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.

Evolution

Evolution…it’s what Madonna is famous for.  One of the best parts of my job is that I get to evolve too…only in a less controversial manner. Naturally over time my needs change, and that of my family; one room becomes a nursery… another gets repurposed or renovated in some way, and everything shifts. I get to reexamine what we have and if it still works for us; constantly curating, not unlike Madonna and her ever-changing style.

Then there are those times when there isn’t a specific catalyst like a mid-life crises or nasty public divorce- you just need a change. Most people aren’t comfortable with change, but I love it. Probably a bit too much if that’s feasible. It’s exciting and fun to play with new possibilities. For example, I always wanted a Sputnik lamp over my dining room table. Always. We just weren’t able to make it happen for a very long time, so we found a compromise to do for the time being. It’s a beautiful fixture that looks like floating paper. Gorgeous…but not Sputnik.

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Cut to my birthday. The hubs wanted to do something big. I had just the thing. A custom Sputnik fixture from Lucent Lighting.

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You’ll notice a couple of things are different here. Let’s first pause to drool over the new fixture. It’s got a dimmer, ya’ll!  Next, I sold my dreamy atomic Lenoir dining room set for a few reasons. One, it took up too much space visually when I really thought about it. Two, we have 4 people in our family, not 8. Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t a good enough excuse to feel burdened by your own stuff. (I mean, have your read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”?!?!?)  I wanted something lighter in color that matched the tone of our wall unit – and when a friend at SeasonofChange posted her set for sale, I jumped at it! The table is thinner and takes up less space in more ways than one….but with the two leaves in place, it actually becomes longer than the previous table; a bonus at the holidays.

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Gorgeous, no? The table is Lane Rhythm, and the chairs, unknown. The curtains are too short…yes, I know. That’s a subject for another day. Shut up.

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Before the baby was born, I had picked out a beautiful Nelson Bubble lamp to grace his nursery. It did just that…until summer came, and I became certain if we didn’t get a fan installed in my son’s room really quickly…he’d cook overnight. So that beautiful bubble lamp laid around the house, unused, and quite sad looking – until very recently, when we were finally able to get an electrician out to help run some lighting in our den.

These photos were taken at night…purposefully, so that you cannot see the kid toys in the yard everywhere behind our tiny living space.

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This is the room we live in. Don’t judge. It’s not fancy – but it’s where we spill stuff (read: baby pees during diaper changes) watch t.v., play games and do kid stuff. The Nelson bubble lamp gives it a sort of grace it wouldn’t have otherwise. I think the room says, “Hey, We’re really cool deep down, but we have kids and shit…so our style is somewhat cramped. Come in….commiserate about your sloppy children. Let’s be friends.”

Speaking of messy kids….naturally when the baby came, I had to do the Target thing to organize the kid crap. Target FINALLY got with the MCM movement and introduced some pretty decent pieces. It meshes surprisingly well with the vibe we have going on. Right now, it’s full of toys and baby books and baskets full of whatnots I’d rather not be hauling back up to wee man’s room. Someday, it will hold other stuff like spare pairs of boob tassles (I can’t leave her alone)…or go up in a bedroom. Either way, we needed something functional that wouldn’t break the bank…and something that I wouldn’t be all upset about if it got scratched. Which it will. Inevitably.

http://www.target.com/p/mid-century-modern-horizontal-bookcase/-/A-14963281
I give you the Target Mid Century Modern Horizontal Bookcase

So that’s how I’ve evolved over the past few months. It’s not finished by any means….there are so many things I’d like to do – like wood floors, and fig trees, and geometric rugs, a kitchen reno, and a bar cart somewhere. But for now, that’s all fantasy. Reality requires that we must use what we have…and be thankful.

Please stay tuned for the next blog. I’m really excited about my very first repurposing project. I’m going to turn an old, worthless 60’s remote speaker into a dog/cat bed. I’m such a purist….I usually demand things be left to their original uses, but in this case I finally found something that begged to be converted – and applicable for today.  Like Madonna. Bahahahahahaha.

Brass is Back

That’s right, folks. Brass is back, and mixing finishes is no longer considered design disaster. And thank goodness too, because I don’t know if I could handle not having the approval of designers everywhere. HA!

You’ve probably heard the saying “rules are made to be broken,” and in the past mixing finishes such as silver, brass, gold, and brushed stainless steel was a big no-no. It’s pretty evident however, that idea is falling away and people are feeling more empowered to take home design into their own hands.  Interest in the mid-century modern aesthetic and designing with vintage pieces lends itself to a little mix and match. All the better, I say!

Here are some of my favorite brass pieces featured on Etsy.com that just go to show that brass is back in a big way (If you haven’t been to Etsy.com yet, you’re missing out.).

Brass Lighting:

Check out this FANTASTIC 1970's 5-armed floor lamp from alsdesignvintage
Check out this FANTASTIC 1970’s 5-armed floor lamp from alsredesignvintage

For more information about this piece, follow this link:

alsredesignvintage

Brass Home Décor:

Etsy Seller genrestoration has quite a few brass figurines if you're looking for yourself, or as a gift for a friend.
Etsy Seller genrestoration has quite a few brass figurines if you’re looking for yourself, or as a gift for a friend.

