Vintage Leather Couch Nailhead Trim

Last Thursday, Brendan and I both had the day off. I spent the morning catching up on all my favorite blogs and I read Emily Henderson’s How to Find the Perfect  Leather Sofa. Her guide is great and it totally made me want a vintage leather couch. Side note: the first photos in that post are hilarious!

I never thought I would actually want a leather sofa because they are so hard to find in just the right style and not to mention expensive. So here stood my conditions: vintage or perfectly worn, not overstuffed, straight lines, fits my budget, and had some interest (i.e. nailhead trim). Hence why I’ve never bought a sofa, those conditions are super unlikely.

Welp, until Thursday that is. I talked B into taking a trip to Goodwill and one vintage shop (those were the conditions since vintage furniture hunting isn’t exactly his thang). We stopped in one of my favorites, Get Back Vintage. The shop owner, Jenny, is the only one that works there and she’s got super reasonable prices for Austin. I walked around the back and took a peek in her back room.

There it was. Covered in a drop cloth and that perfect nailhead trim poking out.

Vintage Leather Couch

I asked Jenny if it was still available and if I could take a look at it. When she said yes, I’m pretty sure you could see my heart pounding. But I knew deep down that I wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Vintage Leather Couch

Then, she told me the price was $550 and she would cover the tax. Whoa, I wasn’t expecting that! I grabbed Brendan and had him come check it out. He was sold. Perfect.

That night I got on Pinterest and typed in leather sofa just to see if I could find the source of this couch. Turns out it’s $3000 (!!!) from Robert Redford’s Sundance Catalog. So it’s not vintage leather, but it’s worn and perfect.

Don’t get me wrong $550 is a huge amount of money for us right now. But, this was an investment. It’ll be around forever and will most likely always have a place in our home.

Now, what do you think?!


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As you know, I took a vacation from work last week. I spent Sunday and Monday in Omaha with my Mom, celebrated my anniversary with Kyle on Tuesday (our actual anniversary) and Friday-Sunday (in St. Louis and Carbondale), and organized my bathroom and kitchen in between. For the next couple weeks, I’m sure I’ll be sharing all of my fun finds vintage shopping over vacation and all of my progress on the organization.

My trip to Omaha was before I had a little more room to spend some money on anything so I did more window shopping — and being treated — than anything else. On Sunday, we went to dinner in the Old Market are with my mom and my friend David. We wandered around for a while and did some vintage shopping at the stores that we walked by that were open despite it being a Sunday evening.

My favorite true window shopping finds, from a store that was not open on Sunday, were these kitschy canisters. In addition to the downers bottle the window also had a Prozac bottle and several others.

The first store we actually made it into was ReServe, an Omaha Goodwill location in Old Market. I really liked ReServe and I’m sure that if I lived in Omaha I’d be there a lot more often. It basically curated Goodwill donations into a store that had a lot of clothing and decor that would appeal to the clientele of the Old Market. It fit in really well with the other stores, was a little higher priced than most Goodwill locations I’ve been to, and had a great selection.

This ship/lamp isn’t really my style, but it seemed like something my friend James would love, and I could see someone really managing to class it up.

Next, we popped in to Fairmont Antiques & Mercantile. They’re combined with Hollywood Candy that has old candy and novelties and my mom really loved shopping around there and reminiscing about the candy she used to eat. I really liked this priest’s chair which was one of a set. Though these aren’t the most comfortable chairs, I really like the lines of them and, to me, they’re so recognizable and familiar that it would be fun to play with them in the design of a home.

Also at Fairmont, I was really delighted by this faux-Sowei mask. I wrote a paper about the actual masks in undergrad and have studied African art as the topic of my thesis and a few classes in graduate school, so I know a thing or two about African art. But, I also am most interested in the way that Americans incorporate Africa into popular culture. The mask this is clearly based on is actually a female mask despite the tag that tells you that it’s of a king. Also, the real deal is worn on your head. You can’t tell in this picture but this is so heavy!

After the shopping we finally decided on dinner at Nicola. I’d downloaded the Design*Sponge City Guide before our trip and the author of the guide had noted that this was a good Italian place and it really was. My ravioli were amazing and I had a good (but inexpensive) glass of wine with dinner. I was really in love with their wine list. I think the burnt letter on cork would be a good DIY for a homemade journal or photo album — or wine list?

After our Sunday adventures, we went to the zoo Monday. I had a really great time at the Henry Doorly Zoo. We used to go every few years when I was younger and it was great to visit as an adult. Since school is back in session in this part of the country, the only children who were at the zoo were all younger than school age. I’m convinced this is the only way to go to the zoo. No crowds. Better weather than most of this summer has been giving us, and still just enough kids to remind you of the magic of going to the zoo.

