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A few weeks ago I mentioned this adorable travel trailer featured on OffbeatHome in a Friday Reader Roundup post.

Since then, I’ve been noticing a lot of adorable tiny houses and secret spaces. If you’re in to mobile (or once-mobile) living spaces like the travel trailer, the double-decker bus featured in the latest issue of ReadyMade magazine is really inspiring. The family restoring this 1970s Leyland Double Decker bus records their journey at Double Decker Days and has lots of great photos of their process and progress.

Then there is this RV mansion I saw via HonestlyWTF.

It turns out it’s not actually a dwelling — Snopes.com says it is, in fact, a set for the Anton Chekov play Ivanov performed by Theater het Amsterdam Bos in the Netherlands. It’s still an adorable idea though, don’t you think? And if it were a livable house, I would probably want to live in it. If I could get past the narrowness of every room.Maybe you aren’t so much in to motion and like to make (tiny) roots. These rustic guest cottages made from reclaimed materials look like they’re straight out of an eco-friendly fairytale (also found via OffbeatHome):

The manufacturer of these little cottages makes them into guest houses, saunas, and garden sheds. I’m not sure they’re quite big enough to really live out of, but a creative person could maybe jam a little more function into such a small space. They are perfect for a guest home or sauna though. I’m thinking guest room, given that outside in Missouri is already a sauna I’m not really in to adding heat or humidity to my life right now. Of course, you don’t have to go for a kitchy unique design. You can also have a totally modern tiny house like one of these 19 tiny houses featured on Design Crave (via Tiny-Ass Apartment):

I really love these small house and small spaces. I think the most appealing thing to me is how thought out they have to be. You wouldn’t feel like you have to buy needless furniture just to make sure that a room looks complete. That’s a pretty awesome thing given that I currently have all of the furniture I need and so much more space to fill in my comparatively giant house. I’m positive this is a grass is always greener situation. I bet that people get plenty frustrated trying to find furniture that will fit their tiny space without encroaching on the rest of their tiny space. Maybe I should just settle for getting excited about an in between like these under-the-kitchen wine cellars at thekitchn (found via DiggersList):

A well-0rganized compact cellar, reading room, or other hidden space might be just the perfect hideaway from your busy life in your otherwise too big house.

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Let’s face it. Sometimes, you make a purchase and you decide you can’t live with it. In an ordinary commerce environment this would not be much of a problem at all. You’d simply return the item to the store where you bought it, or, maybe even a closer location of the same store if you’re lucky, and you’d be done with it. It’s not even a gamble to buy something just to see how it fits in your home because worst case scenario you have to run an extra errand the next time you’re out in the next 30 days. Unfortunately, with secondhand furniture the return process is not so easy. In fact, it’s not really a return process at all.

Take, for instance, the story of Kyle and my kitchen table.

We have a very long kitchen, as you can see above. I don’t recall the exact dimensions of it but it was originally two rooms before we remodelled. One small kitchen and one awkward and kind of large laundry room in a terrible location in the house. It took us quite a while to figure out what was going to work in the eat-in side of the kitchen. We left it empty for the first month we lived here. Then, at Thanksgiving or Christmas, we bought a six-chair counter height white table from Craigslist near my parent’s house. We paid only $50 for the table and we were pretty sure that we could have sold the stools alone for at least what we paid for the table, so it was an okay risk. When we saw the table, we thought it looked a little smaller than we thought it would when we measured the space for it. Sure enough, when we got it home, it was way too small. We kept it anyway through the new years when we had our first and only dinner part on it. The last week of January, we found a harvest table at a friend’s antique store and picked that up.

On our local Craigslist, we were able to sell the table and chairs for $60 — not a bad deal at all.

The key to our luck on craigslist is that Kyle is pretty good at writing posts. We always write a good, descriptive title like “white counter-height table with six barstools” and includes a picture or two along with a good description including any minor flaws in the furniture. We also let people know we’re motivated to sell. I don’t like to include the message  “I want it gone this afternoon” unless I really do need it gone by then, but I do let people know that we’ll accept the best offer.

