We Bought A House…

Well, I know I’ve neglected this blog for quite some time, but I’ve had what I can only describe as Renter’s Funk. It’s the desire to make your home your own, clouded with the knowledge that you do not own that space, the dread of having to undo any changes you make to that space and the resulting apathy that comes about as a byproduct of those emotions. We didn’t think we’d spend a full year at our apartment, let alone two. And given that we’ve moved 3 times in the 4 years we’ve been living together, the thought of having to undo paint colors, etc on top of physically moving for what seems like the millionth time was just too much. Plus, we’ve adopted two puppies in the last year and half, so most of my “home aesthetics” time is spent shampooing the off-white carpets our pet-friendly complex thought was a brilliant idea.



But something happened on my birthday last year that led us to where we are now. We got engaged. The Moon to my Nova finally popped the question on top of a waterfall in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and in the blink of an eye we were house-hunting. We had a bit of a disaster with a short sale in November. We were ready to pull the trigger and then during the home inspection we discovered that not only was water coming in through the roof creating black mold, and the oil tank so corroded that oil was pooling on the basement floor, but the main beam running through the center of the house was cracked in half and kick-standing the chimney. One major problem, we could handle. A laundry list of massively expensive issues, we could not. So we ran. And we waited. And after the Winter passed and we had our first nice weekend in months, we were ready to start looking again… and so was everyone else. Open houses looked like hippies descending on Woodstock. Lines of cars and crowds of people all desperate to get the hell out of Boston rentals. We’d walk into open houses to be told there were already multiple offers on the house and that they were all “very good”. Houses were selling before listings went public.

So, when we decided to go take a gander at the 1850’s farmhouse that was slightly off the beaten path on the South Shore of MA, but somewhat intriguing (i.e., there was a barn on premises, something this city girl has always wanted), we didn’t walk in with high hopes. While older homes often have good bones, they usually have a litany of other troubles of which we now felt well versed. We walked through apprehensively falling in love with each room and when we came to the basement and were met with a solid foundation, relatively new utilities and rather solid beams, we walked back up stairs, went straight to the agent and told her we wanted to make an offer RIGHT NOW.

painted barn

Who can resist a freshly painted white barn?


And we did. We met with another agent down the road at the real estate office and made an offer. Turns out we were one of five offers. So we upped the price a bit and asked for a quick closing (the sellers were already out of the house, so we hoped that would be appealing) and ours ended up being the offer that was accepted.

We’ve since been biting our tongues in fear of jinxing ourselves and something falling through, but the inspection went rather well, the sellers fixed the few small issues we wanted to address, and well, we are closing in 4 days on this lovely antique:

Rockland House

Built in 1854.

There’s a LOT we want to do, both inside and out, and I’d like to document each project here, from paint colors to unveiling what is under the wall-to-wall carpet to a few secret constructions projects we’ve got up our sleeves. We are still nervously awaiting Friday’s closing, but I do think it’s about time we formally announced, we bought a house.




Woe Is Me and The Ethics of Online Selling

Guess who flaked?

That table that I was gushing about yesterday, the one I planned to stain Pecan and add brass ferrules to, is no longer an option. The OfferUp seller who had committed to selling me said table at their asking price, and going so far as to confirm the date and time of pick up and give me their home address, decided last minute to sell to someone else who offered them more money for it. I would have been perfectly willing to go up in price. I would have held out for a bidding war, but this sorry excuse for a seller decided to go ahead without even coming back to me for a counter. Thanks Jupe for reminding us all of how unethical and petty online sellers can be.

In all honestly, I’ve been put in a similar situation as Jupe when I acquired a lovely mid-century modern desk at auction that I really didn’t have room for. I needed to get rid of it fast, so I put it on Craigslist for $100 and the offers poured in. I had committed to a buyer who had offered me $150 for the desk right off the bat. But almost immediately after I emailed them that I would sell, I received another email offering me $150 as well. I emailed them back telling them that I had already committed to a buyer for the same price, and they whipped back an email offering me $200. I was in a moral dilemma, but since I hadn’t set up a pick up yet, I decided to email the first buyer back and explain why I was now going to sell to someone else. It actually didn’t stop there. It became a bit of a bidding war and the final sale price ended up being $250 – though I don’t even remember now which buyer it ended up going to.

