How I'm Keeping Our Family's Military History Alive With My Children

How I’m Keeping Our Family’s Military History Alive With My Children

This weekend, we mark Memorial Day, the time set aside by our nation to remember the sacrifice which has made us great.  But in the din of baseball games and barbecues (which, don’t get me wrong, our family loves, too) sometimes the past takes a backseat to the party.

MemorialDay.org says, “Memorial Day started off as a somber day of remembrance; a day when Americans went to cemeteries and placed flags or flowers on the graves of our war dead. It was a day to remember ancestors, family members, and loved ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice. But now, too many people “celebrate” the day without more than a casual thought to the purpose and meaning of the day. How do we honor the 1.8 million that gave their life for America since 1775? How do we thank them for their sacrifice?”

My son is about to turn 9. All four of his great grandfathers served their country honorably in World War II.  All four were lucky enough to come home alive, to raise families, and live long lives, during which they largely shied away from telling the stories of their wartime experiences. I understand why, and I respect it.  But now, two generations later, far fewer families are personally feeling the impact of having a loved one serve in the military.  My son knows almost no one who has served, or is serving, in the armed forces.  Too much of the sacrifice is on television, behind glass, in a library book, tucked away in a closet.

joeuniform1Which is exactly from where my in-laws pulled this cleanly pressed, decorated uniform that belonged to my husband’s paternal grandfather.   There are surely thousands much like it in closets across the country.  More probably have been lost or given away.  But they all once belonged to a soldier, a sailor, a marine, and others in the various branches of the military.

Click here for Information on the Navy Memorial in Washington D.C.

Click here for Information on the Navy Memorial in Washington D.C.

Most likely, the wearer is gone.  And unfortunately, as in the case of my grandfather-in-law, even their official military records may also be gone (his were among the millions lost in a fire at a records facility before electronic records were kept.)

I sensed a drift in my generation, and even more in my son’s, slowly away from an understanding of and appreciation for the harsh realities of war, towards lives lived in peacefulness that someone else, far away, had earned.  It was as if war was almost fiction.  A very compelling, but nearly hard to believe story.  Except it isn’t.

To learn more about the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. click here

To learn more about the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. click here

Men and women actually wore those uniforms.  Families actually sent their sons and daughters and husbands and wives and brothers and sisters off, never knowing if or when they would see them alive. (And of course, families still go through this now.)

I want my children to deeply understand and truly appreciate the sacrifice, as much as anyone who grows up nearly entirely in peace can.  If I’m being honest, I feel I need to understand better myself.

So when my in-laws downsized homes, and asked if we wanted Joe Thompson’s Army dress uniform, I said we absolutely did.

Now I want to share one small way we’re turning it into a living lesson for my son (and one day, my daughter), my husband and me.

One by one,  my boy is choosing a ribbon, medal, patch, or pin on Grandpa Joe’s jacket, and researching it.

Research in Progress

Research in Progress

We use the Pentagon’s Institute of Heraldry site as much as possible, but also supplement with other military information sites.  We read about the exact title of each decoration, what year it was issued by the government, and what qualified the wearer to don it.

worldwarIIvictorymedal

We’ve learned that this red, rainbow colored ribbon is a World War II Victory Medal.  A brightly colored symbol that would have allowed Joe to instantly recognize a fellow veteran as one of the 16 million (16 MILLION) who served in that war. If you had asked me before we started researching, I would have never correctly guessed there were 16 million.  Somehow my regular classroom history lessons failed to teach me that.  (No, I’m not blaming my teachers.  I’m blaming myself, and plain old human nature.)worldwarIIfountain

Somehow, it hasn’t been until I felt that I needed to impress this family history on my children that I was truly capable of learning it myself.  I guess that is one of the little known gifts of parenting.

We are learning that Joe earned a Bronze Star, although we will likely never know why, and that it was General George C. Marshall who wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1944, because ten years prior to that the government had begun awarding the Air Medal to those who distinguished themselves in aerial combat, and the General felt his ground troops, who were doing such difficult and deadly work, needed the morale boost of being honored, too.

Somehow, in his almost-fourth-grade handwriting, these stories, this history comes brilliantly alive.  It matters.  They are, in steadily improving penmanship, made our own.

