Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fall Vacation Estate Sales


I have not had nearly as much time as I have wanted this summer to frequent estate sales.  You know how much I love starting my weekend with a leisurely Saturday morning drive to a few where I can scope out the houses.

Well, last week I decided to take an impromptu vacation from my paying job to try to finish up that never ending Summer Project 2012 (you can see my progress here and here and here).  So while my week was primarily spent painting, painting and painting some more I did decide that Friday I would take a little break to enjoy an estate sale or two…

Friday’s first sale was maybe 20 min or so from my house in Melrose but I just knew it was going to be a good one.  It was run by some of my favorite sale hosts Essex Street Antiques.  

Melrose House

This fireplace fit perfectly the style of this house...it's not for every
house but I love the "earthiness" of it.
This is definitely not everyone's look but I find something endearing
about it...not sure I would be able to live with such a busy room for
a long period of time but I love them when I see them in other homes.

They always have great sales and their prices are extremely reasonable.  Not everything is always shall we say “bargain priced” but I find everything to be priced fair and there is always something at every price point.

Beautiful dishes I wanted these so badly...but my pragmatic self took
over and reminded me I didn't need them...unfortunate!


I did however totally score at this sale!


I couldn't pass this Towle tray up...it's kind of a unique size 21"W x 9"L
now I just have to decide whether to hang it or not

Darn it, these were sold by the time I got there...don't they just invite you
to sit & spend a bit of time relaxing?

The next sale was 30+ min away from the Melrose sale but had really good potential…100 years of accumulation can’t be bad right?  Well, it turned out to be not really my kind of sale.  There were a lot of cool things but most of it was terribly dirty.  I’m not afraid of a little dirt but this was more than I really wanted to deal with.  So no finds here.

So of course if I was going to hit the Friday sales I might as well put one on my list for Saturday morning…I mean it was just down the street in Marblehead and looked so promising.

This lovely little lane lead to a charming little oceanfront neighbothood
and the Marblehead sale

Site of the Marblehead sale...distinctly a cottage

Saturday however took me to a little summer “camp” in Marblehead.  It was tucked away in a part of Marblehead I didn’t even know existed and was so reminiscent of the summer cottages of Bayside or Temple Heights Maine (near my childhood home) that I felt right at home.

This was a livingroom that spanned the whole front of the cottage

There were 4 bedrooms upstairs but none of the rooms had ceilings...
interesting but charming in a camp kind of way

This was a really cool camp – definitely needs some TLC but I so loved that you could feel the history of everyone who had spent many joyful summers here over the years.

1 of 2 "Jenny Lind" or spool beds that were for sale
and the other one...can you guess which one came home with me???
Yup this one...couldn't believe they even had the side rails.  It needs a little
buffing but for $20 (yes twenty - I didn't forget a 0) it was the bargain'
of the day!
The lady who was running the sale told me that the owner had passed away and her children no longer wanted to keep it as a summer home so it was on the market (see the listing here).  So sad but I’m sure another family will enjoy this camp for many years to come…if I were in the market for a camp it would surely be my family enjoying it!

Ocean view from this lovely little camp...I'm ready to move in :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

2012 Summer Project Update - Dormers Done


Have you ever started part of a project and immediately had the thought….oh no this really wasn't a good idea?

Well, that was what was shouting in my head after I had decided that there was no good reason I couldn't or shouldn't get up on my roof to paint the dormers to my house.  I painted the sides up to the roofline without any issue what’s a few more feet right?  Well, knees shaking I quickly figured out what a few more feet were…my tipping point.

Two-toned house...not really what I had in mind...

So off the roof I came with only about 1/3 of one side of one dormer painted…fail.

At least I tried right?  And I learned my limitations without breaking my neck…it’s all good except my dormers were still peanut butter brown and my house was a pretty yellowy cream….crap.

So last week I got some help from my mother’s husband who drove 1 ½ hrs with his big kids ladder to spend the day finishing them up for me.  Holy cow they look so good.  Thanks Butch...appreciate it more than you know.

