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Sometime late last year, I heard about a new site for buying and selling furniture called Chairish. The idea behind Chairish is that you can shop for pre-loved, pre-owned (OK, used) furnishings without having to sift through a bunch of junk. Everything for sale on Chairish has been approved by its staff curators, who have what professionals in the industry like to call “good taste.” Aside from selecting great stuff, Chairish also screens sellers and handles the shipping (where applicable—local pickup is also often an option), so you don’t need to worry about driving four hours and finding out that the credenza you thought you were buying was already sold while you were on your way there.

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On the selling side, things get really good: You can either take your own good-quality photos of the stuff you’re selling (Chairish provides the silhouetting services!), or you can have a Chairish pro come to where you are and take photos for you if you’re in the Boston, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Greensboro, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, or Seattle areas. They’ll even do all the measuring and description-writing, too, if you want. When larger furniture items sell, Chairish partners with a white-glove shipping company who will come and pick up your dresser/table/sofa/whatever to be delivered to its new owner. I don’t know about you, but the main thing stops me from selling big pieces of furniture online (I’m looking at you, Heywood-Wakefield dresser) is not wanting to have to deal with getting the thing out of my house and arranging to have it shipped. And yes, they have an iPhone app (direct link) that makes the whole process ridiculously easy.

But enough about selling, let’s talk about BUYING! Chairish is hosting a giveaway for a $250 site credit for Door Sixteen readers! You can shop from my collection or from everything else on Chairish.

Giveaway time! Here’s how it works:
Enter your email address on the Door Sixteen + Chairish giveaway page.
Entries will be accepted from April 2nd through April 15.
One lucky winner will receive a $250 site credit to shop at Chairish! Yay!
If you’re the winner, I’ll notify you via email.

When Chairish approached me about putting together a collection of things I love and covet, I spent an afternoon looking at everything on the site. Before I knew it, I had marked 87 things as favorites. EIGHTY-SEVEN. I managed to narrow it down a little bit, and you can see my top 30-ish picks over there. Instead of just leaving you with a collection, though, I thought it would be fun to pull out my 12 favorite-favorites and show how I’d use them in a Door Sixteen-ish way.

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1. Room & Board Harding Queen Sleeper Sofa
2. Pink Dyed Grain Sack Pillows
3. Yaacov Agam Signed & Numbered Serigraph
4. Vintage Brass Candlesticks- Set of 3
5. Original Herman Miller Eames Fiberglass Rocker
6. Vintage Kantha Pillow
7. Walnut Tambour Door Credenza by Milo Baughman
8. Royal Holland Pewter Coffee Service Set with Tray
9. Distressed Pair of IB Kofod Danish Lounge Chairs
10. Patrick Townsend White Orbit Chandelier
11. Black Square Boucherouite Rug
12. Danish Modern Teak Marble Top Coffee Table

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Vintage neutrals + bright textures. Well, if that doesn’t look like Door Sixteen, I don’t know what does. Black upholstery can be very somber-looking, and there’s nothing more satisfying than throwing on a few brightly-colored cushions and watching the whole mood of the piece change instantly. I love the combination of black, wood, and hot pink! I want to curl up on in one of these chairs and wait for someone to bring me coffee.

Shown here: Distressed Pair of IB Kofod Danish Lounge Chairs, Pink Dyed Grain Sack Pillows, Royal Holland Pewter Coffee Service Set with Tray

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Bold graphics + warm wood + metal. I know there are people who can’t get enough brass ‘n glass in their lives, but I personally prefer metals when they’re paired with much softer materials like rich, warm wood tones. I hadn’t heard of Israeli artist Yaacov Agam until I started putting this post together, but now I love his work! Check him out if you’re into op-art and color theory. Great stuff.

Shown here: Walnut Tambour Door Credenza by Milo Baughman, Vintage Brass Candlesticks- Set of 3, Yaacov Agam Signed & Numbered Serigraph, Original Herman Miller Eames Fiberglass Rocker

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Contemporary high-low + mixed vintage patterns. I don’t mean high-end and low-end, I mean literally high in the room and low in the room—something contemporary on the floor, and something contemporary on the ceiling. As much as I love vintage furniture, when you’re using a lot of mismatched vintage patterns, it can all start to look kind of kitschy and retro if everything else in the room is also vintage. Trust me on this—just two contemporary, neutral-colored pieces will take the edge off and make everything feel pulled together and fresh.

