Friday, May 31, 2013

More vintage finds ...

Some more of my favourite things to find ....

... love bergeres, and ones in this 'good condition' would be a bonus!

And I know a great vintage kitchenware store, where I plan to pick up vintage skillets, basketware, chopping boards, and skillets...

... and am especially loving vintage mirrors and vintage glass at the moment!


{images via Classical Casual Home and Cloth and Patina}

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vintage Parisian Finds

Some of the delights asked for by customers for my upcoming trip - french silver cutlery, french linens, platters and carving ware, and some great frameable vintage posters.  Great fun to find!


{images via Chic Restorations, French Vintage Home and Stuart Paterson}

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Paris dreaming: the planning phase ...

Jardin des Tuileries, Paris {image Vintage Finds}

My mind keeps turning to the upcoming trip, thinking a lot about what I will be doing - and some of the fun plans I've made.  To ride horses through the forest in France, supper at Georges to take in the City of Light by night, meet with a girlfriend in Paris the day the summer sales begin!  And I've found a load of new little brocantes and smaller stores to fossick through.

And with all the planning, the lists are becoming endless: the list for trying to clear more room at the warehouse in preparation for what I am bringing back, list for taking stock to my shop this week, lists for travel plans left to book, list for what I need to buy there and where to find it, list for what I want to see, lists of new contacts to meet for sourcing some lovely things...

Do you do that?  Are you an endless list writer?  I definitely am!  It is somehow the method behind my madness.  Once the plans start coming together, the lists get smaller and more organised.  Until I just have my travel plans and shopping list and I'm ready to go!

Drop me an email if there is something you would like to me to source or find while I am there, as the shopping lists for clients is coming together well and I would love to pick you up that special something you want - no matter how small!

Have a great week!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Place des Vosges

My travel plans for the upcoming buying trip are falling into place quite well.  Being summer in Paris, the loveliest weather at the time I am going, and me booking so late - there are few hotels that can take me for all the days that I will be there!

This is a great opportunity for me to hop around and stay in a few different neighbourhoods, which I love to do; the best way to explore!  It is one thing to get a taxi or a metro to see new parts of Paris, and quite another to wake up and wander around to see the cafes and stores just outside the door to your hotel!

I was given the book "Paris Hotel Stories" years ago, and from its pages have fallen in love with the hotel Pavillon de la Reine, on the Place des Vosges in the Marais, mostly from reading these phrases:

"Go through the vaulted hallway and then, like Alice, open the glass door - and suddenly you are in a quiet little garden, surrounded by bushes, ivy and the smell of freshly cut grass. .... You haven't even set foot inside the lobby, yet somehow you feel you've already been welcomed."  François Simon

And so by coincidence, the only two nights accommodation they have available are the two nights after I arrive, and it will be precisely what I need after my 28 hour journey!

The hotel is on the oldest square in Paris, Place des Vosges, straddling the boundary of the 3eme and 4eme arrondisement.  The square was built by Henri IV, building beginning in 1605, when he embarked on what was an early example of urban planning.

Map of Paris, 1550, showing Les Tournelles
Determined to rid Paris of its medieval image, he rased the collection of 'old fashioned' royal buildings on the site, Les Tournelles, and installed in it's place a square - originally named Place Royale.  The king ordered all 35 buildings around the square to follow the same design as his own royal pavillion at the south end, designed by Baptiste du Cerceau.

In today's property terms, this would have been an upmarket property development with an iron-clad design covenant in the contract!  Houses around the square were to be made of brick and stone, with grey slate roofs and all constructed over arcades.

Sounds like Paris to us?

What a comparison for then though - and so very modern it must have been - in stark contrast to the wooden medieval buildings all around!

With only a short walk to some of my favourites like the Merci Merci concept store {post here} and the small antique and brocante square of le Village Saint-Paul, it won't be long before I do feel quite recovered, and am finding lots of lovely things to bring home!

I will be sure to keep you posted once I am there!

Jennifer x

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I am generally not one for kitchen envy.

Our kitchen was designed around the time of the movie 'Something's Gotta Give' and I modelled the ideas for ours on that kitchen (which in fact turned out to only be a stage set!).

Eight years on, I still love our choices and it is still standing the tests of time: the marble benches, silver hardware and pale white-grey cupboards.  However, eight years is a long time to be 'in-like-with' and so flicking through some blog pages last week, I came across Gwyneth Paltrow's kitchen - and I had some serious pangs of kitchen envy.

Gwyneth Paltrow's kitchen via Elle Decor
I love cooking and spending time in the kitchen with the family.  And I can see this is truly a cook's family kitchen.

Love the floods of natural light; love the black kitchen lighting.  Love those modern steel pans.  Love the marble, love the light grey cabinets and the contrasting darker central table.  Love the vintage mix of chairs and recycled wood floors. Great touches with those wicker baskets on wheels under the built-in kitchen table - practical and good looking.  And what looks to be a french La Cornue range - literally the stove of my dreams!

