Tag Archives: vintage

dovetail lamp + a peek of the dining room

I haven’t had a proper dining room since we occupied the mansion back in my mid-teens. That experience as a whole didn’t go so well. Maybe this is where my ambivalence towards any kind of formal area, be it for seating or dining or really doing anything other than sleeping since you kind of need a bedroom for that (unless you’re my dad, then the living room futon does just fine), stems from. You wanna eat? Do it in the kitchen, while sitting on a counter or at the table, your choice. Or maybe you’d prefer the back porch? Or the couch? Or the bed… while reading a magazine and swatting the dog away from the bowl perched perilously on your lap? Fine by me. Just clean up after yourself.

However, I now have a dining room. A tablecloth-covered desk may be acting as a table and the two benches that used to anchor our bay windows are standing in place for chairs but it’s worked for one gathering so far.

The tablecloth is a piece of fabric my friend Kate brought back from a trip to Curaçao a few years ago and the curtains are hold-overs from the old place. I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to update them soon. Any ideas? Maybe I could turn the tablecloth into curtains. Hmmm….

My favorite part of this room is the new lamp. It blows my $4 floor lamp out of the water both in style and price and was worth every penny thanks to a local vintage boutique. I had been out with Chernara all day looking specifically for a floor lamp for the dining room and I happened to pop into Dovetail while waiting for an order of Thai food from a neighboring restaurant. I pass the shop everyday on my way to work and loved a recent write-up of a co-owner from Time Out but this was my first time visiting. It also happened to be a day where every single item in the store was half off, making me a very happy girl.

And of course I love all of the built-ins! Perfect for the books that used to line the floor of our old abode.

So…who’s coming over to sit at the grown-up table?

Psssst… Chicago! Check out Dovetail!
1452 West Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 243-3100

thrifted: hors d’oeuvres

hors d'oeuvres

I stepped out of the house yesterday morning to have some quality time to myself at my favorite neighborhood thrift store. Most of my hunt was dedicated to the massive clothing section, where I scored four tanks, a blouse and two pairs of shorts for $10. Photos of my awesome new Levis later in the week! They are seriously the most comfortable shorts I have ever come across and fit like a glove.

I only found one thing in the housewares section worth buying: can you guess what it is from the photo above?


A neat little stand for hors d’oeuvres (or ice cream.)


I googled and googled to find out who made it, where it was from, and how much of a deal I got by paying $1.40 for it but no dice: I can’t find any information on my cool new acrylic tray.

Any ideas? Have you ever seen a tray like this? The closest I came was this cheese grater that Katherine from BackGarage is selling in her Etsy shop. The text is the same but I can’t find anything similar to my tray from the manufacturer. Help me solve the mystery!

the four-dollar floor lamp

I thrifted for the first time in almost a month yesterday. It was a beautiful, sun-filled, fifty-degree plus Chicago afternoon; as I type, gray has blanketed the city, the forecast calls for rain until this evening, and snow next weekend. Will we ever see spring?

Lucky for me, a $4 lamp is here to brighten the day.

Village Discount Outlet is having their fifty-percent off winter clearance sale. I spied this bad boy the minute we walked in and commenced to carrying it around the huge warehouse of a store. Originally priced at $8, I got it for $4 and eagerly plugged it in this morning: it works! I’d been looking for a floor lamp for a dark corner of our living room for eons. It’ll take a little re-arranging for the lamp to fit in the space but if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know that this particular room is the bane of my existence and moving stuff around always makes me feel better about its state, no matter that I can’t seem to ever get it right. Maybe the lamp will save me.

Since the grayness has turned our apartment into a dark cave, I shot this in the front room. If we end up getting sun this week I’ll update with the lamp in it’s new home.

I picked up some lotus bowls, too. I have an affinity for these guys but until now, only owned the smaller version. Now I have five big ones, purchased at $1/each. Not bad for my first day back on the hunt.

putting up a mirror, spackle and forgetfulness

spackle & cowlicks

Who knew putting up a mirror could be so easy?

