In the middle of Winter, when the world outside is frosty and covered in mountains of snow (which holds it’s own beauty), but is starting to feel a little bleak and won’t see growing things for months….it’s nice to get a bouquet of flowers. They don’t last very long, and yet they manage to bring so much cheer in the short time they’re here.
These cream roses with a tint of blush pink on the tips were so beautiful and elegant, and they coordinated very nicely with my room too!
Do you like to get a bouquet of flowers in the winter? What are your favourite flowers to get?
Here we are already in 2023, which means it’s time for round up of my favourite reads of 2022! I read 46 books this year, and while I did enjoy many of them, there were only a few that I felt excited enough about to share in this list. In no particular order, here are the books I loved this past year.
Daughters of Fortune by Judith Pella
This series is a re-read, (I first read this series when I was 17 or so). I’ve always had an interest in WWII for some reason, so a fictional story that spans the three areas affected by the war: Europe, the Pacific and the American home-front was right up my alley. The story follows three sisters, Cameron, Blaire and Jaqueline as they navigate the war years. I love the storylines of each sister. It’s one of those books that you get immersed in one storyline and then it switches to the next character and you get mad, but then get immersed in their storyline, only to have it switch on you again! The only criticism I have of the series is that by book Four I honestly think she was getting tired of writing, because there is a huge rush at the end, and then a jump to the epilogue and then the story is over. I felt like we needed a few more chapters to wrap things up, but it’s still a good story despite that. My local library doesn’t have this series, so I was happy when I got my own copies last year as a Christmas gift! I bought them from Thrift Books which is always a bit of a gamble as to the quality, (and then the first book got lost in the mail and I had to wait several months for a replacement copy!) but I like having them on my shelf now, so I can read them again in the future.
Hitler’s Cross by Erwin W. Lutzer
This book has been on my TBR (to be read) list for a year, and it wasn’t one that my library system had. I got this one from Better World Books and I am so happy I did, because this was probably my favourite book of the year. It wasn’t a happy read for sure, talking about how the church in Germany was so weak and became fooled by Hitler, but it was a very prescient book. I see so many similarities between the culture of the German church in the 1930’s and the church in the West today. Which is, of course, why Lutzer wrote it 10 years ago. It is just as relevant today as ever before. It’s one of those books that you are reading along and wanting to underline so many sections (which I never do, but should!) that pretty soon the whole book is underlined. If you’re curious about the culture of the church during WWII this is a great book, and if you’re interested in the culture of the church today, then this is also great book.
ps. I also want to clarify that the anniversary copy I got has a forward by Ravi Zacharias, but the original book does not to my knowledge. That forward, sadly written by a man with a double life, does not change the meat and message of the book.
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas
After I finished Hitler’s Cross, I was intrigued to read more about Deitrich Bonhoeffer, since he was a key figure during WWII and I wasn’t super familiar with him. I then came across this book at a second hand book shop, which was perfect. It was a slow read and it took me several months to work through. (Although some of that time I was sick and wasn’t reading anything.) It’s a slow read, but that’s because it’s so good. This is also one of those books that would be very underlined with hardly any sections unmarked. I learned so much about the Germany, the War and the Church in this book. It also raised so many good questions about what our response should be when faced with those seemingly “grey areas”, as well as the importance of being faithful to God in the small things, so that we are ready when the big things come. This was my other favourite book of the year. I would also like to get Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, for further reading.
Feels Like Home by Marion Parsons
Because this list is starting to be all WWII content (Again! Last year was too!), here’s a change of scene (yes pun intended, of course). I read so many decorating books this year, but my favourite was this one by the blogger Miss Mustard Seed. I loved it so much I got it for my birthday! I had actually never read her blog before, but came across the book first and after reading it, I now love to follow her blog. This is one of my favourite decorating books of the year, though, because it’s not just pictures, but also has so many tips and how-to’s included, as well as the story behind her decorating. Many bloggers (myself included I’m sure) tend to ramble, which comes across OK in a blog post, but can get repetitious in a book. I was very happy that her writing in this book is not repetitious or tedious in any way! If you are stuck in any way with decorating, I’m sure that this book will be helpful. She has it broken into chapters featuring each section or room in the house, “living spaces”, “kitchens” etc and goes through so much information about how to curate your own style. I loved this book so much I also gave a copy to a friend.
