40 THINGS I'VE LEARNED AT 40 || PART 2

So, not all of the things my 40 year old self would tell my much younger self are life-changing, epiphanic wisdom bombs. But if I'm older than you and you're reading this or, no matter your age, if you're planning on getting married and/or starting a new life with someone,                          

let me share this one very essential little nugget with you that no one shared with me:

Back in the year 2000 I was in love and newly engaged and excitedly hit the stores with a very unenthused- to-be-registering, minimalist fiancé to scan gun the daylights out of home essentials for our wedding registry. Weddings have changed a lot since Y2K and honestly, for the better.

note: the gloves. as if my arms aren't stubby enough. just why?

note: the gloves. as if my arms aren't stubby enough. just why?

I salute you, barn wedding having, non-tux renting, cooler people with digital wedding albums. None of that was around back then so we had it all: the over posed non-digital photos,  the red rose bouquets instead of a handful of wheat and artichokes, audrey hepburn gloves for inexplicable reasons, the formal attire and unity candle, yada yada. I wouldn't change any of it because it was beautiful day, we were surrounded by friends and family, I married THE ONE and everything about it screams the era in which we were married (which will give our boys something to tease us about for decades to come). I mean, at 5 ft. tall maybe I could have worn a little puffier dress and veil? Ok, maybe I'd change that....

BUT...

If I had that scan gun (or mouse) in my hand today, I'd scan much differently. So please, younger and/or soon to be married friends, learn from our mistakes. Since it's Spring, and wedding bells are in the air, and both my sister and sister-in-law are booked solid through the end of summer, please take note of point 2 on my list of 40 things I've learned at 40:

2. REGISTER FOR NEUTRAL TOWELS (and plates, while you're at it)

I don't care if your bathroom pinterest board is chevron, charcoal and jadeite...I'm telling ya, think of the future you, in your bathroom and don't fall for the classic blunder. I thought we nailed it with our sage and salmon selections circa early 2000's combo (see our linen cabinet photo above) and now, as I fold those blasted sage and salmon towels weekly (or pick them up off the floor because my sons are immune to hanging them up after showering) I want to go back in time and scan my own eyeballs. The towels are nice. They're good quality. They've held up for almost 15 years so we have a hard time justifying replacing them. But they're so so dumb. 

Pretend like you're dressing for a safari and then choose towels in the shade of the pants you'd wear on said safari.                                                                                                                                                                 A nice pale camel color. A subtle linen gray. Imagine a honey caramel Indiana Jones hat and scan THOSE towels. And let me tell you something: don't fall for stark white no matter how awesome they look next to white subway tile in the west elm catalog: you'll think you can bleach them but they'll only fade to a sad yellow with mascara stains and Lord knows what else in a few years. Go click on that killer egyptian cotton, non-attention drawing, thick, absorbent neutrally shaded towel and enjoy it for years to come in every bathroom, through every trend, in the laundry basket, on the floor, next to every shower curtain. Trust me. This is a mountain I'll die on.

Emily Henderson, as always, has good advice on this as well. For years engaged couples have had hopes of people just giving them honeymoon funds. Or gift cards. But most people want to leave that stuff up to you and want to possibly give you something you can enjoy for years to come- something wedding gifty. And if you don't point them in a general direction then inevitably they will give you crystal. The kind of crystal you never wanted, like heart shaped crystal wedding frames or obviously re-gifted lavender colored pillar candles. Even if you register they're still going to give you those things (or at least they did in 2001) but you might actually score a few killer bath towels that you'll have to look at for a long time and might still like. 

CREATE A CANVAS RATHER THAN MAKE A BIG STATEMENT

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if people are going to spend money on you, the things you'll still love, keep, use and appreciate will most likely be the very classic, basic things you chose. My now husband was so disinterested by the wedding registry process he proceeded to scan every wall clock he could find (none of which we still have or still work) and our first condo looked like we were running a clock shop after our wedding- even in the half bath, we knew what time it was. We registered for most things at Target and a few things from a nice store (Crate & Barrel) that we worried, back in the days when people didn't really shop online, most people would not be able to access. And while we were so appreciative of people throwing us showers and giving us gifts we became a little overwhelmed in all that registering and ended up with choosing a lot of quantity over quality. A lot of wall clocks and who knows whats. You can actually tell a lot about a couple by their registry. He loves keeping time, I love salmon and sage apparently.

