Legacies Old and New

Antiques and Unique Home Decor

Farewell Tour: Part Three

Kelsey DowneyComment

This post will be quick and sweet; a little morsel of antique delight! Last weekend my husband and I traveled up to Lynchburg, Virginia to visit some family. We recently became Aunt and Uncle to our sweet little nephew! My in-laws were town as well…so it just made sense to make the drive north and visit with everyone before we move. At the official three week mark, peeps - then we are Washington bound!

A little back story on how I found Factory Antique Mall: last fall we went on a road trip from Georgia to Boston, Mass and on our way back we dropped down through Pennsylvania and into Virginia with the goal of visiting Blackdog Salvage in Roanoke. However, when we saw the signs that claimed “the largest antique mall in America” about an hour from our destination - we obviously had to stop. It did not disappoint. If I had to guess, there are easily close to a thousand vendors. ITS HUGE. They even mark each isle as a street and have cross sections to keep track of where you’re at; in an attempt not to get lost.

Most vendors contain smalls of various things; one even has a booth full of Tupperware. Odd, yes…but nearly all the other booths have some great items! I’ve found some cast iron reproduction pieces like my coke-a-cola horse drawn carriage (still around 50-60 years old), several primitive wooden chicken feeders, antique wooden paint ladders and incubator trays! This massive antique mall is also where my beloved 5th leg kitchen cabinet was located…sadly, it sold before I could get back up there to buy it myself. Talk about heart broken. There is a large open area in the back farthest left corner of the store that has a ton of antique furniture. Some fixer pieces, but most are is stable enough condition to just need a good oil rub.

A really nice bonus of this mall is that it is well staffed. Look for the folks in yellow t-shirts. Usually, if you need help loading or have a lot of items on your cart; someone will come around and trade you for an empty cart or help you pack your vehicle once you’re done shopping. Factory Antique Mall is Located in Verona, Va which is about 1.5-2 hours North of Lynchburg, Va and is right off the highway. If you are road tripping around or live in the area, be sure to check it out! I’m sure you’ll find something worth the drive!

Stay tuned for next week’s post - I am driving to Braselton, Ga for their annual spring Antique Festival + Art Show. They host several festivals a year, so just because you miss the spring one doesn’t mean you’ll need to miss out the rest of the year!

Farewell Tour: Part Two

Kelsey DowneyComment

Guess who’s back; back again….yea it’s me. I am here to tell you about my buddy Jere! He runs a huge antique warehouse in Savannah, Georgia - if you haven’t been YOU MUST! Picture an old brink warehouse on the river with giant wood beam rafters you can and will bang your head on if you aren’t watching where you walk and antiques; stacks of antiques as far back and up as you can see. Sounds like heaven doesn’t it? But it gets better, if you have the chance to meet Jere - do it. He is a great source of information and such an interesting person. He has been in business for at least 40years ( if I remember correctly) and gets new shipments of antiques monthly. Now when I say shipments, I mean 40 foot connex containers from Europe FULL. of gorgeous furniture.

I’ve been in the store back to back weekends and at least a dozen items I had my eye on before, were gone or marked as sold. I’ve learned that if you go into Jere’s and your heart stops on something, don’t second guess; just buy it - because the chances of something else similar or identical being available the next time you stop in are pretty slim. There is a large variety and it takes a good two hours to get through the three levels (and that’s if your speed shopping).

Recently, I went in looking for a set of dining room chairs. I needed 8-10; which can be hard to find. As Jere put it, “finding a set of chairs that match is hard, trying to find a nice set of chairs that match is even harder, then trying to find a find a nice set of chairs that is more than six - all in good matching condition is next to impossible.” True, so true. I ended up with a set of six and two captains chairs. The set of six are a slightly different style than the captains set, but the floral carving is pretty close and that is all I was really wanting to match with the table…which we also bought from Jere last fall. I am thrilled with my purchases and am sad I won’t have the convenience of a short drive to go check out his ever changing inventory once we move.

THE GOOD NEWS? Jere ships anywhere in the US :) so after we are settled in and I can get my new business legs on the ground in Washington; you can bet your butt I’ll be giving good ole JerBer a call for my own connex to be shipped out for all the wonderful PNW peeps to enjoy. Stay with me folks - I have another must see stop that I will blog about later this month!

Farewell Tour: Part One

Kelsey Downey

Farewell? Yes. Not so long in the sense that the blog or my business is no more, but toodaloo to the East Coast. We got news that our next duty station is in Washington State, at Ft. Lewis and we are not mad about it! We lived in Tacoma for four years before we moved to Oklahoma and then the two moves within Georgia. Based on how often we’ve moved - it feels like ages since we’ve been back, but its barely been more than two years. I am so excited to be back in the Pacific North West and to share even more adventures my business journey will be on once we are settled.

Part one of this little farewell blog is going to the first in a series of touring my favorite antique stores out here on the East Coast. Last week I drove an hour west to Pinch of the Past Architectural Antiques. Now, to be honest; I had never been to this store before. I have had it on my “to-do” list for the last six months though. Finally!! The building itself was cool enough for the drive, but the salvaged goods inside made it all worth while. The barn was a refurbished train depot, also known as the Greensboro Freight Depot dating back to 1845. Over time with some lines closing and others being repaired; as well as several ownership transfers - it ended with CSX Transportation in 1986. The freight depot in Greensboro, Ga was the water tower which got its’ water from an underground spring-fed well. Even after the trains began to make their transition from steam to coal, the depot was still used for crop transportation as well as animal feed.

I was greeted by the owner, her cats and an old dog. I know what you’re thinking…it can’t get any better; but it does! Through the front door opens into a small office/check out space, then another door leads you to the main building. The floors are wide plank and old, but super sturdy. The walls are exposed wood interior siding and totally gorgeous. While I didn’t come across many antique furniture items, the whole place is stuffed with the architectural decorative pieces of your dreams. Solid brass door plates with intricate edge detail, lead glass windows, slate roof tiles, glass door knobs, stylized tin sections (a whole stack), cast iron fireplace surrounds and doors for days. I had planned to spend an hour at Pinch of the Past and ended up happily searching for two!

I did chat with the owner for a good 20 minutes and she is such a charming lady! She used to have a shop in Savannah, so it was nice to talk antique stores and places to see, while also remarking on how much new construction goes on in that town. In the end I walked out of there with 20 slate tiles and a tool chest; but this ain’t no ordinary tool chest. It stands about four feet tall and three feet wide, framed with 1.5 x 6’s and a metal insert with shelves which holds at least 80 small, rectangular drawers. I plan to de-rust the drawers and paint the wood frame (it’s already painted, but ugly). So, just a bit of clean-up and paint before this baby will bask in the spring sun with all its rustic charming glory intact.