Shown here: Room & Board Harding Queen Sleeper Sofa, Patrick Townsend White Orbit Chandelier, Black Square Boucherouite Rug, Vintage Kantha Pillow

There’s TONS more stuff hand-picked by me in the Door Sixteen collection at Chairish, which is where I’m headed now to ogle coffee tables and lamps. I should probably be thinking about doing some spring cleaning and selling a few things, too—our basement has become quite the dumping ground for some really nice pieces of furniture that followed us home but don’t physically fit in our house or apartment. Sigh. Someday!

p.s. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

This post was written in partnership with Chairish, but all thoughts, opinions, and selections are are entirely my own.

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Hmmm, I guess it’s vintage ceramics week at Door Sixteen! On Sunday I shared the vintage Mexican nesting bowls I bought (thank you SO MUCH for all of the informative comments about their likely origins), and it made me want to take pictures of some of my other recent finds. I always seem to gravitate toward ceramics when I’m on the hunt, even if I’m just at the Goodwill.

Anyway, how about these espresso cups and saucers?! I bought them from the Etsy seller House of Séance, who have all kinds of great vintage stuff for sale. I love that the triangles appear to be hand-painted rather than silkscreened, making each cup unique. I think geometric designs look best when they’re a bit irregular.

(By the way, I wish I could remember who tipped me off to the Etsy listing for the cups. They sat on my Etsy wishlist for months before I went ahead and bought them, and in the interim I lost track. Thank you, whoever you are!)

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The cups and saucers don’t appear to have ever been used, and they’re in great condition—pretty much perfect, in fact. The bottoms all have intact ‘Design by Jonas Roberts; Made in Japan’ stickers on them. Searching for Jonas Roberts brings up loads of results for mid-century ceramics, and this particular design is either from the 1950s or ’60s, depending on whose information you trust. There’s also a teapot, sugar bowl, ashtrays, and even a lighter with this design—and it came in orange, too. Sale prices are all over the place, but I paid $55 for my set of six cups and saucers—$9/set seems like a huge bargain to me!

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Full disclosure: I made this cup of espresso purely for the sake of taking a nice photo. It’s decaf (ugh…), so I didn’t mind tossing it out after. I would really like to put the cups into regular use, but I want to test the glaze for lead first. This subject came up in the comments when I posted about the bowls the other day, so I thought I’d mention in this post as well. Vintage ceramics very often contain lead (as do some contemporary pieces from parts of the world where lead use is unregulated), and even if the glaze is in perfect condition, lead can leach into your food/drink if it’s liquid/hot/acidic, etc. Coffee is liquid, hot, and acidic, so it’s no joke! Even the porcelain glaze on old sinks and bathtubs can contain lead, which is part of the reason why we had ours sandblasted down to bare iron and powder-coated. As exciting as it sounds, I don’t want to take hot lead baths.

That said, not ALL vintage ceramics are lead-ridden, so it can’t hurt to test and find out. Sometimes the white glaze on the inside of a cup is fine, and the lead is contained in the outside designs only. It’s a judgement call, of course, but in that situation I’d be fine using the cup. I also have no concerns about using my vintage tablewares to serve dry foods (crackers, cookies, etc.). Obviously I make sure that there isn’t any glaze flaking off! If a piece is really rough, it’s relegated to display purposes only.

3M LeadCheck swabs are readily available, not terribly expensive, and seem to get the best reviews of the various lead testing kits out there. It’s not a perfect test, and you may get false negatives if the lead content in a glaze isn’t in contact with the swab, but it’s at least a starting point. When you live in an old house, you kind of just have to accept that lead will be a part of your life—but I think it’s worth being safe when you can. If these espresso cups do turn out to have lead in them, I’m just fine putting them up on a shelf and admiring them with my eyes instead of my tongue.

