Thursday, February 26, 2009


My local thrift store mostly carries new-ish dull stuff. I usually just stop in to check out the books (they have TONS of books!) and then take a stroll around the edges and find nothing. Once or twice I've found some cute old saucers...that's about it.

But yesterday I found this for 95¢:

The frame is dinged up, so last night I taped off the middle gold bit and the outer gold bit and tried to just paint the wood part. But I ended up having to paint the inner gold edge, too. Here's what it looks like--I also rubbed it with some walnut ink on paper towel.

I honestly can't tell if I improved it or not. Paint frightens me. It's so...irrevocable.

I was thinking about sanding it a tiny bit, applying some antique gold leaf pen over that gold edge, and then hitting the whole thing with a coat of sealer. What do you think?

It looks really nice on my teal walls here in the study!
I love the little cottage. There was a matching one with a barn in a snow scene, but the colors weren't quite right for my house. I may go back this morning and give it another look, though.

I'm going to ponder may want to step back and put on your safety glasses....

I was talking with my friend Cheryl several weeks ago, about decluttering and getting rid of stuff, and she was saying that she could get rid of an item and still keep the memory attached to it. She didn't need to hang onto things to still have the memory.

I wish I was a little more like that! My whole house is full of things that spark a memory and that makes it harder and harder to purge or to get rid of things (esp. furniture) that don't work in this house.

That thought led me to this thought...I recently bought a couple of small vintage items from an Etsy seller, and it was a dissatisfying experience. I clicked on the screen, and they came in a box in the mail--I didn't have to go out and look for them. There was no memory attached. I still like the items and will use them, but there's something missing.

And those thoughts both came to mind in the past week or so, as I've been very heavily surfing around looking for home decorating blogs for remodeling ideas. I was honestly starting to get a complex because so many of the homes looked so grown-up. So well-coordinated and professional. Lots of bits and bobs from T.J. Maxx and Home Goods and Target, and expensive-looking Pottery Barn-ish decor. Tablescapes and little vignettes on foyer hutches. My home started to feel like a kid's house to me, like it's full of random things I've grabbed and squirreled away with no plan.

Actually, that's exactly what my home is--my DH and I are basically large kids, and our home IS full of random things we've squirreled away. That's what makes it cluttered sometimes and kind of goofy and full of memories from all our treasures.

So I decided to try not to feel bad about other people's grown-up houses. I like old stuff. I collect old stuff and books and yard sale things. I put it together the best way I know how, but it's definitely never going to look like a Pottery Barn ad.

I always like reading about the houses in The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher--there's a London house and a Cornwall cottage and a house in Majorca, I think, and she describes them all in much the same way--full of comfortable furniture and beautiful old things and good food and flowers. Sounds good to me.

This is not to say that there can't be a memory attached to a Target tchotchke. I'm sure there can. But since I like old stuff and have to make trips off the beaten path to find it, there's more of a treasure hunt aspect to the memory, and there's more likely to be a person along with me on the hunt, who then becomes all wrapped up in the memory and the warm feeling I get when I look at the item.

I really do own stuff from Target and even a duvet cover from the Pottery Barn outlet. Which isn't enough to make me hang with the cool kids, but I'm not completely averse to big-store stuff! I've started to feel uncomfortable with the "Made in China" label that's on so many of those things, though. That more than anything is what's driven me more and more to look at different sources for home items. We've gotten rid of all the unique and beautiful things that we used to make here in the U.S. But that's a pondering for another time...

Sometime soon when I have more time, I'll show off some of my favorite home decorations that have a memory. I think that might be fun!


Vintage Sue said...

My house has ALWAYS been junky and cluttered, but it's ME. I have no qualms about not having a "grown-up" or "decorated" house. That's just the way some of us live. As long as it's not dirty or messy, it's all good! XOX

Vintage Sue said...

Oh, and I completely agree about the memories we attach to things. I couldn't quite put my finger on the online transactions—and "dissatisfying" is too strong a word for what I feel—but it's always better when it involves a HUNT.

Cheryl said...

Janelle...your house is lovely and homey and warm...and decidedly NOT cluttered. I love how your house looks with your comfy furniture and groups of treasures on shelves and tables and on your mantel. The look you have achieved is one that can only be gotten over a lifetime of treasure hunting. Please don't change a thing!

Cheryl said...

...and don't forget...the GOOD stuff that I sold paid the closing costs on our house. The recent purge was just junk taking up space that could be occupied by good stuff. All the rest of my precious vintage lovelies will be in the estate sale after I'm gone!!!

Tracy said...

The thing about the artful arrangements and vignettes in other peoples' homes is this: They're only artistic to you because they're strange and wonderful and different from your stuff.

Your stuff is your stuff and you know the warts and bumps and sometimes ordinary method of acquisition. It's old hat to you, and though special in the memory department, it's just your stuff.

I truly believe that if you gathered a bunch of your, uh, yellow stuff and put it together on a pretty little table, you'd get all kinds of people chiming in, telling you how artistic and grown-up and whatever else it is.

Protector of Vintage said...

I bet your home is beautiful!! Love your blog.

donnapiranha said...

I feel the same way...I go to other homes and think they look so put together and grown up. But, that look is just not ME and it sounds like it's not you either. I bet those people with grown up houses are wishing they could relax and be more creative like you!

tricia stirling said...

oh, i totally think you improved the picture frame! i know what you mean though. paint on paper doesn't freak me out at all. paint on vintage things that are already quite lovely can be daunting.
and i agree with the others that a home with personal elements is so much cozier than a home that looks like it was styled by a catalogue. i bet your house feels like a home.