I came across these pics with the release last month of Gwyneth's new cookbook "It's All Good" (you can buy it here).  After Mrs Martin was diagnosed with anaemia and a vitamin D deficiency, and in light of her father's death from cancer, she took on a new attitude to 'healthy eating' which she shares in her book.

And on the cover doesn't she look the embodiment of health - a glowing example of what this diet can do!  Maybe worth taking it on? At the top most level her principles sound on my wave-length - nothing processed (what I aim for but which is often hard to achieve!).  But then it gets straight to the tough choices - no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no wheat, no soy.   And lastly - the deal breaker for me - no coffee!  If you have read my blog before, you'll know how much I love my coffee!

And when I look closer, although I love the kitchen, there really isn't anywhere to put my built-in coffee machine.  And so yes on this point, and this alone, I am once more contented to stay with my own little 'marble and grey' kitchen number.

It's all good.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Off to France ...

Marcigny, France image Vintage Finds

I am off to France very soon for more gorgeous french vintage finds.  I have been putting this trip off for a little while, as we have had a lot on this past year with travel to Africa and Japan, and all sorts of changes in our lives; I wanted to go at a time which was easiest on the whole family - not just good timing for me.  Well, my universe has aligned and this trip is falling into place rather fast.

Will update you more as I book.  But too excited not to share straight away!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Brake for Yard Sales: And Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster by Lara Spencer

As I put to you the other day {here} - how far will you go for a vintage bargain?  How much can you 'see' in a piece sitting in an antique store?  Or even unloved by the side of the road?

I thought my own finds from garages sales, vide grenier (attic sales in France), council pickups, Paris flea markets, antique fairs, estate sales and auctions showed just how far I would go - but I do draw the line at dumpsters!

Someone who doesn't draw that line is the unlikely dumpster-diving author, Lara Spencer.  While holding down her day job as an anchor on Good Morning America, she moonlights as a designer sourcing items from all of the above!

Her book, I Brake for Yard Sales: And Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster, is a great eye opener for uninitiated, into the world of what-can-be-achieved with some creativity and vision and a very few dollars.

I'm a sucker for a 'statement piece in a room, and just adore the way her industrial-edge railway sign find, has made it's way into this lounge as the key focal.

And I also love quality antiques, but pairing them with this modern wallpaper really enhances their natural beauty.  Making them shine where they may have seemed old and brown, they take on a more modern edge.  (I'm also a sucker for bamboo mirrors - have a look here.)

But it's not just about leaving them 'as is' either - look at this fantastic wood campaign chest sprayed vivid green.  Not a 'go to' colour for me - but in this room I love how it enhances the beautiful teal blue velvet on the re-purposed chairs, and the peacock wall paper ties it all together.  Truly visionary to come up with this scheme!

Lara Spencer, on a sofa purchased from a Thrift Shop then recovered to match the room.  Side chairs, coffee tables, lamps and artwork also found and recovered or revived.
She says her mum "was instrumental in teaching me to get high style for low prices by using the three R's - Rescue, Recycle, and Reinvent" and in the book she tells us how to do it too!

Kathy Griffin's living room as designed by Lara Spencer.  Love that find: retro bubble mirror!!
Apparently while holding down her demanding television career, she designed her friend Kathy Griffin's house, who gave her a resounding recommendation: “Here’s the deal, folks: Lara Spencer decorated my entire {...} house while she was busy being a hot, blond TV host. She teaches you how to mix and match old, new, high-end, medium-end, and weird stuff that only she could find at a yard sale…and guess what? I love it all.”

Lara says: "It's fun to decorate your home with items that speak to who you are.  The word home is like a big hug."  

And I totally agree.  It really doesn't matter the style or the era: by surrounding yourself with pieces you love, with a little clever and creative styling, it turns from a mash of 'old pieces' and periods, to something that makes you feel like you've come home.

{The book can be bought here, delivered to you.}

Monday, May 13, 2013

I brake for yard sales, junk in the road, flea markets, estate sales and auctions

How far would you go to find that special vintage something?

We had our first fire of the season last night.  A cool and chilly wet day ... lead to a cold afternoon ... which lead to plans for a hearty dinner of chicken cacciatore, sitting al fresco on the lounge room floor in front of a roaring fire.

On the way home from collecting my littlest man in the afternoon rain, I spied a metre high pile of logs on a footpath, next some other large household items, ready for the local council "large item and garden refuse" collection in our neighbourhood this week.  Through the rainy drizzle and the windscreen wiper's slosh, I could see neatly cut and stacked, perfectly round and even length logs.  Perfect free firewood, I thought.

So I stopped, but first looking over my shoulder to see if anyone I knew saw me!  It turned out to be treated pine garden edging - which gives off noxious gases when burnt - so this one was not for me!  But that's what happens with the 'finding' - you win some and lots of times you come away empty handed if it's just not right for you.  Which is actually half the fun of finding something that does in fact really work for you!

But do you dare?  Stop for 'side of the road' rubbish and garage sales? 

