A few Labor Day scores

We spent Labor Day weekend like most other red-blooded Americans: hanging with friends and buying things. Except in our case we were hanging with and hosting some newbies to St. Louis: Kim and Scott from Yellow Brick Home. We thoroughly enjoyed being the first stop on their epic Route 66 vacation and touring them around a few St. Louis highlights… including the firehouse. There are two ways to my heart: chocolate and an intense interest in the firehouse. Kim and Scott definitely brought the latter, soaking in every last detail in every room (and if you know them you know they love details): where we’ve started, what we’ve done, and what we’re planning.

Their only request for their stop is that we do things we would normally love (aka good vintage shopping) and fill their bellies with yummy food. I gave them a few spots to check out while we shot a wedding on Saturday, and Sunday followed thusly:

Kim and Scott were traveling light (thanks to a cross-country road trip and a flight home) but we weren’t so we picked up a few scores at TFA. The first was this record stand.

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We happened upon it first and stopped in our tracks. The shape of the shelves and the wood toppers are just cool. Our initial reaction is always “where can we use it?” and it’s especially crucial right now because we are trying not to hoard any furniture as we look toward the living room/dining room redo. It seemed like a good option for the awesome bathroom (now that we’ve decided that this metal locker is headed for the workshop) as part plant stand/part extra towel and toiletries holder. Plus at $34.50 it seemed like a steal.

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We walked on, which is usually a sign that we’re passing on something, and ended up finding 10 of these Pyrex glasses in the clearance section for just $7.50 a piece.

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We bought our first set at TFA several years ago and they are our go to glasses for brown liquor (which if you’ve seen our bar cart, you know is a substantial part of the collection.) We have snagged a few here and there, but when you live with a klutz (ahem… me) you can never have too many vintage glasses. So the only question was “How many do we buy?” My response was, “Well, it depends if we buy that shelf,” at which point I turn to see Kim and Scott ogling it. When they heard of our interest they said, “You HAVE to buy this!” Ha! Sold. So we scooped up the 4 glasses with the least scratches and the shelf, leaving the building just $70 poorer… which may be a record.

(It’s Hank approved.)

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After sleeping in the next day (P.S. House guests that love to sleep in are my FAVORITE!) I whipped up some brunch at home. (I know a few of you are still mourning the loss of my food blog. If so, make this for breakfast this weekend: Food and Wine’s Brussels Sprout, Bacon and Gruyere frittata and Dessert for Two’s Cinnamon Rolls. We’re obsessed with both. You’re welcome.) Kim and Scott went on their merry way and we checked back in with the interwebs as you do when you’ve been unplugged for 24 hours. Then Aaron (nearly) shouted “Oh my god” in a tone that is either meant to convey “We are about to die” or “Listen to this really great thing I’m about to tell you” … or maybe that’s just me? I tend to be a little bit of a fatalist. I once thought he had been killed by prospective wedding clients as evidenced by this post on the defunct food blog.

In this case, the “OMG” was joyful because he stumbled upon not one, but TWO Craigslist posts for chairs that match chairs we already own. Too confusing? Let me back up. When we scored the desk and the dresser and the other dresser at South Jefferson MCM, we also walked away with 6 pristine, mid century Chromecraft dining chairs.

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If you do any MCM shopping you know finding sets of things is rare. More often you’ll see one bedside table when you need two or three dining chairs when you need four. We walked into South Jefferson, tallied SIX chairs and they zoomed to the top of the wishlist.

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These beauties are destined for the dining room and because we’re not sure how many people that will seat having extras on hand seemed like a good idea.

One set of chairs was available with a table at a new to us antique mall, so we tossed on some clothes, grabbed some Starbucks and hopped down to the General Grant Antique Mall. After inspecting the chairs, we asked whether the seller would be willing to split them from the table. The lady at the desk said a woman asked yesterday and yes he would. We instantly claimed them. (Sorry not sorry lady who initially asked.) And now we are the proud owners of TEN chairs at the staggering price of just $320. #dealoftheyear

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We’re not ones to let the rest of the antique mall go to waste so we wandered the aisles and picked up set of three Pyrex bakers for just $10.50. They match a set I already have and are perfect for individual cherry crisps!

