Saturday, April 28, 2012

Grand * Furniture Stories

If you like antiques, grab a cup of coffee, sit down 
and join me for some good old fashioned furniture stories...  

I love antiques.  
I have collected them since I was in college, 
but admired them since I was small and following my Mom 
from antiques shop to antique shop all over New England.  
Mom was an antique collector, dealer and expert on things like sterling silver and glass.
I developed an appreciation for beautiful old things-
things with patina, things with unique qualities, 
things with the kind of craftsmanship that is not available today.
Things with soul.

I bought my first piece of antique furniture during my senior year in college.  
It was in rough shape, a bargain, and still more than I could really afford, 
but my Mom advanced me some graduation money, and stored it for me until I was ready to use it.
At the time, I had no place to put it and no real plan, but it cast a spell on me 
and to this day, it is still my most prized piece of furniture.
Introducing - the walnut server!

 Fast forward a year or two. 
Mr. Grand and I are newlyweds, living in Milwaukee, furnishing our first home.  
The walnut server would finally have a home, as a feature in our dining room
I stripped it and refinished it and had the marble top cleaned and polished. 
Check out the book matched grain on the doors and drawers, 
the burl of the grain and the Eastlake carving details.

The handles marked the beginning of my love affair with all things twisty. 

 The mirror above it has a story, too.


My Mom gave it to us years ago.  
I think she just bought things she liked and then figured out who to give them to afterwards.  
This frame actually held an old, early black and white photograph 
of a very dour looking family from long ago.  I guess no one ever smiled in those old portraits.
The glass is original and has wonderful bubbles and waves and imperfections, 
but I really did not care for the photograph. 
To make matters worse, Mr. Grand used to delight in telling dinner guests
 that it was actually a portrait of my ancestors, and did they notice the resemblance?
I finally decided they had to go.  
Actually, they are still in there, 
but I put a new mirror in the frame, behind the original old glass and it's much better.
The old glass makes it look like a wavy old mirror.  Only we knew the truth.
And now all of you do...

Next up is the first antique Mr. Grand ever bought, 
found at the same shop in the Poconos where I discovered the walnut server. 
He used to enjoy accompanying me on these adventures and
he had visions of using this as a bar in his first apartment
 in his new city, Milwaukee, where he held his first real job.
Off he went, across the country, his car loaded to the gills, 
with this antique, solid oak, very heavy, Victor ice box
I am not kidding.  
I know a picture of his departure exists, because I was there, sobbing, 
but, alas, I cannot find it. 

As you can probably guess, I was eventually, happily reunited with him and the icebox 
and we have all been together ever since.  
It's now a piece of our own family history.  
And here's another family member who likes it, too....

This lovely walnut wardrobe was found at a shop in Ohio, 
when I was hunting for something that would serve as a coat closet 
in the Victorian home we were about to move in to.  
The house was lovely, but it lacked many modern day amenities, 
like a place to put coats anywhere on the first floor.

Inside, it has shelves and hooks for hanging coats.  

After we moved to our current house, which was built complete with coat closet, 
this piece became an entertainment unit.

 The best part about this wardrobe's story
 is how we got the wardrobe home from an antique mall in Indiana.
I had gone with a friend who was on the lookout for a Hoosier cabinet for her kitchen.  
As good luck would have it, we both found what we were looking for.
The only problem was, we were four hours away from home 
and delivery was going to cost way too much.
Way back in the eighties, before SUV's were all the rage, 
we had access to a station wagon, much like the "Family Funster" in the movie "Vacation".
The guys at the antique shop laughed at us when we said we would try to get both the wardrobe 
and the Hoosier cabinet into the station wagon.
Well, this wardrobe has a secret!  
It's what they call a "knock down", meaning it comes apart for easy moving.
Other than the hinges on the doors, 
there are no screws or nails or anything else holding it together.  
It's like a puzzle, it fits together perfectly.
  The bonnet on the top lifts off, the base is separate and the walls and doors lie flat.
That all went into the wagon, easily.
The real challenge was getting the Hoosier cabinet in, too.
That was built in two pieces, and so, to the amazement of the onlookers, we crammed it all in.  
With some bungee cords and the tail gate
strapped down, it was a long cold drive home, but we made it and saved lots of money!
 Clark would have been so proud of us.

More recently, as in only twenty some years ago, 
and I was looking for a Hoosier type cabinet of my own.
Again, as good luck would have it, at the Kane County Flea Market,
I found not one, but two cabinets that I thought might fit the bill.
They both have great display space in the upper part and storage below.
Great leaded glass in the arched doors and the original glass knobs.
We had two corners in the new room and I thought these vintage pieces 
would help the new room work with the rest of the house.
They just fit.
And I didn't have to do a thing to them.

The dealer said they had been taken out of an old house 
that, because of erosion, was falling into Lake Michigan in - Milwaukee
Don't you love it when a story comes full circle???