My children and I never got to meet Great Grandpa Joe, or ask him to tell any of his stories.  We never got to meet Great Grandpa Ed Benesh, either, and it’s likely he would have refused to tell his story even if we had asked, but I understand it bears a striking resemblance to the movie, Saving Private Ryan.

We cannot ask them now.  But, I can assure you, Ed’s uniform is next.

And Great Grandpa Les Cummins after that.  And Great Grandpa George Roenker after that.

One by one, pin by pin, medal by medal, we will learn, and write, and remember.

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So this Memorial Day, I give thanks that my children and I and their father all live in this, the greatest country that Earth has ever known, and that we live in relative peace, all because of those who wore the uniform, and continue to wear one to this very day.

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And I am proud of my son.  Though God willing he will likely never know the feeling of burying a loved one in a flag-draped coffin, he at least will be able to tell the stories – because he will know them by heart – of the people in his own past who were.

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cabinetdoorsDIY

I’ve corrupted my Dad.
A while back, he was at my house helping me on a project. We finished up and he left. About 10 seconds later, he called.
“Anne, there’s a bunch of kitchen cabinet door samples out on the curb. Do you want ’em?” he asked.
“Heck yeah I want ’em!”
(He has not been doing this his whole life… What can I say? 😉
The samples were sitting outside a small kitchen design shop right around the corner from my house. They were discontinued so the owner was throwing them out.
Dad asked if it would be ok if we took them. The owner kind of gave him that look (you know the look, right? I bet you’ve gotten it yourself before) and said he didn’t mind.
20140514-144437.jpgThere were about 15 or so and they were heavier than I thought but Dad took every last one.

I knew right away – they’d be perfect for a project I had in mind.

Our fridge is stainless steel and I don’t like the mess of taping stuff on it so that leaves me with no good place to hang the kids’ school papers and art work.

20140514-144742.jpgI got out my HomeRight Finish Max paint sprayer and took a couple cabinet doors outside. This was my first time using the sprayer, and I found it easy.

IMG_8493I used the viscosity cup and realized very quickly that the primer and paint I was using was WAY too thick. (You fill the cup with your paint. If it takes longer than X number of seconds to empty, it’s too thick. The little chart is right on the directions. )

No biggie. I thinned both with water and was ready to rock and roll.

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I used water based primer and regular old white semi-gloss latex.

(I also did a little bench at the same time.  That’s probably one of my best tips.  Gather up a group of stuff you want to paint, and spray them all at the same time. It’s NO more work than spraying one thing, and you’re already going to be cleaning up, so get as much bang for your painting buck as you can!)

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Easy peasy. The sprayer was easy to use and I didn’t even mind the cleanup – everything washed up easily.

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You can also see that I had a large piece of cardboard under my things. If you’re doing small pieces, definitely try this. You can grab the cardboard and turn everything easily so you can be sure to spray from all angles. If you have enough extension cord to walk around, that’s fine, but I didn’t so this was a big help.

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I picked up these metal bulldog clips from the office supply store, and with my drill, added a pilot hole to each sample where I wanted my papers to hang.

I decided to spray my clips to match my boards.IMG_2738

Then I screwed one clip right into the door on each sample so it was nice and secure.  Once the paint was dry, I flipped the samples over, secured the doors shut, and added picture wire for hanging. I used a little black craft paint to put my children’s names on them.cabinetdoorsDIY

I am thrilled with how these turned out!

They are part of a kitchen wall re-do, that also includes my Pottery Barn office organizer, a little DIY embroidery hoop art, some sticker charts, and up high, a yard sale wall shelf with rotating display space.

If you don’t have access to kitchen cabinet door samples (although I have to believe if you contact a retailer, they might hook you up), you could easily recreate the look with some plywood and a little decorative trim.

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This was a very inexpensive project that solved a problem for us while maintaining the aesthetic I want in a space we use ALL the time – isn’t that just the best?

discardeddoorscollageNow the kids love to have their special piece of art or good school paper hung in a place of honor.
I’m so glad I taught my Dad not to pass up the potential you can find on the side of the road! Thanks, Dad!

(And thanks HomeRight! They provided me with the sprayer. All opinions and comments are mine.)