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We also got lost in a booth chock full of St Louis and Missouri memorabilia, eventually walking away with “Thias’ Pencil Sketches of Missouri” for just $12.

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It’s a sweet book filled with sketches and a little history on each scene.

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So those are our finds from the long weekend. It’s pretty funny that half of the items we bought are just extending collections we already own. We’re nothing if not predictable…

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Labor Day feels like SO long ago. Such is our life when we’re in wedding season. What are you scoring lately that you’re excited about?

KC River Market Antique Mall finds

Who needs a break? Our hands are raised! DIY-ing is tiring!

We’re not the best at slowing down or stopping, especially when we are mid project renovation. We only made it back to Kansas City to visit Aaron’s family once last year (for Christmas) and we heard about it from his grandma. To stay in Grandma E’s good graces, a spring trip to KC was a necessity. We lucked out with the weather and spent a few days eating at as many favorite spots as we could (Oklahoma Joe’s – yes I know the name changed – Extra Virgin and Nara topped the list) and doing a little shopping. We even convinced Aaron’s parents to join us for a little jaunt through the River Market Antique Mall, one of our favorites in the city. As usual it didn’t disappoint!

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These sweet butter pat dishes were holding jewelry and that’s exactly what I had in mind for them. At $4 a piece it was an easy decision to grab two. I love the subtle floral patterns.

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The jewelry was actually what drew me to the case with the dishes originally. This bird necklace caught my eye. I love how simple it is. It’s the perfect piece to toss on with a casual dress (yay for being nearly dress season!) I scooped this up for $20.

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Fun fact: Apparently my husband likes wood bowls. I’ve always been drawn to them, but this was the first time he’s picked one up and said, “Look at this!” This particular bowl is really cool, so I’m not surprised.

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It has great lines and is in really good condition, although we may revive the wood just a bit. Plus it’s Dansk and was only $28!

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The biggest score was this map.

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I’m a pretty big map lover (as evidenced by a Pinterest board devoted exclusively to maps) so Aaron has to keep my collection in check. I appreciate that, because I do understand that logically one house only needs so many maps. This one caught his attention and when we opened it up the color scheme reminded us of a certain room we’ve been talking a lot about…

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It’s huge, measuring 42″ by 29″ AND it’s the “First Color Photomosaic of the 48 Contiguous United States” so there’s that. And that’s pretty cool.

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We folded it back up and searched for a price. $10. TEN DOLLARS! Sold.

So those are the few trinkets we hauled across the state. I’m glad they were small because we had plenty of Ikea flat pack boxes (pieces destined for the captain’s suite closet) already stowed in the car. Have you scored any pieces lately, vintage or otherwise?

Our principles for buying art

Ever since we started thinking about the finishing spaces in the firehouse we’ve been pondering and pinning and discussing art. There is so much out there, especially when you consider price points and style. We landed on two principles to help guide our search.

While we’d love to have all original pieces, we really still need money for food… and a firehouse renovation. Still we see authentic art (original works or limited edition, numbered pieces) as an investment in artists. As artists ourselves we care that artwork is valued. We want to own unique pieces that may have value down the road. That led to principle one: We will only buy original signed pieces or limited edition (numbered works.)

We are so fortunate that we agree on most aesthetic choices for our living space. When it comes to art, there’s a little more divergence. I’ve long been a fan of impressionism, especially Claude Monet, and that’s just not Aaron’s jam. He often gravitates toward sculptural pieces and I rarely think those work in residential spaces. Luckily there’s still a huge middle ground. We both love moody work (show us just about anything with fog and we’re captivated.) We also have a huge appreciation for mediums that we have no skill in, like drawing. And, thankfully, he likes some impressionistic work 🙂

This drove our other guiding principle: We both have to like any piece we purchase. That doesn’t mean we both have to be heads over heels about each piece, but we both have to appreciate it and want it in our house.

Obviously, this is going to be a process. We’re not running to a big box store to grab something to hang on the wall just because we want a room done. But we appreciate the process. We love that it gives us a reason to walk through an art fair (and maybe walk away with one of my favorite pieces of art to date – the guy at the end of this post who really deserved his own feature. Love him! ) while we envision different works in our space and discuss what we like (or don’t) about a work.

Sometimes that discussion and the decision to buy is really, really easy.

