How To

How to shop vintage for your home

Vintage finds

Vintage finds

I am lucky to have friends who know how to entertain me for the weekend. I went last weekend to visit a friend in Lansing, Michigan and we spent the day estate sale shopping. I managed to get a pretty decent pile of things for the shop and for myself. 

Vintage vase available for sale at  Meandering Design

Vintage vase available for sale at Meandering Design

Most everything in my home is vintage and I've gotten pretty good at finding treasures and I realized there are a couple of clues I could give you that help you find a good estate sale. Most areas have an estate sale listing and you can just google estate sales and the name of your town (if you are in a super small town then search the next large town over) and you'll find a listing. Chicago folks can look here

  1. Review the listings within your area. I highly recommend looking at the pictures posted with the listing. You want to go to the places that have piles of stuff. Clean looking houses usually don't hold treasures. Also, avoid moving sales because they've taken the best stuff with them and there isn't much left behind. 
  2. I usually go the last day of the sale because everything is marked 30%-50% off. If you see something in the pictures that you must have then go the first day because chances are it will be gone. 
  3. Do not go with any preconceived notions of what you will find. If you are looking for a tall blue mid-century modern vase you may not find it. If you are looking for some cool vases or decor for your living room, then you may find that. 
  4. Hunt through everything. One of the houses we went to last weekend looked super picked over, but then I kept looking and I found some amazing pottery that was worth at least 3-4 times what they were charging (especially since it was the last day and 50% off).  
  5. Bring cash. Most places only accept credit cards over a certain amount. If you are looking for a piece of furniture bring a measuring tape to make sure it is the size you want. Bring water and hand wipes because it is dusty dirty work. I usually bring those big blue Ikea bags because you can fit so much stuff in them and they are easy to carry.
  6. If you are buying a few things you can politely ask for a discount, especially if it is the last day of the sale. Price is negotiable but keep in mind you don't want to be insulting. It is usually easier to get a discount if you are paying cash. 
  7. Most importantly have fun. You never know what you are going to find. 

I prefer estate sales over auctions. Mainly because I can pick up what I want, pay for it and leave. I do also stop at thrift stores, flea markets and vintage shops, but I've had the most luck at estate sales. 

Sometimes it is hard to go to an estate sale because usually the sale is happening because someone has passed away. Instead I look at it as a way for that persons treasures to be cherished anew. 

Keep an eye on the shop because I'll be posting all the goodies I've found recently. 

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The reality of trying to declutter

I admit I embrace the notion of minimalism wholeheartedly. I have KonMari'd myself to a better underwear drawer. I hold to the William Morris tenant "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful". 

I'm here to reveal the dirty underbelly of de-cluttering. It creates an unholy mess! Unless you just chuck everything into the bin and say I'm done with it, you have to figure out what to do with all the stuff you have just cleared out of your beautiful closet. 

I've been doing minsgame on and off for the last year. It has really helped me clear out a ton of stuff. You commit to a month of clearing away and on day 1 you get rid of 1 item, day 2 you get rid of 2 all the way on to day 31 and 31 things. 

A few tips I've learned from The Minimalists and Marie Kondo

  • If it does not strike joy and you do not love it then get rid of it
  • If it was a gift and you do not like it or you do not like that person get rid of it
  • If it costs less then $20 and can easily be replaced then get rid of it
  • If you have not used it in over a year then let it go
  • If it is broken, out of date, ripped or torn and you will not use it or fix it then get rid of it. 

The next step, which is a little challenging is to figure out what to do with it. Here is a little flow chart that can help you decide if you are going to sell, donate or toss it. 

Decluttering can lead to a lot of fabulous things. For me it's made me reexamine and slow down on buying new stuff, it clears away a lot of my emotional clutter, and it has made me invest time into making my home feel clean and beautiful. 

If you still aren't sure where to start I help people clear away the clutter.  Drop me a line and I can help you develop a plan for clearing out your home.

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Depression fighting alternatives that don't involve going for a walk

I'm not sure which came first the clutter or the depression, but I do know that they are inextricably linked. The problem is when my depression kicks in daily tasks become challenging. Some days it is enough just to make it to work and home. Thankfully, not every day, but it does happen sometimes that I only have enough energy to come home, scramble some eggs for dinner and lay on the couch. 

It's frustrating because there is so much I want to be doing in my life and in my business, but I've learned that fighting those days is much more exhausting then just embracing my brain's need to check out for the day. 

I've found a few ways to keep the clutter at bay because once the clutter creeps in and becomes chaos then I don't want to do anything because the whole situation is just too overwhelming. 

Doing the #minsgame each month has been extremely helpful (I did take a few months off because of holidays and winter malaise). Clearing out the unnecessary and unwanted items decreases visual clutter and makes room for me to put things in their proper place. 