I was surprised it went that far and it was nice to have the extra $100 in my pocket, but there are a few things I can say with certainty. I would not have replied back to that second buyer if I had already set up a date and time and given my address to the first buyer. I also would not have switched buyers for a mere $10 more. I got $150 over my asking price of $100. The seller of this table got about $10 and never countered.

Am I bitter about it? Yeah, can you tell? But I also don’t feel like I’m over-reacting by being angry about it. I think that there is a fine line when it comes to ethical selling on these sites and I think that the seller of that table is on the shit end of the spectrum. If you get anything out of reading this, I hope that it’s to be cautious and courteous when selling your things, even if it’s just for pocket change. When you commit to sell and take the final steps of setting up the pick up, that’s it. You made the deal. If you get other enticing offers after that point, you tell them that you have someone coming to pick it up and that if that buyer flakes they will be the next in line to set something up, because buyers flake too and it’s nice to have a back up. Otherwise, if you are getting multiple offers/emails, tell people that you have multiple offers without committing and I guarantee at least one of those potential buyers will up their price. When you’re not a dick, you always win.

So, now I’m back to square one and considering just forking up the money for the matchy-match West Elm table.

Put’r There

Some people ponder problems like job stress, children, life choices or bigger existential crises. They whittle away hours, days, even months on the same issue, imaging every possible outcome, repeating the process in their head before making a decision. I do this too, only I pine and ponder over pieces of furniture. I imagine my ideal space then work backwards adding in contributing factors like price and quality until I narrow down to a handful of results. Even then it’s not easy.

And forget outside opinions; asking my boyfriend for input on a piece of furniture either results in nothing or an added obstacle for consideration. I was recently thrown a curve-ball when shopping for a new sofa when his input yielded that he would in fact prefer an orange sofa. My compromise was that I would be able to choose the shade of orange and the style of sofa. I wanted something with a mid-century modern or even 70’s feel to it, so orange I could work with, and was lucky enough to find an affordable beauty from West Elm called the Peggy Sofa.


She’s a beauty.

The color is called Cayenne and the weave of the upholstery, when examined up close, is two colors blended together, a true orange and a deeper brick red color, making for a sofa that looks vibrantly retro in some lighting, and warm and cozy later in the day, evoking the spirit of Autumn in New England. Not quite the Pumpkin Spice Latte of sofas, but perhaps the Cinnamon Dolce…

In the weeks leading up to the sofa delivery, I made another change to my living room decor which has now driven me into wanting to change everything. Why? Because of the small touch of antiqued-brass in the center of each knob.



This wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t have chrome-edged cork lamps and stainless steel cubes, formerly props from a NY dance troupe in the the 60’s, now re-purposed as coffee and end tables, dotted throughout the space. Now, with this warm orange coming in, bringing out the wood tones and playing upon the subtle brass accents, the shine of the steel and chrome just didn’t work anymore. I found myself craving more brass (not shiny brass) details, like a hardwood, mid-century, tapered-leg coffee table with brass ferrules or sabots on the tips. And a bar cart with antiqued-brass details to pull it all together. I found a few great contenders in my initial table search, until I looked at their prices and wanted to cry (sorry, I just can’t drop $3000 on something that I know will get heavy use – actually, I can’t drop $3000 on something that won’t get any use either).

I did fall in love with West Elm’s Reeve Mid-Century Coffee Table – it matched the wood colors I already have in the room, it has tapered legs and brass ferrules… but it’s also shown with the sofa I bought and in my mind that’s like taking the easy way out. Because it’s shown that way, I feel like it’s TOO matchy.

Maybe I'm  crazy.

Maybe I’m crazy.

And, I’ve also been drooling over their Mid-century bar cart, which again, matches every detail in my room.

Too much?

Too much?

