Thank you for finding That Old House amidst the chaos of the Internet. We are delighted that you are here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Favorites -- It's All Relative!

It's nearly a week since I have posted, or even read another blog!
I am having Blogging withdrawal.

Thanksgiving is an intense holiday at That Old House, with a cast of thousands, and no time for the computer.

But I can't resist jumping on the
Sunday Favorites wagon, so here goes -- a re-run from July 7, 2009.

Thanks, Chari, for hosting this on your Happy To Design blog!
Click to visit more!


I find more amazing furniture bargains on Craigslist and Ebay than I can ever find house-room for.
I should become a furniture pimp!

But today, I'm looking at furniture that I got second-hand, from my Grandmother.
It helps to choose your relatives wisely when you want neat old stuff!


We'll start in the study, where I've already shown you my less-than-ten-dollar solution to housing the equipment for our big TV. Right next to that TV is an old wicker arm chair:

This chair used to live in my Grandmother's bedroom, then my Mom's sewing room, then the beach house, where I claimed it when I was still a teenager, but didn't take it with me until last month. It will be moving upstairs soon to our master bedroom; I am unsure about recovering the cushions that my Mom did about 15 years ago.

On the other side of the television is this wicker table, covered in many coats of paint:

My grandparents probably did this last coat of brown, many years ago, as my Mom would never have chosen such a restrained color; she went for bright, did my Mom. I would like to re-paint this table, but I get sentimental about the darnedest things.

On the other hand, Grandma would scold me about the condition of the paint.
"It looks like dead people own it!" -- her favorite comment on the shabby and unkempt.

Also in the snuggery (I do like that word!) is my desk.

We are keeping it real, right? I did not de-clutter or de-dust.
It is a messy, messy alcove, sorry! Everything seems to find its way here.

It's like the elephant's graveyard.

The desk is really an Edwardian library table, with lovely big chunky legs.
The whole desk could use a trip to Elizabeth Arden, but I love it, homely and chipped as it is.

Grandma claimed it came from Sagamore Hill, Teddy Roosevelt's Long Island home, and since my grandmother could get anyone to give her anything ... I wouldn't be surprised if this was true.

This little magazine table, here at the end of one of the love seats in the conservatory,
also came from my Grandma's house.

In Grandma's living room, it sat next to a French Empire chair covered in blue striped silk, across from my grandfather's big Gustav Stickley rocker. Eclectic taste? Maybe, but more likely just what Grandma could talk people into giving to her for free.

Into the dining room, where the star of my Grandma's treasures stands -- her china closet.

I have been in love with this cabinet forever; I used to stand in front of it and gaze at the jumble of china and silver serving pieces, the little figurines, and the bird that caught toothpicks in his mouth if you tapped him on the head. . . . oh dear, even when I was in Kindergarten, I lusted after dishes!

I don't have any rhyme or reason to what I put in this cabinet -- if I like it, in it goes.
It's a jumble, just like Grandma's was.

I restored the old finish on this piece 30 years ago, when I first got it. I removed and polished the ormolu -- I am not sure if it is brass or bronze -- but since then I have let it fade and tarnish.

I lost the teensy tiny screws that held one of the pieces of ormolu on -- if anyone knows where I can find itty-bitty screws, let me know! This piece needs its twin:

The china closet has Empire lines and construction; it's quite old. Poor thing, Howard and I have moved it into seven homes -- broken the glass once, lost the key, knocked off the top of a column, used painter's tape to hold in new glass -- but it takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin' -- and if you remember that, you are as old as I.

Now upstairs, where we venture into the Pink Bedroom, where Annie has been camping out while working on sorting through and decorating her own rooms across the hall.

You are not going to see much of this room -- it's a MAJOR work in
progress and full of Annie's overflow stuff -- but we do find here a little nursery rocker:

My grandmother rocked 7 babies in this little sweetie, and my mother rocked 4.

When my mother told my little sister that "Grandma rocked your Daddy
in this rocking chair, " my sister asked, "Didn't his feet drag on the floor?"

It is as sturdy as the day it was made. Amazing, when you think that it is more
than a century old, and has thousands of rocking miles on its odometer.

And -- except for a very old faux bamboo rocker that is in the attic awaiting repair,
I think that about does it for the furniture I got from Grandma's house.

No... wait. There is something else.
Before I leave the Pink Room -- see this white painted cabinet?

I almost forgot about it.

