Renovation Reevaluation

There’s nothing like a renovation to give you time you didn’t even know you had to reflect on your life choices. (That’s only funny if you’ve lived it.)

In my case, it all started with the house I had to have. The one I saw and loved instantly. In my defense, I wasn’t looking for another project OR another house. I had just finished a major renovation of our 1990s monstrosity-of-a-kitchen, expanding it into the somewhat unusable front living area. I blame my decision to jump into another home makeover challenge on my career. Keeping my finger on the pulse of new listings to the market is an occupational hazard. I had always dreamed of owning a mid-century modern home. This one seemed to have all the things I wanted for my kids and I. All of the moving parts in the process of buying and selling fell into place so perfectly that it was undeniably meant to be. Who better than me to turn a beautiful time capsule into the perfectly updated family home? Yet now, instead of obsessing over finishes and fixtures, I’m reevaluating life’s lessons that can sometimes come in the form of major renovations.

I’ve learned a few things that might help others:

Sometimes when we operate from the gut, there is more heart than practicality. Or ass than head, if you will. 

Add to that, a frantic real estate market where you have to pull the trigger quickly once you find “the one” and you have the perfect ingredients for hot mess soup.

You may find yourself awake at night, reevaluating your quick thinking.  How will you pay for replacing those outdated artery slicing floor-to-ceiling windows? Like me, you may fall into a fitful sleep imagining one of your kids running straight through them. Vintage-sexy though they may be, single pane windows might also explain why you’re always freezing. 

Indeed, hot mess soup is what I’ve been cooking up since we moved in.

We live in an idyllic, quiet cul-de-sac and our neighbors are wonderful, thoughtful and loving people. I don’t believe there exists a better street in the United States of America for great neighbors. The downside is that my kids don’t have anyone to play with. They are isolated here. COVID-19 has further exacerbated the issue. The two boys, 6 years apart in age, currently bunking together (as we live on top of each other in the daylight basement) while the top floor receives a 7 month-long makeover, are constantly at each other’s throats. My eldest attends a school in a different district (our choice), and that makes for a lot of driving and limits the sense of any “community” feel. It also puts extra pressure on an already tough situation.

I am a single mother of these boys who quite frankly, see me as their everything. Because I am. I’m full-time mom, full-time career gal, and in the short moments I have with them, I also have to be playmate; because my decision to move to a place where there aren’t other kids to run around with put me there. Now, who will cook dinner while we play? 

This single mother who should be living at the poverty level, yet through hard work, determination, and taking some high-risk opportunities; has become the owner of her dream home. How dare I complain about these kinds of 1st world problems?  In the quiet, cold, and construction dust-covered moments late at night, I realize that I have reached the age at which the basket of fucks I give is empty, and I’ve stopped caring about having it all or what people think about it. In all my reevaluating I have decided that in the future, I will take greater care to consider the well-being of the people I care about most. I have arrived at that place where the rubber meets the road, where the bank account has been drained but it ain’t done yet, where having peace trumps having stuff, and contentment holds a higher value than vaulted ceilings.

What will we do? We’ll finish this. I know we will. I’m determined to soak in my master bathroom tub and give it some thought. What I do know now is that what we THINK we want or need, sometimes just isn’t. At least not for right now.

In the meantime, soup is on the dinner menu again and yes, it tastes like shit, but it was made with love and the best of intentions.


Affordable Design

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock recently, “mid-century modern” design seems to be everywhere these days. CB2Dot & Bo, AllModern, and Etsy.com.

The thing I love most about the real stuff; the actual vintage mid-century modern furniture is that it’s incredibly well made. That’s the reason people are scrambling to collect it even today, and why it’s become so hard to afford.

One of the best ways to get the most bang for your buck is to invest in one or two vintage pieces that you just can’t live without, and add in repros and updated accessories to keep your spaces looking (and sometimes smelling) like Grandma’s house. Craigslist and local Facebook groups can be a great way to score reasonably priced vintage pieces.

