decorating

Handmade and Vintage Christmas Home Tour

berry branches and fairy lights strung over a window with paper stars hanging underneath

I can’t believe it’s less than a week to Christmas! This year I didn’t have much of a theme for my decor, but it ended up that most of what I decorated with was handmade, so I guess that was kind of the theme. My mom and sister and I had fun crafting new pieces, as I mentioned in my last post, and then there were things from years past as well. I like to change up how I decorate each year, and don’t usually put everything out each year. Anyway, this is a rather photo heavy post, so let’s stop talking and get to the pictures.

branches and berries with fairy lights draped over a window, paper stars hang in the window and an orange vintage sofa sits underneath.

First up is the spare room, which doubles as my cozy reading nook. I hung berry branches and fairy lights over the window, kind of like I did last year, minus the juniper branches. Three paper stars hang in front, and I love how they are constantly moving and twirling.

sparkly vintage book paper stars hanging in the window

Next up, my bedroom. I made a simple pinecone and string garland for across my window, and entwined it with fairy lights. I love turning on the lights in the evening when I’m reading in bed. This year was much more pared back than what I did last year, and almost has a Scandinavian minimalist look, which I’ve been really enjoying.

A bedroom window with a cream coloured lace curtain. There is a gallery wall of photos along the side and a pinecone garland is draped over the curtain rod. Fairy lights are entwined with the garland

A pinecone and twine garland hanging across the window with fairy lights

Quilling style paper stars painted gold hanging in the window

My favourite craft this year are these paper quilled style stars that I painted gold and hung in my window. They also turn and twirl and catch the light.

handmade paper stars/ snowflakes hanging in a window with fairy lights glowing in the background

pinecone garland and fairy lights hang across the window in the evening casting a glow across the room

a woodburned snowflake garland drapes across a vanity mirror and a vintage christmas card is tucked into the edge of the mirror frame

a lit beeswax candle sits on a bookshelf in front of a gallery wall of pictures casting a warm glow

A new addition, and a great thrift store find, is this vintage ceramic Christmas tree. I saw one exactly like this on Miss Mustard Seed’s blog last year and thought it was cute. Then I walked into the thrift store a few weeks ago and found this one. It was missing the lamp base and the bulbs, but I was able to find the bulbs online, and am planning to make a lamp base for it for next year. In the meantime I put an LED candle underneath. I also didn’t put a star on the top, as I’m not a big fan of the ones that go with these types of trees, but a bulb in the top actually worked perfectly fine.

a vintage green ceramic christmas tree lamp with clear light bulbs sitting in front of a mirror which is reflecting the lights

The final festive touch in my room is this little picture of Christmas trees. It’s actually a card from my friend which was exactly the same size as this frame. Adding a velvet ribbon bow on the top finished it off nicely.

a framed picture of scandinavian style christmas trees hangs on the wall with a green velvet ribbon

In the living room, we went for a much more sparkly and vintage look. This year the nativity is on the mantle again. We did pinecones, fairy lights and handmade sparkly paper stars along the sides. The stars look so pretty in person, but not so much in the pictures, so just imagine that they look prettier.

A ceramic nativity scene flanked by a pinecone garland, fairy lights and book page stars

sparkly book page stars hanging over the mantle. Underneath are pinecones and fairy lights

This year we hung the advent calendar from a piece of driftwood (last year it was on the mantle). This is the advent calendar; I love it! 

An advent calendar made of watercolour illustrations hangs on the wall and a tiny paper house is displayed under a glass cloche

Finally, my favourite Christmas decor this year is the china cabinet. My mom got it a few months ago, and it’s been so nice to have a place to display her collection.

antique pink and white floral dishes styled in a dark wood antique china cabinet. Christmas decorations are scattered throughout

We added some vintage pink and reproduction mercury glass ornaments in the bowls and platters, a pile of vintage Christmas crackers on a cake stand, and a beaded tassel on the key. The pink ornaments are the perfect festive touch and coordinate so nicely with the dishes. (Doesn’t she have some lovely pieces? The oval plate pattern is called “Indian Tree” and the other shaped platter and teacup is “Blossom Time”)

A beaded tassel hangs from a skeleton key in the china cabinet door and vintage pink oraments are piled in a crystal bowl

vintage pink and mercury glass ornaments arranged in a pink glass bowl

three vintage christmas crackers sit on a white cake plate inside the china cabinet

And that’s it for the Christmas decor this year- I love adding these festive touches throughout the house. While I use many of the same pieces each year, it’s also fun to change up how I style them and where I put them.