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I picked up this set of four terracotta nesting bowls yesterday at Newburgh Vintage Emporium, a vintage and antique marketplace that just opened a couple of weeks ago. I’m amazed I made it out of there with just one purchase. So much great stuff! I have a feeling I’ll be going back there every weekend.

The vendor tag on the bowls said they’re South American, but after doing a little research, I think they’re actually Mexican. More specifically, they look like they could either be Talavera pottery (the glaze and terracotta reminds me so much of a set of Talavera plates from Spain that I inherited from my grandmother, but the pattern reminds me of Mexican pottery…though it’s also possible I have no idea what I’m talking about) or like designs I’ve found from Tlaquepaque.

I’m really curious to know more about where these bowls might come from or how old they are, so if you have any knowledge about them, please share!! There are no markings anywhere on them as far as I can see.

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The largest bowl in the set is about 9″ in diameter, and the smallest is 5.5″. The base glaze is a milky off-white, and the design appears to be black—though in areas where it’s bled a bit, it does seem like it could be a very deep cobalt.

They’re so pretty in the kitchen. I’m a little scared to use them for anything other than putting fruit or bread on the table, but they look beautiful just displayed as they are. It seems like a shame to nest them, though—I want to look at them all at once!

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I’ve been following Barb Blair and her South Carolina furniture rehab shop, Knack Studios, online forever — first on Flickr (Remember when everyone hung out on Flickr? Poor Flickr…), and then on her blog and Instagram. A couple of years ago Barb and I met in person, and she was everything I imagined — warm, funny and smart. I’m a huge fan of Barb the person and of Barb’s work, so when Chronicle Books asked if I’d like to review her new book, Furniture Makeovers, as part of a blog tour, I said YES. Of course!

Barb’s motto is “live with what you love,” a belief I feel very personally aligned with. In an era of publicly sharing the contents of our personal spaces, there’s a tendency to make decisions about what we surround ourselves with based on an expectation of how our living spaces will be perceived by others, often complete strangers. It’s pretty much impossible to paint a piece of wood furniture (or wood trim, or wood floors, or wood teeth) without a hundred people saying you’ve “ruined” it — there’s a preciousness associated with unpainted wood that, in my opinion, is pretty ridiculous. As the owner of a formerly-dilapidated historic home that I’ve been un-dilapidating for the better part of a decade, I think I have a good sense of how to exist as a modernist in an old home: Modernism at its core is about respecting and learning from the past while making improvements and alterations to better accommodate living in the present (and future). Sometimes, that means taking a step into past traditions — what initially drew me to Barb’s work was how reminiscent it is of 18th-century Gustavian-style Swedish furniture with its soft-looking painted finishes.

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All photos by J. Aaron Greene

If there’s anything I can say about Barb, it’s that the woman does not take shortcuts when it comes to furniture. She doesn’t just grab a can of old wall paint and slap a couple of coats on a table. She knows how to prepare surfaces properly, and what materials to use to obtain finishes that look like they belong to the piece — and that’s really the key to a successful makeover. You want to see the sum of the parts in the end, not evidence of the process. The great thing about Furniture Makeovers is that you not only get before-and-after shots of a bunch of Barb’s pieces, you also get very detailed information about the tools and materials she uses and recommends — as well as exhaustive descriptions and photos demonstrating how to properly use those tools and materials. From strippers to chalk paint to spray paint to Danish oil to finishing wax, Barb covers just about everything, and in a friendly, you-can-actually-do-this way. This is a real how-to book, not just a trove of inspirational photos.

Here’s a great video (shot by Carlon Riffel) that takes you through a tour of the Knack shop, the contents of the book and, most fun of all, a time-lapse of Barb doing her magic on a dresser from start to finish:

Yup, now I feel like overhauling a piece of old furniture! In fact, I’m now determined to apply Barb’s techniques (in my own Anna-style, of course) to an antique dresser that’s been sitting, empty and without purpose, in a corner of my bedroom for…oh, six years now. I bought it at a flea market for about $15, and it’s a mess. The original hardware is missing, the wood veneer is peeling, it has water stains all over the top and the shellac finish is badly blistered. I love it, though, and it meets all of Barb’s criteria for a makeover-ready piece: It has personality, it’s solid wood with a wood veneer and it’s structurally sound and functional. I am READY. As soon as it’s not 100°F out (this heatwave is killing my productivity), Operation Dresser Makeover will be in full effect.