XO,

Anne

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LifePreserverWreath

Hi friends!
Memorial Day is quickly closing in. It’s time to summer-ize your front door!
Seaside decor just screams summer to me, so I decided to make a wreath with a nod to the nautical.
Honestly, I wanted a cool vintage life preserver to hang as a wreath, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for at a reasonable price. So I created my own.
To make this wreath, you’ll need a few simple crafting items:

wreathsuppliesFoam wreath form (mine is about 16″) $7 at Walmart
Basic letter stencils $3 at Walmart
Acrylic Paint $2 (if your door will be very exposed to the elements, use an appropriate paint)
Paint applicator (sponge or brush. I used a sponge brush I had)
White opaque Duck Tape $3 at Walmart
Rope or cord of your choice. I used red paracord $2 at Walmart

This could not be easier. If you say you are an “uncreative” person (which I don’t really think exist, I think people are just too busy to tap into their creativity) THIS is the project for you. No creativity required! Just buy the materials, and follow the directions. Here’s how I made my “life preserver” wreath.wrappingwreath

1. Starting on the back of the wreath form, wrap the white Duck Tape around your wreath. Keep overlapping the tape, keeping it as smooth as possible on the front, until the whole form is covered. The tape is very sticky, and I had no problems getting it to adhere to the foam.

stencilwreath2. Using the letter stencils, paint the wording of your choice on the “preserver”
Make sure to let the paint on one letter dry before moving on to the next letter. It is not easy to get smeared paint off the Duck Tape.

morestencilwreath
Trick for getting the letters centered: write out the letters who want to use. Count, finding the center letter. Start from there and work your way out on either side. Don’t forget to count spaces the same as letters.

wreathwithcord3. Wrap 4 lengths of your cord or rope around the preserver in four spots to give it a good, nautical look.  Add on more long piece on top for hanging. Use pieces of Duck Tape to secure them in the back.

LifePreserverWreath

That’s all there is to it.
These would make adorable gifts if you’re going to visit someone at a beach house or lake cabin this summer.
I’d love to see if you make one of your own!

XO,
Anne

PS – This is not an actual lifesaving device. Don’t throw it to a drowning person. It won’t help them, and you’ll be sad you lost your front door work of art. :-)

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Hi friends!

I hope Spring has sprung where you are. It was LOVELY here in Cincinnati yesterday, and it felt SO GOOD.  I survived five winters in Chicago, but I have to admit, this winter here kicked my butt. Man, am I happy it’s over.

It’s time to move this Craigslist hunt farther South, and visit a city in North Carolina. One of my favorite people used to live there (hey Sis!) and a very good friend/client still does (hey Liz!) and per her request, I combed CL in RDU. So here we go!

1. It’s time to start thinking about that garden, people, if you haven’t already. And I think this industrial work stand would be the perfect little potting bench!

potting bench

 

Pick it up for $75 (Actually, I’d start with an offer of $50) You could glue a cork board to the back, pin up your seed packets, etc. Or, you could line the back with pegboard. Then stack your pots below. I’m thinking a mini version of this, done by miss Robin from Robin’s Nesting Place.

Incredible potting bench by Robin Fleming

Can we all just take a minute and drool over her potting bench?!

Pegboard and corkboard to organize and inspire. Perfect!

And, she’s a girl after my own heart.  This whole setup was done with thrift in mind.

Well done, Robin!  I want to go plant something, and maybe wear some adorable Hunter boots while I do it, right this minute.  😉

2. Sometimes Craigslist is an oyster with a real pearl inside. Like this vintage wood office chair, listed for a mere $10.  vintage wood office chair

They turn up on Etsy frequently, for way more than $10.  This one is $175 PLUS $65 shipping. Wha??!

Etsy wood office chair

Like I said, RUN, don’t walk!

3. In my last Craigslist post, I learned about Barley Twist furniture, the kind that has beautiful turned legs and spindles. But that beauty does not usually come cheap. That’s why I picked this Barley Twist coffee table this week.  Barley Twist coffee table

It is a stunner!

Barley Twist coffee table closeup

I think it’s gorgeous just the way it is. Asking price is $85.

