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The DWR Vortex

October 21, 2014   //  Posted in: Dining Room   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

It’s a special kind of night when you sit down to catch up on your weekly fix, and instead get sucked into the vortex of a semi-annual online event, oggling something that is ordinarily and still quite ordinarily far outside the budget of the ordinary “IKEA spender.”

Buying shelving for our dining room on Design Within Reach.

I do love a good sale and knowing that I saved a bunch of money splurging at the time that I did, however spontaneous it was. Marina Bautier’s lap shelving system purchased from Design Within Reach is a significant piece of shelving that’s bound to transform our dining room. What you’re seeing above isn’t quite the end order, but it gave me a good idea of what I needed.

I’ve really missed having shelving in our house for the obvious reasons: our books are still in boxes after 18 months; I haven’t been sure where to hang the art, and the furniture layout of every room hangs perilously in limbo as we try and figure out which pieces are our “anchors.” Anchors are significant, usually $$$. We haven’t wanted to spend much money on temporary fixes just for the sake of instant satisfaction.

There was awhile there over the summer when we assumed we would be better off building our own shelving units so that we could have the dimensions and style we wanted – something inspired by a midcentury original, but on our budget, and lighter wood to complement our maple floors. But there’s always a slightly terrifying sensation when it comes to wanting to build anything yourself, a feeling that ranges from mild to severe depending on how “professionally manufactured” you want the finished piece to look. In our case, we’re not professional woodworkers, therefore not too proud to say that the intricate, hidden joinery and finishing that would be required to create something exceptional would be a real challenge. Could we do it? Sure, I think we could build something beautiful, even if sleek, modern design is not as easy to replicate as, say, rustic-chic (like our farmhouse-style tables)… but at what cost, you know?

After pricing out the materials (very premium lumber – not inexpensive) and deciding that we would also need to spend a few hundred dollars in new tools and equipment in order to do it right and very well (we’d definitely want a routing table and a few new joinery gadgets), the realization that maybe we could afford to buy new was not actually that far-fetched… and I wasn’t even factoring in our time, which would have been at least several weeks of effort… woodworking can be a very expensive and labor-intensive hobby, hence why custom pieces usually have a lot of zeroes attached to them.

The big factor in all of this, of course, is whether or not we could find something that suits our vision and our house. I think we did with the Lap System.

So, home she comes. I can’t wait to see how this makes a difference in our dining room.

Back Up

October 16, 2014   //  Posted in: Buying and Renting and Selling   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

I volunteered to back up my mom’s digital camera a few weeks ago; the Kodak EasyShare my sister and I bought her in 2004 now had a decade’s worth of memories stored on it, and I figured one of us had better extract them for safe keeping. I spent a nice few hours reliving her assorted vacations, memories of various apartments, holidays, and photos like these, which she snapped the rainy day that she accompanied me through the inspection of my first home. Recognize any of these rooms?

Old house inspection.Photo 1: Sunroom. Pre-blue ceiling, pre-bright windows, pre-refinished floor.
Photo 2: Dining room. Wood trim, vertical blinds, wallpaper. Pre-paneling, pre-pendant lights.
Photo 3: Living room. Basically, that’s what it would have looked like if I hung curtains over the windows.
Photo 4: Kitchen. Oak overload. Pre-stained cabinets and pre-new countertop.

Finding That Big Vintage Chalkboard

October 01, 2014   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, Decor   //  By: Emily   //  one response

Our huge, vintage chalkboard.

Unlike previous years where I hoarded up all of the cheap candles and rehab-able decor that I could find, my sights were more focused this year when we browsed garage sales on sunny Saturdays. I collected almost no tsotchkes but instead, practical items like 20-gallon gas cans, a garage shovel and rake organizer, Harry Potter books and DVDs (book 5, starting tonight), lawn chairs, wood screws, and lots of adorable infant and toddler clothes and accessories in near-mint condition for mere pennies. And I think you’d agree that it’s pretty hard to pass up a giant school chalkboard wherever you come across it. No surprises here, I claimed it as soon as I saw it.

We found a vintage chalkboard at a garage sale!

It’s not slate, but it is heavy-duty and is in good shape. Only a scratch in the lower right corner, and a couple of extra holes in the frame to show its age. At install, it took extra dads and aunts to get it level and hung properly using anchor bolts. So, there are virtually no other pictures to prove what we went through, only memories of pinched fingers, lots of cursing, and general confusion.

Installing the chalkboard in our kid's room.

I keep saying aloud (and on here over and over again) that we still haven’t really put a lot of stuff on the walls of our home–it actually pains me, after all of the patching we had to do–but this one makes up for our lack in wall decor in a big way; it’s so practical and fun to have that I think it’ll be with us forever. Plus, obviously, it’s sheer size covers a lot of wall, that will never again require my decorating attention. (Side note: New outlets arrived. Decided to go Legrand Adorne throughout the house for consistency. Been chipping away at it all week. Don’t put your fingers in there, kids.)

A vintage school chalkboard for our kid's bedroom.

Shelving is a line item on my “next thing to spend lots of money on” list, because we want some permanent, quality shelving in very specific sizes for our living spaces and bedroom. We started to chip away at this need a little bit by picking up a great mid-century shelf for $20 (on the left, shown after a little outdoor cleanup when I brought it home – bought from a nice local couple I follow on Instagram!), and a solid 5-drawer rolling cart with melamine drawers that’ll eventually serve as practical kid craft and magazine storage in our living or dining room. Needs a good scrubbin’.

Midcentury shelving solutions for our home.

The 5-drawer rolling cart came from an estate sale that we ventured through about a month ago, the property of a local curator with Kodak connections who had amassed some incredible goodies in his mid-century Rochester home, including some amazing art and fine wood furnishings. I don’t like to dwell on things that we passed over, but in hindsight it was probably one of those moments when I shouldn’t have been so “thrifty.” The guy had a super-powerful digital antennae that would have made it way easier to get local TV channels through the trees, an OJ Simpson’s high school yearbook (weirdo convo piece?), and lots of these completely useless but neat glass lenses that ranged as tiny as my pinkie nail, to as large as my head (for film developing?).

Big photography lenses at a Rochester estate sale.

And an awesome darkroom timer (big regret, so cool, shame on me for trying too hard to not be a random tsotchke collector). Please just remind me that I’d never have used it.

A cool darkroom timer that I wish I bought.


What dust collectors did you pick up or pass on during the summer?