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But WAIT, there’s MORE! Would you like your very own copy of Barb Blair’s Furniture Makeovers? Well, it’s your lucky day — I have a signed copy to give away, and it comes with one of Barb’s “live with what you love” Knack tote bags! Nice, yes? If you’d like to enter to win, just leave a comment on this post letting me know about a furniture makeover you’d like to embark on, whether it’s a piece you already own, or something you’re on the lookout for. In a week, I’ll draw a winner at random.

UPDATE: The winner of the Furniture Makeovers giveaway is Alicia! Congratulations, Alicia.

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(Thanks so much to Barb and to Chronicle Books for making this giveaway possible! I wish you much success with this book.)

Side note: Aside from the review copy I was sent of the book, I was not compensated in any way to write this post. Normally I wouldn’t even bother saying that because I have a 100% transparency policy about that kind of stuff, but someone asked, so there you go. This is just a post about a book I love and wholeheartedly recommend.

I’ve been told by several friends (you know who you are) that I need to stop leading off all of my posts by saying, “I know these photos are bad, but…” I’m going to try not to do that anymore. Not because I expect my photos to improve in quality, but because nobody likes disclaimers — including me. Let me just say that I only have one camera (a tiny Leica point & shoot that I love dearly, but it’s not an SLR) with one lens, and I am super impatient when it comes to cameras. I am photo-deficient. OK? OK. I’ll just put the best photo first and then hope nobody notices how cruddy the rest are…

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Before you ask, the “It’s Always Worth It” print is by Lisa Congdon. Sometimes I think about writing “Well, Almost Always” underneath, but it’s not worth it.

In 2006 (pre-this blog), I was in the early throes of my ongoing obsession with Nisse Strinning’s String shelving system. It was hard to get them in the US at the time without paying a billion dollars for VAT and shipping from Sweden (these days we can order them in a number of color/wood configurations from A+R and, soon, the MoMA store), so I was really excited when I happened to spot a run-down set of knockoff String shelves at a used furniture store in Beacon (I’ll never stop missing you, Iron Fish). They were in seriously rough shape, but they were cheap — I think less than $20 — and fixing them up looked like an easy enough project.

And then I put them in the basement. If you look carefully at the photos in that post, you can actually see the faux-String brackets wedged between a dog gate and a vacuum cleaner. And there the shelves sat, more or less forgotten, for the next 7 years.

The day we decided to rent this apartment, my mind went to the big space between the two windows in the kitchen…and then it went to the shelves! THE SHELVES! THE ONES IN THE BASEMENT! So I finally did it — I fixed ‘em up, and put ‘em to work.

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PERFECT-O! I briefly considered getting nice new pieces of wood and just re-using the brackets, but this apartment is already really wood-heavy. I’m also a big fan of black on gray (yeah, that’s a pretty daring combo, I know) so I figured I’d just go ahead and paint the old wood shelves and hope for the best.

Since there’s always someone ready to freak out any time the words “paint” and “wood” are used together in the same sentence, rest assured I did not paint over anything worth restoring. Not all wood is precious. This is what I was dealing with:

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Deeply-gouged, peeling veneer over crappy laminated pine, and, if you look carefully at the back right corner, mold. No good. I peeled off the loose veneer, cleaned the wood with bleach and water, let it dry in the sun, then gave all surfaces a good smoothing with my Mouse sander (I love that thing for small jobs like this). With the surface good and porous, a single coat of black Cabot Solid Stain (seen previously on the mega-planter I built for the garden) went on beeeeeautifully. I’ve had that same gallon can of stain for YEARS, and it just keeps on coming in handy. The finish is so super-rich and opaque, but you can still see the texture of the wood grain. It’s prone to scuffing, though, so I topped it with a coat of satin polyurethane for durability.

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The shelves have little brass hooks that hang from the brackets — it’s such a smart design. See how the damage and grain of the wood are still visible? I like that when I’m painting stuff black. Otherwise the finish can look a little plastic-y and too new.