Linking to:
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Masterpiece Monday at Boogieboard Cottage 
Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays at Coastal Charm 
Twice Owned Tuesdays at House of Grace 
Tutorials and Tips at  Home Stories A to Z
Tuesdays Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia 
Show Me What You Got at Not Just a Housewife 
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style 
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed 
Open House Party at No Minimalist Here

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Cottage Bathroom Renovation

Today I would like to share a Grand *Before and After* story 
about the bathroom in our little cottage in Michigan.
I'm starting with an "After" picture 
because I don't want to scare you away with the "Before" pictures...

This was the bathroom in our cottage in Michigan before the renovation.
Some of the fixtures were original, 
but all were neglected and outdated and basically disgusting.

 I don't know how long they had this toilet or why the sticker was never removed, 
but it looks pretty good, right?  Love the plywood floor, too...
and the commercial doormats for area rugs. Sweet.

At some point, someone had some taste, because the wall color was good, 
but the rest of the room was seriously awful.  
And before you start to tell me, oh that claw foot tub is so great, 
how could you get rid of that?
I want you to know that we did find a good home for it!  
Our neighbor lusted after it and we were more than happy to let her have it.  
It was cleaned up and re-plumbed and is nestled nicely in her cottage.  
We felt that we really needed a shower instead and so it was a win-win situation.

My brother, Paul came for a "visit" and we spent some quality time together working on this room.  
I am gonna brag a little here - TOOT!- and tell you that I cut every single piece of tile in this bathroom, so keep that in mind when you are marveling at the tile work.  
Paul would call out the sizes and I would run outside and cut the tiles on our trusty wet saw.  
He would then set the tiles while I was cutting the next ones.  
We did some serious bonding in that bathroom.  
And on the beach at night....

Here are some pics of the bathroom in progress.
The new shower - one wall done, two to go.  
The cutouts are for the soap dishes.

Here the wall tile has been grouted.
I have to tell you that scrubbing tile after it has been grouted 
to remove the film is not my favorite thing. 
 Especially since I insisted we tile the ceiling of the shower...

New toilet and pedestal sink installed - yay!  
After six months of renovations, we can finally sleep in the cottage overnight!

Floor tile before grout:

I love to set tile on the diagonal, especially in a small room 
because I think it expands the space visually.  
And if the walls are not perfectly square, it is much more forgiving.
And this room was definitely NOT square.

Here's the floor tile with grout:

If the tile looks familiar to you, it's because I have used this color and combination before.  
Why should our hall bathroom have all the fun? 

Here's a picture from our hall bathroom at home:

Here are some pictures of the finished bathroom...
It is very, very tiny and hard to take pictures of the whole room,
 but these will give you the idea.
I love how it turned out.

and some decorating details:

The shower curtain is made from the same indoor/outdoor fabric I used here and here.
It was my inspiration fabric for the color scheme for the entire cottage. 

This cottage has such good Karma now!
So many great people have had a hand in helping us restore it.
You can read about them here (kitchen renovation) and here (furniture from salvaged wood).

Here's Paulie, relaxing with me at the beach after a very long day tiling...
This was in April!  No coats!

Sunsets.  Lots of drama in the sky that night!  

Absolutely Perfect.

Linking to:
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Inspiration Friday at The Picket Fence
Metamorphosis Monday at between Naps on the Porch
DIY Project Parade at DIY Showoff
Show Off Your Cottage Monday at House in the Roses
Nifty Thrifty at Coastal Charm
Masterpiece Monday at Boogie Board Cottage
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Please Pray for Genevieve

Please, please, please pray for Genevieve. 
And for her family. 
On Monday, Genevieve, the sweet young daughter of friends of ours, 
will have extensive and life changing surgery to remove cancerous tumors in her hip. 
She has endured round after round of chemotherapy
and will face many new challenges after this surgery. 
Please pray for her parents to have the strength to guide Genevieve through the difficult days ahead
and to comfort her and her sisters, and each other.
Please pray for Genevieve, in what ever way you can,
so that she can continue to be brave and strong and full of grace.
Thank you.
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Grand Salvage Operation

Today I would like to introduce you to a couple of Salvage Artists, Glenn and Kris Gibertini...    
The Gibertinis buy old wood from barns and other salvage sources
 and create wonderful custom furniture with the reclaimed wood. 
Tables and benches and hutches and more.
I met Glenn and Kris when I was looking for someone to salvage the windows in our cottage. 
The windows were original, they were charming and we loved them 
but they were in very rough condition. Cracking, peeling, rotting, lots of issues. 
Not every window had every problem, but years of neglect took a toll on the windows 
and they had to be replaced. 
Plus we wanted to winterize the cottage and the old windows were not insulated. 
In a previous post, I talked about how Mr. Grand had spent an entire weekend
 stripping and painting one little window and declared that project finished... 
New windows were a must.

Below you can see the cottage with new windows installed.  
And here you can see the cottage after most of the renovations were completed.
The old windows were carefully removed and are leaning against the front porch.