It started life as my Grandfather's Victrola cabinet. But my grandfather, never one to leave well enough alone, built drawers for it when Victrolas went the way of the Dodo Bird.

Then my own father, also never one to leave well enough alone, gave it a coat of white paint (now nicely chipped), built a 3-sided top for it, and gave it to us for a diaper changing table 24 years ago when we were expecting Alida. It worked wonderfully, and looked fabulous in the nursery. The diaper changing top is now in the attic, awaiting grandchildren!

You can lift up the original hinged top of this piece and see the old finish, with the RCA Victor dog decal; very neat! I'm not risking moving that big lamp to show you right now -- that lamp came from Howard's Mom and if it breaks, I don't want to be the one holding the shards.

But look on the side of the cabinet:

There's the hole for the Victrola crank!


I hope all my USA blogger friends and their families had wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations. Ours was great fun, and lots of work but that is part of the fun. It's still going on, as Howard's parents are visiting from Florida until Tuesday.

My new stovetop and sink and faucet and countertops worked fabulously! The soapstone was a big hit, and I loved being able to cook with gas once again.

And best news . . . I didn't poison a single guest! -- Cass

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gettin' Stoned

With just a handful of days left before two dozen hungry people show up for Thanksgiving Dinner, we are squeaking in the first step of a kitchen reno: new sink, faucet, stovetop and counter.


A last look at the sink, faucet, cooktop, and counter. . . .

Friday and Saturday were busy days at That Old House.
On Friday, the plumber disconnected the old sink and faucet (eek! no dishwasher!).
See that chip on the old porcelain sink?
That, and a leaky faucet, started this whole do-over.

You know how it goes: "We have to replace the faucet. If we do that, we may as well replace the chipped sink. If we do that, we really should replace the worn out countertops. If we do that, no sense keeping the electric stove we don't like. . . . " and before you know it, you've rebuilt the entire house.

Early Saturday morning, the electrician disconnected and removed the smooth ceramic electric cooktop,
and installed a regular outlet for the new gas one.

All gone!

Before he was finished, the crew from the stone fabricators turned up
with our new L-shaped soapstone counter, ready to install.

Within 2 hours, we went from green laminate with falling-off oak edging:

To this:


Any backsplash ideas? We haven't decided yet.
Thinking maybe beadboard, maybe subway tile, maybe Hershey bars. . .
(just checking if you're paying attention!)

An in-progress mosaic:

The soapstone looks gray at this point;
after a first application of mineral oil, it looks like this:

Before noon, the installation guys were done and gone, and we had my Dad, my sister and her husband here for a pizza lunch. Before they arrived, Howard and I frantically cleaned up masses of stone dust.

We had no idea that the installation would involve this:

and this:

Do you see the coating of stone dust on everything?
Really, they should warn customers about this so you can cover things.
On the other hand, I should have realized!

The plumber is due back today or tomorrow, to connect the sink and faucet and gas cooktop, and then I can get back to cooking and doing dishes and . . . hey! Maybe I'll re-schedule that plumber.

Next step: taking the too-big counter that we nicknamed The Isthmus, and shrinking it to human scale, topping it with butcher block, and putting open shelving above it for dish storage.

I need the dish storage, and I need for The Isthmus to stop being a catch-all for stuff.

(It's The Isthmus because it's not an island nor a peninsula,
and there weren't any funnier geographic designations left to choose from.)

Thanks to Susan at Between Naps On The Porch for hosting Metamorphosis Monday. I really am enjoying having a genuine metamorphosis to show! Visit her blog for more changes.

To Mary of Little Red House, double thanks are due -- for hosting Mosaic Monday, and for sharing her love of her own soapstone countertops with me. Her blog today will have dozens of beautiful mosaics to ogle!

And guess what we realized?
The fireplace hearth at That Old House is made of . . . soapstone!
So I'm sure we made the right choice for the kitchen.

Now, a moment of Chaotic Truth, or something from the
"You Can't Make An Omelette Without Breaking Eggs" division:

It's The Isthmus, full of stuff from the L-shaped counter and some of its cabinets. What a mess. But it's all part of the chaotic creative process. At least that's what I tell myself.

Meanwhile, this guy was very interested in the whole process,
mostly because he doesn't see his cookie jar in its usual spot:

The neighbor children came by on Sunday to visit and see our new counters. Dion is infinitely patient with the 2-year old, who likes to lift those fluffy ears and poke around underneath. This little boy was afraid of dogs, until he met our Dion. :-)

I'm very excited about our soapstone countertop. At seven addresses over 31 years, Howard and I have pretty much made do with whatever kitchen Fate handed us, and that was fine. But I have to admit, it's tremendous fun to be making this kitchen ours, and I'm still pinching myself that we're really doing it.