GUESS WHICH THINGS WE STILL HAVE?

When I reach in our cabinet for our set of champagne flutes from Crate & Barrel that our good friends and co-workers Amy & Norma gave us, I think of them and toast to them and their thoughtfulness and friendship. From the photo you can tell a few fell victim to our over exuberant toasting. When we serve dinner nightly to our family on the very basic white diner style plates, also from Crate & Barrel, that my wise college roommate Amber urged me to select (she also helped me choose the puffy dress, but ya win some ya lose some) I can imagine us continuing to share meals on them (with all the chips and scratches) for life. Instead of scanning so many wall clocks and getting carried away in the towel department, making a super basic but long haul kind of list would have served us much better. So what if we had to flip burgers with a fork and didn't get 4 spatulas....one full nice set of 8 million thread count sheets would rock. Quality over quantity.  Basic over bold in the beginning. Foundations. 

But really, this is about much more than wedding bell paper wrapped gifts and cabinet filling and wedding planning. Everything is spiritual. As Rob likes to say "This isn't always about this". Your home, no matter how humble, out of style or hip, rented or owned, is sacred. And you are beginning to create a sacred space...TOGETHER.

This really is her house and it always looks this perfect/clean. sigh.

This really is her house and it always looks this perfect/clean. sigh.

MY MOTHER IN LAW'S HOUSE IS COMPLETELY STARK WHITE                                                        Not just white person white, yes, that, but I mean like white carpet, white sofas, white walls- white everything, white. The first time she poured me a glass of cabernet there I was afraid to drink it inside. But the reason she loves the snowy color palette is that each season she adds a different accent color to the house. A springy set of throw pillows and flowers in April, kelly green taper candles on her fireplace and coordinating hand knitted blankets over the backs of chairs and sofas to match in the winter. Yes, she's Martha Stewart, not intimidating at all. (She's also one of the top selling realtors in Charlotte so she knows a thing or two about making a home more inviting). What I found very shockingly stark the first time I saw it I now view as pretty genius because it allows her to reinvent her space, express herself and make it new and exciting throughout the year. Although I'm still afraid to sip vino in her living room I love the versatility and variety the environment she has created offers....

THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF MARRIAGE CAN FEEL VANILLA                                                                         And guess, what? That's ok. You're most likely doing something really right if it does... It can feel like all power bills and grocery lists and toothpaste tube debates. Perhaps it even feels a little sterile and nothing like you both imagined. But with every argument you work through and every counseling session you make the effort to attend together you are stretching and sweating to build that blank canvas. You can do this. And at only 14 years of marriage we are learning that the most romantic, most heart stopping and amazing moments haven't been found in our wedding album, exotic vacations or times when anyone was around to capture them.... they were on a Thursday, in our first year of marriage, when I spent the night on the bathroom floor because my birth control pills sent me there and awoke in the morning to find Scott had brought in pillows and spent the night there with me. Or on a hot summer's Michigan evening when we laughed (and almost cried) ourselves to sleep on a mattress in the basement of an old fixer upper that needed so much work we couldn't even live in it for months and wondered together what on earth we had gotten ourselves into as we stared at the spiderwebby floorboards and water pipes above our heads. Or one early morning over coffee when we heard our younger son with a speech delay actually say a few words strung together that made sense. No one else was there. There are no photographs of that moment. And we welled up with tears and raised our coffee mugs in a toast. And that toast wouldn't have happened without the basement dwelling and bathroom floor sleeping. It's incremental. It's bland before bold. It's a slow, slow burn, baby. I think if we spent more time on canvas construction than statement making in the early years more marriages would survive...

I'll leave you with this, one of Jack Handey's deep thoughts:

If you ever teach a yodeling class, probably the hardest thing is to keep the students from just trying to yodel right off.  You see, we BUILD to that.