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In a recent jaunt to the Green Shag Market this piece instantly caught my eye. I didn’t say anything because I wanted to see if Aaron noticed it as well. It took less than 60 seconds for him to say “Woah! Look at this piece.”

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So, yeah, we both like it. It’s a relief print, which may be a little hard to see in the pictures. It has lots of movement and obviously a huge burst of color, which offers some nice contrast.

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It’s an interesting piece because it’s understated and bold at the same time, quiet and loud, a great juxtaposition.

And it’s named, signed and dated. “Release” by M. Dean, number 9/50 from 1978.

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We did a quick check via Google just to see if we had stumbled upon a gem. We think it’s a piece from Meredith Dean, an artist who studied at Washington University in the late 60’s and late 80’s. She’s been heavily involved in the art world and currently is a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. We think it’s one of her early pieces. We reached out to her but haven’t heard any response.

None of that really mattered, we were happy to tote this piece home with us. (Although if we ever run across an awesome, piece like Yellow Brick Home did, I’ll do a seriously nerdy, white girl happy dance in the middle of the store.) It doesn’t have a home quite yet, but it’s ready and waiting for the right space.

Recent buys and some of our favorite antique malls in St Louis

The end of wedding photography season heralds a time when we look at each other and say “Now what?” The closest we come to hobbies (besides renovating a firehouse) are smoking copious amounts of meat (you haven’t lived til you’ve tasted our Jerk chicken) and haunting antique malls. This winter has already yielded a few gems, big and small. Let’s take a look!

This group came from our favorite antique mall in St Louis: Green Shag Market. It’s on the small side for an antique mall, but it’s so well curated that we’ve never left empty handed. Plus if you stop by during one of the first seven days of the month, you can also swing through Quintessential Antiques, which should be a case study in antique store merchandising.

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If you watch any popular design blogs, you know that the internet is awash with ALL THINGS BRASS. While, I’m not a devotee of any particular metal, this little boat sailed away with my heart (see what I did there?) It’s currently hanging out with my jewelry collection, but the mid century aesthetic makes it ideal for any room.

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How much scientific glass is too much? I might be reaching the max, but for a couple of bucks a piece these cuties came home with us.

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I’m also maxed out on milk glass. Some of my bigger pieces are in storage so I’m being very picky about what comes home…. but I’m also easily swayed when a piece is unique and under $3.

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We also have a bit of a problem with glasses… as in we want them all. We’ve been admiring Dorothy Thorpe style sets for some time, but the popularity of Mad Men has upped the price and the “everyone’s got that” factor. When we saw this set, we were immediately drawn to the size and shape. Then we noticed they were monogrammed and said, “Well, that’s going to be a hard sell unless you find the right person.” Then we noticed the monogram was an H….

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Apparently we were the right people.

I originally planned to shoot all of these smalls in their final home. The boat and vase by my bedside, the expanding scientific glass collection by the TV and these glasses on the new bar. Then I broke one! UGH. I know. I know. #thisiswhywecan’thavenicethings

I’ve decided that this is only a set of 6 because of the holder. So if we can find a 4 cup holder that we like, then we’re back up to a set, plus an extra. Aaron didn’t buy that line of thinking…

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A spin through the South County Antique Mall, our favorite large antique mall in the Lou yielded a few smalls and these tiny tables. They’re not much to look at. Ok, literally they’re not much – wood with unattached mirrors on top. BUT those legs! Just like Yellow Brick Home, we’re not above hoarding hairpin legs. At $30 a piece, these tables sets of legs are well worth the storage space. Future table or bench? Only time will tell.

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Another spot I stalk all week long thanks to their awesome Instagram account is South Jefferson Mid Century Modern. Their selection is always well curated and offered at prices that are SO good, like so good I almost want to keep it a secret. But I’m not because 1) I can’t buy ALL the things, even if I want to 2) I want this store to have as many fans as possible so they keep buying and selling these great pieces.

What we bought isn’t exactly their normal offering (I guess we do that a lot…) This table base was in the far back of the shop with a rag and cleaner on top of it. Even though it wasn’t really “ready” Aaron was instantly drawn to the huge, solid aluminum base.

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We inquired about the price and got a brief history lesson. It’s actually a conference table base from KMOV, a television station in downtown St Louis. South Jefferson MCM had plans to add a new top and replace the missing foot, but was willing to let the base go for $80. Sold.