This weekend we head to Savannah, Ga to my most, ultimate and favorite stores of all time - Jere’s! You just wait. Once I show you the pictures - you’ll be wanting to drive or book a flight ASAP just for this warehouse on the river. Below is the address for Pinch of the Past and some photos I snapped. Until next time…

You may drive right past it, the road is a little hidden on the right hand side. 1271 North East Street, Box 1115, Greensboro, GA 30642

I've Gotta Be Honest

Kelsey Downey

I’ve been on the struggle bus hard this month. The holidays are over, routine is back to normal; I’ve even started my appraisers course studies again…but I’ve just been off. A slump I can’t quite shake. Winter blues? Maybe. I am thankful that I manage to get myself to the gym and still run through the “to-do’s” around the house and business related things. I just haven’t had the energy or motivation to really sit down and write enthusiastically. I’ve got a great topic lined up - historical paint trends! I’ve piddled a bit and have about half the research done for that post. Simply haven’t gotten it finished.

I’ve been working really hard on trying to figure out advertising on facebook and instagram - it’s harder than you think! I am always reading an article or listening to a podcast about e-commerce marketing. I did want to apologize for the lack of newer content this month. I have been really slacking and my goal this coming month is to get you lovely people at least three new posts full of fun history, renovation stories or store updates!

If you’re reading this, then I appreciate you following along and you’re the reason I am giving this little update! Stay tuned for more goodness - I won’t let you down!

Gimme Da Bins

Kelsey Downey

Today is a computer work day. My body needed a serious break from the garage. Let me tell you why: stripping. No, not that kind - get your mind out of the gutter! The chemical kind that requires a lot of elbow grease. I have four pieces sitting out there, waiting to be stripped down and oiled up to their natural beauty. I started with a primitive pine grain bin. I found the grain bin in the back of a massive warehouse, sitting and waiting. I actually saw it three months before when I was in the Roanoke, VA area last. I never thought I’d be back, but a last minute trip to see family just before Christmas made it possible to sneak back up to the treasure trove with my trusty trailer and snag a few pieces. I underestimated the grain bin. Like, aggressively underestimated! I thought I would be out there for a day, not even a full day and be done. Ha. Jokes on me. It actually took two full days and now my lower back hates me.

The surface had chipped and flaky paint. My assumption was that I could throw (gently) some stripper down and then scrape it off. What actually happened was far from that easy sounding work. One small section at a time (very important when using serious chemicals) long sleeves, pants, boots and chemical gloves are also a MUST. You really don’t want any of that junk on your skin - it’s not fun; trust me. I put a plastic tarp down too, we rent currently and I go the extra step on any space I work in because nobody wants to fork out extra cash to fix a problem that was totally preventable with some care and thought about your work-zone.

Now that my space was prepped and my skin covered; we get to strippin’. What the first section revealed to me was three layers of paint. Which is fine, it’s about what I expected. Further application told me that a red wax or oil based stain was used when it was first built or early on. It turned everything after into gray-ish muck. One coat of chemicals turned into three - just to get 90% of the cloudiness gone. I went through an entire bag of 0000 steel wool and my wire brush is trashed. Once I was done with the harsh chemicals, I used soapy water first, then a wood cleaner from my local restoration shop to make sure that all the surfaces were clean and ready for a light 320 sanding. No power sander here guys, this was gentle, loving hand sanding. It has so much character and I wanted to leave as much of it in tact as possible.

I then used a tinted wood oil (which also acts as a protective layer), but I finished with a good bees wax rub down. I let everything sit between coats, but knew there was no way it was going to completely dry outside. It has been terribly muggy here in Augusta, Ga and rainy. Once I had everything buffed, wiped and cleaned off; I brought the grain bin in for drying and staging. It’s actually still in our bedroom. I didn’t want to risk the finish in any way. It will probably sit in the house until the humidity clears out and I can move it back to the garage with a blanket over it until it sells.

I am off to add more inventory stage shots and this lovely grain bin to my available antiques for sale. Thanks for stopping by and reading about how this restoration job destroyed my back - kidding, sort of. Anyway; I’ll be back to posting as often as I can as I continue to organize the constant delivery of home decor items!

Because Updates Are Nice...

Kelsey Downey

Why does it feel that the last week has felt like two? No, seriously…I really do feel that the last seven days has taken 14 to complete. Like, why?! It’s been ages since I wrote to you all and that is because I have been hard at work getting all the home decor goodies ready to roll out. Most new e-commerce entrepreneurs start with shopify or list items on amazon - that’s fine, kudos to you folks; but I wanted something different to offer. It wasn’t the easier choice and I am still struggling and learning with how websites work, sales tax requirements, coding inventory etc. It’s time consuming and there has been no such thing as balance lately. IT’S OKAY. This is what I wanted. I still work on antiques and I still study for my appraisers course. I also still cook, clean and make sure my pets have attention + exercise…..oh, and my husband isn’t neglected either! He has been a huge supporter and mental booster for me as the mountain of tasks before launch day approaches and gets bigger and bigger! As if all those things don’t take up a full day; we also got word that we will be moving back across the country in May and with that - no more moves. This is it. No mas moving. Finito. Done-zo. We are finally planting our butts down. Naturally, I have been distracted with a home search. You know it’s fun. Don’t lie to yourself, like you wouldn’t be looking this far in advance too!

Now, my shops, my shops, my lovely lady shops (sing it like Fergie). I have a few items live in the Exclusive Shop, but I have so much more coming - just wait! As for what will be in the Shop; 85% will be American made, hand crafted home decor and 15% will be unique vintage decor I find when I am out shopping for antiques to restore. I also will have a page dedicated to selling my finished antiques. With the new year, I probably won’t have a fresh blog post about anything historic until after all my inventory is in and organized. My Instagram @legaciesoldandnew is THE BEST way to follow where I am at and what I am doing. I am still figuring out email subscription lists and what content will go in those. You will also see my actual face and hear my voice more around my social media pages. I want to show you guys that I want nothing more than to make sure you have great hand-made items to decorate with and cherish with some killer quality antiques. You’ll see how chaotic my work style is and somehow manage to get it all to work out. You’ll also see my puppers more too, because…ya know, dogs.

Thanks for stopping by to read my update and stick with me - it’s all coming together within the NEXT TWO WEEKS!!!

The Great Five: Part Five

Kelsey DowneyComment

Part five? Already? Is it already time to be at the fifth installment of my Great Five series? The answer is yes. Sad, but true. This week we are talking about Thomas Sheraton who’s designs were popular between 1790 and 1805, but the better encompassing time-frame would be 1795 to 1815. Sheraton began his early career as a jack of all trades with an eclectic employment record. At one point he was a Baptist preacher, an art student, a writer, mystic, teacher and designer; he was a trained cabinet maker as well! I mean, I’ve had a number of jobs, but at least they were all generally related to one another. I suppose Sheraton had all the experience to throw into his design’s and they had to be good or else no one would have looked twice.

