project.

olive tree,  reclaimed wood + pipe plant stand-4999

We decided on a set of simple 7 inch turned legs for the bottom which cost less than $5 each at Lowe’s.   The raw wood of the legs and shelves received an application of hemp oil for a durable water repellent topcoat which also left a subtle stain highlighting the wood grain.

succulent garden, reclaimed wood plant stand-4992

simple DIY: reclaimed wood + pipe plant stand-

The plants have happily been relocated to the new plant stand where they are enjoying the expansive window and, normally, bright light.

indoor terra cotta succulent garden, reclaimed wood plant stand-4993

These snaps are from this morning during a dreary, cold November rain.  I love the mix of terra cotta amongst the saturated colors in the kilim rug and mohair chairs – all vintage finds of course.  Such a cozy new space!

vintage mohair chair, kilim rug, reclaimed wood plant stand bookcase

a touch of nature

For the most part this season, I am decorating with elements inspired by nature.  Rather simply too.  I opted for a lighter, brighter color palette rather than the traditional warm, fall colors.  This palette can also be found at the shop and many of these elements are for sale there.  Typically I am decorating similarly at home as I am at West End Garage.  It keeps things simple!

natural fall mantel display with stacked wood

Cotton stems have been very popular and you can see why.  They’re so easy to work with.  Just plop them in a vase or in this case, a galvanized flower bucket.  They really can be on display from late summer/harvest season through New Year’s.  So many options!  They look good alone or with an accent flower.  I thought it was fun to pair them with twigs and vintage arrows for this vignette.  I used just 3 stems in each bucket to get this look.

cotton & arrows

The other accessories include feather balls, mini pumpkins and antler ornaments.  The antlers are small reproductions so they’re sort of guilt free for people who are into the antler trend but not a fan of decorating with animal relics.  They’re available at West End Garage too along with a quickly growing collection of ornaments.  Tis the season!

simply natural fall mantel

simply natural fall mantel

I got my wish of beautifully stacked wood after pining and pinning!  Our wood burning stove has been installed and is ready for winter.  I love how the seasoned wood accents this display and gives purpose to the mantel.  And the faux bois planter certainly doesn’t hurt.

fall mantel display with stacked wood

Peering past the mantel into the corner, you can see the Captain has something new over there and it’s not just the orange raffia pumpkin (also available at West End Garage).  He’s perched up on a vintage 6-drawer card catalog which I am super excited about.  I spotted this in an antique shop and spent a week dreaming about it for this space while fearing it would be gone by the time I got back.  It was there waiting for me and it is the ideal fit for this corner.  Plus the drawers are the perfect size to hold DVDs.

fall card catalog side table preview

I am deciding where to go from here with it, aesthetically.  It needs to be boosted up a few inches to true side table status.  Probably with casters since I seem to put casters on everything in my home.  Also, should I paint it?  That corner seems dark and the wood isn’t anything spectacular.  Linen seems like a viable option – maybe just the frame and not the drawers?  Please do weigh in!  Would you paint a vintage card catalog?

we took the plunge

The Ardex plunge, that is. This product has taken the DIY world by storm lately. For those of you that don’t know, Ardex- Feather Finish is a concrete substrate traditionally used in subflooring.  It has been getting increasingly popular as a low-cost way to resurface laminate counter tops.  In my continued quest to update our 80’s kitchen on a tight budget, I thought it was worth a try.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

The über fake looking wood grain formica counter never jived well with the true wood backsplash we installed a couple of years back.

Pallet Wood Backsplash
Counters Before Ardex

Last you saw the space we installed chrome hardware, about a year ago.  At that time, I had searched for Ardex- Feather Finish planning to move right into the counter project. The product is difficult to find although I tracked it down at a local tile shop and now it is readily available on Amazon.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

I delayed the counter installation because I couldn’t make a decision on what sealer to use.  It is very much personal preference however you must choose a food safe sealer considering this is a kitchen counter after all.    Some concrete sealers have a fungicide in them which make sense in a shower or on a patio but on a counter I prefer not to have any pesticides as food may come in direct contact.  You also have the aesthetic choice of sealers with a matte finish, more of a sheen and even stains.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