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For context, here’s where the shelves are in relation to the kitchen’s main work surfaces and the backsplash. Yes, I still need to deal with that weird gap above the microwave where the duct is visible. It’s yucky. I’ll get to it eventually.

But yay, shelves! Totally worth it.

EDIT: The cute Bubble clock is from West Elm Market! It’s meant to be hung on the wall, but I’m not sure where its final location will be, so it’s just sitting in the shelf for now.

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One of my favorite things about the new apartment is that that the last set of stairs — it’s a 4th-floor walkup — is just for us. Our apartment door is at the bottom of the stairs, and you walk up directly into our living space. That means that there’s no hallway noise, which in turn means that Bruno and Fritz are less stressed out (like most Chihuahuas/Chi mixes they are excellent watch dogs). That was a huge problem in our last apartment with its hotel-like corridors. When you get to the top of the stairs, there’s a small landing and a little wall that backs up to the refrigerator. It was pretty much dead space before, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve been turning it into a cozy little alcove-ish entryway.

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This is what you see first walking up the stairs into the apartment. And yes, that is an outdoor gate functioning as a railing, and yes, it is hideous. But we can talk about that in another post.

You might recognize that bear print from, oh, every other apartment I’ve lived in. It’s a silkscreen print from Banquet Atelier & Workshop, and I love it very much. It’s hanging off-center because I wanted to cover up the ugly electrical panel, and I figured that since the door buzzer and the light switches are all herky-jerky and crooked already, what’s another thing being off? If you ask me, three wrongs make a right.

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We’ve been trying to find a place to put the walnut Hang-It-All for more than two years! FINALLY!

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Shelves for dumping mail, keys, coins and jewelry! This is what they like to call a “landing strip” over at Apartment Therapy. I don’t like to call it that because it makes me think of bikini waxing, so let’s just call this the alcove. “Hey, where are my sunglasses?” “Oh, they’re in the alcove.” Works fine for me.

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One thing I love about having a blog is that I can marvel over how much time passes between when I get an idea for a project and when I actually wind up seeing that project through. I bought this mirror for $5 on the street in Philadelphia in 2007 (our hallway looks so plain and sad, and I look so skinny…sigh), and since then it’s been sitting in a closet waiting for me to do something with it. It’s pretty badly damaged, and someone tried to fix it with what I think might be drywall compound, but I’ve stopped caring. I’m just happy to have it up on the wall finally! It’s really perfect in this spot. I don’t even mind the damage. See? If you hoard stuff long enough, eventually it pays off.

The little neon pink triangles are wall stickers from Ferm Living’s kids collection. I have a billion of them, and I have to force myself to not put them EVERYWHERE. So cute.

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I could have put more shelves in this space, but since most of our books are kept at our house and we already have shelving in the bedroom, I kept it to a minimum. I’m sure over time more stuff will accumulate here, and I definitely need to add flowers. I also need to paint the shelf cleats to match the wall, but I’m all out of Deep Space — I’ll will myself into going to the paint store soon for more.

Shelves like this are really easy to make, by the way. This took me all of 30 minutes to do, including cutting and sanding the boards. I had a few $3 TRYGGVE shelves from IKEA in the basement at the house, so I just used those. It would be nicer to have deeper, chunky old wood shelves, but I didn’t want to wait. If I ever want to swap them out for different wood, it’ll only take a minute. No biggie.

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For light-duty shelving like this, you can get away with using a simple cleats on either edge instead of using brackets. I dug through my scrap pile and came up with a broken RIBBA frame (yes, I keep everything) that I thought would be perfect for the job! You can use anything that’s thick enough and drill-able, though — furring strips, scrap lath, a 1×2, whatever.

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Mark out a level line on the wall, drill pilot holes through the cleats, put anchors in the wall (or drill into studs), screw in your cleats. Done! So easy. If you use heavier-duty wood and run a third cleat along the back wall, you can make very strong shelves. This is how we built the shelving in our pantry at the house, and it’s strong enough for huge stacks of dishes! Just make sure the shelf isn’t too deep and that you’re not using chipboard or MDF for cleats if you plan to use your shelves for heavy stuff.