The Tale of Beatrix Potter by Margaret Lane
I wrote a post last summer, about the movie Miss Potter, which is one of my favourites, so when I saw this book at our local library I checked it out immediately. Not only is it a beautiful vintage edition, but it’s a lovely read as well! Written fairly soon after Beatrix Potter’s death, and with the help of her surviving husband William Heelis, this book tells the story of Beatrix’s life and art. It’s a beautiful book, with colour illustrations, photographs of her life and even an insert of the Tale of Peter Rabbit story, which was originally written as a letter. I didn’t take a photo of it for some reason, but the reproduction letter was photocopied onto small pages so you could flip through it like it would have been originally when she sent it to her young nephew (who was ill at the time). I really enjoyed this book, and was debating whether to add it to my bookshelf..there are a few vintage editions for sale online, but I haven’t bought one yet.
Facepaint by Lisa Eldridge
My sister was the one who introduced me to Lisa Eldridge’s videos and this book. I’m not a huge makeup devotee, but I do enjoy wearing it and especially learning about the history of it! In the first part of the book, she covers the three main colours of makeup: Red, White and Black. I had never thought of that before; even though we have a rainbow of colours in makeup now, for most of history all makeup pretty much narrowed down to these three colours. She covers the history of makeup from the ancient Egyptians (some of the most famous historical makeup!) up to the modern era. In the second part of the book, she covers the trends and styles of each decade of the past century, featuring celebrity makeup icons of each. I learned a lot about makeup, especially how it transitioned from taboo to respectable. I also had no idea that some brands such as Rimmel and Maybelline were so old! The other nice thing about this book was it’s size and glossy pages which made all the images pop. If you like makeup or history or both, then you will definitely enjoy this book. (Also, the makeup featured on the back cover is from her personal vintage make-up collection; so many beautiful and interesting makeup packages!)
Welcome Home by Myquillyn Smith
This was the other good decorating book I read this year. It was one of those ones that really feels like a breath of fresh air as you’re reading it. I read it, and then I read a whole bunch of sections to my mom and sister because I liked it so much. Written by another blogger, whose blog I also didn’t know about, the focus of this book is on hospitality and celebrations. She talks about how we can often get so caught up in wanting our homes to be perfect, and our holiday decorations to be festive, that we can unwittingly put so much pressure on ourselves and our imperfect homes that we never even end up celebrating and hosting because things aren’t quite as good as we think they should be. It was a gentle reminder to me of the importance of hospitality, which from a Biblical perspective is nothing like “entertaining”, but is rather focused on serving others and sharing our homes with one another in a spirit of love. The book is divided into four seasons, and each chapter is named after a different hymn that corresponds to the topic of that season- I loved that! She had a lot of great ideas for how to simplify each season to really enjoy each holiday, and ways to share these holidays with others.
In the Midst of Life by Jennifer Worth
This was one of the first books I read this year, and it got the year off to a good start, even though that seems odd considering that it’s a book about hospice and palliative care. After she was a midwife, Jennifer Worth, the author of the “Call the Midwife” books, left midwifery and went into end-of-life nursing. This is her book about that field of nursing. It was a very thoughtful and thought-provoking examination into how we treat death and dying. She talks about how in times past, people died of “old age” and were left in relative peace to do so, but how in the modern era, everything is treated as an illness that must be cured, despite the fact that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. She shares stories of some of her patients and their experiences in hospice as the end drew near, and does so with compassion. I also thought her section on assisted death was rather prescient considering the epidemic of medically assisted suicide here in Canada, and the wake of grief many loved ones face when people opt for assisted death. I really wish that I had recorded some of her quotes, because she has a good way of putting things. I might need to get this one out of the library again.
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
The final one on this list, is my favourite book by L.M. Montgomery. And that is saying a lot because I love so many of her stories! However, this one featuring a “spinster” heroine is not just my favourite of hers, but also one of my favourite books of all time. I read it first about four years ago, and have re-read it a couple of times since then. I did this year because I told my mom to read it, and then after she was done I had to refresh my memory so we could talk about it together (and laugh at the funny characters and situations). I read a biography of Montgomery a few years ago and discovered that most of her books were written about real places and based on her own experiences. While the story is not based on her life, the setting of the story, the Muskoka region of Ontario, is based on a trip she took to Bala, Ontario in the summer of 1922. I love this story; it’s one of those that you simultaneously don’t want to end, but also want to find out the ending! I rate it 6 out of 5 stars.