4. You may be one of those people who says a Federal mirror like this one just isn’t your taste.

Federal Mirror 1

And I think that’s precisely why you should buy it, if you are trying to up the style of your current living space. The longer I blog about home decor, and the more I immerse myself in all things interior design, the more I’ve come to learn that in 2014, curating a room, and a home, that is interesting, unique, and timeless is really about mixing it up. It’s the push of old and new, bright and neutral, sleek and ornate. 

via Hannah Kate Flora

You may say you have a “French Country” look right now.  Or a clean, contemporary look.  But I really believe that sticking to only one genre of decor is the fastest way to date yourself, and your room, and honestly, I bet you’ll get bored with it faster than if you mix in some pieces that on the surface, don’t “go together.”

via Little Green Notebook

Your home is not a movie set.  It doesn’t have to represent one particular moment in time.  If you keep things fresh with pieces that A.) Speak to you and B.) push the boundaries a bit on time periods and motifs, what you will end up with is a mix that is ALL YOU.  It says, “I collect things I love,” and not “I bought all of page 24 of the Pottery Barn Spring 2014 catalog.”

Designer Alexa Hampton was recently quoted in House Beautiful and she made this point perfectly.  She said in a time where most every piece of furniture, and yard of fabric, is available to most everyone, customizing your home to YOU is the ultimate luxury. 

So if you look at a mirror like this and love it, but think it’s wrong for your current space, buy it anyway.Federal Mirror2

PS – I’d check the mirror once you go see it.  It may be a reproduction piece, not a true antique, and if so you can offer less than $30 for it.

5. Last, is a great old kitchen scale.  Kitchen Scale

These are the types of things I love to pick up at thrift stores, yard sales, etc.  And I don’t think the price is bad, either. They’re asking $25. It’ll become a cool conversation piece. Love it!

Thanks for joining me this week.

My blog has moved from Blogspot, and if you like these posts, I’d simply LOVE to have you as a subscriber here at annethompsondesigns.com! Mwah!

XO,

Anne

 

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Hi friends!

Once upon a time I asked some of my Facebook peeps if they’d like to have a post on what I’d buy on Craigslist done in their cities. To my utter shock, people jumped at the offer!

So better late than never, per the request of Heather from Queen of Everything, we are off to the Dallas/Fort Worth area!

1. If you’re in the market for a piece to reupholster, but you kind of, well, don’t really know what you’re doing yet, you need a guinea pig piece. I nominate this one.

Adorable, right? And ten bucks! Get a good staple gun, some cute fabric, and get ready to YouTube your brains out.

You can SO do this. And, as a bonus, I also nominate this cute ottoman/footstool to become your new chair’s partner in crime.

And since you asked so nicely, here’s my pick for a fabric to upholster them both:

If that doesn’t scream “Spring!” I don’t know what does. Happy dance!

2. I’ve never picked a quilt rack before, but this has a few things going for it.

It’s got very pretty legs, known as “barley twist” which is something I’d never heard of before Heather said she liked that style of furniture. You’ve got expensive taste, girl, because everything I found that was called “barley twist” had several zeros behind the list price!  This little gal is only $45, and would make a charming addition to a guest room or family room. It’s been painted a bright white, and looks like it’s lightly distressed. Hope you like it, Heather!

3. What a great deal on a bright chair! It could be the fact that I’m plotting a redo of my guest room in red and white, and this chair would be perfect, but I just think this is so cute!

It’s currently on the Pier1 website for $80, so this, my friends, is a true steal!
Put it in your entry (like this one) for an instant pick-me-up.

4.  Maybe you have an old light fixture you want to switch out.  I think this wicker pendant is adorable, and they are everywhere right now.

Remodelista compared some higher and lower end lights, but even the “steals” out there are no match for the $20 price tag on the Craigslist find! I love the idea of hanging it over the living area like this.

5. I don’t yet own any campaign-style furniture, but I sure would love to, one day. And if you would, too, then I suggest scooping up this coffee table for $20.

You can clean it up, and use it as-is. It comes with a glass top, too, which is super nice and prevents you from worrying about spills, etc.
And, you’ll get the look of this coffee table, which retails for almost $3000. Yes, there are three zeros in that price tag.

Or you could paint it a bright color, in a lacquer finish, and have a showstopper.


Painted campaign furniture can be such a stunner. 

I love the pops of brass against the colors.

So there you have it. My picks for you crafty, thrifty, awesome Texans out there.  And here’s the disclaimer I always feel the need to include in my Craigslist posts.  I’ve been buying and selling from Craigslist for years. I have yet to have a problem. I always use my common sense. Take a friend or relative with you (especially the large, male type if you have one.) If a piece is small enough, you can ask to meet in a public spot, like a well-lit grocery store parking lot.  Be careful. Be safe.  And have fun.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this!
If you would like to see more of these kinds of posts, you can catch me at these spots:
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram

XO,
Anne

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gallery-wall-intro-pic


Hi friends!