Butch up on the roof..he makes it look so easy

Roof acrobatics courtesy of Butch....no way are you catching me in this
pose.. oh and that's my 1/2 painted garage workshop to the right (a
future project that will be so wonderful to finish inside...maybe next year).

And one step closer to this project being done.

Dormers done...I think I lost the "ladder war" though...mine looks
so undersized next to Butch's.

Just the trim to finish now…

Scraping the trim...this week's goal is to finish
it...I think that's a doable goal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What's in a Thread Count - Pine Cone Hill Outlet


Sometimes (ok, most times) I seem to have to learn all of my lessons the hard way. Not the serious hard way that lands you in the pokey but just hard enough that I have to have a more than occasional “now why did I do that” dialog with myself.

This was the case when many years ago now I decided thread count be damned I was going to go for the pretty, inexpensive poly/cotton blend sheets I spied at Wal-Mart (did I mention they were pretty). Now to be fair, this incident occurred during my brief residency in New York that was definitely one of the more financially challenging times of my life. We all have them, young and starving…living on love. Well, that should give you an idea of how this crucial error in judgment came to be.

Excited with the bargain and how pretty my bed was going to look I immediately went home, washed the pretty sheets & put them on my bed. It didn’t take too long…we’re talking days not weeks here…for these very pretty sheets to start to pill and scratch. It took even less time once this started happening for them to go into the donation bag.

Lesson learned, fabric blend and thread count matter!

In the years since this unfortunate incident I have progressively gotten more expensive and more expensive taste in linens. As much as I hate to accept it, you do get what you pay for in the world of linens. These days I am lusting over Serena & Lily and Pine Cone Hill linens but it kills me to even think of paying full price for them. I have been fortunate to find sheets at a decorator shop sale and a dust ruffle at TJ Maxx of all places but it’s been a while since I’ve scored any swanky linens at bargain prices so I’m due.

Lucky for me, Pine Cone Hill is headquartered in Pittsfield Massachusetts and even better luck they have a factory outlet store there. Now this is a real factory outlet – not one of those outlets who produce lesser grade inventory specifically for the outlet instead of a store full of legitimate discontinued & seconds. The only unfortunate part of this story is that when I Mapquested directions the estimated arrival time was 3 hours!!! Really, Massachusetts is not that big of a state…where is this place?

Could it be any farther away???

So, I put it on my list for a “later date” and before I knew it a couple of years passed and I still had not made the trek. It’s tough to commit a whole day for linens but recently I saw on their website that they are also carrying Dash & Albert rugs - another product I have been lusting after.

This beauty now officially has a new home in my
guest room. Prices are 50% off retail and they gave
me an extra special discount for edge discoloration...
do you see any discoloration? Me neither but I certainly
wasn't going to pass up the extra special deal!

So many rugs, so few floors...

The scale was officially tipped and this weekend I woke up to a dreary Saturday that was stopping me from finishing up that darn trim paint on my house (see Summer Project here) so a road trip seemed in order.

Pine Cone Hill Factory Outlet
125 Pecks Road, Pittsfield MA
Does this look legit or what???

They are all so beautiful...how do I ever pick just one???
It was soooooo worth the trip! I had to literally keep reminding myself that I only have 3 bedrooms and 2 beds (soon to be 3)…where would I use all of the beautiful things I was desiring?


They even have furniture (really large furniture). See those
curtains on the middle shelf...well those also have a new
home in my guest room
More beautiful large furniture...and filled with gorgeous
hued towels
It took all of my self discipline to leave this in the store...as Arnold says
though "I'll be back".
I’ve been working on finishing my guest room for a few months now and I had no idea exactly what direction I was heading on it but I literally finished buying everything that was left to complete this room on this trip.

Pine Cone Hill has the absolute best cotton pajama's - pretty & comfy!
Yes, this lovely little number accidentally snuck into my
bag...hmmm it will look so nice in my recently redone
master bedroom...can you say little pop of color
I’m so excited to put it all together now...pictures to come soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Recommendations Welcome...The Missing Piece


About a month ago I was visiting with one of my Aunts (it was her ___ birthday) and we were joined by a couple of family friends Donna and Pamela for a lovely day of Arts in the Park in Camden Maine.  The weather was unfortunately quite dreary – the company was fortunately not.  These ladies are as far from dreary as it gets so we had a really wonderful day never minding the weather.