As for the new stuff, Target’s new line Project 62 would make Grandma AND your girlfriends jealous. Finally, finally, finally, some decently made MCM pieces in a price range that many of us can actually afford. Project 62 is touted as being furniture for “smaller living” but there is nothing small about it. Depending on your personal style, you have the option of having both bling and total practicality as far as I can see.

Cobalt Arm Chair
Soriano Square Arm Channel Tufted Chair- Navy Velvet

Image Credit: Target

Geneva Glass Lighting
Geneva Glass Globes

Image Credit: Target

As for myself, when I stumbled upon the new line being set out in my local Target store I actually snagged the Geneva globe desk lamp off the shelf like a rioter-only I ran to the front and paid for it. Happily. Is $50 a lot for a task lamp? Yes for me, it is. But it was well worth it. The Geneva line has a timeless, high-end finish with a sturdy marble base. I imagine it will last me 50 years, just like the vintage stuff.

Esters Wood Arm Chair
Esters Wood Arm Chair

Image Credit: Target

If your style is more laid-back and you are a creature of comfort, Project 62 has something for you too. You need only look. Esters Wood Arm Chair has gone over so well, it’s currently unavailable online (a/k/a sold out).

Check out the Mid-Century Metal Wall Décor for 54.99. Beats the pants off of investing $300-$1000 for a Curtis Jere sculpture that would likely be your untimely end in the case of an earthquake.


Image Credit: Target

All of the sudden, I feel like my entire serveware game needs an upgrade. I may not EVER have dinner parties, but if I did, I’d definitely need a marble cheese slicer. No, seriously, that might be going on the Christmas list. Maybe if I had the cheese slicer I’d have more parties. Target is the answer to all life’s big conundrums. (Damn you, Target.)

Target Run

This last photo is actual proof that I can’t stay out of Target, try as I may. I even shove my children into the baskets and make them carry all the things out. I must have all the things!!! Project 62 has given even this vintage-loving gal just another reason to go. You should too.

Chasing Dreams

“Your OCD is showing!” a neighbor yelled to me on her daily stroll past my home. She’d caught me looking a little neurotic I’m sure, painting the freshly patched windowsills no one will ever notice. She couldn’t have known that this was just one task of many I had been ticking off in anticipation of selling the house that has been slowly wearing me down since I moved in. I was painting with purpose, damn it. But she called it. So this is how people see me, I thought. Determined, frenzied and maybe, just a little crazy. As if on cue, things I’d heard and held came to mind:

“Brooke, you only have one speed.” – Mom

“Your body has been in survival mode, and it shows.” – Doctor

“My counselor and I were talking about how I can’t sit still, and I thought of you!” – Friend

The things that people say, stick with us. And because we operate differently and see the world through our own unique lens, they can be very different from what we tell ourselves. I don’t like how I feel when I hear these things. And while these same words contain some good, it is my nature to focus instead on the negative aspects. Either way, these observations are not how I want to be seen, how I wish to be remembered or how I really want to live. On the other hand – these comments also stick:

“You may be on your own, but you are enough.” – Friend

“Be careful what you ask for. You usually get it.” – Family/Architect

“Man. When you decide to do something, you really go for it.” – Contractor who is now like family

Those words are positive and empowering, but the attributes they implicate can have a negative side. A day spent at the local ER with massive chest pains was an eye-opener and even more confirmation that life needed to be less stressful…immediately. As I sat next to an overdose patient waiting for my EKG results, I wondered if my attempt to embody Wonder Woman would end tragically in the crowded waiting room while my children sat at home expecting my return. Certainly, I didn’t intentionally wind up here anymore than my new friend Drunk Tank Tammy. Had I been completely ignoring my health, as I do with all my other needs? I knew I wasn’t blameless (cue voices again). Looking at Tammy, I realized she probably had a lot more fun getting here than I, and yet here we both were. Annoying.