Well, there is my list for this year! I’m already looking forward to next year’s list of books, and planning which ones to order from the library or pull from my shelf. And I’d like to branch out into some other topics, as I seem to have gotten into a rut with WWII! Some that I’ve got on my list for 2023 are David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, (that will be an audiobook), The Seamstress by Allison Pittman, a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Slave Trade by Hugh Thomas and, as always, a few Agatha Christie murders thrown in for good measure! I really enjoyed this post, about reading a book a week. While I can’t quite do that, since I get a lot of my books from the library and have to wait for them to come in via inter-library-loan, I am still planning a list of books to request, and then will fill in the gaps with ones I already own. While I still did read a lot this year, I also opted to read on the internet a lot more than I read physical books, which is something I’d like to change for the next year.
What books did you enjoy reading this year? Do you have a list of to-be-read books for 2023, or do you just plan to read as you come across something that interests you?
Is it too early to start wishing everyone a Merry Christmas? I don’t know why, but I’m just feeling the Christmas spirit early this year! And by early, I mean the last week of November instead of the first week of December. Growing up, we never put up our Christmas decor before December, and because we always get a real tree, you truly can’t put it up too early or it will be dry and dead by Christmas Day. However, I do now like to put up my other Christmas decor before then. And for some reason, this year I was just itching to pull out my boxes and get my room in holiday mode, so I decorated this week.
As always, I used pretty much all the same decor, but styled the pieces in different ways to keep things interesting. The only new acquisitions were the adorable mini Christmas trees, which I picked up a few weeks ago from the thrift store for $3.00. (There were also some larger bottle brush trees in the bag, but I gave those to my sister) Honestly, no one ever need buy new Christmas ornaments, trees, tablecloths and tins ever again; I’m sure there are more than enough available at the thrift stores!
I also only used about a 1/3 of the Christmas decor I have, because it would look like a decorating store exploded in my room if I used it all. I only have two storage boxes with decor, but it’s not that big of a room either.
As for those new mini Christmas trees, I arranged a couple on the top of my shoe shelf, but wasn’t sure what to do with the others since they are a different colour and style. Then I realized they fit perfectly on the picture frames in my gallery wall! It’s a subtle detail that makes this wall look so festive.
Another recent acquisition, though not holiday specific, is this wooden bowl from the thrift store. It was a salad set of 5 pieces and I only wanted one small bowl for another project, but decided to keep them all rather than split off an incomplete set. The bowls were in pretty bad shape; cracked, and in desperate need of an oiling, but for $3.00 for the set, I took a chance. I sanded them smooth, glued and clamped the cracks back together and then oiled them with linseed oil and they look gorgeous now! (I didn’t remember to take a before picture, so you’ll have to trust me!) The large bowl was the perfect place to display some dried orange slices and pinecones on top of my dresser.
I also redecorated the top of my dresser with some of my fashion books instead of a tray. I’ve been wanting to try this for a while, but I’m not sure whether this was a smart idea because I’ll have to move everything off if I want to look at my book! But it does look nice in the meantime. And again, this year my woodburned garland found it’s way to the top of my dresser mirror.
Now for the statement piece of the room: the garland over my window! I decided to try a garland across my window this year, rather than doing a bouquet with berries and branches like I’ve done in the past. We have a massive juniper thicket growing at the edge of our treed area; you can gather branches from it every year and never even notice they are gone, so it’s perfect for winter decorating! (I don’t know how I’ll decorate if we move!)
Juniper has a fairly long cut life. I’ve had bouquets last 2 months before in a vase, and even when it starts to dry, it just gets lighter in colour and crispy, but doesn’t drop needles. So, I don’t know how well this is going to last, and if it’s going to make it to Christmas Day, but I thought I’d make a garland out of live branches. They are up high so even if they do get dry and crunchy, they’re not going to get mussed around. I think if I just leave them there, and don’t touch them, they should be fine.
They did smell very strong and earthy when I first brought them in, and I wasn’t sure about the smell since it’s in my bedroom, but after an hour it dissipated as the branches warmed up.
And I love how the window turned out! The red berries are festive, but not too bright, and the tan berries really give it a nice natural feel. And of course the fairy lights add the perfect sparkly touch (and they make a great night light too!)
For the rest of the room, I added my paper crafted house and tree made out of book pages that I made last year, and some pinecones to my bookshelf.
I also hung up my favourite little winter scene by encaustic artist Donna Hanson on the wall by my closet. I always get so excited to hang this one up in Winter- I love it!
And as a final touch, I hung my mini silver wreath over my gold oval mirror, placed an evergreen bouquet on top of my shelf, and scattered a couple of beeswax candles around. I have been enjoying burning them in the evenings when I read, which just adds such a nice hygge atmosphere.
I think we’re going to decorate the rest of the house this week, which I’m looking forward to. We’ve got some renovations going on, so the areas to decorate are fewer than previous years, but it’s still nice to put out a few festive touches despite, or perhaps as an antidote to, the chaos.
