The Dunbar Benches

Okay, not to brag or anything, but I have the world’s most awesome thrift store about 3 miles from my house. Literally. Figuratively. Awesome. I find the most wonderful and random things in there. Vintage otoscope–check. Ironstone dishes–check. Hobnail milk glass (not the junky kind either)–check. Double sided antique barrister bookcase–CHECK! I recently found a set of forceps at the front counter in the locked case. I let them stay right where they were. Even at the bargain price of $5, forceps (and Thigh Masters for that matter) should never be purchased used.

One day I walked in and saw two low ottomans. Under the fluorescent light, they looked like they were upholstered in a mustardy-greeny colored leather or vinyl. They were definitely dirty, but something about them screamed, “WE’RE SPECIAL!” I wasn’t looking for ottomans, and I passed them by. All day long, I thought about those ottomans. They absolutely plagued me. The Hubs, with his usual infinite patience and kindness, drove me back over to the thrift store to see if they were still there. I was convinced that someone had swooped them up in all of their dirty fabulousness. I was wrong. They were there, waiting for me.

In the thrifting world, I love a bargain. I recently found some vintage Fostoria glasses that usually go for $6 each at this same store for 33 cents. And, they were on sale. The lady at the counter also gave me a $1 off the Fostoria candy dish I found near the glasses, so I got all those goodies home for under $4. Nothing (sorry honey!) thrills me more than a bargain! So what does this have to do with the Dunbar benches? More than I could have ever hoped! It was, and will probably reign forever as, MY ANTIQUES ROADSHOW MOMENT.

The ottomans were $25 each, with an additional 10% off.

It was a bit steep in my opinion for dirty ottomans, but I refrained from haggling since The Hubs was along (haggling embarrasses him), and again, the ottomans were still screaming, “WE’RE SPECIAL!” I’ve also learned from years of professional home and decor TV watching that things in pairs are worth a premium. We, meaning The Hubs, loaded them up and brought them home. The next day, I set out to clean them and do a little investigation. Underneath one of them, among the wads of old gum, dirt, and spiderwebs, was a small metal label.


D. Dunbar. Berne Indiana.

Okay. Now I had a name. A quick google search brought up these images:img_1942img_1943

Um…Could those possibly be the same thing??? More googling brought me to a website called and the name Edward Wormley. I emailed the good folks there with some pictures and questions and found out that my “ottomans” were indeed Edward Wormley mahogany benches. Mine are a bit scarred and worn, but they still scream, “WE’RE SPECIAL!” And indeed, they are.

I’m going to ride this high for years. That means I will leave no thrift store unscoured, no roadside antique shed unexplored because I found something. I actually found something!

Can any of you relate? Have you found something in your treasure hunting?

Beautiful, intentional spaces, Home Management

Towards Peace and Purpose, the Cleaning Edition

Just a few days ago, I was barefoot on this beach in Florida:

Now I am shivering in the north as a blanket of snow falls. Other than being cold, I am happy to home. I walked in the front door after being gone for over a week, and I felt like my house hugged me.


Such a beautiful word!

We left the house relatively clean and straightened up, but the luggage from five people plus two carsick doggies took a toll immediately. I knew that for peace and purpose to happen this year, there were things (unpacking, laundry, etc) that had to be dealt with ASAP. Two days later, I’m still working on this, but there’s progress!

I just began re-reading Katie Berry’s 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House. I like this book. It is like FlyLady without all the purple puddles. There’s no hand-holding in this book, just a good, detailed way to get my rear in gear and get things done.

I do think this book is geared toward the stay-at-home set initially because it is intense if your house is currently a mess, but it could work for other families if the daily tasks are divvied up among the household members. It could also work if the initial 30 days were spread out over two months. Let’s face it. If your house is a mess right now, any progress, even slow progress is good. Yikes! Remind me to apply that principle to dieting! And life in general!

As a recovering procrastinator and slob, the most important thing for me to keep in mind is that after doing this for a month (or however long it takes to get to baseline), MY HOUSE WILL BE CLEAN AND ORGANIZED. Instead of taking an hour to clean the bathroom (whistles innocently), it will take me less than five minutes. Now that is a goal I’m looking forward to!

Progress. Peace. Purpose.

It’s good to be home.

Beautiful, intentional spaces

When Everything Is Your Favorite

If you ask me what my favorite color is, I’ll say, “Yes!”

If you ask me my favorite style of decorating, I’ll say, “Cottage with a beachy, farmhouse, modern, mid-century twist of contemporary, vintage eclecticism in a minimal, maximum approach.” In other words, I pretty much love it all.

On one hand, my love of everything is wonderful. I see beauty everywhere. I could search for random color palettes on Pinterest for hours. I can see a beautiful pink room and swear I want everything in my house pink…until I see a pale green or teal or orange or blue room and say the same thing. That’s the dark side of this love of everything–decorating ADHD.