Stretch that canvas and embrace it's vanilla-ness. For the love of all things, don't register for bold colored/print towels. And take your sweet time before you try to yodel. This is what I shall write in every wedding card from henceforth. 

Now, who wants to trade some sage and salmon Target bath towels for some caramel colored fluffy ones?

VINTAGE/THRIFT FINDS IN CHARLOTTE I'D SCOOP UP || 3.26.15

Well friends, since my childhood I've been digging through other people's thrown out, used belongings and loving it. My mother, sister and I consider ourselves ninja thrifters. My mom owned a children's consignment store when I was growing up in Connecticut and I worked there with her and we werecontinually surprised at how so few people know how to dig for used quality over brand new "not quality". We spent our weekends hitting up tag sales (garage sales to everyone who isn't from the north), consignment sales, thrift stores and stuff we found at the dump or on the side of the road. 

Most of my house is furnished in either things I literally hauled off the curb on trash day or discovered in a dusty Salvation Army corner. In fact the very chair I'm sitting in while I type this on my front porch was at the curb/trash in a neighborhood near my boys' baseball fields and the homeowner who was moving said I could take them. I'm a craigslist and Ebay fan as well but nothing beats hands on hunting. Being that my job has been in the non-profit sector since the day I graduated from college I've learned a thing or two about stretching a dollar and have clothed my sons in hand-me-downs and thrifting scores since their births. 

While I may not be an EXPERT in thrifting, per se, I do have a few tips I can share and since so many friends ask me where we got certain things in our home or ask me to help them find things for theirs I thought I'd get a few more of you to visit my blog by randomly posting things I see around town (and elsewhere) and cast a vision for you to abandon your Value City Furniture and Mall only ways and go digging! 

One of my all time favorite designers and thrifters, Emily Henderson, does a piece on a her blog where she scans craigslist in different cities and gives her two cents on what she'd buy if she lived there and why it's so great. So here' my tribute to Emily (no, I'm not a designer, just a cheapskate and vintage lover with a lamp problem) and I hope that it'll be your gateway to some great other people's trash discoveries. I also have to give a shout out to TV star and Charlotte local Mr. Rashon Carraway who inspires me daily with his killer taste and mad thrifting skills!

HABITAT RESTORE ROUNDUP 3.25.15 

1133 N Wendover Rd.   Charlotte, NC  (704) 716-7044

1133 N Wendover Rd. Charlotte, NC
(704) 716-7044

If you're looking for home furnishings, the ReStore is your place. They have several locations around Charlotte and the Wendover location is the one I hit up with some frequency due to its proximity to my house. You won't find clothing here but you will find piles of furniture, frames, lamps, cabinetry, doors, windows, etc. I have been to the Wilkinson Blvd. location a few times and it doesn't seem as big but does have some great finds as well. 

Usually the price is set at the ReStore, but if you are looking to a buy a few things or you discover something drastically flawed about an item, you can always talk to one of the sweet volunteers who run the place to see if there's anything they can do for you. I once purchase a pile of old doors to make room dividers for an office and the manager cut me a great deal for buying so many! What a great guy. And, you're making a great investment in our community when you make a purchase at the ReStore- so what's not to love? 

I can't believe I'm telling you this, but TUESDAY is the day to hit the ReStore 

They're closed on Mondays and all the stuff that was donated over the weekend seems to be hitting the floor on Tuesdays. They don't open until 10am so if you're an early bird trying to swing by on your way to work, fuhgeddaboudit. This location is often hit or miss for me but thrifting is all about just carving out a little time to walk the space and get ideas...as my husband too often reminds me, YOU DON'T HAVE TO LEAVE THE STORE WITH A PURCHASE. I repeat this to myself in the lamp section sometimes to no avail.

Usually the price is set at the ReStore, but if you are looking to a buy a few things or you discover something drastically flawed about an item, you can always talk to one of the sweet volunteers who run the place to see if there's anything they can do for you. I once purchase a pile of old doors to make room dividers for an office and the manager cut me a great deal for buying so many! What a great guy. And, you're making a great investment in our community when you make a purchase at the ReStore- so what's not to love?  Just a note, I know no measurements nor do I know if these items are still at the store...go or call and check them out (these pics were from yesterday afternoon!)