Do you like to put out the same decor each year, or do you like to change it up? Do you have any favourite holiday pieces? What’s your best Christmas thrift store find? 

gold quilled paper stars hanging in the window with fairy lights glowing behind them

Cozy Christmas Decor | Bedroom Tour

garland of juniper with red and tan berries and fairy lights hanging over a window with a lace curtain over it

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.

top of the bookshelf styled with christmas decor including mini christmas trees and a candle on top of a vintage book

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.

mini christmas trees sitting on the tops of picture frames in a gallery wall

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.

gallery wall with mini christmas trees interspersed

top of my dresser with a vintage wooden bowl heaped with pinecones and orange slices

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.

antique dresser with a mirror over it. A few books are stacked and on top is a jewelry box and a hat and necklace stand. A wooden bowl with pinecones and dried orange slices is sitting beside it.

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.

woodburned garland hanging on top of an antique dresser mirror

juniper garland with red berries and tan berries and fairy lights over top of a window

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 garland with berries hanging over top of a window

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.

juniper and berry garland over top of a window

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!)

evergreen and berry garland with fairy lights over a window, lit up in the evening

garland with fairy lights lit up over top of a window in the evening

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.

paper crafted miniature house sitting on top of a stack of antique books

miniature paper crafted house and christmas tree sitting on a shelf with antique books

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!

encaustic artwork of a winter snow scene by Donna Hanson

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.

top of bookshelf styled with christmas decor including a vintage book, miniature trees, beeswax candle and juniper bouquet

silver wreaths hanging over a vintage gold oval mirror

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?

view of the window side of the bedroom with christmas decor including mini trees in the gallery wall and a garland hanging over the window with a lace curtain under it

An Antique Empire Style Dresser Restoration

The finished antique Coye Furniture Company dresser, painted black with a wooden top. There is a large fashion poster leaning on top of it, with bouquets of baby's breath and a stack of vintage books.

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!

antique red empire style dresser before restoration

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.

antique empire dresser, before restoration, drawer and sides

antique empire style dresser, alligatored finish on the drawers and chipped wood

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.

vintage laco lamps ink blotter advertisement from rocky mountain house furniture 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…

using paint and varnish stripper on the antique empire style dresser outside

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.

sanding the antique dresser drawers and top

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.

screenshot of my pinterest board featuring black and wooden dressers

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).

painting the antique dresser black with Country Chic paint and then distressing it, as the paint is wet, with a rag

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”.

staining the wooden top of the antique dresser with the Varathane Mission Oak oil stain

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.

antique dresser wooden top before staining and after

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!

waxing the black painted sections of the antique empire dresser

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!

fixing the broken wooden knob by molding a new piece to fill in the section and then painting it to match the other knobs

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!

closeup detail of the repaired knob made with resin on the antique dresser

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!

top dresser drawer lined with the Crown wallpaper in Flora Art Nouveau pattern

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.

coye furniture company imprinted stamp on the back of the dresser

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.)

Antique black and wooden dresser with a fashion poster and vases and books on top of it. The sunlight is shining onto it casting shadows

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!

Details of the antique dresser: a brass keyhole and the curved wooden knobs and front detail

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.? 

Restored antique dresser painted black and with a stained wooden top. Made by the Coye Furniture Company

The wooden painted knobs of the antique empire style dresser.

Antique black dresser sitting against a white wall. There is a black and white fashion poster leaning on top of the dresser and there is an arrangement of vases with baby's breath flowers and vintage books on one end.

A Pretty And Practical Craft Room Tour

mugs with knitting needles, crochet hooks and paintbrushes sitting on a wooden shelf

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. 

tiny watercolour painting by Rosemary Piper in a white frame

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.

full craft room with sewing desk, wall mounted shelves above and a shelf unit beside the desk housing sewing supplies and notions

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.

closet with built in shelves to hold fabric and craft supplies

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.

shelf unit painted black with milk paint holding patterns and sewing books. A dress form stands beside it

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).

framed 1950's dress pattern and dress form with vintage ribbon and lace pinned onto it

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!

wooden wall mounted shelves with pegs. Baskets, vintage sewing supplies and framed patterns fill the shelves

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.

wooden pegs holding vintage scissors and spools

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.

mini vintage hand held sewing machine and a framed 1960's dress pattern

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.

vintage sewing pincushion that looks like a lamp, and a glass apothecary jar filled with vintage wooden spools of thread

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?

thread spool organizer made out of nails and a whitewashed wooden board with thread organized by colour

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″.

serger and sewing machine on top of sewing desk

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.)

ikea alex drawer unit underneath the desk for holding sewing supplies

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!)