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After our yellow stools arrived, Evan and I moved our kitchen island—the GROLAND from IKEA, which we’ve had pushed up against a side wall in the kitchen for the past 7 years—to the center of the room, which is where we’ve been planning to put it if/when we eventually buy the world’s cutest refrigerator. As soon as we moved it into place, though, we know it wasn’t right. It looked so tiny! Our kitchen is a very decent size for an old house (about 12×12′), but between the three doorways, two huge windows and the hearth, there’s not a lot of usable wall space. The center of the room is very important, but because the ceiling is so high (11′), anything we put there tends to look a little anemic. The yellow stools looked weirdly giant next to the GROLAND. It was just wrong.

So, we slid the island back against the side wall (which I guess makes it technically not an island but more of a peninsula) and decided we’d have to keep our eyes open for the right thing.

Lately we haven’t been doing a whole lot of thrifting and scavenging like we used to, but this past weekend I started feeling lucky and the bug hit me again in a BIG way. We spent all of Saturday driving around the Hudson Valley hitting up salvage/antique/junk shops in secret locations, but everything was either closed or devoid of anything we were interested in. Later in the afternoon, resigned to just having lunch and heading home again, we happened to wander into a mysterious-looking store we’d never noticed before with nothing on the sign out front but an engraving of an eyeball: Alms & Terra.

We weren’t even really looking for a kitchen island at that point, but there it was: A beautiful old work table that had probably spent the past 70 years in someone’s basement workshop, all beat-up wood and steel legs. Perfect. We checked the measurements to make sure it would be big enough (again, perfect), and made up our minds to bring it home with us after about 15 seconds of deliberation.

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Now, I know there’s bound to be one person who’s going to see these photos and start crying about how the table was better before I fixed it up, but I’m here to tell that person: No. You’re wrong. Look, there’s patina and then there’s “patina.” The former is the loveliness that age imparts on something over the course of time and use, and the latter is a euphemism for “grungy and greasy and paint-spattered and about to fill your hands with splinters.” This table, while certainly very lovely, was closer to having a “patina” than having a patina. It needed work. Not much, but some.

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I love the legs. They’re painted a battleship gray color that I’m OK with, but they’re pretty rusty—past the point of what can be cleaned up with steel wool. Since this is going in a kitchen, I think it’s best to give the legs a nice finish. It’s too cold outside to do much about it now, but when it warms up in springtime I’ll give them a good scrubbing, a rust-proofing treatment and a couple of coats of matte black Rust-Oleum. They’ll look great.

I’m also going to take that 2×4 off the bottom and make a deeper, functional shelf to put in its place. It’ll be a good spot to have some baskets for storing placemats and candles and stuff like that.

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Dust mask, random orbit sander, sandpaper. I know renting tools is a great option for people who just work on occasional home projects, but when you own an old house that you’re going to be working on for at least a decade or two, buying the things you’ll be using all the time makes much more sense. We’ve had a Bosch random orbit sander (they don’t make the exact model we have anymore, but this one is very similar) for about five years, and I use it constantly. Random orbit sanders spin while moving elliptically, so you don’t get swirl marks etched in your wood. You also don’t have to worry about sanding against the grain. You can’t do super-detailed work (I use my Mouse sander for that), but for big blocks of wood like tabletops, doors and floorboards, they’re great.

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I started off doing a first pass with 80-grit sandpaper (the lower the number, the coarser the grit), then followed with two passes at 120-grit, and a finished with at least four passes at 220-grit (very fine). I just kept going until the surface of the table felt velvety-smooth. I had to spent some extra time on the areas with a lot of grease staining, but in all the entire sanding process took less than 30 minutes.*

*Excluding cleanup time, of course, which added on another two hours. If you’ve ever power-sanded anything indoors before, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

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Pretty nice, yeah? The deeper stains (burns, etc.) didn’t come out, but that’s OK. All of the paint smears, grease stains and other unpleasantries took a hike, and that’s the stuff I don’t want in my kitchen. I’m no expert when it comes to identifying wood types, but based on the hardness of the wood and its smoothness post-sanding, I’m pretty certain this is maple.