Now, let's hope I remember how to cook with gas!
Or Thanksgiving might be pretty dismal. -- Cass

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Country or Cutting Edge? Two Thrifty 'Scapes!

Some new thrifty treasures arrived yesterday at That Old House.

So today I want to play with them!

Don't forget to visit the blogs listed at the end of this post,
for so many more wonderful thrifty discoveries, and beautiful tablescapes!


Now for my thrifty finds: in this box . . . a Craigslist find,
but I can't show you the whole contents
on the slim chance that my sister reads my blog.

After Christmas, okay?

A second box held two sweet old silverplate forks, more than a century old,
in the Blenheim pattern I showcased in Tuesday's post.

These are the first Blenheim forks I have found. I just love that pattern, and Ebay.

This last box is a flat-rate post office fellow who was waiting on my front porch when I got home last evening. It is jammed full of old nickel silver flatware, also from Ebay.

Now if you didn't think I needed an intervention before this, you know the awful truth now. In this box are 132 pieces of flatware, pretty evenly divided among knives, forks and lovely great big spoons.

I already have some similar flatware, so I've got service now for more than 50.

These pieces are old. They were never fancy, they were workaday flatware around the turn of the last century, and I think they have great charm and good strong lines. Most are in very good condition; a few have some issues, but that's OK.

I paid less than ten bucks for the whole shebang.

In Princeton yesterday, I picked up these:

This is a stack of just 11 heavy red dinner plates by Oneida, but the rest of them are still out in my car! I bought 51 red plates in all for a total of $20. The hard part was lugging them out to my car and wrapping them for the trip home.

This flatware and dinnerware, after a good cleaning, will get tucked away in the pantry and be ready when duty calls. When we have one of our big parties,
we'll have matching flatware and plates for as many as 50.

And Howard, if you are reading this, sorry I forgot to tell you about the 132 pieces of old flatware.
My bad.


Since it is Tablescape Thursday, and I am so in the mood to play with new toys, I used one of the red plates and some of the flatware in two different settings.

One is sweet, the other more edgy.

Edgy first.

This tablesetting is in honor of my daughter Anne, away at grad school and much missed.
The big black cup is from her school; how perfect for chili on a cold night!

Chili, eaten with one of these massive lovely old spoons.
Anne loves old flatware almost as much as I do.

The ceramic hand was one of Anne's undergraduate projects.

I like having it keep me company.

And I can never say my daughter didn't give me a hand. :-)

The red placemats and napkins were a set: $5 for 4 of each at HomeGoods.

Does it look as though we are having Hand Soup for supper?

Anne likes these old pewter S&Ps that were my Mom's; they have good classic lines.

I love the mercury glass candleholder I bought on a Goodwill
hunting trip with Annie, near her school.
It echoes the lines of the wineglass, a handblown crystal wedding gift.

Now, for something completely different!

Swapping out the edgy for the soft and sweet.

Same big red dinner plate, same linens, same flatware, but a rooster plate from T.J. Maxx (bought on a trip to visit our daughter Alida in California) brings in some other colors.

Turquoise, in a bowl (Dollar Tree) that also can hold our make-believe chili.

Aqua blue wineglass, a summertime thrift shop find, one of 5, blown and bubbly.

I've promised these to Alida, and eventually I'll ship them out.

Two little chickens join us. I think they are looking for a rooster.

The mercury glass light is still with us, and still lit.

A few mums in red and yellow in a very old silver spooner, well tarnished and used.

Do you have a favorite table setting? Do you like the more modern supper setting:

or the cozy country one?

My soapstone kitchen countertop is being installed on Saturday; I am so excited and nervous! Meanwhile, please keep your fingers crossed that by Wednesday, I have a usable sink and cooktop, or it's Happy Meals on paper plates for my Thanksgiving guests!

Join Susan at Between Naps On The Porch for more fun with dishes,
on Tablescape Thursday.

And buzz over to say Hi to Suzanne,
at Coloradolady, for her
Vintage Thingies Thursday blog party!

Tales from Bloggeritaville's
Leigh hosts
Thrifty Thursday. Check it out!

And the hand is waving goodbye. . . .
Happy Thursday! --- Cass