Yes.

Would I prefer a beautiful vintage wooden apothecary or drafting drawer unit?

Yes.

Am I still happy I bought this one?

Absolutely!

top drawer of the ikea alex drawer full of sewing supplies

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!)

wooden schoolteacher style art desk sits beside a window and wall shelves are hung above holding boxes and baskets of supplies

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.

schoolteacher desk drawer open showing pens, pencils and office supplies

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.

magnet board with papers and pictures hung on it

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.

a pothos plant on a shelf and a tray of art supplies sitting on top of the desk

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”!

wall mounted shelves holding art supplies in boxes and baskets

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.

wall mounted shelves holding art supplies in a vintage train case and paper boxes and a plant trailing off the end of one shelf

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.

ikea orfjall desk chair in grey and wall shelves holding paper, books and a sewing basket

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.

work from home desk with a vintage window above it with a cotton wreath hanging on top

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? 

A Vintage Cottage Inspired Bedroom Tour

a bouquet of dried baby's breath in an amber bottle in front of a gallery wall of frames and pictures

It has been few months since I moved into my new bedroom… but I’ve finally finished decorating it! I might change some things in the future, as I do like to redecorate occasionally, but for now it’s pretty much finished, and I love how it turned out. This room really feels like “me” in a way that I don’t think I’ve had since I was 8 and had a pink and purple room with Barbie wallpaper. I’ve had a lot of different bedrooms over the years, but somehow none of them ever felt just perfect…and this one does. The only thing that would make it better is if I had vintage wooden floors instead of vinyl (haha).

When I was planning to move into this room, I took some time thinking about what I wanted it to look and feel like, what colour I wanted it to be, and after moving in, to take my time deciding where to hang pictures etc.  I’m glad I did, because I love its eclectic vintage cottage inspired feeling. A few years ago I read something about defining your decorating style and I came up with “a fashion designer moves into her granny’s kitschy English cottage”. There usually isn’t much of a rhyme or reason to my decorating- I just decorate with things that I like. And the things that I like are usually fashion related, English cottage, antique, natural, a hit of 1970’s kitsch, and I always like to add in a least a few ugly or funny things to keep it from being too serious!

view of the room from the doorway facing the window

First, when you enter the room, you see the opposite wall with the window. Because this is a North facing room, I chose to paint the walls a warm, ivory white. The colour is “Acadia White” by Benjamin Moore. I got paint chips and debated getting a sample to test the colour first, but just decided to jump in headfirst with it, and it was a great choice. It has a slight undertone of ivory/yellow in it, but it’s not too saturated. In a South facing room I think it would definitely pick up those yellow tones, and perhaps lean a bit towards buttery yellow, but the cool light in this room tones it down to a perfect cream. I found in the past that crisp whites can turn grey in the shadows, so this was a perfect choice of colour and the room is always warm and bright even on cloudy days.

another angle of the gallery wall

If you turn to the left wall, you will see one of my favourite two things about this room: my gallery wall! I have been wanting a full gallery wall like this forever, and have been collecting frames and artwork for years. Now I was finally able to put them all together like this on one wall…and I love how it turned out. I didn’t start out planning for a gold, black and cream colour theme, but as I started gathering the artwork and frames together, I noticed the colour scheme emerging and decided to continue with it. I left some of my more colourful art pieces out of this arrangement and will hang them elsewhere.

framed botanical

To hang this gallery wall, I took a photo of each piece, and a photo of the wall, and then moved them around in Photoshop until it looked like a good arrangement. (Making sure there weren’t too many black frames or wooden frames beside each other etc.) Then I traced each frame onto wrapping paper I had saved from Christmas and taped the pieces onto the wall. Once I was sure of the placement, I measured where the nail needed to go, and then hammered it right through the paper. It worked like a charm! I didn’t have to mark up the walls at all, and every single frame was exactly where it needed to be without gaps or spaces. If you are planning on hanging a gallery wall, definitely do it with paper. It was my first time with that method and I am never going back.