I knew that Donna, Pamela and their family (they are sisters) winter in Florida but really had no idea what part of Florida….it’s a big state you know.  So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to learn that their winter homes are near Tampa….perfect as these are just the ladies to tell me where all the great treasures are.  I can't remember the first time I met Donna (it was that long ago) but the first time I met Pamela was several years ago.  She was at a rummage sale buying a bargain life sized bust for her then teenage son (which unfortunately for me he loved and still does)…I knew instantly she was my kind of lady.  Both Donna & Pamela have an amazing decorator eye…although Pamela is the only “official” decorator.

The Missing Piece
3854 South Dale Mabry, Tampa, FL

Well, the recommendation they gave me was a consignment shop called The Missing Piece so I immediately put it on my list and headed over directly after my visit to the Henry B Plant Museum (see my visit to the Plant Museum/Tampa Bay Hotel here).

Not really sure what to expect I did know one thing…they had beautiful things on their web page and they came recommended so it all looked good.  I was a bit surprised when my GPS let me to the deep corner of a strip mall but given Florida’s somewhat strip mall centric nature I’m not sure why I was surprised.  The real surprise though was all of the gorgeous pieces I found when I went in.

This piece was in a vignette at the front door...what a wonderful hint of
what was to come.

The sunlight coming in from the front window really messed with my
stellar photography skills (lol) but this piece was so beautiful
in person...trust me
I love the color of this buffet...you would expect black or red for this
style but blue?  The unexpected definitely works!

The Missing Piece is really primarily consignment furniture…there are a few accessory pieces but really its clear furniture is their core specialty.  It’s also not vintage but classic pieces are beautiful whether they are new or old.

I will someday have a room large enough for a piece like this...it will be
filled with beautifully written literature...contemporary & classic (surprise, I
have a bit eclectic taste in books).
This Roll Top Desk was so unique and beautiful in it's simple lines.

What I generally love about consignment is not only that there are always bargains to be had but more importantly I always see unique pieces that I never see in regular furniture stores. There were plenty of those as well as good quality pieces that have more shall we say “mass appeal”.  Bottom line…there is so much to drool over here.

This piece was very different than anything else
I saw and could work in so many places...great colors
much loved look...really beautiful
Oh this baby came so close to coming home with me.
You have no idea...white opalescent swirl ....a lamp that
shimmers...what could be better?

I was definitely wishing I either lived closer or had a big truck with a nice driver to haul it back for me.  They do offer delivery…wonder if that covers the 10 states and 1375 miles (yes I Mapquested it) to my house.  On second thought, it’s probably best I don’t have either of those or I would have a very empty bank account….but a house full of furniture…and maybe a guest spot on that show Hoarders lol.

And one final beauty...the crewel lampshade
was fabulous!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2102 Summer Project - Update


It’s been several weeks now since I first told you about my “what was I thinking 2012 summer project” (you can see the beginnings of it here).  Progress is now reached that snail’s pace with Fall in New England bringing shorter days and so many other fun things to distract me.  Although slow,  progress is still progress, right?

Just a quick reminder of the before color - this is the side of my house
(the window air conditioner unit is long gone)

So most of the house is painted – just one more coat on the far side and I’m done with the “easy” part.  Next comes trim and I have finally accepted that as much as I think I can do anything getting, on that roof to finish the dormers just isn’t in my future.

My backdoor - long term plan is to move this door to the back of my house
but for now it's still on the side (and it's now black).

In the spirit of full disclosure though, on bright Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago I did get up on the roof and gave it the good old college try.  Started the painting but was a bit too distracted with my knees shaking to stay up and finish what I had barely started.  I might have been up on that roof maybe 3 minutes before I headed back down the ladder…at least I tried right?

Getting there..(take special notice of the little white cottage next to my house).
Weather permitting trim & shutters are on the agenda for this weekend

The good news is help is coming soon to take care of those pesky dormers.