Well, easy if you’re more patient than I am and actually use a level as directions suggest or pay attention to where you’re drilling when you drill. Because of my haste to put the mirror up, I flubbed some of the measurements and ended up having to spackle a few areas of the mutilated wall (I even took the time to pull some nails and screws out of other yucky walls in our apartment and spackled them, too) but the actual mirror installation took minutes. This KOLJA mirror from IKEA had been sitting underneath a couch in the guest room for months. I avoided putting it up initially because I was drill-less and I think I plumb forgot about even owning it until this morning when I looked up at my iPhoto masterpiece and decided that I needed a change.

apartment foolishness

This is how impatient and non-perfectionist I truly am: I had the level out and just didn’t use it. What is wrong with me?

apartment foolishness

Once the mirror was up I figured I’d change around some of the stuff atop the credenza and contemplated putting these two pieces next to it. My Gram gave them to me years ago and they’re another item I just forgot I owned.

instamatic #2!

The Instamatic. I had forgotten about this one, too. It was purchased at my first estate sale last year, tossed into my trunk with some other thrifty items and it stayed there until last week when we finally cleaned out the boot. I shrieked with joy upon its discovery, I won’t even lie.


The Instamatic joined its friend on the credenza and the artwork went into another room of the house. Just didn’t work for me out here.

thrifted basket

thrifted basket

I stole the basket from the bathroom, where it held nothing but a hairdryer my pixie-cut-having-behind hadn’t used in months, maybe even years. I padded it with scarves and it’ll replace the white bowl that used to live there and act as a catch-all for cell phones and wallets.

apartment foolishness

I love changing it up for free, with items already in my possession. Now if this spackle would just dry already…

Related Post:
The Landing Strip, Revisited

the gift of thrift: secondhand holidays


In years past, I forced myself to make personalized holiday gifts by hand no matter the time or monetary cost of doing so. I sewed my little hands silly last December and ya know what? I’m not doing it this year.

First, I’m not very good at it. Second, I don’t feel like dealing with fabric selections for a dozen different tastes. Third, I check out people’s houses when I visit; I look for my gifts, I see who has them out and in use. AND YOU PEOPLE STUFF THEM IN DRAWERS. Yes, even you, Gram. I saw my pretty pink apron in a drawer. If my own grandmother isn’t in love with my handmade wares then it’s safe to say not many people are.

So. I decided to purchase everything second hand for the holidays. Thrifting is a million times more fun than sewing and my house is overflowing with awesome finds; why not spread it around, have someone get some use out of these beauties?

I’ll be posting some gifts throughout the next few weeks. If you’re on my list this year please act surprised when you open them.






The theme of this weekend’s thrifting excursion seemed to, once again, be dishes. They just call me! I can’t help but buy! It’s becoming a serious addiction. I mean, who doesn’t always need plates? Maybe one of these is for you?

What do you think about giving or receiving second hand gifts for the holidays? Anyone completely against it? Anyone thrilled with my brilliance and planning to do the same?

bedroom update: painted floors!

painting our bootleg ass floors
You’re gonna have to click here to view the old bedroom as it’s too damn ugly to post here again. Oddly, it’s one of the most-viewed pages of this site, probably because of the DIY headboard ideas; obviously, I’ve yet to use any of them.

Anyways, my sister Bridie and I, along with help from The Mister, painted the bedroom floors this weekend and ooohhhh-weeee do I love the results! You can read about our experience today at ReadyMade but I’m using this post to show you how the room is starting to come together.

The photo above is the bed dressed with a quilt that has been in my family for ages. My grandmother’s friend Geneva used to make them and Gram had tons around the house when I was little. We used to stretch out in the backseat of our VW Vanagon (exactly like this one) and pile the quilts around us on long car rides.

painting our bootleg ass floors
Unfortunately, the quilt alone isn’t quite warm enough to withstand the brutality of Chicago winter nights and we’ve pulled out the comforter within the last week or so. I’m a little tired of the duvet cover and on the lookout for something really yellow. Finding a good duvet for under $100 is absolutely impossible. It might be time to just make one.