detail of my artwork story of a dress in my gallery wall

There are definitely no secrets about what my hobbies and interests are in this room. Almost all of the artwork is fashion, floral or vintage themed! (Or portraits of people we have no clue who they are). My wall is a mix of postcards and greeting cards, calendar pages I saved, one of my own artworks, book pages, some photos of my family and friends, and some art pieces I’ve picked up along the way. (Two pieces that are, sort of, still available are the black framed diamond print of The Five Solas that I got online here. And I have a print that is similar to that “Story of A Dress”, of a dress, but without the text, available in my Society 6 Shop here. ) Many of the frames are second hand or thrifted, some are IKEA frames, and a few were picked up at Michael’s craft store or Walmart years ago.

vases and candle on top of a bookshelf

Also along this wall I placed a short bookshelf, which gives me a spot to put flowers and seasonal decor and other knick-knacks. I wallpapered the back of the shelf, but unfortunately the glue just didn’t want to stick, so you can see the seam. Maybe some day I’ll get around to redoing it.

small bookshelf with vintage books, baskets and boxes and shoes on it

As you saw in my closet tour, I keep shoes on the shelf, as well as clothing/shoe care items in the basket. Gloves and sunglasses are in the round box, stationery is in the shoebox, a couple of clutches are on display and then all of my vintage books are on the top shelf.

shelves with vintage books and boxes on them

gallery wall

I love lace curtains and I hung these with curtain rings to add some interest.

vintage lamp turned on and casting shadows across the wall

Turning to the right there is a small pathway as wide as the nightstand alongside the bed. I like to have my bed out from the wall, if possible; it’s so much nicer to make the bed when you can access both sides! On my nightstand is the ever present stack of books to be read.

lamp casting shadows on textured beadboard wallpaper

And here you can see my other favourite thing about this room: the bead board wallpaper. I turned on the lamp so you can see the shadows picking up the texture of the wall. Up close it doesn’t fool anyone, but from a distance it really does look like bead board. I love how it gives such a cottage look to the room, as well as being a subtle focal point.

beadboard feature wall in a cottage inspired bedroom

I was originally planning on hanging a row of three botanical prints above the bed, but after living with the room for a while, I realized that I liked having this wall left bare. It gives a bit of negative space, while not being completely boring. And this way I can have all the artwork on the opposite wall without overwhelming the room. (And I love being able to sit in bed and look at the artwork).

battenburg lace pillow shams

My bed is covered with my favourite Battenburg lace pillows and the quilt and pillowcases made from vintage sheets. I used to have a lot more decorative pillows on my bed, but I got tired of having to remove the mountain of them every night.

vintage wooden dresser with a mirror above it

To the other side of the bed is my vintage dresser. I inherited this piece from my parents. I didn’t ever officially inherit it, I just had it in my room for a long time, and so I kind of absorbed it into my belongings. It was originally my great-grandmother’s and she refinished it with Danish oil which gives it this lovely patina. And it has such a pretty mirror, doesn’t it?

view of the closet and dresser and chair

Continuing full circle in the room, we at last come to the least pretty part of the room (because there’s no way to hide my very plastic air purifier!) I’ve already shared a more thorough look at my closet in this post here, so I won’t share it again today. That chair is just there temporarily, because I have plans for another project to take it’s place…if all goes well I will be able to share that on the blog sometime in the future.

a hatstand and tray on top of the vintage dresser

Finally, here is the top of the dresser. A hat stand, featuring a seasonally appropriate hat, and a tray with perfume and jewelry on it. And, on the right side you can see the handle of my vintage mirror and brush. I don’t use the brush, but I do use the hand mirror all the time!

Well, there is my vintage, English cottage inspired bedroom! I’m so happy with how this room turned out, and I enjoy spending time in here. I’m going to be sharing another post about decorating either next week or the week after, so stay tuned for that.

How would you describe your decor style? What is your favourite thing about your home or bedroom? Have you ever moved into a “blank slate” and, if so, did you take your time or did you know right away how you wanted to decorate it?

baby's breath bouquet in front of a gallery wall