My theme for 2018 is Peace and Purpose. For my home, and a cure for my decorating ADHD, that needs to translate into focus and cohesiveness. Squirrel! Oh, sorry about that. Where were we? Focus. Cohesiveness. True story–as I was typing, I was thinking about the paint colors in my downstairs, and my thoughts turned to my kitchen cabinets, so I left this post to go search the web for cabinet refinishing. I have issues! Anyway. Focus. Cohesiveness. Take two. (Or is it three?)

In the last year, I began the process of focus and cohesion by painting most of the downstairs in Sherwin Williams Tidewater and Glimmer. (They are varying intensities of the same color.) Tidewater is a blue green that is both deep and soft. We’ve had a fairly gray winter so far, and I haven’t had a hint of the winter blues with this color on the walls. It’s a happy color!

For the foyer (above) I had Tidewater mixed at 50%. This gave me a shade right between Tidewater and its lightest counterpart, Glimmer. In the morning, this room is absolutely magical! This room then flows beautifully into the living room/dining room which are painted in Tidewater or into the kitchen which is painted in Glimmer.

Landing on this wall color was a big step toward peace and purpose for me.

Beautiful, intentional spaces, Nurturing relationships

Happy New Year!

My kitchen in the morning is one of my favorite places to be. Sunlight is streaming in, reflecting off the snow outside. The beauty in this moment takes my breath away.

It’s 14 degrees outside, but I am warm and cozy as I sit at my breakfast nook. The L-shaped banquette bench was built over the baseboard heaters, ensuring that my buns stay toasty as I sip my morning coffee. God bless the wizard of wood who built them for us last year!

See that pen cap by the bench? (It’s just to the right of the dirt and the dog hair.) It landed there during dinner last night. Beanie was playing with a pen, and that piece shot off, hit me, and landed right there on the floor. We laughed and laughed at her reaction! My favorite people gathered around my favorite place enjoying a simple dinner and each other’s company, another blessing that I cannot soak in enough.

2017 was tough. I had one of the worst stretches since I was diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines six years ago. I had a scary reaction to a new medication, but my neurologist was quick to make a change again. After all of that new medicine was out of my system, I felt reborn. A bump in one of my oldest meds gave me some pain free stretches, and I brought out the paint again! Bathroom, kitchen, some furniture! I admit, I overdid it, but how wonderful was it to create again! An HM attack hit me during The Hubs holiday party for work, and I’ve been limping along (literally) ever since.

This is one reason why home is so important to me. It is a sanctuary where I can hide when I feel bad and a canvas where I can create when I feel better. In 2018, I want to focus on peace and purpose in my home. Yep, that probably means cleaning and decluttering before decorating. Stress is a big HM trigger, so this also means cleaning and decluttering myself too. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” I have My Utmost for His Highest and a couple of the Love Dare books to read through. I’m ready and willing.

Wishing you peace, purpose, and joy in your home in 2018.

It’s good to be home.

Beautiful, intentional spaces, Before and After

Taming of the Loo, Part 2

The Staycation

So this is where The Hubs spent his last vacation:

As much as he protests, The Hubs enjoys demolition. He’s like a machine. It was a joy to behold as I ducked around flying trim, paneling, and acoustic tile. The one thing The Hubs did not want to DIY was the toilet. He changed out the upstairs toilet last year and decided to keep his day job. I, on the other hand, only handed him tools during that little project, so I was game to DIMyself. First rule of potties in old houses–understand that there is a reason that the previous owners did not update them. Second rule–never assume that you can just waltz into Lowes, pick out a toilet, and install it in an old house. I learned that the hard way. After four stores and lots of frustration, I found the only toilet in the greater metro area that would fit in this bathroom. And my kids and I installed it!

Next up was the ceiling. Oh how I hated that nasty patched ceiling! I found a great ceiling product at Lowes–Armstrong’s Plank Ceiling Tiles. These were all kinds of easy to install with some acoustic tile adhesive and a staple gun. I love the way they look!

See that fan? It WORKS!

Next came drywall. I’ve patched a bit of drywall in my time, but this was the first time The Hubs and I have ever really hung it. To be honest, he did all the cutting and measuring. I got to mud and tape. We won’t speak of this process. We will just cover it with paintable, textured wallpaper and call it a fashion choice.

Next came the wallpaper (nope, not hiding anything at all here), paint, and trim.

We went to our local Benjamin Moore to find a gray color to go with the window fabric, but we came home with this beautiful blue green color we found on display there. (Beach Glass) 

This little window was a major problem. It looks directly into our sunroom. (Oh random, ugly little window, how I hated you!) Not only was the view horrible (from both sides!), this was truly an ugly little window. It had no trim, no charm, and I pleaded with The Hubs to drywall over it. Now I am so glad that he won that argument! The Hubs had to do some creative cutting make the new window trim fit with the crown molding, but I love the result. 

