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A few years ago, we started buying wood furniture.

Vintage and second-hand, to be sure.

Rockefellers, we are not.

Buying at auctions and garage sales is good for the budget.  Plus, I like the hunt for old stuff, yes indeedy.  Usually, the more unloved, the better.

Rocking chairs with the rockers worn off?  Sign me up.

Cabinets, magazine racks, abandoned table at the side of the road?  I’m out of the car like a chubby magpie.

pink wardrobe and green magazine rack

Slowly, we have replaced any of the press-board, laminated stuff that we used to find at a certain lovely big box store.  (I still go there for the window shopping, tasty meatballs and $1 ice cream cone, of course.)

Forget grey hair:  the press-board-to-wood-conversion is a sure sign of advancing age.

Anyhoo.

The other part about buying used is that it lowers the guilt factor.

The guilt factor when I go about doing that thing that I always want to do.

You know–that thing that makes some people cringe or exclaim in horror.

(Insert Practical Man’s cringe and horror here.)

That would be painting.

Painting (say this in breathy, hushed tones):  Real Wood.

As in, our fireplace mantel (giant chunk of pine).

As in, our kitchen cupboards (giant room full of knotty pine).

As in, this china cabinet that used to belong to my Grandma Verna.

40s china cabinet - brown

It’s been “wood” coloured for as long as I can remember, including the last 20 years that it’s been in our house.  I think it hails from the 1940s or thereabouts.  Definitely vintage and lovely but, oh so browny-brown-brown.

Which is really only good if it’s made of chocolate, yes indeedy.

This fall, I could no longer let the china cabinet live in peace.

So, it went under the knife.

Rather, the brush, as the case may be.

Don’t be so dramatic, wood lovers!

All that wood was going away.  Even though some of it, on the underneath part, was cool vintage crate wood with retro advertising.

We kept that.

Bottom view of china cabinet - one half of the interior floor of the cabinet was made from an old crate

Practical Man did some considerable muttering under his breath.

It might have been because he always seems to end up finishing the painting that his paint-happy wife barely started.

Or, it may have been an apology chant to the wood–the wood which his callous wife had so gladly forsaken.

He and my dad are both woodworkers.  They make beautiful things which I have (cross my heart) never painted.

The struggle is real, my friends.

But, back to the china cabinet, which they Did. Not. Make.

Bye-bye brown!

40s cabinet with lattice-work door closed - painted cream

Hello, dreamiest cream and robin’s egg blue!

Oooh, how I love your new tra-la-la.

If you do too, check out more great ideas at Vintage Chic – A Room by Room Guide by Laura Preston.  I hope to feature her as a guest blogger here soon!

Cabinet painted cream outside with robins-egg blue interior on three interior shelves and walls

Now, the cabinet is just perfect to house fondue pots, vintage melamine and Pyrex galore.

None of it brown, as you might have guessed.

Today’s dilemma is this antique tea cart, with its original shade of woody-wood-wood.

antique tea cart with wheels - brown

Of course, I want to paint it.

Pinterest wants me to paint it.

What do you think?

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Family legend has it that I conned my Grandpa Lou when I was eight years old.

The scene of the crime was the grocery store near my grandparents cottage.  It was in a tiny little town and maybe the owners were Dutch or liked Dutch stuff or something because they had a little room near the back with a whole bunch of Dutch-inspired chatchkas in it:  Delft blue pottery replicas and such.

Of course, I was smitten.  I was a mostly-useless-but-pretty-stuff hoarder even way back then.  I mean, who doesn’t like a little chatchka shopping when they were only planning to buy two-year old cheddar and Mennonite summer sausage?

Naturally, after some browsing, I convinced my Grandpa Lou to buy me a decorative spoon “for my spoon collection.”  It had a Delft blue pottery-looking wooden (well, ceramic) shoe on the end and it came all the way from the Netherlands–well, China, actually, via Drayton, Ontario.

Such a treasure.  I loved it.

Don’t believe me?  38 years later, I still have that spoon.

So there.  Here’s the evidence:

delft ceramic "wooden" shoe

Please consider this when you’re judging my con artist ways.