Funny story:  My neighbors have all been very interested in what is going on at my house this summer as I’ve been outside working (in a very non-nosey non-intrusive kind of way of course – I have great neighbors!).  My neighbor Jay whose little cottage home is the white one right next to mine has been sharing with me his plans for all kinds of DIY projects for a while but hasn’t had a chance to really start anything since I’ve lived next to him (MBA + busy schedule can do that to you).

I hadn’t seen Jay much this summer but one day I was enjoying a quick cup of coffee before getting going on my painting and something flying past my window caught my eye – a piece of siding from his house.  I saw the siding but didn’t see Jay so all I could think was “crap is it that windy out that his siding is blowing off”?  I know, seems like such a blond thought…did I mention I had just started my morning coffee?

Well, it wasn’t the wind – it was Jay.  Apparently me spending days on end painting my house had “shamed” him into action and he decided to finally take the not so attractive vinyl siding off his house and put up the cedar shingles he had been planning since he bought the house 6 years ago.  Glad I could offer up the inspiration Jay :-)

And...Jay's "what was I thinking" project.

Well, I still have the “what was I thinking” mantra going through my head but I that light at the end of the tunnel is starting to appear (although admittedly it’s still a bit dim).  Will keep pushing toward it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tampa Bay Hotel Magnificence - Henry B Plant Museum


A couple of years ago while on a trip to Chicago I was invited to a dinner with a work colleague and having spent more than my fair  share of dinners at the ridiculously expensive steak houses I agreed but only if we skipped the “stuffy dinner” and did something fun.  I didn’t really care what we did for fun and there is so much fun to be had in Chicago.  We ended up in a limo heading to Comiskey Park for a thoroughly enjoying evening of baseball & hot dog eating.    Excellent right?

Comiskey (now US Cellular) Park home of the Chicago White Sox
So last week I was looking forward to another evening with colleagues this time in Tampa Florida and Googling looking for something other than the “stuffy steak house”.  I kind of struck out (most of "fun" alternatives seemed to close at 6 pm) but we did end up at a very very cool steak house that was definitely unique – Bern's Steak House….sooooo yummy!  They had me at “dessert room”.  Trust me I do a lot of these dinner things…Bern’s is in a category of its own.

Bern's Steak House
1208 South Howard Ave. - Tampa, Florida 33606
The lobby still looks like this...way cool
photo credit Bern's
In my search for fun dinner alternatives however I did stumble upon the Henry B Plant Museum and since I had a few hours to toodle around before dinner I thought would be fun to check out.  The Henry B Plant Museum honors the Tampa Bay Hotel built by Henry B Plant (a railroad baron) in 1891 for $2.5M (plus another 500K to furnish).
Henry B. Plant Museum formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel
401 W. Kennedy Blvd - Tampa, FL
The front veranda is the absolute perfect way to spend a lazy day
 Originally Mr. Plant built this hotel to lure people to ride his railway.  It was only open for 9 years but was the height of opulence in those 9 years and so much history happened here.

The Formal Writing Room where men gathered to
socialize and write letters in the evenings
Just one of the many magnificent gilded mirrors on display
It then remained vacant until 1933 when The University of Tampa purchased it for $250K.  Today the University uses much of the original building but they have preserved a wing as museum to honor the the Tampa Bay Hotel, Henry B Plant and the Gilded Age of America.

There were dozens of these garden stools that were all originally
scattered through the extensive luscious gardens on property
I particularly love this guy...he would look so fabulous
in my sad garden
It’s a self-guided tour with photography allowed in most of the rooms and there were few barriers restricting access.  The furnishings featured are all authentically original to the 1890’s hotel as is much of the d├ęcor.
Originally custom produced for the King of England who ended up not
wanting to walk on the lions Henry Plant bought all that had been
produced and used it at this hotel.  I kind of love this...a lot!

No question I walked away with a very keen sense of what it must have been like to visit the Tampa Bay Hotel when it was originally open in the 1890's.  If you have a couple of hours to spend meandering definitely swing by – it’s a couple of hours well spent.
Decorative Paper Lanterns from the Gardens