The tricky thing about Sheraton is that he didn’t have his own workshop, so it’s pretty difficult to tell if a piece was actually made by him or just based off his book. That’s right! Thomas Sheraton published a book of drawings; several, actually. His books served as an important informative factor for many contemporary cabinet makers in both England and America. A lot of the fine furniture, especially pieces veneered in satinwood during the last part of the 18th century are distinctly Sheraton. You could also tell a piece was designed by Sheraton from its puritan elements; simple, elegant, refined. Some of the best recognized furniture items were his sideboards and chairs. Typically, the sideboard of his design were mahogany built with slim tapered legs and fans or ovals of satinwood inlay on the doors.

Some would say that his designs were almost severe since he favored straight lines and was rather critical of curves. Sheraton has been called a pioneer of the straight back chair, even when he would use the shield back, the tops were still fairly flat and could be considered more rectangle-like than shield. While most of Sheraton’s pieces were straight lined, he did approve of the serpentine curve and the bow front swell for sideboards and cabinets. Another way he would soften his severe designs were the surface decorations, such as; japanning and veneer inlays.

FUN FACT: Japanning is a method of painting wood. Formally known as East Asian Lacquering; English and American makers found other materials to mimic the lacquer with dark resins and color additives to achieve the near black surface which gold paint or other colored paints were used to decorate.

Despite being an artist; Sheraton borrowed from other designers and the (then) current word trends. Many in those days did though, most would say where they got their inspiration - Sheraton did not. He never readily acknowledged how other makers influenced him and was actually rather critical of others, while maintaining a high degree of self confidence.

He was exceptional at boudoir furniture and his book had many designs with titles like “A Lady’s Work Table”, “A Conversation Chair”, “A Lady’s Cabinet Writing Table”. He also created and paid attention to various smaller pieces such as; delicate mirrors, dressing tables, small tables and small dressing room furniture - all of which were in very high demand. The bulk of Sheraton’s popularity came from the sketch books he published, he was an eclectic man by trade, but still managed to infuse distinct, clean designs that have lasted hundreds of years.

I hope you enjoyed my five part series that covered the great and most well known cabinet makers of the 18th Century and while I may not have fulfilled my promise of two posts a week - I have been hard at work making sure that my Exclusive Shop is ready to roll with no hiccups and all the best I can find and offer you all! Please continue to check back here, subscribe or follow my Instagram page for updates and discounts. Thanks for sticking around till now!

The Great Five: Part Four

Kelsey DowneyComment

Well hey, hi and hello! Holy crap you guys, where do the weeks even go? I think they disappear with my socks. I consciously remember October, and then suddenly it was Thanksgiving…and now the first week of December is heading into the weekend. Like, what? Wait - I have so much to do! Yesterday I drove around the Georgia countryside and picked some solid antique decor items, be sure to follow my instagram account @legaciesoldandnew for updates; one of which is that I passed the first exam of my appraisers course - YAY!

Like my week, this post may be a short one since it will cover cabinetmaker George Hepplewhite and there isn’t an overwhelming amount of information on him during his earlier years. So, we will just be covering the time-frame of when his designs were most fashionable; 1780 to 1795. The Hepplewhite style became popular due to the Cabinetmakers and Upholsterers Guide; a book published by his wife in 1788. The guide was a sign of good taste and took care with remarkable finishes, because of this it was enjoyed by cabinetmakers in both England and America. Hepplewhite made a number of contributions to the Guide, but only signed some of the drawings and the basis of his design character leaned more towards what was already popular rather than his own ingenuity. It’s actually pretty difficult to resoundingly claim that a piece was made by Hepplewhite himself. Usually though, no matter who built it, if it was designed by ole Georgie the product was consistent and simple; while also appearing elegant and refined.

The Cabinetmakers and Upholsterers Guide had three editions. I’ve already mentioned when the first made its debut, but version two came out in 1789 and the third in 1794. There aren’t many differences between the first two books, but the third had some pretty notable updates to the chair designs. A Hepplewhite chair typically had either heart shaped or shield shaped backs, but the third edition showcased a number of square back styles. Chair designs were a favorite of George’s and like I said, they usually had a shield shape, slightly lower than normal. The legs were slim, straight and tapered with the curves being the main feature of the back and arms.

The wood of choice for construction purposes was satinwood and then Hepplewhite would use inlays of more delicate and exotic woods; he favored inlays over carvings. His chest of drawer front designs have three basic shapes; bowed, serpentine and straight. Hepplewhite would use mahogany on his chests instead of satinwood. The sloping bracket foot is also a safe indicator of a Hepplewhite design for mahogany constructed chest of drawers, bookcases and cabinets. Because he generally created designs that were along the lines of popular themes you could easily place a Hepplewhite piece in an Adams inspired interior.

So, you know how for the past few minutes you’ve been reading about the time frame when George Hepplewhite’s designs were popular? And you know how you read that the first published version of the Guide was in 1788? Well, Georgie died in 1786. Who published on his behalf? His wife of course! Alice Hepplewhite continued the management of the Hepplewhite company after her husbands death. Some might say that Alice is the unsung hero of the Hepplewhite legacy. She went through and collected her husbands designs and compiled them into a book. As we saw with the Directory by Chippendale; these drawings had a far reach and really put George’s work out there for others to model and base their builds on. Go Alice!

I hope you didn’t blink, because the post is over - much like my week. Okay, okay; enough time lapse jokes. You get the idea. I am really busy loading up more products, getting my new logo on business cards and figuring out my marketing tactics. I’ll be making another post about general goings ons and hope you join back in for more!

Cast Iron Toys

Kelsey DowneyComment

I don’t know when my fascination with cast iron toys began; I guess I’ve always liked them. Now, I love them and whenever I am cruising through a shop I keep my eyes peeled. I took a trip up to Virginia a few weeks ago and found two that I absolutely loved at prices I couldn’t pass by! I did pass up one other, it was amazing and large for what it was. An over sized fire truck cart with horses and a driver with fire ladders. I wish I had bought it. That is something I am learning the hard way, if there is an antique or vintage item that you hardly ever see and there is some instinctual value to it, just buy the dang thing. Chances are it will take months or even years before you come across something similar again!

Nearly all toys are made with plastic these days; “way back when” toys were made with cast iron. It was cheap and easy. There are reproduction cast iron toys made today, but they lack the clarity and detail older made models had. There is a lot of information on cast iron toys out there and tons of different types of toys as well; arcade toys, pull behind, wagons, carts, door stops…the list goes on. Today I plan to go over a little bit of information on how the older casts were made and a brief description on how to tell if you may have a newer reproduction. By any standard, I am not an expert and anyone who reads this little gem is welcome to correct me - I’d love to learn something new!