Craigslist isn’t the only way to get rid of something. You can also try eBay, or if you’re into really moving furniture getting a booth at a local antique store or consignment shop. We’ve investigated both options are on a wait-list at our favorite antique store. The nice thing about a booth is that you don’t have to be 100% available to the whims of a buyer and you can hold on to stuff for a little longer. There also is a lot more pressure to sell though and you need to be committed to rearranging and making your space look nice and fresh. I hope that someday Mary or I will have a lot more to contribute on this topic because it’s definitely something we’re interested in!

If you don’t have luck, you can make lemonade out of lemons, so to speak. I actually decided in May that I was going to give up on trying to sell Kyle on the harvest table. After a week or so, he hadn’t really liked it still and he was refusing to give in to my suggestions to buy chairs for it. So, we found a table we both really liked (and still love!) and decided to give the harvest table a whirl on Craigslist too. We weren’t able to sell it that day and instead of relisting it, I started scheming.

I really loved the look of our harvest table but it had a break in one of the pieces of wood that made up the table top and a problem with an unstable leg. Plus, the longer I considered it, the less I thought I wanted to eat breakfast on a table top that wasn’t smooth.

While thinking it was maybe time for us to relist the harvest table, with a much better photo of it than the quick snapshot we took above, I was reading Poetic Home and came across a post about DIY reclaimed wood headboards. I especially like these two:

 

So maybe my harvest table doesn’t need to be returned. It just needs to be reclaimed. Sounds like a project for a future post, yes? While I think about those plans, you make sure you’re staying safe whether that means paying attention to you methods of receiving money via eBay or just using your head about when, where, and how to meet a potential buyer you met through Craigslist. These methods offer a lot more options than placing a newspaper classified in that you don’t have to give away personal information to the buyer until you trust them but it’s also easy to get over confident about your safety. When possible, meet in a public place and take a friend with you. Most importantly: use your head!

For more advice on choosing secondhand furniture (that you hopefully won’t need to return or reclaim), check out our sweet roundup of our choosing secondhand furniture series.

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iPhone Case Cover Redo

Last week I dropped my iPhone and didn’t have a case on it. Big. Huge. Mistake. Thankfully, the glass didn’t break (nope that happened 33 days AFTER I bought my phone) but what did happen was that the top lifted up a little bit causing the buttons to pop loose. I wasn’t able to turn it off, listen to my head phones, change the volume, or put it on silent. Oops. Well, long story short, my sister is an electronic genius and fixed it! Yay!

After she fixed it, I got a case! Yay! I just went to Tuesday Morning and they had a Speck case for $7.99. Sold.

I didn’t love the black and white plaid, but I didn’t hate it either. I also didn’t want to spend much on the cover since I’ll be upgrading from my 3G to something better this fall.

Anywho, right after I bought the case the fabric started coming off. Damn.

So, my creative juices started flowing and I decided to take on recovering my phone. The black and white plaid was a lighter grade upholstery weight fabric. I dug into my stash and found some scrap yellow and white chevron fabric that was pretty much the same weight.

I took off the plaid fabric and used it as a template.

Traced and cut it out on paper. Then laid that template on top of my new fabric after a good ironing.

 

After I cut out the new, I folded the part with the circle in half. Just to make sure I got a nice round cut.

Then, I was ready to adhere. I used craft spray glue and sprayed the fabric first. I had to do this outside on a piece of paper, because a certain someone has complained about my usage of craft glue in the house. Hmm, I wonder why?

After spraying the glue, I hurried to place the fabric back on the case. I started with the laying the top part on first because it was the most detailed and I wanted to make sure the circle lined up. After some pulling and adjusting, I used a razor blade to trim off the excess. And used my fingernails to get a tight fit in the crevices.

After trimming I had some fraying with the fabric, so I just used a tiny amount of super glue to keep it from fraying more. This made the edges a little stiff. I’m not quite sure of a remedy for this yet, but I figured it will soften after some usage.

After about 30 minutes, it was all done! I’m really happy with the outcome! Cute, huh?