Did you get your Christmas decor up early this year, or are you still planning to wait a while? Do you like to try new things each year or stick to a tried and true formula? What is your favourite Christmas decoration?
I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’ve been working on a furniture refinishing project…and here it is! I thought it was going to be a weekend project, but this antique Empire style dresser ended up needing a lot more work than that. However, after a few twists and turns, I’ve finally finished it, and I absolutely love how it turned out.
So for some background, my uncle gave me this Empire style dresser several years ago. It had been stored in his workshop for a while and, as he was clearing some things out, he decided he wasn’t going to refinish it. He knew that I liked antiques, so he passed it on to me. I didn’t have time to refinish it then, so I put it in the garage and left it for a couple of years…but I finally decided to tackle it this summer!
It was in rough shape and desparately in need of some help. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to strip and stain it or paint it, but when I unearthed it from the garage and brought it into the workshop, I discovered that there was more damage than I had remembered.
As you can see in these photos, the finish had crazed and “alligatored” over time. This can, apparently, be caused by heat and sunlight (being stored in a shop/garage for several years probably didn’t help that much). The top of the dresser was also extremely warped and cracked. I wasn’t sure if it was salvageable, or if a new top was required. The wood was also chipped along the bottom of the side panels, so the decision whether to paint or stain was decided in favour of painting.
At this point I was contemplating painting only the sides and drawer divider frames black and then leaving the fronts of the drawers stained wood. I’ve seen a few pieces of furniture done this way and it can look really beautiful. However, I wasn’t sure if it was something that I was going to love for a long time, or whether it was going to be one of those trends that would date the piece in about 10 years and I’d get tired of it. I was a bit hesitant to put the time and effort required into a piece that I wasn’t sure would stand the test of time….so I debated this for a long time. (Ask my family- I drove them nuts trying to make this decision!)
But before any of those kinds of decisions were made, the first step was to dismantle and sand the entire piece to get rid of the alligatoring. I unscrewed the top from the dresser, and immediately cracked the wood around one of the screws. This wasn’t off to a good start! When I removed the top, I also found these artifacts tucked up inside, but I can not find much info online about Laco Lamps. This advertisement is apparently an ink blotter, and there is one for sale here from a different store.
I had originally assumed that the dresser was veneer, but as I dismantled it, I was surprised to discover that the drawers were dovetailed and the rounded drawer fronts were solid cherry wood! That was my first clue that this dresser was old. The finish on the dresser was very interesting, as well. I had originally thought that the pattern of the wood was the grain of the wood, but realized that it was actually a design printed onto the dresser, and then stained over the top with red stain in order to make it look like an exotic wood.
After the dresser was apart, I started sanding. And sanding. And sanding. After half an hour with the orbital sander, the finish on the drawers wasn’t even coming off. It was getting dusty and scuffed, but that alligatored texture was not smoothing out.
Thus I switched to Plan B, which was doing a test to see what kind of finish it was: shellac, varnish, lacquer, acrylic… I did a test with alcohol and the finish did start coming off, so I determined that it was shellac. This was interesting, because shellac has not been a commonly used finish for many years; it fell out of favour after the 1920’s as a commercially used product. That was my second clue that this dresser was fairly old.
I spritzed alcohol onto the drawer fronts and wiped them with a rag. Again, after half an hour, some of the red colour was coming off onto the rag, but the finish wasn’t dissolving enough to completely come off. I was beginning to wonder if this was why my uncle had decided he didn’t want to refinish the dresser…
So, of course, it was a long weekend and the hardware stores were closed, but we had some paint and varnish stripper from a previous project and my brother had mineral spirits on hand for me to use to clean up. I put on a ventilator and got to work with the stripper. While I was hoping to avoid the use of solvents, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. Oh and, I forgot to mention, we had a heat wave as I was trying to do all of this! I got up at 6:30 each morning and went out and worked on the dresser for about 2 hours until the sun got too warm to work in. It took a looooooooot of application and scraping, but I eventually was able to dissolve all of the finish off. (I lost count but I think it was over 10 hours.) However, the red stain colour was soaked into the wood and would require a ton of sanding to bring back down to bare wood. The red stain was a less than lovely colour; I don’t mind cherry wood stains, but this one was a bit too maraschino for my taste.