To keep this post enjoyably entertaining and appropriately time consuming we will just look at two of the main cast iron toy companies; Hubley and Wilkins and then go over some identification tips. In 1894 Hubley Manufacturing Company was established in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Early models were horse drawn wagons and toy guns, but as technology changed, so did the toys they produced. Most popular of the Hubley line were motorcycles, but other transportation modes were created as well. All of the original Hubley toys were painted by hand and because of their detailed nature and age these can reach some high prices at auction - some as much as $100,000!! That’s some serious money. They eventually transition to die-cast and zinc cast toys with a few iron models remaining. The second maker was Wilkins Toy Company who established themselves in Keene, New Hampshire in the late 1880’s; they began with floor trains and similar transportation toys. Wilkins was best known for the long, detailed and slender locomotive sets with both passenger and freight cars. Once the company switched hands they expanded into wagons and farm machinery. Personally, I would love to have a cast iron tractor. Growing up on a dairy farm and having a family steeped in the agricultural world has drawn me to unique farm-like items!

FUN FACT: Harry Thayer Kingsbury who bought the Wilkins Toy Company and spurred the company forward with the expansion of toy types also patented the clock spring motor in 1902; which propelled the floor toys forward.

As I mentioned before, I own a few small cast iron toys and after reading up on how to tell the difference between originals and reproductions I was not surprised to find that two of mine are repro’s - BUT my good friends, one seems to be an original! I haven’t done a ton of additional digging into the manufacturer, but the tell signs of something made in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s are totes there. Let me explain a bit!

I’ve said it a few times here but the authentic items always have better detail, clearer and finer. This is due to the process of casting; both new and old methods use sand casting. Molten iron was poured into sand packed molds made from a master pattern. Usually these master patterns were made of bronze or brass for more durability, but sometimes were made with plaster or wood. A casting frame is also needed. The pattern is set in a wood frame and tightly packed with casting sand; once the pattern is removed a hollow impression is left in the sand. Every mold needs two frames - a top and a bottom or a left and a right. These two halves are locked together and the molten iron is poured in replicating the master pattern. When the iron is set, it is removed from the mold for finishing.

There are a handful of easy tips to remember that will help you decide if you’re looking at an original (1870’s - 1920’s) or if its a reproduction (1930’s through now) remember, I am not an expert, but these tips will at least point you in the right direction and I will include the links where I found all of this delightful information so if you want more to go on, you’ll have it at your leisure. Firstly, surface texture - older methods used a finer packing sand which left a smoother surface once the mold was cooled. It meant that details stood out more clearly and the paint could be painstakingly completed with ease. Newer methods tend to use sand that is more granulated which means that the end results in a rough surface that is either bumpy or has many small dimples. Secondly, reproductions had wheels that tended to be chunkier with imperfections. Original wheels had heart shaped spokes most of the time and were thin, with crisp detail. Thirdly, reproductions had seams where the two halves that come together are not tight, there would be a slight gap where they were pinned together. Originals paid impeccable attention to detail, the two halves fit well, nearly seamless.

I hope you come to appreciate cast iron toys as much as I have. I loved doing to research for this post and educating myself a bit more beyond the aesthetic of cast iron!




Image source for a few of these come from:


Avery Cast Iron Tractor Hubley.PNG

Hubley (1920)

Cast Iron Huber.PNG

Hubley (1929)

Wilkins Cast Iron Floor Toy.jpg

The Great Five: Part Three

Kelsey Downey

This week we are covering our third designer or shall I say designer(s) in The Great Five series; The Adam Brothers. Their design period began in 1760 and ended around 1790. Before we dive in too deep, let me give you a little update on my shop pages. This week I will release a few items for sale before the exclusive shop opens. I will also have several antiques up for sale as well. Feel free to subscribe and get the latest and greatest from Legacies! Now, let’s talk about the bros.

The Adams period is named after the brothers; Robert, John, James and William. The brothers were architects and designed their furniture to compliment the house or room. While they designed many pieces, they never built any furniture. 1760 - 1790 is also known as the neo-classic period, but for our little chat today; we will be referring to Robert and James as the chief designers. The brothers were big fans of ancient antiques and traditional design; these older styles heavily influenced their pieces. Around the time that the brothers began to design furniture Pompeii was being excavated. The Adams Brothers believed in elegance of ancient manner and it was clear that they interpreted those beliefs into their work. Which was perfect, since many of the high society folks took their household furniture and decoration very seriously and desired anything elegant with formal beauty.

Robert Adam was thee architect of the 18th century; he never let the detail overpower the furniture design. Each piece had its’ own harmonious scheme within the house. Everything Robert designed for a room had a specific placement, his rooms were spacious laid out so that each piece did not compete with another. The brothers built, remolded, and designed a fair few London town-homes and country estates. Along with popular home designs, Robert and James published a book called Works in Architecture in 1773 and further popularized their work. Between the book and their builds the Adams brothers style influence had quite some reach!

The brothers only designed homes for the wealthy clientele; a room designed by Adams was its own complete product and really had no equal in all of English Art. Nearly every field of the decorative fine arts between 1760 - 1800 was stamped with “good taste” due to the Adams brothers and their elegant style influences. Furniture designed by the brothers were usually rectangular with occasional circular lines. Some of the fashionable designs by Adams were dinging room sets, gilt mirrors and several chair variations.

Chairs developed between 1760-1765 reflect Adams transitional phase from modes of Roccan style into their own unique taste. Between 1770 and 1775 the drawing room chair was very popular; typically styled with open arms and an upholstered back. English adaptations were slightly larger and French models were painted pastel, more circular and favored fluted legs. Mahogany chairs were finely carved in neo-classic tastes which always correlated to the architectural style of the home. Chair legs were always changing, but with the Adams period the evolved from the cabriole style to be more straight and tapered.

While many variations of dining room sets were designed, there was typically a feature at the end of these rooms that remained consistent. A group of furniture capped the dining room sets that were always together; a sideboard table flanked by pedestals topped with urns. The gilt mirrors were also a rather strategically placed item; most often between windows with a console table beneath. Mirrors used to be split, but since the English were getting good at casting single plates and by the end of the 18th century they were able to produce 10 foot long pieces. Common decorative features on Adams furniture designs were influenced by Italian Renaissance and antique Roman ornament; medallions with classical figures such as trophies, Roman body armor, rosettes or some form of radial motif.

The history of the Adams brothers as I have gone over is fairly brief, but I hope you found enough historical nuggets to tide you over until next week when I will talk about George Hepplewhite! I should have another post up this week with another restoration story, but if I don’t - then Happy Thanksgiving!

Piano Bar Phase Two

Kelsey Downey

Phase two of my upright piano bar up-cycle will follow the steps that transformed an empty shell to a gorgeous bar! Last week I left you on the edge of your seats with a thrilling tale on how we changed the casters out, this week is a little more mundane, but you’ll get to see the various stages of design and finishing phases…because let’s be honest; sometimes when you think you’re done - you aren’t! The second phase of the piano bar took us another 2 weeks, good ole trial and error are the enemy of deadlines. Luckily, this was a project I was simply excited to do and wasn’t on any one else’s schedule. Our supplies included: plywood, cement board, thin set adhesive paste, grout, marble herringbone tile, various types of paint and an LED light strip.

