What’s in a Name?

Fang and I went on a little buying spree a couple of weeks ago. We bought a sideboard for the kitchen, a china cabinet for the dining area (notice I did NOT call it a “room”), and two tables (one end, one coffee) for the living room. Most of the pieces were purchased from a place called ReStore, which is a thrift store that supports Habitat for Humanity. This place is an “upcyclers” paradise.

With the help of the kind women at a shop called Handpainted by Cookie, the pieces are currently being made ready for their move into the hovel — they’re all being repaired and repainted. For those of you who are gasping at the idea of painting furniture, I say “get over your bad selves”. They’re not Chippendale’s or Duncan Phyfe’s, ladies and gentlemen. They are also, all of them, in some way, shape, or form — much like their owners —“damaged goods”. In my mind there’s nothing wrong with slapping some paint on a thing to make it more presentable. I do it all the time to my face — a little eyeliner and blusher goes a long way, am I right, Ladies? And changing the knobs from a garish gold to an understated nickel? That’s like slipping on a pair of leopard-print flats in lieu of my well-worn Uggs.

This is not a sponsored post, but I have to give a shout-out to Cookie and Lisa over at Handpainted by Cookie. These ladies breathe new life into discarded furniture. They have the ability — and the sawdust under their fingernails to prove it — to find good homes for items that would otherwise be destined for the wood pile. I like that. When I buy something (well, okay, MANY somethings) from them, it feels a little bit like a rescue. People do it for puppies and kittens all the time and are celebrated for it. So, when I do it with furniture, why do I feel maligned? Why do I feel I have to defend my actions?

And I do feel that way. I also feel protective of my acquisitions. As a result, I’ve started to name my “rescues”. The old sewing machine table (with the original AND working treadle!) that I had painted teal? Because the color reminds me of The Little Mermaid, I’ve come to think of her as “Ariel”. I’m not sure what the other pieces will come to be called — I have to live with them a while. You know, get a sense of their characters before I assign them a name. We did that with our cat. Unlike the cat, though, I have every intention of keeping the furniture.

The cat stayed AND he got a name* — one that fits him. I’m thinking something Italian for the side table — because it has a very cool marble top. He kind of seems like maybe he’s a “Rocco”, but time will tell. He may prove to be too regal for “Rocco”. Perhaps he’ll wind up an “Augustus” or even an “Octavian”.

We name all kinds of things up in this joint. My daughter’s car? We call him “Sven” — because he’s Swedish and definitely male — cars equipped with turbo boost engines CANNOT be female. It’s a rule. You can look it up. We toyed with “Bjorn” and “Olaf”, but found the former too sleek and the latter too, well, dull. “Sven the car” is neither sleek nor dull. He’s pretty much a workhorse. “Lars” may have worked, too, as this moniker conjures the same images as “Sven”, but we just liked “Sven” better. So, it stuck.

I’m sure that “Rocco” (or whatever he comes to be called) and “Ariel” will get along nicely — complement each other even. Of course they may need a few more “friends” to round out the decor. I’d really like to find a small rocking chair — she’s got to be perfect, though. She’ll have to be a “Millie” or a “Florence” — a chair that’s seen her fair share of colicky babies or one that spent her former life on a lemonade porch — a chair with some history. I kind of envision her in a pale yellow. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be a “Daisy”.

*Our cat’s name is “Nipper” — because he bites. He’s pretty cute, though.

 "Nipper"

“Nipper”

Trading one addiction for another!

IkeaI was a little worried that I was becoming addicted to Ikea. And, really, no one wants that. And by no one I mean my husband.

It started innocently enough. I got a loveseat there, but like any gateway drug, the loveseat led, inevitably, to more. The more in this case was a chair. A new television warranted a larger media console (sounds so much better and fancier than television stand, don’t you agree?), which required another trip to Ikea where I left with not only the media console, but also with a couple of free-standing cabinets for the kitchen.