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I’m not really planning to use this work table as a cutting surface because there are so many crevices that would be a huge pain to keep clean, and I have enough cutting boards and other areas of the kitchen to work directly on already. Even so, I wanted to finish the table with something food-safe. There are at least a dozen schools of thought on how best to finish wood surfaces in kitchens, and aside from the two most basic rules—don’t use anything that’s toxic to consume, and don’t use any food oils that can turn rancid—they’re all correct. For a long time I regularly treated all of my wood cutting boards, spoons, counters and salad bowls with John Boos Mystery Oil, until I realized I was paying $10+ for a small bottle of what was basically just mineral oil with some linseed and orange oils added in. I have way too much wood stuff for that to be cost-effective. SKYDD oil from IKEA is half the price—it’s just pure, food grade white mineral oil. I’ve been using it for years now, and it’s great, cheap stuff.

When I have a really thirsty/dry piece of wood, especially something that’s just been sanded, I like to “bathe” it in oil until it can’t absorb any more. I used about 10oz of mineral oil on this table initially, and I’ll repeat the application weekly for the next month or so. I just pour it on, use an old t-shirt to spread it around, and leave it alone for a few hours or overnight. Any excess is easy to just wipe off, and the finish isn’t greasy or anything like that. I’ve never felt the need to wax my kitchen wood, but some people like to—it’s all just personal preference. I like mineral oil because it’s cheap, easy and it keeps the wood protected from water/dryness and looking good. It’s also non-combustible and odorless, which is nice.

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Oh, yeahhhhhh. Immediately post-oiling (top), and about two hours later. See how nice and matte the finish looks once the oil sinks in? I can’t stop touching the table. I love it so so so so so so so much. SO MUCH. This is exactly what I had envisioned having as a kitchen island. It’s going to be so great having that much prep area when I’m cooking, not to mention having a spot to sit for breakfast and coffee in the mornings. And now when we have guests over for dinner they’ll have to place to put their wine down and eat snacks while they’re hovering over my cooking!

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I’m very happy with how the kitchen is coming along. Now that everything is painted, wallpapering the side wall (opposite the stove) is next. In the spring the radiators will be removed and sandblasted, powder coated and re-plumbed, and I’ll finally be able to finish the tiling while they’re out. We’re also going to have to think about replacing the floor at the same time for a couple of reasons—but I’ll save that for another post. (Spoiler alert: It involves a secretly-leaking refrigerator…and insects. Sadface.) Our shelving will be delivered any day now, so I’ll finally be able to put the dishes away and put out food in the pantry…exciting stuff. Moving right along!!

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Bonus shot! Since my hands were already covered with oil, I decided to give every piece of wood in my kitchen a deep oiling. So satisfying.

Hey, remember when Daniel performed a thrifting miracle and produced a Random Light seemingly out of thin air for about 85% off retail? That was almost NINE MONTHS ago, during which time said lamp has taken up a bunch of space doing absolutely nothing on the floor of the room at the back of the house (also known as Evan’s studio).

Well, no more!! It is FINALLY suspended from the ceiling and emitting light. Yay! I realize these pictures are no fun, but the room is a mess and it was dark out and honestly I was just happy to have accomplished something that wasn’t on my decidedly un-fun to-do list.

We hung the lamp kind of low directly above the desk. It’s huuuuuuuuge (too big for our living room, even with 10-foot ceilings!), and the only way it made sense to hang it was over a table. It looks really pretty against the black wallpaper.

Better photos to come once the room is fixed up a bit more! Perhaps Evan will agree to do a guest post…

The rocking chair in the room at the back of the house (technically now Evan’s music studio, but it feels weird saying that) has a new buddy! We bought this mustard-colored upholstered Eames shell chair years ago for cheap. It came with a standard H-base that was rusted out and missing all of its feet. A while back I swapped in a rolling DAT base that came off of another chair, but since we really don’t have any use for a rolling chair, it’s just kind of been sitting around in a corner of the guest bedroom doing nothing since then. It has a 2-inch tear in the upholstery (due to bad packing—grrrrr), but the mustard color is so great that I don’t care.