Anyway, on the way back to the cottage all those years ago, my Grandpa Lou asked, “So, how many spoons does this make in your collection, now?”

He was apparently (hopefully?) quite amused when I replied, seemingly without guilt or guile:  “This is my first!”

And that, dear friends, is how I became a decorative spoon collector.  Relatives and friends would bring me specimens for the collection I didn’t really have, from their various worldly adventures which I stored and carted around through my 20s and various cross-country and out-of-country moves.

London Bridge, Royal Carriage, Wooden Shoe, Double Decker Bus, Crown - all former tops of decorative spoons

These former spoons are now destined for a new, upcycled life where they will be loved and made use of daily as: beautiful thing #2.

Yep, guilt over your con artist start in the spoon collecting industry will make you very loyal to your ill-begotten collection.  And, suddenly, you realize that you actually do HAVE a collection.

Gulp.

In recent years, they were stored in the drawer of the china cabinet (donated by Grandma Verna), since the china cabinet is where I put all the grown-up things that I don’t actually use:  “good” dishes, crystal salt and pepper shakers, pickle plates, and the china tea set from my childhood.

Out of sight, out of mind.  That is, in the dining room (definitely a room for grown-ups).

There was a brief period of spoons on the wall, but (con artist guilt aside), decorative spoons really aren’t my thing.  I’m more likely to have VW hubcaps and vintage printing press blocks festooning our house.

VW hubcap from Daizybug; upcycled mirror that used to be a tire

Daizybug’s hubcap; upcycled mirror made from a tire.

You know, things that kind of make Practical Man roll his eyes, but he still helps me festoon because he’s a very handy festooner.

printing block

antique printing block

Lately, though, I’ve been trying to purge items that I don’t truly love or make use of daily.

Have no fear.  Practical Man is safe on both counts.

The spoons, however–even after all my years of guilt-fueled loyalty–were on shaky ground.

After getting sucked into the vortex that is Pinterest for a few hours, (after all, who doesn’t like a little chatchka oogling and Fiat drooling when they were only planning to search for upcycyling ideas for decorative spoons?) I came across the idea to transform the decorative spoons into a charm bracelet.

spoon tops as charms next to a row of chain for the bracelet

These former spoons are now destined for a new, upcycled life where they will be loved and made use of daily as: bracelet #1.

Presto-bongo.  Practical Man to the rescue for the tedious (and slightly unsettling) spoon decapitation and hole drilling and jump-ring installation.

Then, I am back for the glory phase of attaching to the chain for the bracelet.

jewelery tray with the "charms" lined up next to chain and pliers

Ta-da!

Memories of my and other people’s adventures in Miami Beach, Montreal, Detroit, Texas, New Orleans, St. Augustine, Rio de Janeiro, Quebec, Pheonix, Bahamas, Heidelberg, Ottawa, RCMP, Victoria, and England now tinkle and dance together, making a happy, loved, useful sound.

My spoons are re-born as kitschy, sentimental bracelets.  Two of them!

finished charm bracelet

My Grandpa Lou loved kitschy, sentimental stuff so I think he would approve.

Tra-la-la.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 


We started out this year’s festive season—as you do—with a day-long marathon of vintage chair re-upholstering.  Yes, I had bought a lovely specimen (read:  sagging, dusty number with potential) online to act as the final flourish in a multi-coloured spectacle of seats collected from assorted corners around the house.

Dusty, vintage wooden chair with upholstery (falling off)

Some of you are aware that I have a slight um… chair acquisition problem.  I love ‘em.  Each one has its own little personality, its own unique flair.  They are like perfect snowflakes:  unique and special in all the world.

Why are you rolling your eyes?

