Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thanks for a Great First Month!

One month ago, we started writing about our Amber Bottle House hoping it might be useful or inspiring to someone... and if not, at least our parents seven hours away could see the changes we're making.

The response has been more than we expected, and we're so grateful for that! And we know it's all because of you- our readers.

We're working on more posts that will hopefully inspire you and show that any home can be perfect on any budget.

Happy reading!


Monday, July 29, 2013

A Small Step

A week or so ago, I posted about starting work on the master bedroom (read more about it here).

We have finished phase one: painting the unfortunate yellow-y beige trim bright white! Finally the paint (Benjamin Moore "White Rain") looks more like I wanted.

The teal-and-white curtains I made (see how here) fit a little better also.

Then we noticed the beige switchplate covers and outlets looked out of place...

...so we replaced the plate covers and the switches themselves... all 547 of them... maybe that's an exaggeration. (This requires some electricity skill. Luckily, Grant has this know-how, but if you haven't don't, then hire someone. Better safe than sorry!) 

The rest of phase one mostly involved putting the room back in some sort of order because it's been in disarray since we moved here.  We bought our linens (which we really like)...

... and our furniture (which isn't our favorite anymore) when we first got married, but we can't replace it now, so we're making it work.  We love the bed, but would like to sell the big-box-store night stands and dresser and replace them with antique finds.  But for now, we like how phase one turned out.

Phase two will involve furniture-finding for the bedroom and painting the trim and cabinetry in the vanity area white (all are yellow-y beige now).  

Eventually, we will renovate the bathroom completely. (In the '70s, it was super-hip to have the vanity area open to the bedroom and have a separate water closet and shower. So odd.)

Here's to getting a little closer to a finished room!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

One Can Never Have Too Many...

I have been waiting for something like this: a weekend-long flea market.

Antique stores, yard sales, and permanent flea markets have nice finds, but there's something about a two- or three-day-long market that's magical.  Plus, the dealers come there to sell things; they don't want to pack it up and take it home again. They're wheelin' and dealin'.

Like a sign from above, I find a post on Craigslist that there will be a three-day flea market about 30 minutes from Little Rock in Conway, AR. I. Must. Go. 

The one hitch is I'm working this weekend. Doh!

Luckily enough, I got off mid-afternoon. Perfection! To Conway we go! (Needless to say, Grant was every bit as thrilled as I was to go to a flea market 30 minutes away... not.)

We pull up to this:

Ummm... not quite what I was expecting.  It looks like a newly-constructed elementary school.  No, no, this is the illustrious Conway Expo Center. Who knew?

Anyway, we walk into the expo, and it's like the planets have aligned, the skies have opened, and angels are singing: several football-fields of antiques, furniture, and junk.  

I make it about four booths into the first row, and I found what I was looking that perfect thing I didn't know I was looking for: a 1940's buffet with carved details, turned legs, dove-tailed joints, solid wood drawers. (I have an unhealthy obsession with buffets... I already have three. But they're just so pretty. And functional.)

Dove-tailing on drawers
Solid wood drawer bases
I search for the price tag, preparing to be let down, when lo and behold- it's $125. Can this be? Is this my lucky day?

I peruse the rest of the place to make sure the buffet is how I want to spend my cash, hoping it will still be there once I've seen everything.

We return to the booth and make an offer of $100 (like I said: these are dealers there to make deals.  I didn't follow my usual rule of offering 60-70% of the asking price because it was already such a good deal.)  The dealer takes the cash and we load it into the car (one of us was happier about it than the other...).

Once we get my fourth buffet set up in the house, I'm in love.

The wood on the drawers is really stunning.

I am contemplating painting the sides, which have some damage, and leaving the drawers and top wood.  I think painting the detail with a complementary color might be nice.

Or I may leave it.

Oh, the possibilities.


Friday, July 26, 2013

A Lovely Little Thing

Some things just make me happy.. The blue & white buffet, for example:

It started like this, as part of a $300 dining room set from Craigslist:

It was really pretty: beautiful carved details, turned legs. But it had some wear: chipping and bubbling veneer in a couple places and missing hardware. Therefore, it met my criteria for paint:  I always ask myself, "Would someone want restore this to its original state someday?"  If it seems like a shame to cover beautiful wood, I wouldn't paint it. With missing pieces in the veneer, this piece would likely never look like it originally did.

So I painted it.

I used Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in "Grainsack" and "Flow Blue."  I left the top wood because once upon a time I painted the top of a table, and light reflecting on it showed every flaw.  Never again. I chose the blue because I wanted a dark blue to unify all the rooms on the ground floor, and I think having the two colors hightlights the lovely carved details.  Also, when I had The Amber Bottle booth at the antique store, everything had to be painted white in order to sell.  I went through gallons of white-ish paint.  This piece was for us, so I wanted to enjoy painting something the way we wanted.

I added bonding agent for the first coat, then just paint for the second coat. I followed the paint with hemp oil to seal it.


Happy painting!


A Few of My Favorite Things

I wish I had some amazing progress to report with regards to the master bedroom project... alas.

Here are some things I've found second-hand that I LOVE! Maybe you can find some inspiration for your Saturday morning yard sale-ing.