If I were to go that route, there’s no doubt in my mind that the room would look warm, clean and polished. But there would be something impersonal about it – like I recreated a West Elm showroom, and I’m not sure if I would feel welcome in my own living room despite every piece being drool worthy. So, I took a step back, and popped over to my old friends Craigslist and OfferUp to formulate a plan B. What I ended up finding for $20 is a Mid-century coffee table in pretty banged-up condition, but with some great potential.

Crossing my fingers that the seller doesn't flake.

Crossing my fingers that the seller doesn’t flake.

I offered to buy it based solely on the photo and confirmed that it was hardwood and not veneered something-else. I did a little digging into the color of the legs of my new sofa and will be purchasing Sherman Williams wood stain in Pecan.



With a little elbow grease and some dust in my lungs, I plan to refinish this beauty and I was considering completing it with some brass ferrules – but that’s proved more difficult than I hoped. A lengthy search this week has given me a few places that make the ferrules, but with MOQ’s not really meant for the end consumer, or a few other sites that charge as much as it would cost me to just buy new table legs completely. So, after reading  a blog from someone who went a little color-dip crazy with everything they own and seeing her rather convincing faux-ferrules that she did on an entryway piece, I decided that’s what I will do, at least until I find reasonably priced hardware as a replacement. I will take photos and blog the transformation.

But I didn’t stop there.

I have an outdoor bar cart that I bought at Target back in May. I used it to plant an herb garden – a project that was embarrassingly unsuccessful and I will continue to purchase my fresh herbs from the market going forward. I’m also going to repaint this, doing the steel parts in antiqued-brass and the composite wood I may have to paint black since its current wood tone doesn’t match my room and it won’t take to staining as it’s not really wood at all.

Why let it go to waste.

Why let it go to waste.

So, that’s project number two. And finally, I’m popping a few towns over tomorrow on my lunch break to check out these ridiculously blue antique chairs. My living room is begging for an occasional chair of some sort. I have two gorgeous mid-century wood chair frames in storage right now, but they need to be completely re-webbed and have new cushions made from scratch. I’ve priced this out at a few places and the cushions alone will be at least $200 per chair. If I do the re-finishing and re-webbing myself, that works out to be a pretty good deal, but it’s also going to be time consuming and I would REALLY like a place for people to sit in the interim. So, for about $35 I can take one of these or both for $60. The seller claims they are in pristine condition and if that is so, I think I’ll be able to get my money back on them by reselling a few months down the road, making them a great temporary solution.



So, perhaps now you can see how I over think things like furniture and how it eats away at me until I crack. But this post foreshadows a few future posts including the coffee table refinish, the bar cart redo and the eventual transformation of two mid-century chair frames. Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments, including your thoughts on if I’m crazy for considering those ridiculous blue chairs…

Spool School

I’ve sat on this blog for a few months now with a million entry ideas in my head, so many things I have been aching to share, but with one looming dilemma… where the hell do I begin? Where do I even start? So, here I am, at long last, ready to begin with something that I think gives a little insight into one of the things I love most in this world – furniture. I intend for this blog to mainly focus on all things HOME. This includes, design, decor, architecture, food porn, trend forecasts, a little shameless self promotion and some good old-fashioned DIYs. And that is what I begin with here today, a DIY tutorial on how to make an Industrial-Modern Spool Table.

Spool tables have become pretty popular, to the point where Restoration Hardware has included versions of them in their children’s furniture collections. Also, the industrial modern trend is still going strong and since I have recently moved into a converted mill, welcoming that trend with open arms seemed like the right thing to do. What led me to creating this table was an apartment photo contest my building was having. I was one of a few winners and we were to, at our leisure, go downstairs and collect our small cable spools, which I had already made space for as a nice side table. What I hadn’t realized was that not ALL the spools were the small ones we had believed them to be. No, one of those spools was a HUGE mega-industrial cable spool. Since I was somehow the last person to mosey on down to the lobby, I was greeted with this wooden monstrosity that may have very well just swallowed the smaller tables and the people there to claim them. Not one to turn down something interesting and free, I tipped that sucker over and rolled it into the elevator and into our loft where I stared at it for a few days wondering what I was going to do with it and how I was going to take it apart.