It’s the perfect size for the work table we want to finish off the studio.

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For now it’s hanging out with a lot of other items in the studio… like the trailer (full update on that next.)

From bread rack to bar cart

Apparently if I see an old, rusty metal shelf on casters in an antique mall, I will pay all the money for it.

Ok, that’s not totally true. But I will rack my brain trying to figure out how to use it in our house, remove the tag (so no one can claim it while I walk) and visit the front desk to inquire about a discount (Hello easy 10% off!), and then somehow convince my husband that said rack can be a belated birthday gift for me (my birthday was in January and we bought this in March.) Long story long, we bought a bread rack.

When we found it, it looked like this:

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But in my head, it looked more like this:002industrial_bar_cart

After a year of collecting, our decanter collection outgrew our petite bar. We’ve been casually looking for a different bar set-up. This cart totally clicked for me. The only problem (and the reason it was stored in the captain’s bedroom for many months – you can see it hiding in the corner in this post) is that the grated metal shelves offered an unstable surface. Great for bread, not for bottles.

House Hunters 2.0 gave us the boost to get this bar built. First that required a trip to a hardwood lumber place Aaron has been stalking on Craigslist. It’s a small shop filled with lots of wood, including some exotic options. While we have a serious soft spot for zebra wood, we thought it would be too loud and too pricey for this application. We mulled over the selection and almost settled on some basic poplar before noticing a pile of ambrosia maple. We learned that the discoloration and holes are caused by ambrosia beetles that burrow in and bring fungus. Those splotches definitely stole our heart. We dug through the pile looking for the perfect pieces and chose some of the “buggiest” (according to the wood shop employee.) We left with 4 boards (30.5 board feet) for a total of $91.50.

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The boards weren’t wide enough to span a shelf, so we needed to join them. The boards were rough cut and only square on 3 sides so Aaron started by trimming the rough edge off 2 pieces.005industrial_bar_cart

Then he used the biscuit cutter to create some grooves.006industrial_bar_cart 007industrial_bar_cart 008industrial_bar_cart

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Once the glue dried, he made the final cuts to make each shelf the right length and width. 017industrial_bar_cart 018industrial_bar_cart 019industrial_bar_cart

He also removed the excess glue drops and gave everything a light sanding.020industrial_bar_cart 021industrial_bar_cart

While the boards dried, Aaron tested some oil options on a scrap piece of wood. 022industrial_bar_cart

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Originally we thought we would want a darker tone, like the dark walnut. But after we chose such a pretty, defined wood, we were torn. We popped the test piece of wood onto the cart with a few bar accessories to help make the decision. But we were still torn. We worried that the light walnut would make the wood stand out too much. And we worried that the dark walnut would hide it too much.

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In the end, we decided that we loved the wood too much to tone it down. Both sides got a coat of light walnut danish oil.  027industrial_bar_cart

This involves 2 coats of flooding the board with oil and spreading it around with a brush. The second coat is applied within 30 minutes of the first so that it is still wet.

030industrial_bar_cart 028industrial_bar_cart 029industrial_bar_cartOnce the boards were prepped, we turned our attention to the cart. I gave it a good wipe down with soapy water to remove any loose dirt while keeping the rusty patina.

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Then Aaron made some vital repairs to the shelves, tightening the bolts and replacing a few lost ones.034industrial_bar_cart 035industrial_bar_cart 036industrial_bar_cart

We laid the wood in place and it really started to come together.037industrial_bar_cart

The wood adds so much warmth to this piece. 038industrial_bar_cart

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We pulled out all of our full decanters, all of our empty decanters and all of our bottles of booze. Then I uttered words I never thought I’d say: “We need more alcohol.”

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The overall effect is nice, but it’s a touch barren. I guess that’s what happens when you install 24 square feet of bar…041industrial_bar_cart

We opted to keep the styling really simple, focusing on the decanters and mixing in some bottles for interest. 043industrial_bar_cart 044industrial_bar_cart

We pulled out a wine infograph poster to add even more height to this corner of the room.045industrial_bar_cart

And we kept a little space for actually mixing a drink.047industrial_bar_cart

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So, I guess we’re just down to the super hard task of collecting more bottles of alcohol. Woe is us.