Off I went to the Kane County Flea Market, where I searched for sellers
who made furniture out of old wood. There I found Glenn and Kris and they were interested!
They also lived near the cottage and could pretty easily pick the windows up. It was a match.
And did I mention that they make wonderful furniture out of old salvaged wood???
Naturally, I needed some of that!
Glenn builds the furniture and Kris paints, stains, glazes and finishes the pieces.
Here's the first piece they made for me- a buffet with big chunky drawers and big chunky legs. 
I needed some more counter space because the kitchen, which would be large for a dollhouse, 
 is tiny by any other standards...
This table does double duty- it works as counter space in the kitchen
and as a buffet for serving.
I looooove it. 

I found the shelf unit above it at a garage sale years ago 
and it had been hung in various rooms in our house 
but was languishing in the basement until I brought it to the lake.  
The color was a perfect match with the special green Kris uses on her pieces.  
It was meant to be!
I seriously need a design editor for that shelf unit, though.  

When we decided we needed even more storage, Glenn built this trunk for us- 
it's full of games and puzzles for rainy days and quiet nights.  
I asked him to add the scallopy valance at the bottom, 
cuz you know how much I like things scallopy!


The legs on the tables and the bun feet on the trunk are new, 
but the tops and sides of all the pieces were made from old salvaged wood.

I love the soft edges and the smooth, imperfect, distressed wood on the tops of these pieces. 
I like to think about what they were in their previous life- a barn, a shed, a chicken coop?
And then when I needed a certain sized dining table, Glenn made this one for us....  
Kris stained it to go with our floors and the black chairs.

Darling daughter painted the fun modern art on the wall above....

Here are Glenn and Kris in front of their truck, filled with a load of wood they had just picked up.  There were some massive pieces of wood in there.... Wonder what they'll make with it?

Can you see the huge piece of wood on the bottom of the pile?  It was pretty impressive...

There was some very nice wood in that pile.  
I'm sure they'll make some amazing things from it.  Maybe something for you?
You can contact them at

They set aside one of our windows for a future project for me.  
I think a pie safe style cabinet with the windows used as doors would be perfect....  
just need to buy a bigger lake house to put it in...
Shhh.  Don't tell Mr. Grand!

Linking to:
Funky Junk Interiors -Saturday Night Special
It's Overflowing
The Shabby Nest - Frugal Friday 
My Romantic Home - Show and Tell  
At the Picket Fence - Inspiration Friday
The Charm of Home - Home Sweet Home 
Under the Table and Dreaming - Sunday Showcase Party 
Metamorphosis Monday at between Naps on the Porch
DIY Showoff Project Parade 
From My Front Porch to Yours - Treasure Hunt Thursdays 
Farmhouse Porch - Cowgirl Up Party
The House in Roses - Show us your Cottage 
Tuesdays Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Transformation Thursday at Shabby Creek Cottage
Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life
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Friday, April 6, 2012


 I hope you are enjoying the same absolutely glorious weather 
we are having here in the Midwest this spring!  
I can't remember a nicer spring.  
Or an earlier one...  
Happy Easter to everyone!

I thought you might like to see some Easter postcards from my Mom's collection.  
I love these vintage postcards.  
The colors are so wonderful and the art work so detailed.
I was not familiar with the term Eastertide used on several of the postcards, 
so I did a little research 
(Thanks again, Google) to learn what it means...
If you already know, extra credit!
It means the season of Sundays starting with Easter Sunday 
continuing on until Pentecost Sunday for a period of fifty days. 
It's also called Paschal time. 

This pretty little scene is my favorite because 
- wait for it- 
there is a cottage in the distance!

Trouble in the hen house...

More trouble... is there a theme here?

Some sort of still life gone wrong?

Happy Eastertide!
Happy Spring!
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Grand *Basket Pins*

Spring is here and my thoughts always go to flowers....
Thanks to my friend Kim at County Line Road, I have another collection of pins - 
Kim turned me on to collecting vintage Flower Basket Pins and I've got a few.....  
I display them on a pillow, the same way that I display my Christmas Tree pins
only these I can keep out to enjoy year round. 

 Here are the pins on a pillow...

Some close-ups of the pins, starting with the pins that have 
cabochon (shaped and polished but not faceted) stones.

This pin has marquis shaped stones for the flower petals.

 One of my favorites - so much intricate detailing- lots of prong set stones and iridescent colors.

Very retro - love the Lucite green flowers!

 Lavender dogwood blossoms - hand painted petals with rhinestone centers.

These multicolored stones remind me of Christmas...

  Pearls.  For every season!

This pin is another of my favorites.  It's a little three dimensional work of art.
Love the luster finish on the vase.  Sooo pretty!

Very elegant, with softer colors...

 Silver and red. Simple.

 This one would be sweet for Easter.

And a bitty butterfly for the fun of it!


This pillow isn't one you would want to rest your head on.  
Just feast your eyes...

Be sure to visit Kim at County Line Road to see her collection of basket pins 
and her fabulous display table.   I wonder what I will be collecting next???

Linking to:
French Country Cottage Bunny Blog Hop
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