We went with a sealer we had all along…Miss Mustard Seed’s hemp oil.  It stained and sealed the concrete, plus it is food safe.  I applied three coats back to back because the porous surface kept soaking it up.  I plan to apply another coat or two this week until it reaches total saturation.
hemp oil

Mixing Ardex is very similar to mixing milk paint.  It comes in a powder form and mixes easily with water.  (1 part Ardex to 1/2 part water)  To prep, we first sanded the countertop to rough it up a bit for best adhesion.  Then we carefully and quickly applied one thin coat right over the formica using a trowel.  It was much like icing a cake.  Ardex dries very quickly and turns to a clay like consistency.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

Twenty four hours later, it was dry and ready to be sanded down to a smooth finish.  I used 60 grit sandpaper and then 150.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

After vacuuming up the dust, I applied another slightly thicker coat. And then repeated the above steps again the following day to make for a third coat.  As you can see, we did not remove the sink.  We simply took the Ardex right up to the edge.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

On the third and final coat, I was more deliberate in my application and trowel marks as I realized these would be seen on the finished surface.

From laminate kitchen counters to concrete on a budget

The process went pretty quickly.  Actual application only took about 30 minutes each time as we didn’t have much counter space to cover.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen

The final step was sealing the concrete finish.  As I mentioned, we chose hemp oil since it is all natural and food safe. I simply brushed on the hemp oil.  This will need to be applied annually as will most sealers on a porous counter.  I am also considering applying a coat of furniture wax for a little luster.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

It soaked into the surface right before our eyes and we continued on with the next coat.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

Overall I love the final finish.  It has a natural rustic feel vs. the fake plastic look we had previously.  I am not convinced that it has the look of a poured concrete counter but I am happy with this low-budget transformation.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

Here’s where this space started and where it has progressed over the past few years.  You can review the transformation starting with painting laminate cabinets, installing a wood backsplash, adding hardware and now resurfacing the counters…

From 80's Laminate to Rustic Kitchen

Next up, the floors!  Then maybe a fancy range hood?

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

 

 

come and knock on my door

Last weekend was wet and gloomy.  We’ve had fantastic weather all summer with very few rainy days so the gloomy weather was welcomed by me.  I found myself lounging on the couch and indulging in a Three’s Company marathon on TV Land.  If you know me, you know I never lay around and watch TV.  I can’t sit still long enough so this felt like such an indulgence.  Listening to the rain and giggling over the antics of the three “kids upstairs”.industrial pallet coffee table-4223

I completely forgot about Mrs. Roper’s style.  It is pretty fantastic!  She really pulled off kaftans and muumuus as much as one can.  I found myself wanting to wear a ridiculous amount of bright bangles and baubles.

industrial pallet coffee table-4245

(BTW if you Google ‘Mrs. Roper’ you’ll see so many guys dressed as her presumably for Halloween.  Go ahead, try it!  It’s a great costume idea.)

We also finished up the industrial pallet coffee table.  I really love this quirky upcycle.  I know this look isn’t for everyone but it can certainly work in the right home.

industrial pallet coffee table-4229

Industrial Rustic is how I’d classify this table.  Or Rustic Industrial.  To-may-toes, to-mah-toes.  I find my own style has been swaying more and more towards rustic & industrial lately based on the finishes and images I’ve been most interested in.

industrial pallet coffee table-4241

This industrial pallet came out of an old sewing factory.  Last you saw it, it looked like this.

vintage industrial factory skid

We gave it a thorough cleaning and sanded the top.  I had planned to stain the top but once it was sanded all of the beautiful age and wear became apparent.

sanded pallet

I knew this was the perfect job for hemp oil.  Oiling the piece made all of those scratches pop in the best way possible while darkening the raw wood just a bit.  It took three coats of oil until it reached saturation.

industrial pallet coffee table-4252

I didn’t stop oiling at the porous wood surface though.  I decided to oil the metal base as well and it really highlighted the faded blue paint.  Who knew that great color was under there?  The metal only needed one coat and took longer to dry.

industrial pallet coffee table-4237

In order to elevate the pallet to standard coffee table height (16-19″), Ryan created custom legs.  After much thought and consideration for aesthetics, he came up with legs consisting of a steel rod, caster, pipe and locking bolt.  He carefully drilled through the metal base of the pallet to attach the industrial leg.  I love casters on coffee tables.  I suppose it is the industrial influence again.