By this point everything has been stripped out (except the harp) and sanded down. I made another tool purchase too - a spray gun! Not a fancy one, but its the type that DIY home painters would use, easy to operate with an electric plug in. Being new to painting anything wood I didn’t know that oil based paints turn the clear coat yellow. But before I get ahead of myself let me break this down into a better step by step process now that I have all of my materials.

First we painted and then we tiled. I sat on cold concrete in my garage randomly pouring paint into the gun canister and just winged it. Turns out that wasn’t a solid approach. I probably wasted 4 days getting frustrated over the yellow tinge in my clear coats. I didn’t use a base color, I didn’t research oil versus acrylic and how old wood change the results; I thought, “I just have to paint it…” How hard could that be? Ha. Hindsight is 20/20 my friends. I am glad I made mistakes though, or else I would’t have these entertaining tales at my expense for you to enjoy - oh, and the knowledge gained from rising above these mistakes is pretty good too. Now, another factor that didn’t even cross my mind was the temperature. It took 4 days of frustration and waiting because depending on the thickness of the coat you’ve just put down and how cold it is makes a huge difference on result. It felt like ages until the paint was actually dry. Once it was, I was back to the sanding board.

This paint round went so much smoother. First of all, I bought acrylic paint which is water based. This means I can dilute it since it is a water based paint. Why would I want to dilute paint? Easy. Multiple thin layers results in a way better end product over one or two thick sloppy layers (which is what went down in the first round). It takes more time, but trust me, it is worth it. We had two coats of base paint, three coats of the main color, and two coats of a matte clear. The finish was smooth and the details still popped!

The tile process wasn’t as terrible or as hard as I thought it was going to be, however; I am glad I had David around because it would have been so difficult on my own!.We added a shelf above where the keys used to be and turned the foot board into a shelf as well and the key area was the main work space. I watched several tile laying videos and read a ton of “how-to” articles before we made any cuts. I bought a tile cutter, a simple scoring and snap cutter, before buying the actual tile. Which meant that once we settled on the marble, the scoring cutter was useless (this time). We measured everything and made our cuts. First was the plywood base for all shelves and counters, then the cement board which was all glued and screwed down to the piano. Next, we dry set the tile to figure out where we needed to trim. I bought one square foot tile sheets of marble herringbone. The scoring cutter was no use to us, so we rented a wet saw from Home Depot.

I still have a box of spare marble pieces left over from this build. Since we had never used a wet saw before it was very nerve wracking, but not difficult. Once everything was cut, I layered the thin set adhesive and set the tile in place using a large rubber pad to ensure the pieces were flat. Next was the grout (after the thin set dried 24 hours) grout was a little tricky since it was time sensitive. The grout is smooshed down into all cracks and crevices, the excess clumps are squeegeed off and a clean, damp sponge is used to wipe up mess and clean away film. The sponge has to be clean and just damp enough without watering the grout down and ruining the process. The finished tile needed to dry another 24 hours before additional clean up could be done and the finishing touches made.

The last fun steps included adding the glass racks and the LED lights. I bought four racks from Home Depot and a LED strip light set from Amazon. I will add pictures so y’all can see where I attached these and how it finished off the project nicely. All in all, it took me a solid two months and twice as much money as it would take for me to do a similar project now. I wonder if your asking weather I managed to sell the magnificent piano bar? Strap in folks, here is another thrilling tale on how I built the bar in Washington and sold it in Georgia. Thankfully, when the Army moves us they send a team to pack and load the house; which included hauling the piano from Washington to Oklahoma. We kept it in our house in OK for a few months, but I realized the tiny, dumpy town we lived in was not going to pay my price - so I found a consignment shop in Wichita Falls, TX and parked it there for about eight months. During those eight plus months we moved again, to Columbus, Ga and I met a woman at my gym who fell in love with the piano.

She literally said, “If that was here, I would totally buy it!” My response, “be careful, if I tell David that he will drive to Texas and bring it to your doorstep.” That is exactly what happened. She agreed to the price + delivery, we rented a trailer and took a 36 hour round trip drive from Georgia to Texas for the piano; fought rain and wind and exhaustion to bring it to her. The only thing we did before dropping it off was paint it teal. Yes, teal. She wanted a color change and I was able to make it happen! It now lives in a farmhouse outside of Columbus, Ga - happy and beautiful!

Change Is Coming

Kelsey DowneyComment

I have a few updates for you - first, as I mentioned on one of my more recent posts I will be posting twice weekly on a regular schedule. There will be more stories for you to enjoy and soon there will also be an online boutique to fulfill your home decor whims (soft opening January 2019)! I am carefully curating hand crafted home decor; locally sourced in the United States artfully paired with quality antiques. I encourage everyone to look through these product photos and sneak a peak at what’s to come! I believe anyone can use an antique as a conversation piece in any home; use its history to charm your guests and polish your look with beautifully made decor that is timeless in a variety of settings. I will stage photos to show you how to ‘wow’ - antiques aren’t for grandmas attic or your parents formal dining room anymore. Paired with artful decor, tastefully displayed; antiques can be for you too!

The Piano Bar Phase One

Kelsey Downey

As part of my new post formatting - I will be writing two blogs a week. The first will be historical and informational about a particular period on antiques or design of furniture; the second will be more DIY or covering the restoration process of a project I picked up. So, since I have already written about Thomas Sheraton this week, I will now cover a project I did when I was just getting started. I converted and upright piano into a fashionable bar. There was a steep learning curve and a lot of things I wish I wouldn’t have wasted time on, but it’s important to cover them all. With that being said this project will be discussed in two parts. Here we go!

If you have looked through my projects gallery, you will see a fine bentwood rocking chair (my first piece). I had the DIY bug after that and began hunting for my next item to up-cycle; at the time it was up-cycling only and not restoration. Anyway, my mom was in town and as we always do - we went to antique row and strolled about for a bit. We had entered a large warehouse-like shop who was having a sale! Who doesn’t love a sale? I’ll do a sale one better though…free! That’s right. I walked past a piano and racked my brain on what to do with it and the store owner came by and asked if I wanted it. Other than a tune-up job, he said it was in fine working order. He also suggested the idea for a bar. I hopped onto pinterest and low and behold there were tons of neat ideas for a piano bar. The owner didn’t give me much time to think because he then offered it to me for free and well…..I obviously took it home. No easy task since our house at the time was on top of a small hill where our drive way was at least a 20% incline.

Once we got the beautiful old gal into the garage I began deconstructing. It took me nearly two weeks to strip anything I thought wasn’t critical to the design and a lot of help from my husband. I opted to leave the harp in, but wanted the back drop painted the same color as the rest of the piano…which meant ALL the strings and metal pegs needed to come out. Trial and error resulted in us buying a set of tools that fit the specific head of the pegs that were cranked out by hand. There are 88 keys on a standard piano, each key has three strings, which means that there are nearly 230 pegs with strings attached to them for their tenor, treble or bass notes. By hand people. BY HAND!!!! I am still traumatized and my hand cramps at the memory. This was before I thought about my work as a business and had any sort of money set aside for tools. I had to make due with what was easily and cheaply available. No matter how much extra time it took me.