The bedside table was an alley find that I spray painted white. It used to live in the front room and was replaced by that estate sale credenza. The height is perfect but I’m not really in love with it and have kept my eyes peeled for replacements. Two things that definitely need to go are the crappy, cheap lamp and the window treatment. A simple white curtain will do a lot for the small space.

Painted frame, estate sale: $4 {spray painting it was fun but seriously, we need a damn headboard}
Duvet cover, IKEA: $14
Quilt: Free
Lamp, IKEA: $6.95
Side table, alley: $3.95 for spray paint

painting our bootleg ass floors

This gives you an idea of how small the room is.

Dresser, Craigslist: $35 plus $3.95 for a can of spray paint {before & after}
Chair, Salvation Army: $5 {the day I bought it}
Mirror, Goodwill: $4.95 {inspired by my step-mom’s mirrors}
Embroidered art, estate sale: $2 {from my very first estate sale}

The stuff on the wall is stapled paneling from IKEA. Yes, we stapled it. When we moved in and dismantled everything in this room we were met with glue all over this wall from a bulletin board the former tenants had put up. That and huge holes from shelving made for a really disgusting wall. This was an easy fix and I hope to change it out with more stapling or actually do the damn thing and wallpaper it.

What you don’t see is our television. It normally perches on that empty corner of the dresser but I made The Mister wait to move it while I snapped photos!

Room Total: $79.80 + million dollar mattress that doesn’t count + bedframe @ $20 = $99.80

Grand Total (in the rooms I’ve bothered to do this with)
$100 | Bedroom (paint/materials at around $100 covered by Mr. Landlord)
$387 | Kitchen
$370 | Front Room South
$80   | Front Room North

Total: $937

Under a grand.  This still leaves plenty of wiggle room to continue updates in the bedroom and for the bathroom, guest room, living room and closet.  I’m patting myself on the back, you know.

straightening and framing

office aka front room

Remember those air travel brochures I picked up at a rummage a few weeks ago? [Drea, I owe you a scan, I know!] I finally put them into some frames stolen from the kitchen on Saturday. The frames are dark wood and came from the thrift for about a buck a piece. They held fabric while hung behind my coffee pot in the kitchen, and I just got kinda tired of seeing them there. I took them down and apart, thinking hard about what could replace the fabric for the space underneath our Cuba sign. When we hung it, I knew it was way too high and needed something below to fill the dead space. The orange baskets you’ll see when you click that link worked for a little while but, like the fabric filled frames, I just got plain tired of ‘em.

redoing the desk top, hanging art

I took the fabric out and put two of the brochures in each frame, using light masking tape to hold them to the glass, and each other. I didn’t want to put white behind the art so I left the frames backless and you can see the paint behind the brochures on the wall.

Then I experimented, moving items taken from other areas around the house for the desktop. I’m picky, so this took a good twenty minutes.

redoing the desk top, hanging art

I love this little elephant and thought it would work next to an orange stack of books with a photo of moi at 16 years old on top. I stared for a few minutes and decided it looked too busy.

redoing the desktop, hanging art

I removed the photo of myself, relocated the elephant to the top of the red drawer along with the blue stack of books and Instamatic, and pushed the orange books down to the other side of the desk. I added a blue potted plant atop that stack and moved the white pot to the left of it. Definitely too busy.

redoing the desktop, hanging art

The blue pot and the elephant got the boot and I slid the vase to the left side. The white pot went above the orange stack and I was pleased.

redoing the desktop, hanging art

For one last change, I replaced the white pot with a yellow one. Perfect.

This is what goes through my head when I rearrange something. I try out tons of combos to see what is most pleasing to my eye and now, when I walk by the desk or sit down at it, I’m extremely pleased. I give prop stylists much “props,” excuse the pun. This shit is hard.  It’s also a no cost way to update your space and to me, the little changes make all the difference.