Friday, March 30, 2012

The Dining Room

I've been tweeking things in the dining room, and thought you might like to see the progress. Sometimes I play the "spot the changes" game with my husband when he comes home from work. Usually he notices and compliments even the smallest details that I've changed. He's such a good sport! Can you spot any changes?
First, I repainted my plate rack. I love the way antique pewter looks with blue, so blue it is! I used a couple different shades of blue paint, and let some of the gray paint show through underneath. I like it much better. Also, let's not overlook the big beautiful antique pewter charger on the top shelf. I stalked this charger on etsy for weeks before finally buying it, and now I have no idea why I waited so long. It is gorgeous - it has a beautiful dark patina, and there's a small "PM" monogram carved into the top rim, and it was a great price. I'm so glad nobody snatched it up while I was debating!

Next, I rearranged and simplified the ironstone collection in my blue china cabinet. Before, the cupboard was much fuller, with a layered, slightly chaotic arrangement. I am realizing that I like it better with a more intentional, symmetrical layout, where every piece is showcased rather than being stuffed to the gills. I sold a few pieces in my etsy shop and moved some to another cupboard (which I'll show you in just a second).
Next, I added some more grain sack pillows to the dining room. See the trio of pillows peeking out from behind the table? I pounced on several grain sacks that sold at an Ebay auction for under $20 a piece - how could I say no?!
Before, I had one long grain sack pillow across this bench, but with a couple of new blue-striped sacks, I was able to fill the bench with three square pillows with coordinating stripes. So pretty!
 Here's my grain sack pillow secret... I never actually sew pillow covers. Instead, I slip a feather pillow inside the sack, shake it all the way to the bottom, and then just fold the extra fabric over the back. If it's a really long sack, I'll wrap the fabric all the way around the front of the pillow again, and tuck the end behind the pillow. It's super easy, and zero commitment. All of my grain sacks are left intact, so if I want to use them later as table runners, or long pillows, or even display them in a folded stack in a cupboard, I still can. And... no sewing in zippers. Horray!
I also redid the ironstone display in the antique cupboard on the other side of the dining room. I have to confess, I play with my ironstone collection like little boys play with Legos. I love taking apart a display and building something new... organizing all of the platters into one big graduated stack, switching tureens and gravy boats so that everything looks balanced, and then standing back to admire my latest "creation". Boys are not the only ones who love their "toys"!
 Again, I kept this display much simpler and less crowded. Plus, this old cupboard is so great on it's own, and now you can see a little more of the pretty blue paint inside.

I also switched up the display on top of the cupboard. A collection of old crocks and a blue painted bowl replaced the baskets and folk art pig that were there before. My black and white pig has already found a new home with one of my wonderful etsy customers :)
But, do you notice anything missing from my ironstone collection? Anything small? Or, rather, LOTS of small little things that are missing? Butter pats. That's right, there are no more butter pats in my cupboards. But don't worry...
The butter pats now have a little shelf all to themselves!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Antiquing in Iowa

A few weekends ago, we took a Saturday day trip to Walnut, Iowa, about 2 hours away. It's a tiny little town just off of I-80, with a population of only 900 people or so, but it is LOADED with antique shops. Seriously, loaded. There are no less than 15 antique shops, and once a year they put on a huge antique festival on Father's Day weekend. It is known as Iowa's Antique City. It's sure not much of a city - just a row of shops along both sides of the brick main street - but it's definitely a great stop for anyone who likes antiquing. My husband and I ate lunch in a little family-owned bakery (which had it's own selection of antiques in the back room, as advertised on the front window!), and spent the rest of the day wandering in and out of all of the shops.
My favorite by far was The Granary Mall. It was a higher end antique mall, with lots of dealers that specialized in some of my favorite collectibles.
Their ironstone collection was insane! Rows and rows of those big, beautiful, white ironstone pitchers. Just gorgeous. Pitchers this size were priced between $100 and $150, which isn't out of the ordinary, but certainly not a bargain, so I settled for taking some pictures.
There was a small selection of antique pewter which, of course, caught my eye. And then there was the yellowware...
Antique yellow ware was obviously another one of their specialties. Just look at this display case, filled to the brim with beautiful old pieces... And this was just one case of many. Amazing! The Granary Mall has a wonderful selection of all kinds of primitive anitques - great old painted cupboards, crocks, baskets, and wooden ware... way too much to take pictures of, and not enough good light to do it by! I was tempted by quite a few things, but ended up just buying an old wooden spoon. But it sure was fun to look! We'll be heading back in June for their big antique show.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Birth of a New Collection

If you happen to follow my Pinterest boards, you may have noticed my recent fascination with antique pewter. (Or, if you're my husband and have seen the hours I've spent pouring over ebay and etsy in search of affordable pieces, you may be more inclined to call it an obsession. Which he has. Often.) Call it what you will, my collecting radar has zeroed in on pewter.

 It started with the small, dark, pewter plate above. This one is actually a reproduction of an early style, and actually I bought it for my mom (and yes, mom, I am still planning to bring it for you next time we come home). But once I saw this little plate in my house, I knew that pewter would be a beautiful addition to my dining room.
This is the picture that I have been drooling over and using for inspiration. I LOVE this picture, not only because it is just plain beautiful, but because it is at least vaguely reminiscent of the style of my dining room. (I don't have the original source of this picture. Please help if you know it!) I mostly see pewter collections in a very primitive Early American style of decor, a style which I appreciate, but it's not quite how I've chosen to decorate my own home. But this picture shows a collection of pewter in a gorgeous European style kitchen, with French and Swedish influences, rustic wood painted in muted grays, blues, and whites, and a touch of glamour with the crystal chandelier. Perfect. And I love that plate rack. Love. So my quest for pewter turned into a quest for a plate rack...
And this is what I found. Granted, it's not quite as grand as my inspiration, but it fits my space perfectly, and it was all of $17.00 at a local antique mall. It was stained a dark, reddish color with a glossy finish, and while I considered keeping it dark, in the end it looked too traditional... as in, Grandma's china cabinet traditional. So a good sanding and a couple coats of Cobblestone gray paint (Olde Century Colors) later, it looks just right.

Until my pewter collection grows, I've filled the bottom shelf of my plate rack with antique butter paddles. Apparently I collect those, too... I didn't really realize that I did until I went around the house and gathered up enough to fill the shelf, with a few to spare. Funny how some collections sneak up on you like that!

This old pewter pitcher was the first piece I bought. I found it on etsy for $20, and snatched it up. It has such a wonderful patina and beautiful old details, like the bolted on handle. I've discovered that pewter is a little hard to come by where I am, so I am (trying) to be patient and build my collection slowly and inexpensively, which is not an easy task with pewter - the old stuff is fairly pricey. But with collecting, the thrill of the hunt is half the fun, and I have a feeling I have lots of fun ahead of me!

Do any of you collect pewter? Any tips for a newbie collector?
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