Spring has sprung!!!!
We might be a little too excited about it here. My 5 year old announced on the way to the car this morning that she was so happy “it’s summer!” :-) 

Today I want to share a recent home update I took on.  I have been slowly revamping our living room. We have an older, bungalow style home, without a foyer. Our front door opens right into our living room. 


And the wall where our couch sits is the first thing people see when they come to our home.  I had been given a beautiful, large art print which we enjoyed for a while, but I thought it was time for a refresh, and I wanted the space to really speak to us and who we are.


Over several months, I’ve been collecting items for this gallery. And it just needed one final trip to the home decor/craft store to pick up the last few things to really pull it together and finish it.
It took me a whole day to hang everything. But now that it’s complete, I wanted to share how I went about collecting the items, what I looked for, and what I ended up using.


I numbered the things on my wall, and I’ll explain each item and why I chose to include it.


Here we go!

1. Portrait of my kids, from a couple of years ago. I love this picture. And it’s a close up, which means it’s a good option for something at the top of the wall. It shows up from far away. 


2. A print of a geological map of the part of Minnesota where my Father-In-Law was born and raised. I believe I searched eBay for this. It’s a link to our family’s past, something that’s important for us to pass on to our kids.  And it’s an easy way to get Papa Mike to start telling stories about when he was young. :-) 


3. Snapshot of the hotel where my husband and I stayed on our trip to Florence, Italy.  It was the most amazing trip of my life, and we went to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Super special.
I put it in a frame with a fancy kind of design on it. I bought two of the exact same frames, for continuity. The next one is used in item 7. I bought them at Hobby Lobby.


4. Plaster-type round empty frame.  I picked this up at Hobby Lobby also. I wasn’t totally sure how I was going to incorporate it.  I like it because it’s got great texture and is a nice round shape, to break up all the squares and rectangles on the wall.  I ended up using it as a backdrop to hang a small letter T in front of it.  


The letters all came from Hobby Lobby. The black T is a metal piece that hangs from a ribbon.  I hung the frame first, then put a nail right above it to hang the letter. I just played with the things I had bought until I came up with a combination I liked. 


5. Subway art I made myself, with special attractions and things that are unique to this area, where I grew up.  Anyone can do this.  I used a wall hanging that I bought at the thrift store, painted black, and then painted on the words I wanted with white craft paint, freehand. You could stencil words, or make a collage online on a site like PicMonkey.com.

6. Photo of me, my two sisters and my mom, all with our wedding rings on our hand, the day my youngest sister got married.  Very very special to me, and a pretty shot, too. The flowers and hands soften up a wall with a lot of black and white on it. It’s a square shape, and kind of smaller, which I liked. My sister gave it to me framed.


7. Another snapshot from our trip to Italy, the day we went out into wine country. Best. Day. Ever. The frame matches the frame in number 3.


8. 3-D letters that are my first initial, an ampersand sign, and my husband’s first initial. 

9. Picture of our first dance. We’ve had this for, well, over ten years now. I believe in keeping your wedding photos out – it’s the basis for who we are as a family! It’s in a slightly distressed black frame and basic white mat.


10. Original oil painting on canvas, in an old wood frame. This was a gift from a family member, and it also reminds us of Italy.  It brings some color and texture to the gallery. Important to break up the monotone colors.


11. Print of the State of Kentucky, that I got from one of the daily-deals-type sites. I bought it months ago and have just been holding onto it. It’s in an old gold-tone frame with scroll designs on it, that came from the thrift store…again, months ago.  You might not think to put a frame like this in with all the black ones. I think it keeps it all fresh and adds to the eclectic vibe I wanted.

12. 3-D letter T, that is covered with burlap on the front. There are three letter T’s in this grouping. I wasn’t sure if I was going to use them all together, but I grabbed them, and played with it until I liked it.  If you shop somewhere you can return things, I say in this kind of case, buy them, and if you don’t like them, return them.  You never know what you might like up on the wall.