Thus, at this point, the decision whether to stain or paint the drawer fronts was decided for me by the dresser… and that was to paint the entire dresser, staining only the top. (This piece of furniture had a lot of opinions about how I was going refinish it!) At one point in the stripping/sanding process, I had tossed around the idea of painting the dresser a creamy white, but somehow this dresser just wanted to be black. One of the most important things about refinishing furniture is in going with what will enhance the beauty of the piece. I do sometimes shed a tear when I see people painting beautiful antique pieces without a thought of whether they are improving or degrading the beauty and integrity of the piece. Even though I do love white furniture, the heavy rounded shape of this dresser demanded a dark colour! Fortunately I had some black Country Chic paint on hand from previous projects.
I decided to try an antiquing method, watering down the paint slightly, painting sections and then wiping some of the paint off in strategic areas around the edges of the trim, knobs and drawers to mimic the look of a timeworn historical piece. The most important part was in making sure that the wear pattern wasn’t too uniform, so it would appear as though the paint had rubbed off in high use areas. It turned out just as I was hoping for! The maraschino red colour actually looks very pretty when it’s just peeking out under paint, rather than covering the entire piece. (Ps. you can see my inspiration Pinterest board here).
As for the top, I was able to salvage it. First I sanded it down to bare wood, as much as I could. There were some red patches left behind, but I figured they would blend into the new stain, which had a red undertone anyway.After sanding, I wet the bottom of the wood with a towel to encourage it to swell and go back into shape, but I didn’t think to clamp it, so it warped again as it dried, even worse than when I had started. Oops! It also caused a lot more of the red dye to bleed out (which I had to eventually sand again…I was really getting tired of sanding that red dye!) So, then I googled how to fix the top, and found a few woodworking tutorials about straightening boards. I then wet the wood and clamped it between boards to encourage it to dry straight. However the clamps weren’t strong enough, so I ended up wetting it for a third and final time, laying it out on the garage floor, covering it with towels so it wouldn’t get scratched and then piling three layers of bricks on top to weight it as it dried. That worked! While there is still a slight bend in the wood, it was enough to be able to attach to the top of the dresser, and I don’t think anything could have gotten that warp out of such old wood. I also didn’t worry about the cracks; I had originally planned to use wood filler, but decided to just leave them as “character”.
After the top was reattached, I stained it in three coats of “Mission Oak” by Varathane. I wasn’t sure about the resulting colour and wanted to stain it a bit redder and darker, but after buying a stain which ended up being the completely wrong colour, I decided to just leave it as is. And, after a few weeks of living with it, I’ve decided that the colour is just fine.
I oiled the top with Tried and True linseed oil, which is a product I’ve used before and really like. It smells like fish and chips when it’s first applied, but it at least it doesn’t have any chemical dryers, so you can apply it indoors!
As for the black painted section of the dresser, I waxed it with the Country Chic natural wax, because I’ve never done a piece of furniture that way before, and well … I’m not in love with it. The wax didn’t cure well or dry very hard- it almost has a bit of a tacky feel to it in spots and the dust has stuck into the wax some areas. I don’t know if I didn’t buff it enough or whether something else went wrong? I’m going to leave it for now, but I am planning on getting a buffing pad to attach to a sander and will try going over it with that to see if it will polish it smooth. At worst it might remove some of the wax, but that’s OK. It will just make the piece look even more aged, right? I wish, in hindsight, that I had oiled the painted sections, because the linseed oil cures to a dry finish, which is also quite a historical look. The wax is historical too, I just am not sure if it was the right choice for a black piece of furniture. Black shows everything!
One of the other fixes that needed to be done was the knobs; one of the small knobs was cracked in half. The bottom had been glued back together, but a piece was missing. I was hoping to be able to buy a new small knob to replace it, but I couldn’t find this shape of knob anywhere. Then, I thought I’d replace all four small knobs with reproduction brass ones from Lee Valley, which would have been nice, however, their store is several hours away and I didn’t want to order online because I needed to match the brass colour of the keyhole hardware. Finally I thought of sculpting a piece of clay to fill in the broken section of the knob. However, when I talked to my brother, who does mini figure models, (and the one who came to my rescue with the mineral spirits!) he said he could mold me a knob to match! Even better! I am a novice at using the material he made the knob out of so my sanding/smoothing abilities on the knob were less than excellent. However, I painted it brown and red to match the colour of the other ones, and then painted it black, and you can’t even tell which knob it is…except for the fact that I just showed you!
Finally, the last step was to line the drawers. The drawers were strong and sturdy, just needing a bit of glue and tightening up, but the some of the insides were damaged and splintered so I decided to line them with wallpaper. I was browsing on Rona and Home Depot to see what was out there, and was envisioning a soft vintage inspired floral, like this, or even something fun and quirky, but softly coloured like this, but as soon as I saw this Art Nouveau paper, I knew it was the one!
