When we bought our house back in 2005, home prices had started to drop, and we felt we were fortunate for being able to get so much house for the price we did. Oh, if I could go back in time and punch Past Me, Present Me would totally do it. We could live in a mansion now for what we paid back then. But at the time, I thought we scored big, despite the decrepit roof and nasty, nasty carpet. As it was, we didn’t have any leftover money to fix the house, beyond some dire repainting and fence repair.
In most cases, repainting is simply a cosmetic issue, but the person who lived in the house before us had criminal tastes and was also very lazy. She had painted the kitchen cabinets turquoise (to match the navy blue counters, natch) and the laundry room a painful school bus yellow. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, she took a yellow painted brush and painted a giant yellow circle the size of a dinner plate on the otherwise very nice camel-colored bathroom walls. Just a circle. Of school bus yellow. And not even a very neat one.
So we painted and patched and put in new fences and fixed the pond and did what we could. Be we had no money left over for big furniture purchases or major renovating. We’re still living with a ramshackle roof and embarrassing carpet to this day. My one splurge at the time was an insistence on painting the fireplace deep brown. I couldn’t abide the calico-colored bricks in my living room. The deep brown paint was just right and sort of gives the effect that the fireplace is made of blocks of chocolate. Yum.
We did eventually make a trip to Ikea where we purchased a sideboard for the dining room, the two large shelves that flank the TV in this room, and our multitude of library shelves, which I’ll show you later in the series. The shelves in this room have doors on them, which I felt was essential, as I don’t want to look at my crap all the time.
Something was still missing from this room: color. It suffered from a great lack of personality and was awash in a sea of beige. One weekend, Anthony and I just decided to do it: let’s paint the living room. We went to the hardware store not knowing what color we’d come home with. Anthony picked the color: Green Tea. I was more than a little apprehensive. Shouldn’t we choose something more… sedate? As Anthony put the first brush strokes of color on the wall, he said, “It looks… AMAZING.” Even as the green was going up, I had my doubts. But, with the help of our friends John, Justin, and Depeche we got the walls painted over a weekend and to this day I LOVE it. Best risky decision ever! (Yes, painting is a risky decision for me.) (Oh, am I a Wild Child.)
Aside from the TV cabinet (Target) and large shelves, everything in this room was secondhand. Oh, actually, our wedding photos aren’t, and the curtains were from Target, but everything else I think. The two big chairs and our couch were the last things I purchased at my beloved Salvation Army. It closed a few weeks after without any sort of warning and broke my heart in three places.
I really love the bones of the couch even though the upholstery’s had it. Any notions I’ve had of saving the couch have since vanished, as Zorro’s taken to using it as a scratching post, even though we put an actual scratching post right next to it. Asshole. Tinky and Peach never scratched on furniture like this and now Zorro’s teaching his bad habits to The Moron Twins. Also? A 25lb cat scratching on something is QUITE A BIT DIFFERENT than a 10-15lb cat scratching something. If you’d like to know how, piss off a badger and a cat at the same time and see who does the most damage.
The green and brown chairs are from the sixties and the seventies, respectively. I love the green chair with every fiber of my being, but Anthony hates it. Sure, it’s adorable, he’ll allow to that, but it has a fatal flaw: it tends to rock backwards somewhat… over enthusiastically. As in, if one sits in this chair and leans backwards too far, one tends to fall over in it. A minor thing for sure, right? The brown chair is “leather” and I wouldn’t hesitate to replace it with some Herman Miller goodness, if ever I could ever afford some.
In this corner we have the wedding photos in an Ikea frame, a family crest plaque that was my Grandma’s and a clock that I adore that was my Nana’s. I have a couple vintage frames that I collected and I’m going to redo my wedding photos. Soon-ish, hopefully. The lamp is from the 50s or 60s in my estimate and was thrifted, as were the two Dala horses. I was very lucky to find those horses, as buying Dala horses tends to be expensive. My family has a couple already, being that we’re Swedish and all, but they are much smaller. The coasters were thrifted and the side table belonged to my Nana. The chest below the side table holds our cat toys. Of which we have many.
The lovely green chair with the embroidered flowers belonged to my elderly neighbor who passed away recently. My family had been close to her since we moved into my family home in 1985. We were close to not only her, but also to her children. Her children gave my family this chair plus another one like it. Zorro is trying to ruin it which makes me rather stabby.
The large blank space above the couch puzzled me for a long time. I couldn’t decide what to put there, and eventually hung a number of things I totally hated. when I came upon a cache of decorative plates at a thrift store, I knew I wanted them on that wall. Finding the San Francisco poster online sealed the deal. The matting and frame for the poster were found while thrifting. Trying to frame a poster of uncommon dimensions is a nightmare. Until I found this frame while thrifting I thought I was going to have to see about custom framing, which would have been out of the question for a very long time.
The plates themselves are for the Empire State Building (back when it held the ‘World’s Tallest’ title) the Carnelian Room in SF, the Pacific Plaza in SF. On the other side we have a monogrammed “H” plate along with a plate commemorating 1,000 of the British Monarchy. I know, right? It seems like we were just celebrating its 500th! The last plate is my favorite and depicts Seattle’s Space Needle in gold from the World’s Fair. I actually found a few other plates just like it on my thrifting travels, so look for it in my shop some time soon.
Oh look! It’s the Moron Twins! There here to greet you. And lick their junk.
And there’s Zorro.
Behind the green chair we have one of my favorite posters. It’s a propaganda poster, but for the library. It’s a reproduction of a vintage print. I found it while buying stuff for the library I work at, but was fortunately able to order it from home with my non-business account. Again, finding frames for art can be a difficult business. It would have been very expensive to have this custom framed, but I volunteered at a local thrift shop one summer and found this very 70s print of a girl, standing by a barn. It came in this lovely, solid wood frame with a thick, heavy piece of glass. And my poster fit inside perfectly.
The little table belonged to my Nana and Papa and is a sewing table from a Very Long Time Ago. It is still filled with antique thimbles, ancient thread, and bias tape from 50 years ago. When I was cleaning it out I found my Papa’s polio vaccination card. Yes, really.
I found this lamp at a thrift store but I didn’t have a shade. No matter, I found this one at Target. Ideally, I would have wanted something straight and taller, but you take what you can get. I keep some vintage milk glass on the table because it looks so pretty in the light, along with my vintage egg terrarium. Although empty in this picture, it is full and happy now.
Milk glass, terrarium, and lamp: all thrifted.
Here’s another shot of the living room. I still love the green. Oh, and that felted wool afghan over the brown chair was thrifted, too. Superb quality, obviously handmade: someone is going to Hell for donating it, but not me! I bought it for a song.
Oh, yeah: the vintage “seasons” picture over the TV is stretched canvas and I love it immensely. I bought it while I still lived with my parents because I saw it and couldn’t imagine life without it. It has followed me from house to house, and a house wouldn’t feel like home to me if it wasn’t hanging up somewhere.
Woodland needle point and Avon perfume peacocks: thrifted. CHEAP. I have a few of the peacocks, so I might sell some of them in my shop.
A closeup of the crests, depicting my English-Scotch and Swedish heritage.
And here I saved the best for last: note the rings on my side table. I put those there just for you, internet!
This post is part VI in my multi-part series called the Thrifted Home Tour. I am showing off different rooms of my house to display how thrifted items can be worked into the décor to be useful and inspiring items. Partially it’s because I’d love to promote my vintage Etsy shop, and partially because that’s just how I roll. You can find parts one through five here.