industrial pallet coffee table-4254

So there you have it.  From the sewing factory to our living room!  Trash to treasure.  This one-of-a-kind has sold!  And I am off to find a Mrs. Roper inspired kaftan…

Industrial Pallet Coffee Table by Circa Dee

 

 

lumberjack holiday

As everyone is preparing for Thanksgiving today, I find myself thinking about Christmas. I opened some of the bins over the weekend that house my decorations. Some vintage, some family heirlooms, some handmade. I simply wasn’t inspired by them this year. I want something different. Less fragile. More organic and comfortable. This led me to my favorite shirt. It is a vintage wool plaid shirt that I wear around the house. It is cozy, comfortable and colorful.

favorite vintage wool shirt

That is exactly how I want to decorate this year!  Cozy, comfortable and colorful.

Lumberjack Holiday

I am pulling out every single one of my cozy wool throws.

wool throws

The plan is to layer on the patterns and bring nature in – pine cones, moss, twigs.  I’ve got plenty of extras to go around like these pretty vintage wool scarves.

Lumberjack Holiday

This theme will be prevalent in my retail spaces as well.  Ryan has made timber napkin rings and coasters from fallen trees.

Plus, we’ve crafted wine gift bags from old flannels.  By “we”, I mean Ryan since he sews!  My idea of course but the execution was all him.  Turns out these little upcycled gift bags are the perfect size for milk paint as well.

Lumberjack Holiday

And I put together a few rag ball ornaments with the scraps.  I am loving all things flannel, wool and plaid this season!  Can’t wait to see how the rest of our Lumberjack Holiday decor comes together.

How are you decorating this holiday season?

Lumberjack Holiday

If you’re craving your own cozy vintage wool button down, I’ll have a few for sale in my shop at West End Garage along with the flannel wine bags, some flannel bunting (not pictured), the scarves and timber pieces.

wool throws

P.S. Did you catch a glimpse of that flag?  I recently scored two huge 48 star casket flags circa WWII.  I will be selling one as well.  American history at its finest.

Lumberjack Holiday

i’m floored

We’ve got a new addition in our living room. The space is really starting to come together. I’m so happy with it.  It is filled with lots of warm colors, woods and rustic accents.  Just a few more tweaks and it will be perfect…and then I will probably start all over again.  Kidding!

Did you spot the new addition?  Hint…

It all started back in September with a beautiful afternoon on the lake. And my obsession with that set of adorably worn vintage chairs. A photoshoot quickly ensued that afternoon and we ended up with a perfect picture of us, the chairs and the season – all growing old. Tear.

In December I edited the photo to highlight the warm colors of the natural backdrop and ordered a large print with the intention of hanging it over the loveseat there.

Once the photo was in my hot little hands, I labored over what frame to display it in. I went back and forth to box stores trying to find the right frame. I came up short more than once and finally realized that the look I wanted was not a cheap mass-produced frame. They were so overpriced for the quality. It was disappointing so I took to what I know…junking.

A handmade wood frame was more up my alley which brings me to my post on Monday about my trip to Philadelphia Salvage last weekend. Once I decided that reclaimed wood was the framing material of choice, I thought why don’t we just make it? Ryan was on board (ha get it? board) with making it so I happily salvaged away for the perfect pieces. I climbed the top of that pile with my Mike Wolfe picking prowess.  (Not really.)

I had barnwood in mind because I wanted a rough, worn texture.  But would you believe me if I tell you that the frame is made of old wooden floor boards and trim? I know I still can’t believe it either! Floor boards as in walked all over for 100 plus years and then salvaged from an old Philadelphia house and now hanging on my wall making art.

Ryan crafted my vision into a reality with a miter box and saw. The scratched up pine flooring makes a perfect frame with shoe molding serving as the white matting inside and corner molding accenting the exterior.  Plus the red undertones subtly match the living room. Insert glass and done!

I love it! Move over barnwood, old flooring has made its framing debut!

Check back tomorrow for more reclaimed wood in the 2nd follow up post on the pallet wood backsplash.

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