13. Photograph of the Calatrava, the unique and beautiful waterfront building in Milwaukee that houses the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Matt’s parents live in Milwaukee and this is one of their very favorite places to go.  Matt and I also met in Milwaukee :-) I bought it on Etsy and framed it in a clean, dark wood frame with a white mat.  To be honest, I can’t really explain why I chose a brown frame over a black.  I like the tone of the wood, and we have a lot of brown in the house (hardwood floors, leather chair across from this gallery wall) and I think it helps the wall tie in with all that.
I’d highly suggest looking on places like Etsy for art photography from places that are special to you. There are some wonderful options out there, and you can support local artists. Our print came matted for $18.

14. Pair of horseshoe shaped wall hooks. Or at least that’s what I think they are. :-) I found these at my favorite thrift store, maybe a year ago. I grabbed them as soon as I saw them.  We live in Kentucky and this is horse country! I have no idea where they came from, but they spoke to me. They’re black metal, and they really make a statement, I think. No one has the same pair, that I know of yet!


15. Portrait of my kids from a couple of years ago. I love this picture, that a good friend took. 

16. DIY letter T art with a chevron background. I made this from an old wall hanging we had, that I was done with. Painted it and put our initial in the middle. Free!

17. Portrait of our family. It was taken the same session as the photo in number 15.

:-)

There you have it.


Here is what I learned in putting this wall together.

First – start collecting. The more variety of places you can look, the better, thrift shops, yard sales, online, department stores, craft and hobby stores… just keep your eyes open for something that speaks to you. If you like it, grab it.


Second – include some variety into the grouping.  Texture, color, size, shape, medium (i.e. photograph, painting, etc.) This is what keeps the eye interested and moving around the wall.


Third – eclectic doesn’t have to mean scatter-brained or completely haphazard, and if you have a little Type A in you, “eclectic” might stress you out a little. Don’t let it. You don’t have to have one of every kind of frame there is. Repeating a choice is a way to keep the collection feeling cohesive.

Fourth – symmetry. This is just personal preference. There are plenty of ways to arrange your wall. But if you are anxious about how it might turn out, or you prefer a more calm aesthetic, instead of a really random, mismatched group of things, it is perfectly OK to arrange the gallery in a symmetrical fashion. 


If you look at how I laid things out, you can see there is a general balance from one side to another. To that end, a simple way to organize the pieces is to align the pieces in some way.


The three pieces I have in the center of this wall are all about the same width (this was just dumb luck but you could certainly plan it that way. They form a nice, neat column from top to bottom.

The middle row of frames is all aligned with the bottom of my subway art. Everything else sort of filled itself in from there.

After months of collecting, and hours of shopping, planning, and hanging, I finally have a focal feature in the room where people enter my home. It’s unique. It’s eye-catching. It’s US.  And it was SO worth it!


Hope this inspires you.
Let me know if you do a gallery wall of your own!

XO,
Anne

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Hi friends!

I recently had a classmate from high school contact me. She was expecting her first baby, and had a rocking chair she wanted refinished.  This is what it looked like when I got it.  It looked like someone had previously stripped it. So it needed a good sanding before I could get started.

 It has this beautiful carved detail on the back, but the carvings are not in wood.  It looked like plaster, or something similar, and had cracks throughout.  I didn’t worry too much about the cracks.  I think it added to the charm of this piece.

 I think there have been a lot of babies rocked in this chair.  It was passed down through my client’s husband’s family.

My client/classmate was not finding out the baby’s gender, and wanted a bright, bold color that would work for either a boy or a girl.
We decided to go for a color like Annie Sloan’s Emperor’s Silk. It’s been a long time since I painted anything red.  In fact, it had been long enough that I had somewhat forgotten (OK, really completely forgotten) how HARD red can be!  I wanted to give my local Sherwin Williams a shot. So I chose SW Positive Red in their All Surface Enamel (Acrylic Latex in Satin finish).
Here’s what it looked like at first. Uh Oh. Someone forgot to get a tinted primer.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to the paint counter I go.
One can of pink primer later (they tinted it as dark as they could – thank you to my trusty old Home Depot paint folks) things were looking better. You can see where I added the primer, on the right side. On the left, you can see how transparent the red went on.  Yikes.

In order to achieve the deep, rich red in this paint, the base has to be translucent. Which means the paint is not opaque.  Which means you have to keep adding coats, and adding coats, and adding coats.

Which is exactly what I did.
So… 17 coats of red paint later…..