1) Amber bottles. Hey, Jack- I'm a pharmacist! It's really cool to have relics from my profession. (I get asked a little too often if  Amber Bottle House is in reference to beer... )  I'd love to find some old apothecary weights or canisters, so if you have some you're looking to get rid of... :)

2) Again with the pharmacy-themed things! I would apologize, but I love what I do and the history that goes along with the profession. This was $3 at World Market (meant to be used for herbs or something), but it looks legit, right?

3) Antique scale basin.  I went in search of a primitive dough bowl (one of those long, wooden bowls) for my dining room centerpiece, but they were all way out of my budget.  I found this at an antique store for $18.  It's something unexpected compared to a basket or a glass bowl.

4) Antique tool box. I'm pretty sure Grant bought this $3 yard sale find in anticipation of putting tools in it. Oh, no, no, no. That is too nifty-looking not to be displayed!

5) Federalist-style ironstone.  Sets like this can go for up to $250 used on Craigslist. You know me, always looking for a bargain. I negotiated to get the set for way cheaper: $80. It's functional and pretty.

6) Silver sugar bowl. It kind of looks like a wee, little trophy.

7) Canvas & burlap art. The newest addition to my wall-hangings-without-a-home collection.  It's actually from Garden Ridge, but still a find nonetheless! (In person, it actually looks old rather than the obviously-fake-but-supposed-to-look-vintage stuff.)

Happy hunting!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

An Update & "Hard-To-Kill" Plants

A few days ago, I posted about the beginnings of the master bedroom re-do.  So far, we have prepped the area and painted two coats of white on the crown molding, but we still have to do the doors and the baseboards.  

As we were painting it was hard to tell much difference, then I took this picture, which shows the robin's egg blue next to the newly painted white door frame next to the door, which is the old yellow-y beige color:

What a difference!  The Benjamin Moore "White Rain" is looking more like the color on the paint chip simply by being hemmed in with a bright white.

I'll post more when the baseboards are done, and the room doesn't look so much like a disaster.


I am a fan of low-maintenance, hard-to-kill plants. They're my favorite 1) because I do not seem to have the greenest of thumbs and 2) because I don't have the best record of watering plants. Whoops.

With the help of my mom (who is like the Plant Whisperer), I have found some things that cannot be killed by my lack of gardening skill, the amazing amount of sun our yard gets, or the fact that we have hardly any dirt on top of the bedrock. (Also, anything that survived the two-year period our house was uninhabited, I consider to be pretty hardy.)

1) Rosemary.  I love how it smells and how it looks. I planted this in a large container with sage and parsley.  Those two quickly fried on the back patio, even when I moved them to shaded areas.
 Not the rosemary- still looking good.  We just bought the Bonnie brand rosemary from Home Depot for around $3-4.

2) Lavender.  This looks similar to rosemary and also smells divine, but it gets pretty little purple buds.  I have a potted one (also Bonnie brand) and three 10-gallon ones planted where nothing but weeds had been for years.  There is very little soil on top of the shale in that part of the backyard, so we had to use a mattock to get holes big a deep enough, but they're doing great there in full-sun. Since they're still relatively newly planted, I water them every day or two, and add plant food once a week to the watering.  I hope someday, these three will fill in the empty area, and I'll have enough that I can dry and bring inside to keep for the scent.


(I'm not sure why the pictures are sideways... still, a beautiful plant.)

3) Monkey grass.  You can read all about how to split and plant it here.

4) Veronica (I think):  I bought this guy at Home Depot at the beginning of June because I liked the color and that it's a perennial.  It likes full sun, and it looks nice where you need something tall.  Plus, it's something different-looking: it's not just foliage, and it's not a conventional bloom.

I paired it with creeping Jenny in pots by the front door. (Creeping Jenny is also a great plant, but it needs its soil to stay moist. It's a hard-to-kill plant if it's in a shadier area, or if sprinklers hit it.  I had to move it out of my full-sun mailbox planter.)

5)  Sweet potato vine: I'm a sucker for anything that will spill over the sides of a container (as seen in my love for creeping Jenny).  Sweet potato vine can handle lots of sunshine, and it's a nice bright apple green.


6) Vinca vine: This is sort of like ivy in that it will cover a large amount of ground in just a few years (It was a candidate for the bald spot in our front year).  It has done well in our backyard with pretty much no care other than the occasional sprinkler.  Our neighbors have this cover the majority of their front  yard.

7) Mint: This is almost becoming a pest in our yard because it spreads and grows so quickly (it took over the backyard while no one was living here).  It fills in pretty quickly, and ours does well even without a ton of sun. And it smells so good. 

8) Hostas: These fill in shaded areas really nicely. We have some spots along our fence and along the front of the house where these have done really well.  There are many varieties of hosta, so just pick one that's your cup of tea.

9) Lilac:  I bought this plant and haven't gotten around to putting it the ground yet.  It's a full-sun perennial that will have pretty purple blooms at some point.  I consider it hardy because I placed it where I'd like it in the yard, and it gets knocked over by the dog and the sprinklers all the time... and it's still doing fine.

10) Compacta Holly: This plant has the look of boxwood without the smell.  Ours grew to probably 3-4 feet tall and almost as wide during the uninhabited period.  They are doing well in the sunny area of our backyard.  They can be trimmed and shaped, if you're into that sort of thing.  We just cut ours down to some sort of reasonable size so we could get by them on the walkway.

I hope this helps make the nursery seem less overwhelming.  I'm all about pretty plants, but I'd like them to not need much care. 

Happy gardening!