This wallpaper is by Crown and it is the Flora Art Nouveau pattern in Peacock Green. (They also have a Russet colour way available). I love William Morris and Arts and Crafts wallpaper patterns, but they aren’t something that I would ever do on my walls. However, a peek of pattern and colour in a dresser drawer is just perfect. After I got the wallpaper, I learned that it is actually an archive print from 1910, which would explain why it’s got such an authentic Art Nouveau feel! I love seeing at it every time I open a drawer and the colours in the pattern perfectly match the red and black tones of the dresser. I attached it using Mod Podge because I wasn’t sure whether starch or wallpaper paste would stick to the rough wood. The Mod Podge stuck very well, and if the wallpaper ever gets ruined I will just replace it with new wallpaper, so I’m not concerned about potentially ruining the wood with the glue.
So remember how I said that as I worked on the dresser, I was starting to get the idea that this was a pretty old piece of furniture? Well, there is a stamp on the back that reads “The Coye Furniture Company”. Upon looking into it, learned that the company was founded in 1899 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin by Mr. William Henry Coye who had moved to that town from Grand Rapids. There is very little information about the company, but I did find a couple of print records. One is this “cordial invitation extended to visiting buyers” from the Coye Furniture Co. in this Grand Rapids Furniture Record, Volume 31, Page 114 from 1915. It says that the Coye Furniture Co. will be exhibiting in the Karpen Building in Chicago, although they, sadly, didn’t run any other ads in the catalogue. I would have loved to see what furniture pieces they were showing! Maybe they were showcasing this model?
That’s pretty much all I could discover about the company until 1916. In that year, another furniture factory owned by the Joerns Furniture Company located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin was destroyed in a fire. The Joerns company had been founded by the three Joerns brothers in 1889. After the fire, they purchased the Coye Furniture Company factory in Stevens Point and began operating it as part of their furniture manufacturing company. Any mention of Coye disappears after that sale, while the Joerns company is still in operation today (Although they’ve renamed, and instead of residential pieces, they now make hospital and healthcare furniture.)
So, while I don’t have hard proof, this information, coupled with the fact that the drawers were solid dovetailed wood, and the piece was finished with shellac makes me think that this piece dates from before that 1916 transfer of ownership! I don’t think any pieces made after the company sold would be marked with the old Coye company name, although I could be wrong. There also was that Laco Lamps advertisement, which I thought dated later, but that eBay listing has it placed between 1910-1915 although I couldn’t find any other information as to whether that’s an accurate date or not. When I first got this dresser, I had assumed it dated from the 1940’s or later, but finding out that it is over a hundred years old makes me happy to think that I “rescued” it and restored it back to it’s former beauty, albeit with a different look. And, it’s also so perfect that the wallpaper pattern I chose is from the same time period. How serendipitous!
I don’t have a permanent spot for it yet. Because it’s an Empire style dresser, it is very big, and very heavy measuring 46″ wide and 22″ deep. It doesn’t fit in my bedroom, so I’ll have to squeeze a spot somewhere else in the house. I’m using it to store linens, silverware and decor in it; the deep drawers hold so much! I also forgot to mention that there is a matching mirror, but the structure that held it is missing. I didn’t refinish the mirror since I’m planning on using the dresser as a buffet, but maybe I will fix it one day.
I can’t say that I really enjoyed every step of this furniture refinishing process, it was a bit of an unexpected journey, but I do love saving and repairing things, and I’m so happy with how it turned out!
Have you ever started a project only to discover it was going to be way more work than you first thought? Or that you had to change your original plans as you went along? Do you know any other information about the Coye Furniture Co.?
Our new sewing room/ studio has been “in progress” for about 9 months, but when the last piece of shelf trim was attached last week, it was finally done. I am so excited to share a tour of this creative space! After many years of sewing at a desk in the living room or creating art in the corner of my bedroom, it is so nice to have a dedicated “studio” room. Crafting is a messy business, and while I do love a creative mess, I don’t love it so much in the living room. It is nice to now have a room that houses not only the desks and supplies but the mess as well…and a door to close on that mess.This room is my former bedroom and though I miss having that wallpaper, it wasn’t the best bedroom because it is over the boiler room. When my sister got married last year, I moved into her bedroom, and we decided to turn this one into a studio and sewing room. (And, yay, I still get to enjoy the wallpaper!) We also tried to make it both a pretty and practical craft room; we needed storage, but also wanted to have a space to decorate.