Link to Mr. Peacock and others: genrestoration

Brass Wall Hangings:

Etsy Seller TheWildWorld offers flying brass seagulls
Etsy Seller TheWildWorld offers flying brass seagulls

Link to TheWildWorld

Brass Gracing Dining Tables:

There's even brass in my shop! MidCenturyObsession
There’s even brass in my shop! MidCenturyObsession

Link to Atomic Brass Candle Holders: MidCenturyObsession

Brass Accessories:

Brass Magazine Rack from VintageShoppingSpree
Brass Magazine Rack from VintageShoppingSpree

Link for more: VintageShoppingSpree

Brass as an Accent for Mid Century Modern furniture:

Danish Modern offerings with Brass Accents
Danish Modern offerings with Brass Accents from OstrichandPeacock

For more info: OstrichandPeacock

Brass Planters:

Brass planter from TheCottageCheese
Brass planter from TheCottageCheese

Link to this and more! See TheCottageCheese “Brass Menagerie”

Here’s a quick tip if you decide to put some brass into your design. Use Brasso. You can get it at Lowe’s or Home Depot….and I’ve tried the half and half vinegar/water mixture and haven’t had much luck. Brasso works beautifully to bring aged patina back to bright and shiny. (Make sure to use a soft, lint free cloth)

It’s evident to me no matter where you shop, that brass is definitely back – and not going anywhere anytime soon. Feel free to step out of the matchy-matchy box.  It can be done with excellent results!

Join me next week….we’re going to talk trending shops for Mid Century Modern Design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trending: The Bar Cart

I’m baaaaaaaack! Took a little breather in January but I’m back and boy do we have some fun trending MCM info to discuss. Now, I try to be a positive and upbeat person, but I can’t help but point out when things seem to be getting a little silly. The typical “Mad Men” bar cart is everywhere. Everyone wants one (myself included)….and the prices are going through the roof. It’s getting crazy, people. Here’s a picture perfect example of a bar cart from Entertainment Weekly:

Bar Cart

Okay….so you get the idea. The bar cart is a place to congregate, entertain, serve drinks, talk about the day….and they conveniently roll from room to room! So what would you pay for a bar cart?  A few weeks back, I was in a thrift shop and spotted something labeled as a “utility shelf.” Well, it was mostly wood, had two shelves, it was on casters, and looked a lot like a bar cart. I snorted to myself when I saw the price tag of $45. Pretty bold for a thrift shop, right? Well, as I left, I noticed the “Everything 50% off” sign. I told myself I’d think about it and come back if I really wanted it. Later that day, I decided it was worth a trip back; but guess what? My bar cart was gone. Snapped up by a much smarter someone else. I’ve been kicking myself since. Here’s why: you really can’t find a bar cart on Etsy or Ebay for less than $100 now. Maybe someday, interest will die down, and we’ll see some relief-but I wouldn’t expect that to happen any time soon. In fact, a carbon copy of the Mad Men version pictured above is on Etsy right now for $4000.00. Yes. Four THOUSAND dollars. Apparently, it was designed in 1952 by Italian designer Cesare Lacca and it is “much sought after.” Now, I’m an Etsy store owner myself and I support other shop owners. But that price tag is ridiculous. Absolutely insane.

If you’re interested in building your own bar, Etsy.com is actually a great place to start. There are so many different variations; shape, size, material – you can decide what type of bar cart fits your space and budget. If you lean toward the industrial look and love projects, laceandlacquer.com featured a cool DIY tutorial on this type of cart:

laceandlacquer.com
laceandlacquer.com

I did find one bar cart under $100 from one of my favorite sellers on Etsy.com. Shop name is  Carouselandfolk. I love reasonable prices and reasonable sellers!

Click on the link above, or search carouselandfolk on Etsy.com
Click on the link above, or search carouselandfolk on Etsy.com

More to that point, here are a few other notable offerings…

If Hollywood Regency is more your style, Etsy seller “HardFinds” has this:

Click on Link above or go to Etsy.com and search: hardfinds
Click on link above or go to Etsy.com and search hardfinds

My funky-stand-out favorite is this one from Artiques71:

Etsy.com search artiques71
Etsy.com search artiques71

Need a pop of color? Check out ElectricMarigold:

Etsy.com search ElectricMarigold
Etsy.com search ElectricMarigold

Finally, if Typical Teak is your look – look no further. TwoGuysVintage has this:

TwoGuysVintage
Click link above or go to Etsy.com and search “TwoGuysVintage”

 

As you can see, there still some fair prices out there – and so many different types of carts to choose from. Happy Shopping….and may your bar cart bring lots of entertaining and enjoyment to your future! By the way…if you find a deal or a steal – I’d love to hear about it!

CHEERS!