Not unlike children’s birthday parties, redecorating projects can quickly get out of hand. One minute you’re calmly lining up all the kiddies for a nice round of pin the tail on the donkey, the next thing you know, little Shushma is nearly stabbed with the thumbtack that is, well, integral to the game (plus, you didn’t have any Fun tack). Luckily, also integral to the game is the blindfold that, as luck would have it, took the brunt of little Shusma’s near blinding. Who’d have thunk that a recently spun kid, now dizzy from the spinning and armed with a sharp object would become confused and point this same sharp object at her very own eye? Not you, that’s for sure. Naturally, panic ensues and a little party game becomes, to put it mildly, frenzied and chaotic.

Frenzied and chaotic would be excellent adjectives to describe my former decorating style. You know, if it fits, it sits; if it’s free, it’s for me. This philosophy led to many, many mismatched and ugly pieces of furniture over the years. This time, though, I am determined to be different. To take my time. To think things through. To actually make an effort at some kind of style. I’ve chosen Cottage Chic or Shabby Chic, or whatever those design-y folks are calling it these days. I like it’s ease. I like it’s comfort. I like that it’s basically built around the color white, which even I can’t screw up. Although who knew just how many shades of white there are out there? Not me. Not at the outset. Now I know. It’s slightly worrisome, but I’m going to soldier on. I like slipcovers that I can throw in the wash. Although I am, at this very moment, writing this in an effort to delay doing just that. So, what else is new? “What do you mean you didn’t get the pen off the couch cushion today?” “I was writing. Do you think blog posts just materialize? Like pizza? Which, by the way, only appears because I picked up the phone and ordered it. Sheesh!”

I will not even get into how a nearly 17-year-old girl-child got ink on my nearly brand-new white slipcovered Ektorp loveseat or how this almost caused World War III to erupt right here in Northern New Jersey. The point is that I can get it out with a little hairspray and some laundering, which I plan on doing right after I finish writing this post. So, get off my back, wouldja?

That Ikea though, what a place, huh? So clean and organized and well-lit. They kind of make you want to live in those rooms, no doubt while enjoying their equally enticing menu selections — namely, the Swedish meatballs and the cinnamon buns — don’t they? Yup. They do. And I fell prey to their evil genius. I am, after all, a mere mortal in search of affordable white wood-like furniture pieces that I can shabbify with some toile curtains, gingham pillows, and possibly a bit of interesting molding.

To this end I made a list of all of the things that I know the good Lord would want me to have from Ikea. Even Our Lord could not convince Fang to live in a catalog page. He wanted to check out other places that sell furniture. All I can say is “Screw the Lord and Thank Heavens for Fang!” because if my husband had not talked me down from the crazy Ikea branch that I had found myself perched upon, I never would have found my current obsession — a place not far from here called “Handpainted by Cookie”.

Maybe it was the paint fumes, but the minute I walked into this joint I knew I had found a kindred spirit. This woman, along with her handy and affable husband, obtains antiques that would otherwise end up in landfills or spend the rest of their days as chipped wood. They make any necessary minor repairs and provide them with beautiful paint jobs. Oh, and there’s also a dog that greets you at the door. Gotta love a place of business where pets are permitted to roam around.

The actual showroom is small, but delightfully decorated. I fell in love with and ultimately bought a white chalk-painted Art Deco dining table with a pop-up leaf and six gorgeous chairs. I have my eye on a beat up china closet that I spied in the warehouse. I know it will look fetching in a lovely shade of dove gray with white hardware. Even Fang agrees that it’ll work for us, but I am, uncharacteristically, going to wait until I get the table in and situated before I make any hasty decisions.

If it looks this good in a parking lot, can you even imagine what it will look like in my dining area???

If it looks this good in a parking lot, can you even imagine what it will look like in my dining area???

Tomorrow The Redhead and I will head over to “Handpainted by Cookie” and load up Bubba with my new purchases. While I’m there I’m hoping to convince Cookie that she should be on the look out for a French Provincial desk with cabriole legs for the woman who, in the coming months, will become her best customer. Because I need lots of shabby things. Lots.

If you’re sitting there shaking your head and thinking, like Fang, that I’ve just traded one addiction for another, you’d be right. I would, however, make the argument that this tiny slice of heaven located in an unassuming Moonachie, New Jersey warehouse is a far, far better obsession to have than Ikea.

photo credits:
Ikea
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