Positive Red was actually looking positively great.
I wish I could tell you there was some other way.  I can’t speak to other kinds of paint (AS Chalk Paint, etc.) but for regular old latex, that is what you can expect.
LOTS of coats.

I added a coat of wax when I felt the color was even enough.  And here we are.
Now, for the glamour shots.
:-)

 I foresee many, many snuggles happening in this chair.

There is something special about the things passed down.
Thank you to my client Jessica for trusting me with this piece.
And best wishes for that little one!

XO,
Anne

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Hi frosty friend-sicles.
Super snow gals.
Chilly chicks.

DANG it’s been cold, icy, snowy, windy, and just plain hellish where I am. I write this knowing full well that many people farther North of me have it colder, icier, snowier, windier, and more hellish.

I broke my scraper in the 45 minutes it took me to de-ice my minivan today.
My kids were getting super frustrated because they couldn’t actually shovel the snow, because it was mostly ice.

BUT. Our power did not go out. Amen.
My husband got safely to and from work. Praise the Lord.
And Spring is a mere 43 days away. HALLELUJAH.

Soooo…until then, I’m here to bring warm, happy thoughts of awesome furniture to my friends in Minneapolis! Goodness knows, I’ve scoured Cincinnati’s Craigslist long enough. Time to take this show on the road. Without further ado, here are my picks for what to go buy on Craigslist this week.
Ahem.

1. I’m not saying it would be the easiest thing in the world to paint (lots of tape on all that glass), but man, I think it’d be worth it!

I LOVE barrister bookcases. They are just so cool! And in all the time I’ve been a Craigslist fan, I have only seen a handful, and they were way more expensive than this one.  GRAB it for $40 and RUN!

This one at Home Decorators will run you $489.  Paint the CL piece white, swap out or paint the hardware and laugh all the way to the bank.

2. I love this antique standing mirror.

What a perfect piece to add to the front entry! You could add wall sconces, or hooks, or both to the wall on either side. A nice umbrella stand. Gorgeous! You don’t see pieces like this every day. Asking price is $100.

3. Next is a cute piece that I think some crafty soul DIYed.

For those who can’t, or don’t want to, make things themselves, here’s a chance to get your hands on a rustic looking ladder that makes an adorable place to hold blankets in your living room or bedroom.
So cute, right?
For those of you who are interested in making this yourselves, here’s the tutorial I’d use, from the sisters at Shanty 2 Chic. You can make this piece really inexpensively.
TIP: Make sure you add a coat of poly when you’re finished. It is mentioned in the comments, but not the tutorial. Otherwise you’ll be heading to the store to buy new blankets. :-(

If you do decide to buy the ladder from Craigslist, I personally would offer $30. Asking price is $40.

4. I have done quite a few desks – they are just really useful pieces and people many times use them as vanities or dressing tables.

This one is adorable, already painted and shabby chic-ed up, and only $85!

I don’t know why they’re selling it for that.  I’d never make any money (and I don’t make a killing as it is) if I sold desks for $85, but I digress. :-)

This thing is a great deal. RUN!

5. Outfit the kids rooms. Or playroom, or basement…
  Vintage kids chairs by Heywood Wakefield.

I love, love, love cool old chairs like these for kids.  I wouldn’t do a thing to them, either.
What about an adorable place to easily stash their favorite books?

This cheery vintage magazine rack couldn’t be cuter! Grab it for $20.
A globe is conducive to all kinds of lessons. And this has an awesome stand. It’s $15.

But if you really want to rock their world, give Bill a call.  He’ll custom build you a playhouse that will be the envy of every kid in the neighborhood! I am drooling. (Do not ever let my kids see this. They will hound their grandfather to no end.)

No, I have don’t have any idea how much this would cost.  But DANG it would be awesome…

And last but not least, my very sweet friend Alana asked me to look around for chairs to go with the cool new dining table and bench she and her husband are having made. Do these not look incredible? Here’s the shop

There are a million different directions you could take this, keeping in mind that they do have three young kids so whatever is chosen has to be comfy and easy to clean.

So, Alana, here are my picks:

The Herman Miller Eames look
Wildly popular, clean lines and wipe down with a dishrag. :-) $200 for the pair.
(originals will run you waaaay more.)

Budget re-do.