I knew I wanted a roman shade for the window. Of course, another rule of old houses is that modern window treatments rarely fit old window, and anything custom comes at a custom price. As an alternative, I cut a ready-made window panel to the right length and width and created a No Sew Faux Roman Shade. The window isn’t functional anymore, so the shade is simply stapled in place. It is sturdy enough to be lightly vacuumed when it needs it.

After new sconces and an antique mirror:

There are a few more little projects to complete, such as the sink skirt, repainting the baseboard heater, and refinishing the door. But, such is the never-ending list in a wonderful old house!

It’s good to be home.



Beautiful, intentional spaces, OPP: Other People's Paint

Taming of the Loo, Part 1

Because pictures are worth a thousand words, let me launch right into the before pics. (Don’t adjust your screen, it really was this ugly.)


The patched acoustic tile ceiling, the ugly red paint, the wallpapered 1960’s paneling, the fan that didn’t work, the industrial fluorescent light over the door that served no purposed whatsoever, the cabinet that required a stepladder to reach. Yep. It was a stunner. The outhouse light switch was a particularly nice touch.

But, that antique corner sink held the possibility of redemption. Someday. With so many other rooms and house systems in need of updates, I gave this room a minor face-lift with paint and new lighting.

During the primer stage:


And after:


With the wainscoting now painted white, we realized that this room was an example of the previous owner’s DIDon’t. That innocent looking baseboard heater created huge gaps between the pieces of wainscoting when the heat caused the wood to expand. The red paint was dark enough to hide this little issue–white wasn’t so forgiving.

I know. Underwhelming. Don’t leave yet. It will get better in Part 2!

Painted Furniture

My New Favorite Paint

Chalk paint has been all the rage for a while now, but I’ve really only used a few kinds. I’ve always been tempted toward Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, but I don’t have a source close by. I could order it, but when inspiration strikes, I want it, like, yesterday. I really enjoyed using CeCe Caldwell Paints (CCP) until my local source stopped carrying it. I painted a dining table with it about 4 years ago and coated it with Polycrylic. My girls now use it as their school and craft table–meaning it has been glued, glittered, and abused since then. (Here is the link to the original project.) I still love everything about this table from the style to the distressing to the color–Young Kansas Wheat. Here it is today. I try to stay out of the girls’ craft zone, so I typically just see the table from this side which still looks good. (As soon as the camera comes out, Steve just has to be right in the action. Say hi, Steve!)

And this is why I don’t get too close to the table anymore. Many a Littlest Pet Shop critter has been modified at this very spot. (Or spots?) This table wears these badges of life well. Every spot, sparkle, gouge, and smear tells my girls’ creative story. I love it very much. 

When I couldn’t get CCP locally anymore, I started making my own chalk paint with Plaster of Paris and latex paint. Homemade chalk paint might work for the brave, talented few, but no. Just don’t do it.

Here’s why:

I searched the interwebs for coffee bar ideas for my new kitchen. I found a beautiful inspiration photo, and matched it with a vintage buffet that I had been using as an entertainment center. I had painted the buffet in a soft blue-green a few years ago, but I wanted a bolder blue color. I whipped up a batch of homemade chalk paint using Bermuda Blue paint and Plaster of Paris.

Worst. Decision. Ever.

Imagine this entire buffet coated in a thick layer of bright blue goo. Textured goo. <shiver> I was working out on the front porch in the summer heat, and wouldn’t you know it–that paint mixture dried like concrete.

So, I started stripping. Right there on the porch.

Many hours of stripping and sanding later, I was skeert to paint that buffet again. But I did! Ta-Da!

I used Amy Howard At Home One Step Paint that I conveniently bought at my local Ace Hardware. It is everything it says it is. One step. No top coat needed. It can be tinted to any color you can image right there at Ace! The paint dries to a smooth finish with very few visible brush strokes. (I’m sure a light sanding would knock those down, but I personally like to see them in hand painted furniture so I don’t bother.) The final product looks and feels like a lightly waxed, chalk painted piece–not shiny, just a soft and lovely finish. This piece has had months of daily use in my kitchen, and I am pleased to say that it looks just as good now as it did when I painted it.

So, I used One Step Paint again on my bargain dining room table. As a side note, I love a good Home Decorators Collection clearance sale. They were clearing out their Provence Dining Table and offering free shipping–I got it home for under $200. I liked the original chestnut color, but the top of the table started bubbling where it was exposed to water–I think it was a very thin veneer over MDF. I scraped down the raised areas and knew I needed to paint the table to seal it from more damage. I still had half a can of One Step Paint left from the buffet project (this stuff goes a long way!) and here it is!

Go get some of this paint and make something beautiful! Be sure to post a link or a pic of your creation in the comments!