Fortunately, my screens came back clean as a whistle, but it didn’t make the symptoms or experience any less real or less frightening. I had been forced to wonder if my kids would know how much I loved them. If I’d spent enough quality time with them, and I worried that they may have doubts about how important they were to me. Sadness, fear and insecurities flooded in and I was left thinking that they’d grow up questioning if I’d put them first.

That was my “aha moment” sitting right there in a row of nasty vinyl seats under horrible fluorescent lighting, I diagnosed my own illness and solidified my resolution to be DONE with the insane pace of my overachieving ass. It’s time for me to find purpose not in the pace, but in some peace. I realized I have been not only distracted, but exhausted by all the to-dos, bills and project management swirling around in my head.

Time for a simpler lifestyle so I can Namastayathome. I needed a home for my boys that is less project and more playtime, where living life is the focus and I could envision waving off the boys out the kitchen window as they hopped on their school buses.

I am done with trying to be all, have it all, do it all. Despite what “modern wisdom” tells us or whatever pop culture is pushing now, you cannot “do it all”. Something nearly always suffers. Something else has to give way and you never feel like you’re measuring up in all departments of life. Killing it at work, are you? P.S. Your family wants you home more. Celebrities succeed – but only with a team of nannies, housekeepers and chefs assisting them. Overly ambitious single moms just end up in ERs with episodes of angina. Take it from me, the dream of “doing it all” usually ends up more like a nightmare, if you’re doing it right.

Our lives don’t always end up looking like we envisioned them. Relationships fail, people come in and out of your life and plans go to shit sometimes. The home I loved and invested so much time, effort and money in, ended up not serving our family’s needs so well, but it will be perfect for another family. I was struggling to make it all work, suffering as a result and so did all the people around me, by default. Dreams can be as big as a house or as small as a gesture. I bought a dress for a special occasion that never came. That’s the trouble. I was trying to make life do what I wanted, and life had other plans.

So on my 43rd birthday, I celebrated the victory of being done. Done with our home renovation, done with chasing dreams that don’t want to be caught and done with the daily marathon I’ve been running. I had pictures taken to list our home for sale as a gift to myself. It ended up being a very happy birthday, surrounded by friends I can lean on. I’m very content with all of it. I’m 43 and happy to live another day. I find myself wondering…how’s Tammy doing?

P.S. I wore the dress that hung in my closet for two years for no reason at all except to mark the occasion and new beginnings. Seems like reason enough.

Hard Choices

It never would have occurred to me 2 years ago that I would be considering a move. Again. This was supposed to be my “forever home” where my boys would grow into adulthood. (Or until I ran off to Mexico to retire early.)

It’s worth noting if I hadn’t had my ass handed to me repeatedly throughout the past year and a half, I’d be staying put. In short, I love this house. Nevertheless, its location and our various challenges have beaten me to a pulp. I am nothing if not the most stubborn kind of loyal, and at times blinded by dedication when I see value and goodness; in people and in homes. Call me an optimist, it fits- because I do so love me a fixer upper! However, there are some things you just can’t foresee, people who don’t want you or your help, and situations that just don’t work, no matter how much you wish they would. Those are the lessons we usually learn the hard way.

I read somewhere that 30% of all people surveyed that made “Covid moves” regret it. I certainly don’t regret moving in 2020. Quite the opposite, it was a huge step for me and I learned so many lessons in the process. When we arrived in our beautiful little neighborhood in September 2020 my parents moved in with my boys and I. My Dad had been laid off, mom could work from anywhere, so my parents decided to make the move from Wisconsin to lend a hand and help me wrangle my semi-feral children. They helped with grocery shopping and cooking meals and they even took the reins with school as my kids struggled with the shit show that was “remote learning.” My dad made himself the live-in general contractor, fashioning a fence for the dogs and putting in baseboards where there weren’t any. For the first time since becoming a single parent, I could leave the house for work and not be worried. I had no idea how much mental load and general anxiety I’d become accustomed to carrying around until my parents swooped in and willingly took some of that load off of my shoulders. When “in-person learning” started back up again, they jumped in the driver’s seat and helped with drop offs and pickups, so I could plug away and focus on my busy career. It wasn’t easy for any of us, but I am so thankful for that time and their generosity.

