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Two is Company

I had another plan for Thursday tea time today, but I’ll admit, I got a little distracted. I was hunting around on Etsy when I discovered something even better. Or, at least, something that definitely needs a mention right away.

This tea for two tea set from Etsy’s Honeybrownvintage is awesome. I’m kind of surprisingly impressed that the lid for the mug fits on the top cup, too. It’s almost genius.

My only complaint is that I think the colors and the style of the set are a little dated. Maybe it’s time for someone else to make an updated model? And next time around let’s have a lot more options than just His and Hers. I’m thinking His and His or Hers and Hers or Yours and Mine. Then it would be the perfect gift!

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When I was a child, our house in Kansas was a little bit country and realistically a little bit dated, but around the time that I hit high school, Mom started watching Trading Spaces and a few other design shows and slowly the rooms in our house began to transform. From my high school bedroom which was the most relaxing place of my high school career to my friends first apartments, I will always feel at home in the Midwest. I’ve also noticed that a lot of my favorite design blogs tend to focus on the coasts. We try to feature a variety of design here – usually our own and thus no-coastal, but I was excited to see two Midwest home tours on Offbeat Home recently.

The first, published in May, is An antique-filled Midwest bungalow for four. The antiques are beautiful and I love the wood floors. The design of this home is really subdued with a lot of neutral browns and refreshing pops of color.

Plus, any bedroom that incorporates a dog bed and the dogs into the design is my kind of place to sleep. In fact, our bedroom has a chair, ottoman, and a dog bed for Oats with her own comforter (one of our old ones). The color of the bed, by the way, is one of my favorites. I love the scale of the patterns on the pillows.

Though it’s a small house, the design makes it seem very big and open, even in pictures. This mantle is great. I love the variety of decor. It takes a creative person to combine some cameras, a print of pears, old books, and two jars full of spools, but it really works.

The other home tour I loved as this “punk-bohemian curl-up-and-read rental in Lawrence, Kansas.” I spent a lot of my days in high school wandering around the very downtown that this apartment is in, so it’s always nice to see something so close to home get featured. Also, the style of the place seems distinctly Lawrence. I don’t know what it is about Lawrence but a lot of the houses and apartments I’ve been in seem to have really compatible styles. Look at the chairs in this living room. Couldn’t you just lean back and put your feet up in one?

I’m obsessed with this bed. Maybe it’s just that I’m operating on not enough post-Independence Day sleep, but it looks so comfortable. The bedding all looks so soft and the mix of colors and textures and patterns is begging for someone to ruffle up the sheets and take a wonderful long nap. Cat for cuddling included.

There is so much more about this home tour that I love. For such a small apartment, there are so many beautiful details. Make sure you pop over to Offbeat Home and check both places out!

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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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This teapot was the second one I purchased for my collection. I was immediately drawn to the colors and the cleanness of the lines. To date, I think this is still my favorite teapot in my collection — at least, my favorite one that isn’t my elephant-shaped teapot. I collect all kinds of teapots, including many that fit with my eclectic collection but not with the rest of my tastes, but I’m always glad to find this one there.

I also got a pretty good deal on it. Well, I should say, I got a wonderful deal on it because I planned to buy it for about $8.50 but I was shopping with my mom and she decided to buy it for me!

Mom asked as we left the store why I decided to buy it and I explained that I collect teapots. She said that she never knew that about me. I assured her that she didn’t know that about me because I started my collection about three weeks prior. She laughed and said that it’s probably good to collect something because it makes gift-giving easy for friends and family. She’d know a thing or two about that because 95% of the gifts she receives are dog-related because my family has done dog rescue for the last 12 or so years.

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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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I  mentioned last week in Choosing Secondhand Furniture: Know Your Shared Style that I think Kyle’s style is a little more fun than mine is. I’m not totally grown-up and boring around my house, though. I have one weakness for cute things — animals. I especially like it if I can get an animal thing that’s also functional. Maybe you remember my excitement about the elephant teapot in the Calypso St. Barth collection at Target way back when? Well, when I come across a cute animal at a thrift store I’m always tempted to buy it.

I try to curb my crazy ideas by thinking about what kind of use something might have.

When I saw the crazy winged zebra for $350 while shopping a few months ago, I had to think about whether or not it was worth $350 to have an item that had really no purpose except I thought it was hilarious. For the record, I decided it wasn’t.

Sometimes, though, I deem something worthy of acquiring. Last week, I saw these Bojensen era teak hippos on Vintage Scapes:

Friday, she posted that she had discovered one of the hippos for sale on ebay. I decided to try my hand at the deal and managed to score one for $20.49 when shipping & handling was said and done. It was a bit of an impulsive purchase, but I set my maximum bid fairly low and I was enticed by the seller saying it needed teak oil and describing the wood as very thirsty. I know the seller meant the wood was very thirsty, but it sounded like the hippo was thirsty and needed me to rescue him. … So, I did.

I think his mouth will be the perfect spot to catch all of my hair ties when they come off of my head so Kyle can stop complaining that he finds them all over the house and has no idea where to put them.

He should be here by the end of the week! I can’t wait!

We’re linking up at Flea Market Finds so go check out everyone’s finds after you check out our site for a while.

 

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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.

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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