This room is also a bit of a catch all for other things… donations waiting to brought to the thrift store, chairs without a home, the ironing board… I moved most of that transient stuff out for the pictures, and tidied up, but other than that, this is a fairly realistic representation of what the room looks like most days.
As you enter the room, the first thing you see is this lovely painting I bought in the Yukon many years ago, by artist Rosemary Piper. I love her tiny watercolours, and that is where I got the idea to do some of my own tiny pieces.
This room is 9′ x 11′ with a closet. On one side of the room are my two desks and across from them is the shared sewing desk. As you enter the room, the closet is to the right of the door. Originally it had a basic shelf and rod, with bifold doors. The shelf was in bad condition, so my dad built new shelves with a small section of rod to hold “in progress” sewing projects. We also removed the doors to open up the useable space.
The shelves are 12″ tall and 42″ wide, and they perfectly hold all of our fabric, foam, leather, extra sewing machine, projects in progress and craft books. I’ve got the fabric sorted into sections based either by fibre content and purpose, or by who owns it. The baskets hold slippery fabrics and smaller scraps that don’t fold well into stacks. My mom and sister each have their own sections of fabric and my personal stash is housed in the basket on the bottom shelf and a stack on the second shelf. The white boxes on the floor hold my seasonal decorating supplies, the rubbermaid bin houses wool sweaters for felting projects (such as these and these) and the basket of fabric on top holds old sheets for use as fitting muslins.
To the left of the closet there is this little area which perfectly houses a hook to hang painting aprons on, a giant roll of Kraft paper we use for patterns and wrapping paper, my dress form and a shelving unit. My parents bought this shelf to use as linen cupboard in a bathroom in a past house, but never ended up using it because we moved. Now 15 years later we finally have a spot for it, so my mom and I painted it with milk paint and finished it with linseed oil. The reason we chose milk paint is because it soaks into the wood for a very durable finish that won’t scrape off.
On the shelves we have two boxes of patterns, sewing and crafting books, stationery and my printer. In the bottom cupboard are miscellaneous crafting supplies such as hot glue, raffia, spray paint and batting. On the top of the shelf is my sister’s basket of UFO’s (UnFinished Objects).
The dress form isn’t my size, but it has come in handy in the past, nevertheless. I got it years ago from a lady in my church and I now use it as a little display area. I’ve got some pretty vintage trims and a collar pinned onto it and I also hung my new bodice block on the side so it doesn’t get crumpled. The pattern hanging above is one that my Gramma sewed in the 1950’s to wear to her sister’s wedding. I love the tiered skirt paired with the shirtwaist top!
Now to get to the wall shelves; my favourite element in this room! We put some thought into this area because we wanted it to be functional for storage, but also to have space to display our vintage sewing notions, because if they weren’t going to be displayed in this room, there was nowhere else for them to go. I liked the idea of having shelves with wooden brackets, rather than metal ones, and incorporating some pegs to hold things; this is a workspace after all.
My mom and I found a few pictures of shelves we liked and then my dad built these for us. (I stained them with the colour “Provincial” by Varathane, by the way). The shelves are 5′ long, 9 3/4″ deep and hung with 16″ between them. The baskets hold lace and ribbons wound onto cards, the green box holds serger thread and then the rest of the space holds our collection of vintage sewing notions and books.
This little portable sewing machine is hilarious, isn’t it? I’ve never used it…I wonder how well it would work? The two framed 1940’s and 1960’s patterns are from an antique market.
I’ve also got my collection of wooden spools in an apothecary jar- I’ve been wanting to do this for years! And, this was my Great Grandmother’s pin cushion, shaped like a little lamp, isn’t it sweet?
I skipped over the new thread holder in my excitement to share the shelves, but my dad also built us a new thread organizer! I took all of the nails out of my old one and whitewashed a wooden board, and then he spaced the nails wider apart and used a jig to hammer them in at an even angle. It holds 84 spools, and fits perfectly in this spot beside the shelves.
For the sewing desk we have my parents’ old IKEA desk and… it is very orange. It’s got a strange textured veneer, but it is height adjustable and it was free. I would like to eventually invest in a different top; I was thinking of a wooden countertop or something like that since I like to share projects here on the blog and the orange colour is not quite my style! However, it is perfectly functional for now, and I do really like the length of it: 6′ 7″.
The most important thing was to be able to have the serger and sewing machine both out on the top of the desk to easily switch between them as we are working on projects. There is enough leg room to slide your chair in whichever direction you need, and there is plenty of room on the left side of the desk for spreading out your project for working on details, pinning, or even cutting small patterns out. (For most projects, we still cut out fabric on the dining room table.)