Nearly a week later, with all the guts taken out (my husband removed the ivory keys (real ivory)) and their corresponding parts; I starting sanding. After a day of hand sanding - I realized that I desperately needed a power sander. Nothing fancy, it was just a little edge sander, but holy crap - it was a game changer! Nearly everything I owed were all hand tools and this….a power sander, was amazing. I also invested in a Dremel hand tool that you can do all sorts of neat things with, as long as you have the right bit. I bought a few different sanding bits because of the detail that needed all the nooks and crannies smoothed out. Over all, the sanding process took me a week. During this time of endless sanding, I was trying to figure out where I wanted the design to go; besides leaving the harp in. What color to paint the body, what sort of counter top material, did I need to add anything; like an extra shelf? I knew I needed glass racks, but wasn’t sure where to hang those yet. We also had to make it mobile. I will leave this post with a terrifying story, guaranteed to get you to check back in next week to see if the end result was worth the effort!

Once upon a time we owned a house where we built a home gym. Once we sold it and moved into the house where my furniture journey began, we had a flat workout bench sitting in the garage. We were working on the piano and had decided to change out the casters since the originals were old and one was flat. Did I mention we found a date on the piano that marked it being built in 1890? We did. It was so cool! Anywho, about those casters…here is the scary part. We thought it would be a GENIUS idea to just balance the piano on its back, across the workout bench. Now this wasn’t a new bench, it was old and unstable; but we worked out, we thought we could handle it. Oh my gosh, we got lucky no one was seriously injured. See, let me paint the picture for you.

Crappy workout bench in the middle, piano standing in front of bench, my husband facing the front of the piano and me behind it all preparing to act as a sort of stabilizing counter weight as we eased it down. As we started to tilt the whole operation back we realized we had to go much, much slower so we didn’t let the piano slip and crush my husband, David. Now, I had no real grip from the top, only two handles on the back so my ability to control anything was about to end after we hit a certain downward tilt and it was terrifying. In the end, we ended up going a little fast and furious and mis-balanced the piano and David was left holding the piano in place!!! Guys, this was an old, well built 500 pound piano. I thought my husband was going to get smooshed and I’d have to raise our pets alone. Thankfully, we wiggled the monstrosity (yes, wiggled) and jimmied, shifted, whatever you want to call it to a center section of the bench and we were able to get the casters switched out! Surprise, we made it out alive with all our fingers and limbs. Once the casters were switched out, we put the whole operation in reverse to put it up right - which was equally as terrifying. David and I switched spots and he lifted the piano back up and I held the base in place as best as I could. Again, surprise…we made it!

I told you it was a terrifying story and now you’re just dying to know how the rest of the project turned out, right? Well, too bad! Suspense makes the heart grow fonder…or is it separation? I’m going to go with ‘suspense’ because I don’t want to see you go - come back to see how the rest of the build went!

The Great Five: Part Two

Kelsey Downey

Oh, hey there! Remember me? Yea, sort of when MIA for a bit. I am sure you have forgotten all about my fun facts or maybe you have been anxiously awaiting my next post and are now finally relieved of my return! If I had to choose which fantasy to go with, I’m leaning towards those who have eagerly anticipated my comeback. I will be much more active from here on out, so never fear my loyal follower; I will not desert you again.

Now, on with the show…

The last topic I covered was on the Queen Anne period of furniture design. This week we are going to chat about Chippendale. No, not Chippendale’s the male dance club or Chip n’ Dale from the kids TV show; Rescue Rangers. Thomas Chippendale; dubbed one of the most popular furniture designers between 1740-1779. No one knows exactly when Chippendale opened his first shop in London, but by 1745 he had already started to make a name for himself with his personal touches and modifications on other designs from previous periods. It is very difficult to identify if Chippendale himself or his workshops built a particular piece of furniture; not because it isn’t distinctive but because he published a book of sketches and designs called The Gentleman’s Cabinet Makers Directory.

The first edition of Chippendale’s book was released in 1754 and a second edition published in 1755, but before we go into why the book its self is relevant to identifying authentic Chippendale designs; lets backtrack a little to his earlier years. Even though the exact date of Thomas’ arrival and first shop opening in London isn’t known (or at least I couldn’t find it), what we do know is that he had a work space in 1749 operational and then in 1753 it was moved to a larger building. He went through two different partnerships. The first ending in 1766 and the second starting in 1771 with Thomas Haig, which remained in tact even after Chippendale died in 1779. The English period of Chippendale designs lasted until about 1770, but the American period was still in fashion until 1790. The continued use of his furniture blueprints in the US remained popular due to the Cabinetmakers Directory. Once the book was published many American makers started to reproduce the styles.

It’s a little deceiving, thus far I have talked at length about Thomas Chippendale and his great influence on furniture design, but there are two other designers that contributed to the sketches in the Cabinetmakers Directory. Matthias Lock and Henry Copland contributed a large portion of design sketches with only a handful by Chippendale himself; but since Thomas Chippendale published the book, he managed to snag the majority of the credit for the work within. The Directory was popular because it was one of the first kinds of these books published on such a large scale. Can you see why it is so difficult to identify a piece specifically designed by Thomas or within his direct workshop? He published a book and a lot of people read it - hundreds of talented makers produced those designs and thousands of influential individuals wanted the prevailing style in their homes.

Several types of furniture are distinctly Chippendale, such as the chair. His works were known for their beautiful lines and apparent strength on their overall look. The distinctive chair he was known for had a bowed-back with a single slat down the middle and most were rather large due to the hoop dresses women of the day wore. The sofa was simple and basically looked like two or three chairs built in a row. The feet of a lot of Chippendale dubbed pieces were claw and ball, but as he went through phases of design he ended his career with a curved scroll foot.

Speaking of phases, I wanted to touch briefly on the four Chippendale styles went though…bear with me, I know I have given you a lot of information, but you can’t have a conversation about the many faces of Chippendale designs without going over a few more things. These phases are Dutch, Gothic, Chinese and French. The Dutch phase were designs modified from the Queen Anne period and utilized the cabriole leg heavily. He then adjusted the chair legs to straight with a ladder back or splat back for his Gothic phase. The Chinese period favored the art of lacquering and used open faced frets/lattice work with pagoda shaped tops in China cabinets. The French period was made popular by the curves he employed in his latest style where he reintroduced the cabriole leg with the curved scroll feet.

Fun fact: the cabriole leg was a very popular design throughout many of the great makers of the early days and still used today. What is a cabriole leg? Any ideas? Let me enlighten you; it was a form of leg that had two curves - the upper bowing out and the lower curving inward.

There are a few ways to distinguish real Chippendale pieces. One way to prove it may be an authentic built design is that is comes with written documentation or some type of label/signage on the piece of furniture itself. You could also get an expert to make the determination for you, but most people wouldn’t claim an item as such easily. In either of these cases such a piece of furniture would be well out of the reach of a standard collector; unless you have mad dolla dolla bills laying around and endless time available to search for these things. The most common version of identifying Chippendale pieces is if they’re made of mahogany or in some cases walnut and follow the Cabinetmakers Directory very closely through durable building practices. It has to resemble the style and be quality made, otherwise it’s just a cheap imitation.