Here’s the breakdown:

Materials:

Fabric covered phone case

Scrap Fabric

Scissors

Super Glue

Paper for Template

Exacto knife or razor blade

Time:

30 min or so

Cost:

$8 for the case

Check out the other great thrift finds (and maybe some other upcycles) at Her Library Adventures’ Flea Market Finds and Apron Thrift Girl’s Thrift Share Monday.

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I love how unique this Recycled skateboard belt buckle by crimsonking is. My brother has skated for years and I love how beautiful the boards are at the beginning and how scratched up they are by the end. When he started skating, he preferred a shoestring to a belt, but maybe he’s grown up enough now that this would make a great Christmas gift — or a project we could do out of his own old boards.

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Continuing on with our goal of discussing affordable decor on this blog, we’ve reached the point in our “Choosing Secondhand Furniture” series when it’s time to think about if you should consider refinishing when you see used furniture.

A lot of people have a really hard time finding the potential in a piece. Also, some just ride it off entirely because they don’t find themselves handy enough. Well, here’s some tips on how to see the potential in a piece that just needs a little TLC.

Condition of Current Finish: What’s the current finish like and what shape is it in? Is it chipping, just dingy, multiple layers of paint? We discussed this some when we talked about recognizing quality in a piece of used furniture, but it definitely plays a part in whether or not you should buy. If it’s something you can paint over and you like then by all means purchase the piece. But that’s the easy answer, right? But, sometimes this might not be that easy. For instance, my Lane end tables first looked like this:

And our coffee table was way, way worse:

To some, this damage would seem too much and the tables wouldn’t be worth it. But, it was only only $30 for the two tables and I figured the risk was worth it. After lots and lots of sanding and some spray laquer, here’s the end result:

We also purchased a second end table at Room Service Vintage when they were having a sidewalk sale. It was in the same condition as the others and so Brendan gave it some TLC, too. All of the table lost their original finish, because of the sanding but I honestly love how the refinishing brought out the dovetail details ever more.

Use your imagination: What would this piece look like painted? Or stripped to the original word? Or what if you styled it right, how would it look in your space? Ask anyone who purchases used furniture and they will all tell you this, “Everything looks worse in the store”. It’s so true. So when you see a piece just stare at it and think about how it might look with a fresh coat of paint.

Professional Refinishing: If you get them professionally refinished you have to ask yourself if spending the money is worth it? For our Lane tables, it wasn’t. It would have cost a couple hundred and at that price we could purchase them in really good condition at a local vintage shop. But, for a great couch, it might be worth it. Recently, I received a pair of 1950s shellback, patio chairs. They were my grandmothers and my mom had them professionally repainted in the 80s. So, when I got them this last summer they were in desperate need of another refinishing. At this point, the cost to have the chairs properly done was way more expensive than what it would cost to buy the reproductions. But to me, these were my grandmother’s and so I loved them more than just trying to get a good deal. In fact, after talking to my mom when trying to decide if we should have them powder coated, she gave me the best advice for thrifting, “Not everything has to be a good deal.” Do I love, love, love a good deal? Hell. Yes. But in this case, the chairs and their history were more important.

Do you have any other tips or advice to share? If so, send it over! We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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For the past several weeks Jess and I have been posting about things we think everyone should know about purchasing furniture secondhand. Just to recap: We wrote about why we buy secondhand in the first place here and here. Also here’s a quick recap of our previous posts.

  • Know Your Shared Style: Jess wrote about figuring out what works for both you and your partner. This leads to a happy home.
  • Reality versus Vision: Jess gave some great advice about taking a step back and not falling in love with a piece right away (some advice I should heed).
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After seeing these images that Emily from Jones Design Co. wrote about, I’ve had calligraphy on the brain. I just think the calligraphy by Patricia Mumau from Primele are so pretty and elegant. Also, if you’ve got handwriting you like or a cheap font you can download, this would be pretty easy/inexpensive to create. The one thing that stumped me though, is how the heck do you get stamps that look like that? So vintage, colorful, and striking when placed all together.

Well, my friends, after some research, I came across this very helpful article over at 100 Layer Cake that explains you just need to go into a stamp store, look around on Ebay or online stamp stores. Yep, just a simple trip to your local stamp and coin store.