Finally, the thing that made the biggest impact for the sewing space was biting the bullet and buying the Alex cabinet from IKEA. I looked for ages for a second hand one, but no one was selling this short and wide version…I guess everybody was happy with their purchase? My sister bought one of these years ago for her craft supplies and I’ve been jealous ever since because the shallow drawers are perfect for crafting and sewing supplies.
Is it cheaply made out of MDF and quite expensive considering the materials? (Wow, I just realized it’s gone up in price since I got it too!)
Would I prefer a beautiful vintage wooden apothecary or drafting drawer unit?
Am I still happy I bought this one?
It holds almost all of our sewing notions including pins, tailors chalk, bobbins, sewing tools, sewing machine accessories, zippers, buttons and snaps, buckles, my mom’s leather beading supplies, boning, elastic, sleeve board, pressing supplies, tracing paper, hem marker… and I’m sure we could even fit in more than this. The only downside to the unit is that the drawer stops prevent the drawers from opening fully, so you have to move the items in the front to access ones in the back, but we just put infrequently used items in the back, and it works fine. I do really love this cabinet (although, if you are a woodworker, I would say to build a beautiful wooden one yourself instead!)
Now on to the other side of the room; my art space. My parents gave me this schoolteacher desk several years ago and, though it is definitely a refinishing project, I am using it as-is in the meantime. (I’d like to stain it a rich, dark brown one day.) Beside the desk I have a bin of wrapping papers and a vintage basket that houses fabric scraps and my sewing UFO’s and fabric scraps.
I love the large, deep work top and the huge amount of concealed storage this desk has. I keep all of my supplies such as scissors, hole punches, beads, fabric for flowers, rubber stamps, ribbon and lace, paper cutter, pencils and pens, watercolour paints, tissue paper and wrapping supplies, 8×10 mats, stationery and computer accessories in the drawers.
I hung a metal strip above the desk to use as a bulletin board for pretty “inspiration” things, as well as notes and patterns I’m working on etc. I like my desk placed here in the room because of the natural light from the window. The window also means I get to have my Marble Queen Pothos in here! On top of the desk I keep a tray of frequently used items on the corner of the desk, a basket for project’s I’m currently working on, and my computer. I usually have tons of other things piled on top, but I’m working on finding homes for everything.
I hung shelves above this desk as well, which is a great storage solution for all of my supplies; I’ve never had wall mounted shelves before, and I love them! The shelves are 5′ long and 11 3/4″ deep. I used pine shelf boards, sealed them with linseed oil and used simple L brackets I already had (painted white to minimize their appearance). After I saw how nicely my dad built the other shelves in the room, I wish I had stained mine and made them a bit nicer too…oh well these can be the “practical” and the others the “pretty”!
On the top shelf is all of my stock from my shop along with my camera bag and accessories. I hung one half shelf so I could fit taller items on the left side and shorter boxes on the right.
The orange train case on the half shelf holds my tools and the boxes house ephemera, vintage postage stamps, paper scraps and stickers. Miscellaneous paint and glues all fit beside the boxes and then paper, boards, canvases and art books fill in the middle section.
Though I originally I wanted to have a bit of a display area at the end of the left side of the shelf, which is why that painting is leaning in behind, I did end up putting my sewing basket on the end because I just have too many supplies for the length of shelf. Maybe if one day I use up all of my supplies and the stash decreases, then I will be able to have more decorative space! (But I doubt that will ever happen, haha)
I use my IKEA desk chair interchangeably between all of the spaces, and am still searching for the perfect fabric to either reupholster or slipcover it with. I’d love to find some vintage fabric, so I keep my eye out when thrifting, but haven’t found the right thing yet.
Finally, right beside the door, is my comparatively unexciting work-from-home desk. I made this skinny desk with metal IKEA legs and it works well because it can sit close to the door in this room without impeding the traffic flow. I also hung my vintage turquoise window above the desk with a grapevine wreath over top. I like to change the stems on the wreath to reflect each season- I can’t believe that soon it will be time for acorns and fall berries!
And now that we’ve made it back to the door, that means the tour of our new craft room/ sewing room/ creative space is over. I am so happy with how this room turned out and I spend so much time in here now! It’s an enjoyable room to be in, and I love that I can come in here and work on things and leave them out without having to put everything away in time to use the dining table for supper. While having a separate crafting room is not a necessity for creativity, it was a treat to be able to organize this room specifically with our hobbies in mind. And I love that we were able to make some space to decorate and display our vintage collection, making this both a pretty and practical craft room!
Do you have a dedicated creative space? What are your best storage solutions for craft areas?