Thanks for tuning in - like I mentioned earlier, I will be much more consistent and even expanding a little. I’ll be writing a blerb about what I have cooking and the new things that will be incorporated into this fabulous little website. Next week, I will be covering part three of the Greats; The Adams Brothers.

The Great Five: Part One

Kelsey Downey

Queen Anne, Chippendale, The Adam Brothers, Hepplewhite and Sheraton. I don’t know about you, but I had only ever heard of the Queen Anne style before digging into antique history. I hadn’t realized how time periods were named or how designs became mass produced. Think about it, only so many cabinetmakers (furniture builders) were trained to do the work and they were spread out across Europe from the Netherlands to France. How did everyone know the prevailing trend? Get ready for some historical fun facts related to what we now call “antiques” as I explore The Great Five.

Let me preface these nuggets of information with, “I am not an expert”; I am training to become an expert. Right now, I find everything fascinating and expand research on topics I’ve read about even further, for a better understanding. With that being said, please feel free to shoot me an email if anything doesn’t seem right or my dates are off! I hope you stick with me as I go through these periods since I believe each time frame deserves its own dedicated post. This week: Queen Anne.

While not to-the-day specific, the names of a given set of years was a way for students of antiques to classify furniture. The Queen Anne period roughly ranged from 1725-1750. I wouldn’t have guessed this, but most often if a period is named after a monarch it literally has nothing to do with the monarch, just the general time frame in which the monarch ruled. During the Queen Anne period there was a lot of surplus capital for an increasing middle class in Europe. The jump in size for the middle class led to new homes being built and with so many more families needing additional furniture there was a boom in production. Suddenly being a cabinetmaker was a profitable trade. The Queen Anne style had formal lines that led to simple curves which gave the design both an elegant and comfortable look. Queen Anne homes utilized chairs, chest of drawers and the slant writing desk in room design. Mirrors and side tables were also commonly used - each had their own specific use; either placed together between windows or the mirror (see first picture/right) was placed above the fireplace.

In America, Boston was the leading manufacturer to start the implementation of Queen Anne styled furniture. According to the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, cabitnetmakers in Boston designed a standard chair with Queen Anne influences with a vase-shaped splat and cabriole legs with an S-curve (see second picture/right). Chairs proceeding this style shift, had straight backs and a stiff look to them. The new designs displayed rounded outlines and appealing proportions. Now that a standard had been set, Boston began shipping thousands of chairs throughout the colonies. As a response, craftsmen in Philadelphia created their own line of chairs with a bit more pizzazz. Philly kept with the general design, but employed more elaborate curves. While Boston was considered the standard, Rhode Island cabinetmakers had their spin on other forms of furniture as well, such as; distinctive shells and scrolls onto the legs and skirts of dressing tables and high chests (met museum). The Queen Anne period saw a leap in types of furniture being built besides mirrors and chairs. Card tables and tea tables along with various writing pieces of furniture were created as well (examples/below).

The most commonly used wood for construction of furniture during the Queen Anne period was walnut. The use of walnut became possible through trade from Virginia and Pennsylvania throughout New England on the inter-coastal trade routes. Despite its popularity, walnut was not the only wood put to good use; pine, ash and cherry were also used. Several distinctive decoration features include the claw and ball foot, eagles claw, lions paw (examples/below). Additionally, the shell motif was common and typically a carved design, as well as; herringbone banded borders.

In short, Queen Anne can be described as curved, sophisticated, elegant and simple. Thanks for tuning in this time - keep an eye out for my next topic on Chippendale!

I've Got A Thing For Iceboxes

Kelsey Downey

I bought my fifth icebox last week. What can I say? I love them. They are not always the easiest favorite antique to restore. Most of the time they are terrifyingly heavy! Have you ever been at the bottom of 200 pounds while it balances on the tailgate while your husband tries to jimmy it over the ledge so it doesn’t crush you? I have. It never matters though, somehow we always manage to load the icebox and cart it home!

I’ve come across several styles. Your standard three-door oak icebox (both zinc lined and tin lined), a bin style icebox (ice bin on top and single door below), and most recently a two-door stacked style (upper-lower doors on the front and a ice delivery door on the back). Sadly, none of the ones I’ve bought have had a badge indicating the manufacturer; but have thankfully had nearly all the original hardware. Once, my Mom was visiting me in Washington and she found a zinc lined 3 door behemoth that I got to keep at my house until she could drive up and take it home. Now, our house at that time was on a hill and her mega truck was already 5 feet off the ground. We rented an electric lift and hoisted that monster into the bed and once it was at her home; my Dad used a bobcat fork lift to unload. So much effort, but it’s beautiful and no one has any regrets! I’ve mentioned several times this blog would cover history and its relevance to antiques - are you ready? It’s happening.

According to the Maryland State Archives; the first icebox was patented as a refrigerator in 1802 by Thomas Moore. Moore was a farmer in Maryland who needed a way to transport butter from Maryland to Washington D.C. His design was simple and effective; an insulated, tin lined cedar box. The space between the wood and tin was filled with packed ice, the box would then be sealed and transported. Paralleled to Moore’s invention was a man named Frederic Tudor, who created the ice harvesting industry. Tudor, nicknamed “Ice King” established a national supply chain of ice deliveries from New England to almost everywhere else in the country. The Historical Society says that carpenter’s began wider production of icebox’s in the 1840’s. By the end of the 1800’s many American’s kept their perishable food in a common icebox. These boxes were either tin or zinc lined and insulated with cork, straw or horsehair then cased in oak, pine or cedar. As many of you readers know, the icebox kept a large block of ice on one side, drained to a pan at the bottom; the ice needed to be replaced often and the drain pan emptied. Not just for the home, industrial ice boxes were used in grocery stores to advertise they were capable of carrying raw meats, dairy and produce.

Unfortunately, wooden iceboxes for personal and commercial use ended around the 1920’s. The first electric refrigerators made a debut in 1915 and modifications were made over a decade for better function. Once it was easier to mass produce an electric fridge, the wooden icebox method for keeping goods cold became obsolete. Roughly 100 years of use isn’t a bad run though! The length of time iceboxes were used has given us antique lovers something to hunt for, cherish and appreciate these days!

I have restored four iceboxes and the fifth is sitting in my garage. Each totally different and unique, as I mentioned before I have come across several styles and have a hard time choosing which is my favorite design. No matter which you love, an icebox is a moderately sized conversation piece (unless you dream of owning the general store, industrial size). I do. No, really…if I ever win the lottery I am totally dropping ten grand on a huge antique icebox for my kitchen. I guess it would help if I started playing the lottery.