In June 2021, the ‘rents moved out of state to a more affordable place where they could retire and live well. I was excited for their new chapter and happy for the time we had together, but also gutted to find myself very much on my own again-doing the work it had been taking 3 people to do comfortably. (BTW: The Single Mom thing? Not for sissies.) In August 2021, I had the brilliant idea of taking advantage of the rates at the time, to cash out some of the home equity I’d gained that year to make this house what we needed it to be. I mean, because WHY NOT, right? Our home would be more functional, even more beautiful, and better suited for our needs. Nearly one year later, and with considerably more money spent than my measly HELOC was going to cover, we are just now wrapping things up. And yes, we’ll be looking to sell. Sigh.

Here are some of the tips I can share with people considering a move- now or at any point.

1. Know your ‘hood. Learn as much as you can about the area around your home. If you have children, research the schools they will attend and think long and hard about what YOUR kids needs are. Children are unique, and just as with learning, one school one size, does not fit all. Should you fail to do this, you could potentially be adding lots o’ driving to your life.

2. Check the demographics. If you have kids, make damn well sure there are plenty of kids in your neighborhood. Why? In the absence of other children, your children will be on you to play with them like white on rice. You think going to the bathroom alone is a problem right now? If you’re a single parent, your children only having you to play with will just add to your guilt list. Because you are not omnipresent. You cannot be throwing a football to the wannabe-wide-receiver and be cooking the dinner he’ll want immediately afterwards at the same time. If COVID taught us anything, it is that kids are social creatures and they need interaction with their people, and they need to play (don’t we all).

3. Choose your neighborhood wisely. Remember how you grew up? Probably on bikes in a pack, wild as animals and out until you had to come in for dinner. Pacific Northwest is weird for housing. They value lots of trees and privacy. So many trees, why??? Think big properties, stretched far apart. Massive developments with identical houses all in a row isn’t a a very common thing here. Good luck trick-or-treating or making new friends if you find yourself in a more “spread out” kind of place. It will be lonely for you and lonely for your kids.

4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew when it comes to renovating or updating. When budgeting, plan to spend about twice the money, twice the time you think you’ll spend. I don’t care what estimates you get, I said double that ISH. No one knows the future, the issues hidden behind your walls, if there will be a war, or supply chain breakdown, or if people will stop working entirely just because they can.

5. You don’t control anything. Read that again. I’ll wait.

You think you can. You think you do, but NOPE. The only thing you can control is how you manage your stress, and you will have stress in spades, folks. I’m not just talking layouts and tile and fixtures. Even the fun of finishes will wear off when the reality of washing your dishes in your bathroom sink, sinks in. Or sharing one toilet with your disgusting aforementioned children. If you cannot afford to live elsewhere during a massive entire floor renovation, think long and hard about the effects it will have on your family unit, your sanity and your inner peace. This is not an attack on the industry or contractors. It is what it is and you should be prepared for it: a long and messy process. It will take up space in your brain, you will be forced to consider things you will not have the energy to consider. You will essentially be living in a construction zone. Start yoga or rage running right now. I hope you like meditating in dust, sucka!

6. Watch for the inevitable land mines. You cannot predict every potential issue you will face as a homeowner, wherever you are. And if you find yourself depleted more often than not, maybe you done did f*ck up. That’s okay! To err is human, and perhaps you just need to simplify. No home, no stunning location, no mortgage is worth your peace. Simplifying can mean many things; it might be downsizing, or it could mean another move you weren’t planning on.

The moral of the story is that sometimes what we think we want or need just isn’t. Perhaps it’s delayed for “right now” and maybe it’s a case of no, not ever…and that’s okay. Grant yourself some grace, and know you can choose to change your circumstances. We’re only stuck when we choose to be.