I've also tried to create 'getting home' systems. My keys, coat and bag go in the same place each day and I don't set the mail on the counter. It either gets taken care of immediately, or more likely it's junk mail and it gets recycled. 

A place for everything and everything in it's place makes it easier to put things away. When there is space for those items I feel capable of emptying the dishwasher and clearing up. If there isn't space and I start to pile things up then it just creates chaos in my cabinets and drawers and I don't feel like putting away the dishes or the laundry. 

It's ok to let things slide for a day or so. Don't beat yourself up if the house doesn't look perfect or guest worthy. That does not help at all when you are having a hard time. 

To summarize:

  • Embrace your version of minimalism. I wrote a post about finding my path to minimalism because it doesn't look the same for everyone. If you do need help decluttering or want to learn more about minimalism then join the Minimalism Challenge Support Group. You'll get the help you need. You can also follow me along on my decluttering adventures on Instagram.
  • Create a landing zone. Mine is tiny because I live in an apartment and I don't have an entryway, but I've still managed to find a place to put my everyday items. 
  • Make sure everything in your home has its own spot. If it doesn't, then you may need to think about getting rid of it! 
  • Wallow for a day. I find if I give myself permission to not have to adult that I usually chill out for a couple of hours and then find the energy to clean up. Sometimes, not always. Depression can be a fickle master. 

 

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How to Style a Retro Industrial Mantel

Here is what I've learned from styling- keep playing with it. As you can see from the GIF below it took a couple of tries before I got the right feel. 

I started with this diagram about design by Charles Eames. Once I got the pulley in  place (available in the shop) the other side just needed a little tweaking. 

I love the end result that is a mixture of industrial, modern and a bit twee. The pitcher with flowers helps add some height. The mid-century modern vase plays off nicely with the Eames print. The sweet deer (which unfortunately has already sold) makes the whole thing not seem too serious. 

To recap-

  • First start with something large and bold that will have an impact. 
  • Next start layering items that complement your centerpiece. In this styling I had a theme and all of the items fit within that theme. 
  • You will notice that there is a certain symmetry to this styling, but it isn't perfect. Our eye is drawn to symmetry, but I think when it is too equal then it starts too feel too formal and staid. 
  • Use books to add height to items
  • Add things to your mantel that you love and want to display
  • Play with it. It some times takes me days of moving stuff around to finally decide I'm done. 

If by any chance you missed the past stylings here is Romantic Traditional and Nostalgic, which is my favorite because it is what my mantel looks like day to day!

If something caught your eye, most of the items seen pictured, except for the Eames print, are available in the shop. Please buy it so I don't keep it and add it to the collection on my mantel! 

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How to style a traditional romantic mantel

The look I was going for with this fireplace mantel was traditional romantic. I think I hit the traditional note by bringing in the vintage German clock along with the silver pitcher full of flowers. Below is a time lapse of the process. 

We always see these picture perfect images in magazines, but styling something takes a little bit of time and, well, futzing around. 

First I grabbed the piece that I knew I wanted to be the centerpiece of this mantel design. You want something that is a bit bold and has some height and weight to it. That was this stunning Rolf Armstrong print titled thinking of you from 1929. It's available here in the shop if you are interested. 

Next I paired it with this really cool hand made butterfly tray on silk fabric. I added a silver pitcher filled with flowers. 

IMG_0804.JPG

The tray felt a little like it was competing with the Rolf Armstrong print so I moved that and substituted it with this stunning reverse painted vintage mirror

Since the right hand side was looking a little empty, I added this fabulous silver plated candelabra (it's not just a candle holder, it's fancy- hence a candelabra!). I also put a small lotus candle holder. Which looks a bit twee against the ornate candelabra. 

Since I wasn't sold on the candelabra, I switched it out for this amazing German clock. At this point I kind of like how it looks, but I am still not at 100%. 

Same items, but swapped around, and still not there. 

The clock needed height to combat with the height of the flowers and so I put it on top of some of my favorite books. I love the balance and composition but I felt like the lotus flower candle holder was getting a little lost because the color tone was so similar to the color of the mat of the painting.

Et voila! I switched out the candle holder for this beautiful hand made Tibetan prayer wheel

  • First start with something large and bold that will have an impact. 
  • Next start layering items that complement your centerpiece. In this styling I had a theme and all of the items fit within that theme. 
  • You will notice that there is a certain symmetry to this styling, but it isn't perfect. Our eye is drawn to symmetry, but I think when it is too equal then it starts too feel too formal and staid. 
  • Use books to add height to items
  • Add things to your mantel that you love and want to display
  • Play with it. It some times takes me days of moving stuff around to finally decide I'm done. 

If you are looking for more styling inspiration take a look here

P.S. Everything that is hyper linked is available in the shop

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