However, this is not one of those times when I succumbed to the power that is a snowflake/chair vortex.  My excuse for this one is that I GENUINELY NEEDED IT to go with the newly-acquired kitchen table (handed down via my uncle, aunt and with a small detour via my cousin, but which actually used to be my grandparents where we ate Roast Beef and Leathers for decades – yes, that really is a thing – just stay with me.)  But, when the vintage, internet, snowflake chair arrived home, I remembered that old saying that “objects on the internet are smaller than they first appear” (except, of course, for certain American politician-wannabe’s hair and evil-ness) and realized that the chair was, well, to phrase it in holiday terms:

Slightly elf-sized.

chair stripped of all its upholstery and sanded

I am approximately 11 feet tall in my red-and-white-striped Santa socks, but, seeing as how it was soon to be the season of all things merry and I am also a soft touch when it comes to underdogs and sad, forgotten objects that look unloved and are sure to be the last item on the auction table that no one wants, I immediately fell in love with the chair’s elf-sized proportions and proceeded to pull it up to the table with the rest of its rag-tag companions.

Gingerbread crumbs!  It was, indeed, a vertically-challenged chair but, not wanting to hold that against it just because I happen to have knee caps that start higher than most, I opted to move another um… necessary chair to the kitchen (requiring re-painting and a seat cover re-do) and use the new, toy-making-sized specimen with my also vertically-close-to-gravity dressing table, instead.

The sound of giggling elves would have filled my head were it not for the seat springs of torture and upholstery of doom.  There followed muttering, upholstery tack pulling, fabric ripping, straw removal, more muttering, sanding, priming, painting and other blah, blah, blah that all goes under the un-desirable category in my mind called “prep”.

primed hair

I am not a fan.  Thus, I justifiably consoled myself with holiday libations in the form of truffle hot chocolate, so there!

However, all of this blah, blah, blah was in the name of getting ready for the main event, my favourite part:  the festooning, the fancifying, which was, in this case, the upholstering of the elvish chair into a thing of petite beauty.

chair painted pale green, no upholstery yet

It’s a small chair, I thought.  Positively elvish in proportions.  Even though the swoopy, curly bits of the back looked a wee bit tricky to me, I figured it would take a couple of hours, tops.

Um…yeah.

Practical Man spent a Sunday wielding a staple gun for approximately six hours straight, when he had intended to be spending a Sunday wELding (not wIELding) something fun on to his currently derelict but FREE fishing boat.  I therefore tried to appear innocent and unconnected to the Elvish Chair of Evil and do my penance by untangling the outdoor Christmas lights.

Which, were, of course NOT tangled because Practical Man had put them away and so, yes, they were labelled and wound in very orderly fashions on some kind of thing-a-ma-bobs that probably started life as something else like a bedroom slipper or a supersonic carrot peeler but have lately been wrestled into submission into something that you wind Christmas lights on to keep them labelled and orderly and not only that but they were secured further with twist ties so as to not escape the labelling and orderliness into which they had been placed.

So much for my penance.

I attempted to atone by flinging Christmas lights with festive flair into the bushes in front of our front porch, so if you happen to be driving by, it’s my fault they look like that.  I re-fueled with more truffle hot chocolate and some flirting with the upholsterer to keep his spirits dashing and dancing while he did battle with fabric, fluff and staples.

The elf chair is nearly finished, but for the part that involves me heating up the not-so-innocent-sounding glue gun (my first clue that I shouldn’t be using a tool with this label) and burning myself repeatedly while attempting to adhere some kind of ribbon-y stuff–whose technical name is bric-a-brac. rick-rack, Cadillac or something–to hide the 6 hours of stapling that Practical Man worked so hard to perfect.

finished chair with pink flowered upholstery

Anyhoo, it’s a magical chair and I think Santa will help with the final touches.

The Mensa puzzle calendar on the desk (not mine–I know you are shocked to learn) says Wednesday, October 15 and now, fresh from a day of Christmas shopping in nearly 13 degree weather in the middle of December in southern Ontario, I am slightly confused about what season it is.

But, the arrival of the first batch of fast-tracked Syrian refugees yesterday to Canada has reminded me:  it’s the time when we invite those we love and also, those less fortunate, to come a little closer.  A time for the elf chairs and all the others to celebrate together at our grandparents’ precious table.

Whatever the language or constructs of each of our faiths or beliefs, it’s the season of hope, of giving, of kindness and peace.

(And lots and lots of cookies, hurray!)

From our house and hearts, we wish you Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2016.