Ok, enough of my yapping. Here's the Restore Roundup

1. VINTAGE SET OF PATIO GLIDERS - $200

Don't be sad, but these are SOLD already. I posted them on my instagram account yesterday and my very wise friend Rachel scooped them up instantly. This price is a steal and LOOK WHAT PEOPLE HAVE DONE WITH THESE GLIDERS (just please don't paint them all one color and try to make them look modern). Similar sets sell for the $1500+ range restored! This set would take any porch from sad to brilliant. Someone said they saw this set there last Saturday...how were they not already taken?! Oh, Charlotte, I so don't get you. The mint green. They both still glide and only one really needs some TLC (looks to me like one had been on a covered porch and the other not so much. 

2. VINTAGE MUSTARD/GOLD MID CENTURY SOFA $650

The only reason this sofa might be here a little while is the price. While a place in town that buys all this stuff up and resells it for a fortune (they also overfill craigslist with their listings), aka Midcentury Salvage (don't get me wrong, they have great stuff, but I like my mid century on a smaller budget, Habitat usually doesn't ask these prices. BUT, this sofa is BAD TO THE BONE.

I could see this in a stark white room with dark wood floors and fiddle leaf fig tree in the corner. GAH. The pattern is amazing, the condition is FANTASTIC (no rips or tears that I could see) and it's LONG! Your whole family could sit on this thing and drink madmen drinks and look fabulous. And look at THE LEGS ON THIS THING!!!! And that cute little round matching pillow. Really, I was made to lounge on this thing. I heart it. 

I'm spatially challenged, as my husband often reminds me, but I'm gonna say this bad boy is at least 8 ft. long? These pics don't even do it justice. I feel like Anthropologie would throw one of these in their home goods section and price it at a frillion dollars plus shipping. Am I right? Let's keep moving...

 

 

3. VINTAGE BRASS OVAL MIRROR - $50 (note: if you like my blog, buy this for me I want it so bad)

Ok, I must really love you, because I almost didn't post this because I want to drop everything and drive over and get this mirror and hang it on the wall in our room and possibly paint the brass black or another color and love it forever. This thing weights a ton, has no cracks or scratches that I could see on the mirror, is ovally delicious and it is pretty cool in old brass but I think could look even better in a shiny black finish. Or possibly green. Ok, now I really want it. I think it's about 4ft. or so long and I'm pretty convinced it's old. How amazing would this be over your sofa? Or dresser? or if you had a skinny wall hanging it vertically over a small console table? it could be flanked by sconces for the ultimate entryway. Oh the possibilities are endless. If I had $50 in the budget I'd get it. But still, Target sells way lower quality mirrors for even more, so this is a great deal. Again, Anthropologie would paint this thing pale turquoise, hang it betwixt $900 curtain panels and you'd be swooning. 

4. VINTAGE SET OF GREEN DRESSERS - $250

Attention parents of boys: this is a killer set. For girls too, but I guess since I only have boys, I tend to envision them in a son of any age's room. Whoever painted them did a great job...and I love the shade. It's not hunter and it's not kelly...it's right in the middle and it's subtle without being 90's. I also love the lines of these dressers. No funny stuff...just nice sleek lines with a tiny pit of retro rounding on the edges. 

I think these dressers are from the 50's or 60's and I think perhaps a handle replacement is in order here, but up close, these aren't too bad...I'm just not for the monochromatic look with the hardware. Some oil rubbed bronze pulls could be cute on these. Also, check out the two cabinet doors on long low dresser...hello, storage! Slap a changing pad on that long dresser for a baby boy and hold on to this set as they grow into stinky, bigger clothes having teenagers.

Please don't buy a changing table/dresser set at Babies 'R Us made out of particleboard. I beg of you expectant parents. 