I’ve found it’s best to lean into the school of hard knocks (for the chronically hard-headed, of course) and had to make some difficult choices as a result to course-correct. The obvious has been beating me up for quite some time, and now it’s time to embrace it, and move on. If you’re anything like me do your best to learn what you can, cry if you need to, laugh about it a little, and try again.

Distraction by Design: A Rainy Day Project

If you were to ask a native Pacific Northwesterner about when summer usually starts, you’ll likely hear that it doesn’t actually begin in June (as it does in the rest of the United States) but rather around July 5th. You’ll be reminded how green it is (not unlike the snot your body will likely produce from year-round pollen) and how all the wet weather keeps the novice firework artists from setting our state aflame on the 4th. Isn’t it perfect?

I’m here to tell you it’s not. Waiting all year for a summer that hasn’t begun is awful in a way that I cannot adequately describe. It’s torture, actually. And if most of us are honest, it’s hard enough getting through our wet, extended miserable gray winters and just about the ONLY thing that keeps us from absolute insanity are the idyllic summers that we have. You get one day of sunshine and everyone is smiling, greeting each other in the streets like old friends. The summers in the Pacific Northwest are more beautiful (and temperate) than anywhere else, when they do come. We don’t even need A/C ya’ll! It’s July 5th and as I type, I’m listening to rain as it continues to fall outside my window, which I’m considering jumping out of. Hanging by a thread here, Washington. Being that this is my blog, I don’t have to pretend to be Polly Positive about 9 months of rain. Check on your friends from out of state, people.

I may not always see the bright side of things, but by God, I try. When I cannot control my circumstances, be it the weather, or renovation delays, I do what I can to bring sunshine where it’s needed.

My choice distraction this week was my kids dungeon. That’s what I call it. No windows, no egress…they love it, and use it to sit in the dark and play video games. In actual fact, they’re Irish vampires, and I knew I was making the right choice bringing them here. Southern California would have certainly been a sentence of death by skin cancer for these opaque children.

As the renovation to the upstairs spaces brought with it plumbing challenges, we had to access said plumbing and run new pipes up the wall, and along the ceiling of the dungeon, thereby destroying the aesthetic. Which is not to say there was any kind of aesthetic to begin with. The inhabitants before us quite enjoyed dark wall color and dim lighting. Even the dated popcorn ceilings were painted gray. Gray, like the skies here. I’ll spare you pictures. What I will share, however, is what I call Distraction by Design.

My youngest little insisted that if I were going to paint his dark room white, that he wanted mountains. Black mountains. Really? So I dutifully scoured Pinterest for ideas and we came up with a compromise.

His Inspiration-Found on countryhomedesign.com

Photo Credit: countrydesignhome.com

And Mine. See what I mean? Sunshine, people. Everyone needs some.

Photo Source: Pinterest
The 3M Mountain Range

I decided to eyeball my mountains and go for it. In fairness to me, I DID start with black, but it felt too heavy. So he got one black mountain, and I headed back to Lowe’s for some Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams while the kids were away for the day. Since I was doing all the work, surely my co-designer wouldn’t mind a little splash of yellow left over from another project…

Sidenote: This is a 2-3 day project all in. You can get most work done in day, but have to be patient enough to allow the paint to fully dry and set. Patience is something I am continually working on. There is nothing like ripping fresh mountain off your wall to set you straight again.

Same clothes, different day, because well, rain. Hair up now, it’s time to get serious.

Once the mountains were dry, I removed most of the tape and lined my forefront mountains once again with 3M painters tape, making sure to seal the tape on with a moist rag-it helps prevent the paint from bleeding. After done, I filled in the white lines with continuous color.

I’m awaiting Amazon to deliver the moon & stars cutouts – which will also be Iron Ore for my child of the night. A couple yellow mountains were all he was willing to compromise on.