And there were so many babies! The one I’m most excited about is this baby dama gazelle who was only 15 days old. The sign said that baby gazelles usually just lay/hide in the tall grass until their mother comes around to feed them but the spot this one picked to hide was right next to the fence so we could see it so well.

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Hammocks in the House

I don’t think that I’ve mentioned before why I do these “Home Inspired” posts, but it’s because each photo that I post here makes me think of something in a new way. A lot of the elements in the rooms/photos that I write about you might think to yourself, “I’ve been seeing that in the design world for months” and you’ll probably be right. But when I post an inspiring photo of decor here, it’s because something in the photo or article makes me think about an element of design in a different way than I have before. It can be a piece of furniture, a basket, a tree, or a hammock.

So, this post and photo are no different. I’m so inspired by the warmth and comfort of this room. It just feels like somewhere you can go and relax. No rules, stuffiness or discomfort allowed; which, I hope my house always feels that way. The hammock is just awesome with all its colorfulness. Love it.

Any design or something random inspire your home recently?



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Friday Reader Roundup

Jess’s Picks

  • The Kim Jong Il Looking at Things tumblog featured a photo of him looking at cookie jars this week (above). This tumblog makes me delightfully happy because I read the new posts and then I think “Ha! Kim Jong Il is always looking at things!” and then I realize that this thought is really very true and I laugh more. I probably don’t even need to point it out: I’m a strange woman. I’ve been enjoying Kim Jong Il Looking at Things for a while and I have to say that these little kitchen wares seem to have him happier than anything else I’ve seen him look at.
  • Yesterday, on my way back from lunch, I passed an old man enjoying a cool post-rain afternoon on his front porch. Combined with this Design Candy: Swing’n From the Rafters feature at DiggersList and the tree in my backyard that is begging for some kind of swing, I might be investigating outdoor chairs in the next few days.

Mary’s Picks

  • Remember how awesome friendship bracelets were to make? Well, over at Honestly…WTF they are bringing them back with a tutorial and everything. These are so colorful and pretty, and I love the idea of grouping them together. Also, how awesome would these be as headbands? I think I’m gonna play around with that idea.
  • Alright, I admit it. I’m in a relationship with a total nerd, a nerd who loves the idea of planning for what he’d do during a zombie apocolypse. So, when I saw KWK Promes’ safe house featured on Home DSGN, it made me smile. At first it looks like just a stone warehouse, but when the walls are retracted and the large concrete shutters are opened it’s quite stunning on the inside. Also, the lush grounds with the stark contrast of the man made concrete structure is beautiful. (via Apartment Therapy)


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Just a recap: Jess and I both wrote about why we purchase secondhand here and here.  And last week started the beginning of our “Choosing Secondhand Furniture” series. Read Jess’s thoughts from last week about Reality vs. Vision. Right now, I’m passing along everything that I know about determining quality while thrifting furniture.

All that I know, I learned from my momma and through experience. My mom has fantastic taste in good quality furniture. Her bedroom suite she bought back in the 70s has survived four children, a dozen or more moves, and did I mention four children? Also, she only purchased one nightstand at the time and so when she married my dad she’s always needed another one. That was 30+ years ago. When in Lubbock, Texas recently, I found her a second nightstand at an estate sale! It was an awesome and the price reflected the quality.

So here are thoughts to consider:

1.) When considering purchasing anything that has drawers check to see if they’re dovetailed. (i.e. dressers, nightstands, cabinets, crates, etc.) Dovetailing consists of “pins” and “tails” that fit nicely together. Example:

(Hello, pile of laundry in my desk chair!)

Dovetails indicate quality. Yes, there is still quality furniture out there that is nailed, glued, or screwed drawers, but in my experience the drawers don’t last as long. Dovetailed drawers hold together because the two pieces of wood are made in such a way that they fit together. That’s important when it’s going to be a piece of furniture that you use often. Keep in mind that dovetail joints can pull apart over time if not taken care of properly. So make sure it looks solid and the fit is snug. The face of the drawer should not be able to easily pull away from the body.

2.) Does the bottom of the drawer look like it can handle the weight of the items you’ll be placing in it? This is really something to investigate. The bottom of the drawer should be snug and not gaping on any of the edges. It should also be able to handle some pressure. Also, is there water damage? If so, this might be a piece you should pass on.