As long as a stamp is unused and not collectible it retains face value. So, you can load up on as many as you need to meet the required postage. A tip though, is to try and get stamps with higher values. Otherwise, your envelopes might be a little overwhelmed.

 

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As part of our ongoing series on choosing secondhand furniture, I’d like to discuss research tips when shopping for something secondhand.

Researching in the moment: Bringing along your smart phone or iPad and hit up Google, Ebay, or Etsy. These are quick sites to find what the item you’re looking at is currently selling for. More than likely you’re wanting to research quickly if you’re standing in the middle of a store, at a yard sale, or in someone’s home at an estate sale. Look up numbers, names, or any other information you find on the piece. If you don’t have a smart phone or iPad handy, then ask around. In a thrift store, someone might actually know something about the piece you’re looking at (patrons and employees). I know that this can be risky, but at the same time you might just find somebody nice. Often, if you’re at an estate sale, auction, or yard sale people might know about the piece anyway.

If you decide to buy without being able to research (at a thrift store), ask about the return policy. You can just go look it up and possibly return it if you’ve made a bad purchase. Most likely, you’ll love a piece regardless of what you find out.

Researching Later: If you think a piece might be a good deal and you’d like to look up quality, then feel free to leave. Go home (or to the nearest library) and do a quick Google search. Look for like items or things that might tip you off about what a piece is worth. Also, if you’ve got a camera phone or camera on hand then take a picture. If not, then jot down a description. That way it’s easy recall when you go to look it up.

Ongoing Research: For some folks the idea of researching just turns them off entirely. Which, I understand. Trust me, after grad school for 3 years, the word research still kinda makes me cringe. BUT, I love researching things that I’m totally into. Of course you can do this online, but another way to do “blanket” research (a one stop shop of sorts) is to get some books. If you’re like me, the reason you’re looking for a good deal in the first place is because of finances so loading up on books of your own isn’t an option. Well, that’s where your local library and Google Books comes in. My favorite find lately is by James W. McKenzie titled Antiques on the Cheap: A Savvy Dealer’s Guide to Buying, Restoring and Selling.

This book mostly has tips for used furniture hunting, but I’ve really enjoyed reading it. This author gives such a great run down and tips for antique buying. No, I’m not a dealer (even though I’ve got dreams of being one), but I still like to know what I’m buying. Also, he covers if it’s worth restoring yourself. Good questions and thoughts.

Lastly: If you like it and you don’t care about its history or worth, then by all means buy the damn thing. If it’s got value to you, for it to enter your home, then kuddos and happy thrifting!

Other tips for researching that I didn’t cover?

For the past several weeks Jess and I have been posting about things we think everyone should know about purchasing furniture secondhand. Just to recap: We wrote about why we buy secondhand in the first place here and here. Also here’s a quick recap of our previous posts.

  • Know Your Shared Style: Jess wrote about figuring out what works for both you and your partner. This leads to a happy home.
  • Reality versus Vision: Jess gave some great advice about taking a step back and not falling in love with a piece right away (some advice I should heed).

 

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Welcome to So Eclectic

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.

More About So Eclectic »
About Our Authors »

Hope Chest

In our hope chest, we share products that complement our home aesthetic or make us excited about the directions of new design.

 

Jess

I live with Kyle, my husband, in Kansas City, Mo. We have a dog, Oats, and a cat, Logan.

I am a development professional who specializes in museums and the performing arts. I write grants, fundraise, and assist with marketing in the form of donor communications. My academic background is in history and museum science, focusing on the presentation and interpretation of Africa in American museums.

As a freelancer, I work with clients in need of websites, Wordpress upgrades, and FileMaker Pro database solutions.

Mary

Hi! I live in a small two bedroom home in Austin, Texas. I believe in vintage, re-purposing, recycling, and making my home comfortable for us and everyone that visits. After grad school, I developed a love for design and giving old furniture a new life. Hope I can take you all along on my journey to rid my house of the "college days" furniture (or at least re-purpose it)! Welcome, and I hope you stay a while!

 
© 2011, Mary Marcum and Jess Rezac at SoEclectic.com