They got their updated gaming room, and I got a little distraction by doing. Everyone wins.

More than a house

“You’ll never make it without me. I’m your meal ticket.” He said it through clenched teeth, hatred seething through every syllable and he meant it. Those words pop into my head from time to time, and there are days when I laugh (with gusto, head thrown back and all) thinking back on that very pivotal moment in my life. More often than that, I pause to take stock of what I have accomplished, despite that prediction and it grounds me. I don’t mention this to throw stones, I mention it because of the gravity it holds for me. When you hear some variation of that same sentiment, even claimed to be “a joke” at first over a long period of time, you start to believe it yourself. The actual message being: ‘You’re not good enough on your own. You need me.’ I thank God in heaven that in that moment, there was just a tiny spark of me left – a small flicker of the woman I was raised to be, at least the person I knew I used to be. That girl heard a challenge. And she fucking went for it. Right then, the thought went something like, “Hold my wine bottle, dickhead.”

Abuse can take many forms. It can have lasting effects that creates funny survival techniques in all of us, and leave scars that go undetected by the outside world. It can be the most insidious of evils, living and growing just under the surface, like a cancer. No bruises or broken bones but make no mistake-your spirit is just as depleted and beaten. It slowly becomes your normal, and you may even have fleeting moments of clarity right before it sucks you back in-but I’m here to tell you, you can climb out. You can create the life you want. I am living proof.

What does this have to do with mid-century modern architecture? Nothing. It doesn’t matter what your home looks like, what kind of things you find to fill it with. Let’s get that straight right now. It’s everything to do however, with the hurdle that for me was homeownership as a single mother struggling to survive and provide on my own and what my home now stands for. Are there still times when I sweat the groceries? Absolutely. I think most of us are only ever one paycheck away from disaster. What we have to realize is that we put ourselves there, and we can pull ourselves out too. Whether personally or financially, sometimes it takes being in an ugly situation long enough or often enough before we finally learn to walk a different path- and move on to build something new. Something safe and secure.

This house reminds me not only of the importance and security of a strong foundation but the hard work that goes into building that within yourself. Matthew 19:26 says that all things are possible with God. I prefer the saying, “Pray as if it’s all up to God and work as if it’s all up to you.” Sharing my home and a bit of my story is only meant to encourage anyone who needs to hear it- you can do it. You can do all things. Even in a crazy market, even when it seems impossible, and you aren’t quite sure how you’ll make it happen. All things are possible.

More than just a house, the place we call home is a symbol of strength and endurance; a reminder of just how far my boys and I have come. It is our safe haven where we can be together, tucked away from all the craziness of the world outside it’s walls. This house, while beautiful is built on something even more valuable; it is built on love. It’s me. Classic vintage; still full of flaws and under construction, but made of some pretty sturdy stuff.

Weekend Warrior Fail – Part 2

It occurs to me while writing this tale of failure that this blog has never been just about furniture or fixing.  It’s about life.  Stay with me – even at the age of 40 I have to continually be reminded of the same lessons- which points to the fact that I am either incredibly stubborn or just plain foolish. However, I’d prefer to think that maybe I’m not that unique and that WE as humans are a never-ending work in progress. The end tables I managed to muck up seemed no exception. I recognized something else about myself: when I feel like I don’t have control over my life, I seek to control other things. Anais Nin said exactly that: “When I cannot bear outer pressures any more, I begin to put order in my belongings. I get satisfaction from perfect order in my papers, in my clothes, in the house. I carry this to excess. As if unable to organize and control my life, I seek to exert this on the world of objects.”

With that Part 2 of our story begins on a Sunday morning. The very next day after the DIY disaster took place. Our heroin Brooke, despite her enthusiasm and good intentions failed miserably at revamping her Nana’s bedside tables. You can catch Part 1 here.