5. SET OF LOCKERS - $170

I love lockers and if I had a mudroom or enough room in my laundry room, I would so install some of these. Love the color of these. With a little elbow grease and heart sticker removal (hey, they're authentic) they could look great. Good price. They also have a set of gray metal lockers (to right) that are in the $200 range. I am not sure if they are able to be separated but if they could, wouldn't that be great? If you live in an old house and don't have a coat closet, how much cooler would this look than a big old Ikea take-2-years-to-put-it-together wardrobe? What about for a playroom? My kids have piles of swords, bows and arrows, light sabers...imagine a playroom line with these instead of stuff sticking out of toy boxes all over the floor? You could use these in an art/craft room and organize all your goodies and make it look cute at the same time. Bottom line, if you need storage, this is a cool way to do it. Now I'm thinking of getting rid of one of my boys shelves or dresser in their rooms to use this...hmmmm. I'm gonna say they're about 5ft (my height) tall. 

5. RUSTIC DARK WOOD DROP LEAF TABLE - $195

In the grand scheme of craigslist, this isn't the greatest price, but for the ReStore, this is pretty good. This table looks really great up close, has good patina and would be great for a tight space where the drop leaf would enable you to have more guests but not take up too much time on a daily basis. Would be great in a kitchen nook or even in a play room for special projects. I could also imagine this on a cute screened in porch with some cute rattan or wicker chairs? It's cute and with some mismatched industrial chairs I think you could make a very Restoration Hardwarey look for less than what an Ikea set would cost you.

6. VINTAGE RED LAMP - $15

As I mentioned earlier, I have a serious vintage lamp problem and longingly inspected this and its fabulousness. My son has a lot of red in his room and I considered it for a brief second then thought of my marriage first and foremost, the vintage eagle lamp he already has on his nightstand and reconsidered. But the velvet piping on the drum shade.....LOOOOVE. It's pretty cool. You should get it. It's $15 and you can test it out there to make sure it works.

Did I mention the ReStore gives you a 30 day return period in case something doesn't work properly? Seriously. I actually did buy a lamp there yesterday, but don't tell Scott. 

Wanna see it? I'll try to post it soon. 

7. PINE DROP LEAF TABLE WITH 2 EXTRA LEAVES - $45

Whoever priced this was smoking something, but hey, good for you. We don't have a really long table so when we have a lot of people over for dinner I'm always using random things from our house to make our table longer. I actually considered using this as a side/console table just so that I could then use it with or without its leaves for when we need a really long table. I am not a huge pine lover so I think i'd probably paint this (Annie Sloan paint would be cute) but a table this convertible with 2 leaves for under $50: this is the stuff thrifting is made of. 

Whoever priced this was smoking something, but hey, good for you. We don't have a really long table so when we have a lot of people over for dinner I'm always using random things from our house to make our table longer. I actually considered using this as a side/console table just so that I could then use it with or without its leaves for when we need a really long table. I am not a huge pine lover (but this pine seems pretty quality and almost has a rustic/cabiny feel so I kinda like it) but I think i'd probably paint this (Annie Sloan paint would be cute) but a table this convertible with 2 leaves for under $50: this is the stuff thrifting is made of. 

8. VINTAGE BRASS SOLID LAMP - $45 I think?

Not a fan of the price (too high) but am a fan of this cool solid, nice quality aged brass (not shiny gold) lamp. The price seemed a bit steep to me and the shade was so cheesy I spared you the sight of it. I wonder if you could ask for a better price in comparison to other lamps there. This lamp could feel 80's in the bad way, but with a nice shade you'd have yourself a really nice piece.

Personally if you had a room with navy in it, I think this would pair really well with it...maybe a nice linen drum shade? Oh you could get creative. I'd say the the big part of base is at least 2 ft. tall. Good sized lamp. 

 

LOVE VINTAGE STUFF BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR SPACE?

As I mentioned before, I'm not a designer, just a cheapskate, but I do have a friend who is a designer, fellow cheapskate and talented thrifter. So here's a shout out to my friend Wendy Fennell of Bohemian Bungalow Design who can not only help you reinvent your space but also has a knack for repurposing what you already have. Check out her site for all kinds of ideas, goods, tips and info on how she can help you!

I'd love to hear about your thrifting tips and if any of you purchased any of these items how you used them!

PEACE OUT & MAY THE THRIFT GODS BE WITH YOU.