These are kinda tacky fishing cabin-esque. But they don’t have to be. They are a basic, simple chair with pretty caning on the back (one needs to be recaned) and seats that are super easy to take off and recover.  These could be anything you want them to be.
And $60 for the whole set? You can’t beat that.

I saved my personal favorite option for last. The super pretty set, also with caned backs, but also lovely arms, turned legs, and cool seats.

Imagine them in a creamy white (caning looks so pretty in white) or black. Or a bright red. They will stand out against the strong lines and heaviness of the table and bench and just look awesome.
One chair needs to be recaned and the seats look like they may need some work…but oh, it would so be worth it.

Asking price is $75 for the set of four chairs AND you get the pedestal table (re-sell it or find another place for it)!

I just realized this is kind of like House Hunters for furniture.  Haha!  Alana, you’ll have to let us know what you end up with (and of course it’s perfectly fine if it’s none of these.)

That’s it for this traveling roadshow.
Minneapolis is awash with great stuff!
(Here’s my usual disclaimer: If you buy from someone on Craigslist, or anyone you don’t know, BE SMART. If the piece is small, you can ask that they meet you in a public place. Take a friend with you. Tell someone where you’re going. I can’t vouch for any of these sellers.  I just love their stuff.)

Now go forth and find something great!
If you find something awesome, let me know!

Anne

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Hi Friends!

Are you in the Polar Vortex, too?

This is ridiculous.  It’s been so cold for so long, I think I’ve actually given up hope that Spring will ever come.  So, let’s think about things that are more fun.  Like furniture.  And paint.  And painting furniture. :-)

Off we go.

1. Lingerie dresser.  $75

Love what Tami from Curb Alert did for a super girly, French look.

Oui, oui! So cute.
But what if you need it for a boy’s room?  Swap out the hardware for something less frilly and go dark and numbered like this one.

2. Midcentury stuff isn’t for everyone.  But in small doses, it can really wake up a room and make it look contemporary…the stuff is wildly popular right now.  (Because of things like Exhibit A, this gorgeously staged black number from Natty by Design)

For those not sure they love it, here’s about the smallest furniture investment you can make and still get the look…a $20 desk.

I love a $20 desk, people.
This one is small enough that it will never overwhelm a space and its clean lines make it great for kids or grown ups, boys or girls.
As it turns out, Natty by Design has a knack for making awesome midcentury desks over.
Exhibit B.

Nuff said.

3. This is a great set of furniture for $150! Classic lines, and “good construction.”  can’t ask for much more than that.  (And it must be the week of the lingerie dressers)

I love a hutch. It makes great use of vertical space without the need to install shelves.  If this set looks as good in person as it does here, I’d go for it in a second.  Don’t just think you have to leave it in the bedroom, either.  I LOVE the woman who put a set, almost identical to this, in her craft room. Here’s a peek.

Ack!! Look at how awesome that is!
And check out the rest of the board for more pics of the room, including a black and white settee.  Be still, my heart…

4. It’s not often I can show you a virtual before and after with two identical items (found separately – the internet is an amazing thing sometimes.)

You know I love gossip benches, phone stands, whatever you want to call them.

I especially love the curved wood on the phone stand part and the wavy slats on the chair back. This one is $60.
If someone is interested in trying their hand at a furniture project, I think this is a great place to start. You can easily recover the seat and wa-la… have something like this!

How cool is that?!

5. Find artists and people who love furniture as much as I do. I’m seeing more and more pieces that have already been transformed, listed on CL.
Since I do very few pieces that don’t already have an owner or buyer, I think you should check them out.
People are getting out there, getting their hands dirty and saving pieces of furniture and they should be supported!  Just my two cents. :-)
Here are a few pretty finds I love.

http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/fuo/4294520646.html

http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/fuo/4291170973.html

http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/fuo/4264313106.html

If you’re interested in finding a piece already done, search for things like, “painted” “upcycled” “restored” “vintage” “distressed” “waxed” or “refinished”.  And remember, if you have a smartphone, use it to set up a search for those words, both in the Furniture and Antique categories, on a Craigslist app.
It will alert you when there’s a match.  I find the app to be a great tool to help navigate a sometimes not-so-user-friendly, or organized, website.

That’s all for this week. I hope you are staying warm and safe.

Have a great week!

XO,
Anne

PS – I’d love it if you shared this post wherever you are active online. Thanks!

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