Let’s review:

The inspiration

Our subject

Country Fried Fail

Remember Peanut the Skeptic? It’s almost as if he knew what would happen…


Sunday after the kiddos left for the day, Peanut and I hit Home Depot (A/K/A Mom’s favorite store EVER). We took the unexpected sunshine coming through the windows as a symbol of hope and set forth with a prayer and a plan to purchase some seriously gritty sandpaper to clean up the painted mess Mommy had made. Peanut led the way because let’s be honest, he totally called it and my DIY card had been suspended temporarily. If I can’t paint something this basic, should I even be allowed to drive? I justified taking him into Home Depot because at that point he was required for emotional support. In fact, we decided that he should be project manager.



We returned home, resigned to attack again but this time with more determination.

Supplies: Nitty Super Gritty Sand Paper, Mask and Monster because caffeine

Hand Sander Woes- Project Manager remains unimpressed.

The sandpaper I used for the detail work kept coming unclipped from the hand sander, and the electric sander was much too powerful for the corners and detailed cabinet fronts. (Word to the wise: an electric sander not used carefully can take CHUNKS out of wood.) To say this frustrated me would be putting it lightly. Neither seemed to work really well and I was too stubborn to return to the Depot. So I went on vacation instead. Wait, what? Yes. I needed more than to control my surroundings with paint and projects, I needed a damn vacation. And sun. We were on a record breaking gloom streak in Seattle, so the cranky wasn’t just about the sandpaper.  I placed this project on hold for a couple weeks to allow myself to get “centered again.” I booked tickets to Texas and visited my very best friend for the first time in years and it was exactly what the doctor ordered.


Back in town, it’s back to business: My time away allowed me time to gather up my “give-a-shits” again. I promptly purchased Bulls Eye 1.2.3. Primer for All Surfaces, Rustoleum Painters Touch Ultra Cover in Semi-Gloss White and a couple of mini rollers for smooth surfaces.

Below we see progress involving primer, paint and…

finally, finally the finished product.


(…and one very proud warrior princess.)


Now listen here, readers. Do not judge the photo below. The bedroom where these tables reside required some “special effects” to create a warmish feeling that does not yet exist in reality. I think though that we’re headed in the right direction…now to address light fixtures, crusty carpets and mismatched wood tones.  The room just like me is a work in progress.

If there is anything I’ve learned through this project that I can impart on others is that you cannot rush paint nor perfection. As they say, “Rome was not built in a day.”  In nearly all things, you cannot rush, you cannot force.  You cannot forget to make sure your paint has primer and expect great results. Some things require time and patience; both of which I’ve always been short on-but I’m working on that.


Weekend Warrior Fail-A Two Part Tale

It’s been ages since I’ve blogged, and we’re not going into it. I’ve moved, jumped into a new career path and embraced single kick-ass mom status with all I’ve got.  Let’s just say that in order to do life well sometimes you need a little therapy. For me, one form of therapy has been rehabbing vintage furniture. I love it and happen to be pretty good at it, or at least I thought I was. A long stretch of dark and wet Seattle weather had me desperate for both distraction and some form of joy.  What resulted was what my boss would call a “learning opportunity.” Following will be this month’s DI-Don’t.

This weekend, while I waited for the rain to stop long enough to get the Christmas lights off the house (it’s been rainy, OKAY!?)  I decided to refinish my grandmothers bedside tables. My beautiful grandmother left behind a few pieces of furniture and these were passed on to me after years of use and the unfortunate combination of time and neglect. The finish on these babies was non-existent in some places, allowing moisture to creep in. Despite the charming cigarette burn marks and my penchant for restoring furniture rather than painting it, I decided instead to do a combination of restoration and rejuvenation. Let’s get to it:

The inspiration: Painted and restored as featured on numberfiftythree  blog.

This is this the beginning of our tale of woe:




Peanut looks concerned

So you can see how there was massive room for improvement. I happen to like my finishes like I like my dog; more of a medium tan with some accents. Look at his face! I love that you can read the worry in his eyes. Is she really going to attempt this in a weekend?

Yes Peanut. She is.