Right now, I don’t have a rhyme or reason for the posts I make or the topics. If I remember a piece I did and think it’s interesting, I’ll probably write about it. I may find something fascinating in one of my class topics that I want to explore more in depth and then post about it. I am also going to play around with the template so I can add pictures of the items I discuss or if I am going through a restoration; I can show “how to” tips. Thanks for reading - until next time!

Setting Goals

Kelsey Downey

Since I have the basic introduction checked off, as I delve into the world of blogging; I suppose the next thing I would like to do is give an overview of what I would like to provide for readers as well as my personal blog goals. My purpose here is pretty simple; to provide historical context on antiques, demonstrate step by step how I restore a piece of furniture and build a following that I can take to my ultimate destination.

You may be asking yourself about that last sentence. Like, “What the heck does that mean?” I know I would be confused. Ultimately, I would like to own an antique store. My vision for the store is a raw warehouse, filled top to bottom with quality restored antiques, architectural salvage and feature local crafts peoples merchandise. What would I call such a store? Easy. Odin’s Antique and Salvage. Catchy, right? It is a name that holds a lot of meaning. Odin was the name of our first dog! Adorable, I know. Sadly, Odin passed away several years ago from a very rapid development of cancer. I intend to immortalize him by naming my shop after that lovable, huge, squishy cuddle bug. Odin was a rottweiler and we now forever love the breed.

Now that you know the end game goal, I plan to use this blog and whatever following I get, build up my demonstration skills and ability to spin a tale to engage a reader to the point that they LOVE antiques and want to own them. How do you own an antique? Buy them, of course; and who do you know who sells amazingly restored, authentic antiques? Hmm. Oh, that’s right - me! I want to be your go to antique dealer and you’ll know you’re getting a good deal because I’ve been blogging about all the neat things I can do and you’ll know you’re getting the REAL deal because I will tell you all about the history of an item. It will feel like you commissioned a restoration project yourself and love your antique every bit as much as I do.

I'm New Around Here...

Kelsey Downey

Have you ever thought about doing something, but lacked the confidence to try? That’s me, with this blog. I had thought it was a good idea to pair along with my business, but a year has gone by and I am just now getting to the part where I write for all to read. Mostly, I can’t imagine who would want to sit in their spare time and read what I have to say. Who am I? I am a person who found a passion for antiques after being let go from a full time job. I always enjoyed scootin’ around the occasional antique store, but never to buy or be serious. I just liked looking.

When I suddenly found myself with loads of free time and less than a year from our next move (my husband is Army and it was just that time) I decided to refinish a rocking chair my mom gave me. As the story goes, its the rocking chair she sat in and lulled all us screaming babies to sleep in—I have two other siblings. It came to me in pieces and after some fandoogling I had managed to put it back together looking brand new and glorious. That was it. I was hooked. What else could I up-cycle? What else can I get my hands on? That was two years ago. I have only been a registered business for a year and as with many things in life I am trying to bob and weave with what I’m given. Being an entrepreneur and military spouse is tricky, especially since what I sell are large, old pieces of furniture.

My story begins in Washington state, that is where I restored the rocking chair and got this whole big idea to make a business out of up-cycled furniture and restored antiques. We had moved to Oklahoma for less than a year and I spent my time there buying tools, salvaging projects and figuring out how to use what I had or what else I may need. I worked in the garage for six months on various pieces and thankfully sold everything I built (if I didn’t botch the project and then crush it in a fit of frustration first). Before I knew it, we were moving to Columbus, Ga. If you find yourself in the city that hosts Ft. Benning, go to Bluebelle Home Decor and Gifts! Everything up to being in Columbus was practice for what I was about to tackle next.

On a whim, my husband and I walked into Bluebelle and found a fantastic hand crafted, artist mall. Booths full of hand-made furniture, decor, candles and other items. I was impressed with the store and by a stroke of luck, they had booth space open for rent. I applied and had a month to get my inventory ready. My original space was 4x8 and I didn’t realize how small that was until move in day and had a huge farm fireplace mantle, a custom built hall tree and a variety of small dressers and cabinets refinished. Where was I going to put everything? By yet another lucky stroke, a larger 10x10 booth was open, emptied just the day before! I was ultra paranoid about how much money I spent. Cataloging every penny and making sure I didn’t out-do myself. The larger booth was a better investment to display my work, so I went with it and the first six months went well.

I shifted from small custom built furniture to simple up-cycles and focused on restoring antiques. I found that I enjoyed the hunt for a great item as much as doing the research to figure out what sort of history it had to laboring in the humid cave of my garage to finish a really outstanding piece of antique furniture. My main reason for the shift was turn over; the first two months I was in my booth my larger items were selling faster than I could build them. My husband always helped when he could, but I was drawn to antiques and it made sense to find a product people wanted that I could manage much more easily on my own with a shorter flip rate. It should be obvious by now, but I didn’t start out knowing anything.

I’m just a gal who got let go from a time consuming job that sucked the life out of me and found a way to turn my passion into profit (however small that profit is; for now). Staying above water and not in the negative numbers was the best I could hope for within my first six months of business. I had two really solid months leading up to Christmas, nearly everything that sold were my restored antiques while some of the other decor or custom items sat for a little. When the owner of the store told me that the space next to mine was opening up and she thought my booth would do well with an expansion, I jumped at the chance. I jumped knowing it meant more work, more hours, more money…but also more reward. I felt satisfied. I felt accomplished and proud because I knew that everything in my booth was poured over with thought and care. I enjoyed knowing that my finished antique was going to live on in someone else’s home. I had six months with my new space, filled with new projects as often as I could buy and restore them.

Isn’t the saying, “all good things must come to an end?” As it always does our current duty station time was coming to a close (I’d try and explain why we moved so often, but I think there are blogs about why the government doesn’t make sense…) anyway, our next move was a good one career wise for my husband and not far from Columbus, but too far to maintain my booth to the standard I had been. Last month, we drove back to Bluebelle and packed up what was left in my space. What a sad, bitter moment it was. A whole year of 8-10 hour days, few breaks and total joy. I suppose I should caveat this paragraph with, not all good things must end. I don’t believe things should end when there is the possibility to continue growth in a different direction.

This is where I am now, a different direction. We have around seven months in Augusta, Ga. At first I was lost. What am I going to do with less than eight months? I didn’t want to start a new booth, I knew I couldn’t maintain the same profits starting from scratch and a move on the horizon. Instead I thought, how else could I increase my knowledge of antiques and their history? What productive way can I invest in myself to benefit my business goals? Those questions led me to The Asheford Institute of Antiques and Appraisals. I am a few weeks into the in depth course that will provide me with information and tools to be a better antique dealer and restorer with the bonus of gaining a national certificate for appraisals which will have a variety of uses across many fields. I also will be working part time at a local antique restoration shop. What better way to understand what I read than practical application?

Hope isn’t a strategy. Planning, adapting to situations as they come and being prepared to fail and learn will help me get the experience I need for future opportunities. If you’ve made it this far…tune into my next post where I will detail what I would like to produce here on this blog!