Don't let it's peaceful look fool you

Don’t let it’s peaceful look fool you

My photo is so deceiving. Had I not already had the dining table of my dreams, I would have easily been able to clean this up, throw 4 chairs around it and call it a day. But that was not an option… and I REALLY needed a new coffee table. So the wheels began turning in my head and soon a game plan was formulated.

Home Depot is like being a kid in a toy store

Home Depot is like being a kid in a toy store

I needed quite a few “extra” supplies that other people may normally have on hand, like a socket set, which was the key tool in disassembling the cable spool. The bolts were tight and rusty, but with a little oomph it came apart, though the clean up was miserable. Wood scraps, dust, rust and all that fun stuff you don’t want all over your floors. With the spool in pieces, I chose which circular piece  I wanted to run with and took a measurement of it’s diameter. This allowed me to figure out how long I wanted the base to be. I knew I’d have a center piece joining pipe together and that would account for a good two inches in each direction, as well as an extra inch from the elbow joints that I would need to connect to the actual legs. Your options are seemingly endless, so once you have an idea of how high you want it to be, you can play around with it from there. I wanted my table to be roughly 18″ high and the wood was 2″ of that height already. I accounted for the thickness of the elbows, flanges and also I wanted to use two shorter pipes with a connector in between, more for aesthetics than an actual purpose. So I basically picked my height and worked backwards until I new how long I needed my pipe to be.

Uh-oh, someone made a boo-boo

Uh-oh, someone made a boo-boo

I was ready to hit the ground running. Everything was going so quickly and so well… until I got to the fourth leg and realized I didn’t have the same type of elbow. So, back to Home Depot I went for more supplies…

Coffee is a supply, right?

Coffee is a supply, right?

And a slight detour. Back at home, I finally finished the base and laid a level from end to end, adjusting as needed until all were precisely the same height.

A simple ruler will get you through this part

A simple ruler will get you through this part

With the base level, I set it on the underside of my table-top. I used a simple ruler to measure from leg to edge to make sure that the base was perfectly centered. Then using galvanized wood screws I secured it in place.

So far, so good

So far, so good

I was already pretty happy with the result, but I knew I wanted to stain it to give it a more aged look. First I sanded the top and sides of the table to smooth out any really rough or splintered areas. While you could REALLY sand these smooth, I decided to keep some texture to it because I didn’t want it to look “new”, I wanted that weathered, aged look. And the wood has this great stamping on the top that I didn’t want to sand away, as well as a red discoloration that I thought gave it some extra character. I used a gritty paper to level it out and rid it of any splintered pieces, then went over it with a fine grit to smooth out any rough spots. Finally, I simply wiped it down to get rid of any wood dust before staining.

I used a Minwax stain called Early American. I also bought wipe-on Poly but didn’t end up using it. I decided against the shine that Poly would have given it. The stain was very easy to use. The wood was thirsty and sucked it right up. I did two coats. It was dry to the touch in about an hour, but I waited until the next morning to give it coat number two, just to play it safe.

I must admit I was nervous at how dark it went on.

I must admit I was nervous at how dark it went on.

The stain was a bit deceiving in its wet state, but once it dried, I got exactly the color I was hoping for.

Dry stain is good stain.

Dry stain is good stain.

I was left with a cross between walnut and weather oak. The red discolorations still showed through, as did the stamp marks. The surface scratches that I decided not to sand are big enough to add character but small enough not to be a pain when cleaning. All in all, I am very happy with the simple approach I took by not altering the piece too much. Overall, the project cost me around $120 with the bulk of the cost coming from the pipes. The socket set I bought was only about $25. A cheaper alternative would have been to not use two pipes for the legs and not to make a base. You could very well just use four 10″ pipes and eight flanges for a simple four-legged table, but I wanted something a little different. And, even going with a more expensive option, this table still comes in hundreds of dollars cheaper than a store bought one. Hell, it’s even cheaper than buying a veneered MDF table from IKEA. And now I’ve got something so solid and sturdy it could be used as a stage.

That's one sexy table.

That’s one sexy table.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!