3.) What’s the finish like? Is it veneer, paint, stain, or something else? And what condition is the finish in? For veneer: Check to see if it’s chipped. If veneer is chipped badly, it will more than likely be really difficult to make it look good again. Most of the time, even if you take the piece to get it refinished, you’ll spend more money redoing the veneer than the piece is actually worth. So, the condition of the veneer is definitely something to consider. For paint: if it’s an older piece make sure to ask the dealer/seller if it’s been tested for lead paint. This is really important especially if you’re thinking about stripping or sanding the piece. Here’s an example of chipped veneer from a piece I bought recently (details in a post this week!):

4.) Look for a name brand which is sometimes called a mark stamp. With furniture, they can be hiding anywhere. Check the inside, side, underneath, and back of drawers or the back of the piece itself. Just remember that it’s usually tucked away but not too hard to find. Don’t be worried about pulling the piece out and investigating it. I used to be really shy with this and never wanted to disrupt, but honestly if you’re going to buy the piece you of course need to know what you’re getting! Here on my Drexel desk, the mark stamp is hiding in the top drawer on the right:

5.) I’ll cover this in greater detail in a later post about researching, but the easy way to recognize a brand is just to bring along something with the ability to Google (i.e. iPad or smart phone).

Do these guidelines work ALL the time? NOPE. No way. They are just that, guidelines. Things to consider. Hell, it’s entirely possible that I will find the most awesome piece of vintage furniture without dovetailed drawers. And guess what, if I love it, it’ll probably go home with me.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for quality. Anything you think I’m leaving out or you’d like to add?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy Thrifting!

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After seeing this home tour on Design Attractor, I’m constantly thinking about that metal card catalog type piece. I know these are all over the place and people love them. But this particular one, I can’t stop thinking about. It’s such a wonderful piece.

This is the home of Danish Designer Birgitte Rabens. Although these rooms aren’t typically what I’d go for, I still love them. The usage of the wood, mixed with the leather, mixed with various metals is really pretty to me. Also, growing up in Texas has given me an affinity for cacti and after seeing this I’m really wanting some succulents around here! I’m inspired by the placement of the letters on the bottom right of the first photo. Such a small detail but I’m liking the idea of them not having to be on the walls.

Any rooms inspired you lately that don’t really go with your style?

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Last weekend, Kyle and I hosted our friend Duran on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night and our friends Adam and Kathleen on Sunday night. This was the first time since New Years Eve that the two hospitable guest bedrooms were full and that meant we needed a bed. Last time, we had friends camping on the floor, which probably would have worked this time, but it’s more comfortable to have a bed and we needed the excuse to do something with that room anyway.

In this bedroom, a regular box spring and bed rails solution wouldn’t work for the bedroom because a queen box spring won’t fit up the stairs. We investigated other options and a split queen box spring was going to cost us $160 in town. Add to that the cost of bed rails ($40) and it seemed a bit extravagant. So, with the help of Instructables, we built a cheap, easy, low-waste platform bed by aeray in the room.

You can follow the instructable as well as we could, so I’m not going to recount the steps. I will, however, say that Aeray makes some of the best instructables and I love how it all turns out.

We did this project as a team. I measured (twice) and Kyle and Duran cut the pieces. It could easily be done as a one-person project and, in fact, the assembly almost was a one-person project as Kyle and Duran chatted with me, fetched beers, and offered advice while I assembled. So I’m betting, it would take probably less time by yourself.

When we had the wood cut, we carried it all upstairs. This is my favorite thing about building furniture for ourselves, I’m really not limited by that weird dog leg in my staircase. (It cuts down on the amount of regret I feel that we didn’t consider cutting the wall down and carving out a closet or whatever crazy idea I have for fixing it.)

I was also seriously impressed with how low waste this project was. The photo above is all of the waste we had. And it wasn’t even really all waste because we used that long piece to space the legs. It makes me feel like a badass that my degrees in humanities don’t mean I’m not good enough at measuring and math to build something. Mary laughed when I told her that I liked how the bed came out because I really just don’t like having spare wood around my house, but it’s true. Storing excess scrap wood just isn’t my thing. I like the precision.

The assembly is so, so easy. Our biggest problem was that the fir ate the pilot bit off of our countersink on the first hole so we had to adapt and pilot with a wood screw and then countersink the eight holes for the frame.


Our finished product turned out great! Kyle’s only complaint is that it’s a little tall. I don’t disagree about the height of the bed. The measurements of the frame come out to about 2 feet off the ground. I think the instructables intends for it to be used with a futon mattress but our mattress is a deep pockets pillow top so it’s a bit of a climb to the bed. I love a high bed, though, so I’m not complaining. I guess it’s something to consider when you make your own.

Happy building!

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So Eclectic is a blog dedicated to great ideas for home design. Austin, Texas-based writer Mary Marcum and Savannah, Missouri-based writer Jess Rezac feature affordable decor, decorating solutions, and inspiration. At So Eclectic, we experiment with design together. So Eclectic posts new content every weekday.

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