Let’s talk supplies. I used a fine sand paper, and went with the grain (duh). The borrowed sander made the process much faster and before long I was on to Murphy’s Oil Soap.


Mid-oil soap massage and cigar (homage to Nana) my contractor who was there at the time walked past and said, “You’d better wipe those off well or the moisture will mess up your paint job. It’ll crack.”

In literature, this is what is called “foreshadowing.” Never one to turn down a trusted professionals advice, I began thoroughly drying the tables and brought them inside to sit in the warm house, going as far as adding a space heater to cook out the moisture.

What I should have done was waited until the next day to paint. Being that prudence is not a strength of mine and overachievement always the goal, I soldiered on. Do you know what you get when you combine impatience, hubris and cold wet weather?

CRACKLE PAINT. As in, “Hey Pioneer Woman-did you do that shit yourself? That’s purdy.” My beloved boyfriend bless his heart, asked me if I did it on purpose. Said it looked cool. I haven’t decided how to address our stylistic differences yet, but knew that I needed to address the error of my ways immediately if I wanted storage for us both.


It’s back to the sanding board, and I’ll be starting my Sunday with prayer and a  trip to Home Depot. I’ll keep you informed about how this saga ends…stay tuned!


Pantry Project

Where do you start when projects stare you in the face in every corner of your home? Or when it hits you that you probably took on more than humanly possible? You start small and elect for total avoidance. Enter the pantry project.

Our family just moved in to our 1974 ranch-ish home in Washington state. It’s both exciting and exhausting with all the work that has been, and has yet to be done. Literally, it needs a make-over from floor to ceiling. We needed to yank the 40 year-old carpet, put in bamboo flooring, lay concrete in some places to level flooring and lay tile, and let’s not talk about the paint. The paint is only 1/8th complete and there’s 2300 square feet of dinge. First comes removing the 70’s foil wallpaper. Then the windows, fixtures, toilets, need I say more?

So you see, one could begin to become a bit overwhelmed with all of the immediate needs and “NEED” a little escape. One of the fun things we inherited besides old carpet, was an unfinished wood cabinet. It had a little 60’s flair to it, so I enlisted the help of my 9 year-old son to come up with a color scheme. Lucky for me, by now he knows his MCM stuff. One trip to Walmart and $20 later, we had our gloss spray paint and were ready to go.

Before Shot & 9-year old artist’s rendering courtesy of the Samsung 8 Note


My son actually pulled me away from an avocado green and said, “No, mom. This is one is the one you need” as he pointed to the citrus green. He’s going to Harvard someday.

So a couple weekends went by, but amid all the chaos I managed to sneak a few paint sessions and this beauty below is the result:


Haven’t decided on the frame yet. We could go white, or just leave it for now, which is the likelier choice. In desperate need of storage in the kitchen, we had to remove cabinets for construction and this is where the food stores go for now.


Now when I’m greeted by fluorescent lighting and weird venting choices in the morning, rather than curse under my breath I smile at the happy colors that now infuse my kitchen and think of all the fun projects that our family have to look forward to. Together.


The Elusive Dorothy Thorpe

A revisit on the hunt for “Mad Men” Barware


Let’s talk about mid-century name brands. Branding is important; Don Draper would be the first to tell you. So how do you determine if something is the real deal, or a reproduction? Does it matter? You can find many a heated discussion on the subject on mid-century modern blogs and Facebook Fan pages. I’m here to tell you, when it comes to Dorothy Thorpe, it’s really hard to know. You’ve seen Dorothy’s work…real or reproduction on Mad Men, and you’re probably starting to see it in your friends homes.


According to the only seemingly reliable information I could track down, Dorothy Thorpe sold her interest in her company in 1953. At the time, she was well-known for her floral work and sand etching.

Here’s an excerpt:

Thorpe passed away September 4, 1989 in Carlsbad, California. Based on this revised information, it seems that Dorothy Thorpe only ever did floral and…

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