I love old homes; the character, the thick wood molding, and the giant windows are some features that made me fall in love with our current house. While the house leaves something to be desired (the kitchen is scary) it is everything I wanted in a house. We are currently finishing the dining room up. Below is a picture of the wallpaper currently decorating the walls, and the “chandelier” that hangs proudly in the center of the room. In this post I’ll touch briefly on antique finds, polishing turds, and even a couple ghost stories.
The chandelier is definitely going. The wallpaper though is a love-hate. I love the charm, but it is a lot. I guess you could say I love it, just not in my house. I have some people come over and exclaim how beautiful it is, others comment on how heinous it is. I stand in the middle, which is why I’m going to try and leave an accent wall of it. According to the inter-webs, this is trendy, so I’m going to go with it. I have an odd affinity for old wallpaper and just old things in general. I get so excited when I come across 1950’s kitchen wallpaper. The first picture below is my first charming wallpaper find. There is a certain charm about it that can not be replicated. Where this particular piece was, a kitchen cabinet was going, so incorporating into the design wasn’t possible. I asked my Facebook friends if they had any vintage wallpaper finds they would be willing to share with me. A few of them had a couple of hidden gems. You can also buy rolls of vintage wallpaper from online retailers. I’ll keep this in mind when we renovate our kitchen.
Vintage Tin Cans
Among some other awesome vintage finds are old tin cans. I know the garbage dump is probably full of these, but to me these are treasures! A quick browse through eBay and you can find listings for “vintage cans” with starting bids as low as $3 all the way up to $200. In this lot, the Renne’s Magic Oil rings in the most value at $50. I can still remember when band-aids came in tin boxes, and Vaseline in glass jars. I suppose being a product junkie might have more to do with my affinity for packaging than the actual product. Besides old tins and wallpaper, we have also found vintage tin toys, old book collections, and old furniture in our various properties.
Check out these amazing antique school benches that were found in the basement of one of our Reno Properties. I plan to polish up the wood and clean up the cast iron base. Refinished school benches like this can fetch up to $89 off of eBay. Another awesome way to refinish cast iron bases is to place cut of polished granite on top. This Singer Sewing Machine table is my all-time favorite piece of refurbished antique furniture. A refinished piece like this can go for $150, and if found untouched and in great shape, they can go for over $400!
DIY Chalk Painting
Not every piece of furniture you find is going to be great quality or a true antique. These pieces are the kind I DIY chalk paint. While you can’t turn a turd into gold, you CAN polish it. Here are a couple pieces of furniture that I DIY chalk painted while making my own chalk paint. I got these pieces of furniture for five dollars or less and gave them all a couple coats of DIY chalk paint and a wax. To make chalk paint I mixed 1 cup of the desired color paint, 1/3 cup Plaster of Paris, and 1/3 cup water. I painted the furniture, waited a day, distressed it a little bit, and then waxed it. It was easy and I love the way each piece turned out.
Older houses come with other challenges besides aging sewer lines and drafty windows. The simple layout can be hard to work with. Many older homes need smaller furniture and don’t often have space for large console tables or TV stands. I know that some people think the TV over the mantle is passed, but I’m a function over form kinda gal so up above the mantle the TV went. Everyone can see it and the windows are not blocked off by the TV and Console nor is it stuffed in a corner. Another issue with our fireplace in our current house is the flue for the furnace was routed through it from the basement, leaving an ugly pipe going right through our now unusable fireplace. Since safety is always a priority we wanted to make sure whatever was covering it up was fire resistant. We decided to go with concrete board and painted it black. This covered up the flue pipe and still left enough room for a decorative candle holder. This one was purchased off Amazon along with the fake candles currently sitting on it. The garlands draping either side of the DVD player were found at hobby lobby along with the candle holders. I love the way it came out and am happy I can keep the character of the room, but also enjoy an updated aesthetic.
Keeping Chestnut Molding
I know that bright and white is all the rage right now, but I have fallen in love with our dark wood molding. It feels so grand and historic. In fact, I am so obsessed with it I refuse to put curtains up. Much to my mother’s dismay, I have completely given up on curtains. I let the big beautiful molding take the spot light. The staircase is also another feature I adore about this house. It is grand and has such an easy slope to it. However after 100 years, some balusters broke, and paint started to chip. In order to preserve the integrity of the house, we replaced every spindle with a custom turned replica of the original spindles. My husband hand measured each baluster and carefully fit them into place. It took over a year to finish but the results are amazing, and now historically accurate.
Ghosts and More
No old home would be complete without a resident Ghost. Now I don’t have any sweet pictures to show, but I do have a few freaky stories. Our ghost is not benevolent, but he is a jack ass. He’ll turn on the TV at 4 am, and not just the TV he’ll cast Youtube off the tablet. Which means I get to fumble around finding the tablet, and turn it off, then turn off the TV all while trying to shake that creepy feeling. He also likes to kick the poor dog. Benny will be calmly sitting in the room and then jump as though he’s been kicked. Lastly, the creepy way my daughter tells me about the guy just looking at her in the night. All of this could be chalked up to an electrical impulse, a flea biting the dog and a three-year-olds imagination, but what fun is that.