As long as an Eames shell chair has a narrow-mount configuration on the bottom (most of the stacking shells have a wider mount—you can see the difference here), all of the different kinds of bases are interchangeable. It’s much easier to find vintage shells at good prices if you don’t care about the bases, and it’s relatively inexpensive to buy reproduction bases in whatever style you want. True, a vintage chair with a repro base isn’t worth as much as an intact original, but I really don’t care about that. I’m just happy to see a vintage shell get a new life.

I’ve bought multiple bases (including the one on the rocking chair above and the dowel bases on the chairs in the apartment kitchen) from the eBay seller Depury, but there are plenty of other sellers out there all offering roughly the same product at more or less the same price points. You can expect to pay between $75 and $125 depending on the type of base.

Whatever you do, make sure you hang on to the screws and rubber washers/shock mounts when you remove the old base. Most upholstered Eames shells have removable rubber washers and threaded holes in the fiberglass, but others (including all of the non-upholstered shells) have thick, permanent shock mounts affixed to the bottom that allow bases to be attached without the screws penetrating the shell itself. Just don’t go screwing anything to the bottom of your chair without there being some rubber involved!

We chose a wire-frame LAR/low-rod base (commonly known as the “cat’s cradle”) for this chair. Since it’s going to be sitting next to a rocker, I thought having a height difference between the two would be nice. Also, it’s low enough for the dogs to climb in! I suspect this is going to become a favorite snuggle-spot (and photo-op) in the near future.

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Photos from Moooi

It’s safe to say that I’m kind of obsessed with Bertjan Pot’s Random Light. A few years ago, I included it on a list of coveted pendant lamps. Shortly thereafter, I posted about a budget-minded DIY version that was in ReadyMade (by the way, the two people I know who attempted that project were met with much disappointment by the result).

I think about this lamp all the time. I lie on the living room sofa and try to imagine how beautiful it would look floating in the middle of the room. Every time I come across a photo of one in situ, I force Evan to look at it and acknowledge how fantastically beautiful it is. Basically, I mentally bow down at the feet of Bertjan Pot regularly to both thank him for creating this amazing thing…and to beg him to give me one in exchange for knowing how happy he’s made me.

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L: Photo by Patric Johansson; R: Interior design by Philippe Harden

Shamone, look at that thing!! It’s so beautiful that I noticed it before the poodle sleeping under the desk, and considering how finely-tuned my tiny dog radar is, that’s saying something.

The only problem, of course, is the price. The 33″ medium size (which is what I’d want for the living room) is roughly $1125, putting it way, way, way out of our range. Sure, I guess we could set aside $50/month for the next two years, but honestly? I don’t know if I could ever bring myself to lay down that kind of cash for a lamp. That’s not to say that I don’t think it’s “worth” that much (after all, we’re not just paying for the product itself, but for the fact that someone came up with the idea in the first place), just that I can think of a million more important things that I could use that kind of money for. Like my student loan for example. But I digress.

So anyway, yesterday I was blathering on about light fixtures on Twitter, and I tweeted this:

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I mean, I have to keep wishing, right? It’s not like the universe is just going to plop one down on my doorstep. I have to ask for it. I have to really want it.

About an hour later, I was busy crawling around on my office floor trimming a window shade, when I heard a text message arrive on my phone. I’m one of those annoying people who forgets that cell phones are portable, so I didn’t bother dropping everything to go and check it. 20 seconds later, though, my phone rang…and it was Dan from Manhattan Nest, calling from a thrift store. He told me to go look on Twitter. I did.

Friends, a great miracle had occurred:

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AAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Can you even?! Really now. What are the chances of this happening? Zero? One in eight hundred gazillion? Who knows. All I care about is that there is a white, 33″ Random Light wrapped in cellophane in Dan’s apartment right now, waiting to come home to live with me and Evan. And it cost about 1/6 of the full price! Yeah. I’m already getting in shape and growing my hair out into an Afro so I can pose with it nude like in the photo at the top of this post.

Now I can move on to asking the Twitter-universe to allow Dan to miraculously find Prouvé sideboards, Damien Hirst diamond skulls, and suitcases full of cash at thrift stores for mere pennies.