Several years ago, a friend who was building and wanted 'old bricks' for a feature wall in the garden, had spent several months dealing with recycled building material suppliers to source beautiful second hand bricks with a patina.  

Driving one day, they saw a hundred year old factory wall being torn down, looked at each other, then decided to go for it!  They were cheeky enough to stop and ask what was happening to the bricks?  The site manager said as long as they took them away that day the bricks were theirs!  A couple of hours later they had the majority of the bricks they needed for the cost of the hire of the trailer!

I have become braver now that I know I am not alone: Teri Hatcher was caught last year at a local garage sale, and she now holds her own annual celebrity Garage Sales for charity.  And of course, Lara Spencer, anchor on Good Morning America, released her book last year: I Brake for Yard Sales: And Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions and the Occasional Dumpster.

My list includes: yard / garage sales / le vide grenier (attic sales in France), council pickups, flea markets here and in Paris, estate sales and auctions.  But I do draw the line at dumpsters.  

So tell me, how far would you go to find that special vintage something?


Friday, May 10, 2013

Auction Finds ...

Been doing the auction rounds again lately.  Spied some lovelies in a 'box lot' that I just had to have.

Two lovely glass kerosene lamps (missing their chimneys), many little old glass bottles, a lovely green and cream platter and some pretty blue plates.  All they need is a little cleaning.

The blue plates are very damaged which is such a shame.  They are made by Grimwade Brothers around 1891-1900 (this company being the precursor to Grimwades Limited, which in turn became the modern day Royal Winton).  It seems to be an earthenware, rather than the porcelain or bone china of later eras of these patterns.  So pretty, and oh so old.

After a little gentle cleaning (I use vinegar and bicarbonate of soda), they have lightened in colour and many of the stains are removed!

And where did I spy these?  Have a look ... at the bottom of this box.  Would you have rifled through this to find my treasures?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Current Project #2: Oak Chateau Table with Drawer

I always have so many projects on the go ... restoring, painting, sourcing ... that I thought I might share a few of them with you.

Some of my projects never seem to reach a completion, so some of these 'shares' will be just a work in progress~!  But as I share them, I hope to put a timeline or some level of accountability back into finishing - and so I am also hoping that this will help me turn over a few of these projects that seem to be languishing....

I love the patina of the weathered french oak of this old side table, so today's share is not about painting, but about how little or how much to do to this.

And as the table is still quite sound, I am resisting the urge to even give this a wax, as this natural old grey oak is what I love most about the piece, and it is likely to "orange" with a little oil or wax!  I may do a test patch in an inconspicuous place just to see ....

I also like the unfolding the history of this piece when you start to read what it has to tell you. Beautiful mortice and tenon joints and their pinned corner show this was originally made without a nail in sight.

And the lovely traditional french metal lock for the drawer, though the key is long since lost.  Underneath reveals more too: that this is very likely to have come from a chateau in the region of Normandy where I found it.

Large houses usually numbered their furniture: as you can imagine with so many rooms to take care of and maintain, it would have necessary for someone to keep track of what pieces were to go where.  And so chateau furniture is likely to have markings on the underside indicating the chateau name, and numbered according to the room they were in - this one has "HB", "M_184" and "48".

Given the current patina, and this numbering, this is likely to have come from the 'working' part of a large house.

I found this in an outdoor yard of a dealer in the Normandy countryside.  Left out in all seasons, and considered to have reached the end of it's life, mostly because of the large oil stain on the top.

I don't always know exactly what to do with a particular piece, and so I am hoping in the spirit of sharing that I may have some feedback in return?  Some advice or ideas from you also as to what may work?

So now, what to do about that oil stain?

I have two ideas: My first is to replace the top with new french oak and have it milled to the same shape as the original.  This would also remove the broken corners and the old nails, and make this a lovely stable table for many more years to come.  

Problem solved?  Well, ....  I am left with the change in patina; regardless of how much 'weathering' the top gets it will not catch up the hundred or so years in a matter of weeks, to look like an old piece again!

A friend suggested they would leave it as it is, accept the broken corners as part of the piece and try to remove the oil stain.  I have heard that methylated spirits is able to do this - it soaks into the wood and pushes out the oil to the surface, and does this without expanding and damaging the wood like water would do.  Sounds tricky but something I could try.

What do you suggest?  What would you do?


PS: Miss Lilly as usual wanted to be a part of the action when I take photos!  I wonder what she thinks I am doing?  When I tell her to move she looks away, as if by not seeing me then she can't be expected to hear me!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I blog ... ?!

In the words of another ... oops! I did it again!  Great intentions to post far more frequently, but my last post was more than a week ago and here I am.  

Lots happening at the moment - which leads to the inevitable ... the more things I have to write about and update you on, the less time I have to write!  Much better than the reverse ... which would be rather boring don't you think?

Had the best morning today at Blake and Taylor (Paddington, Brisbane) learning how to apply their new paint range and some wax finishes, and hosted by the lovely Ellie.  I now have oodles of projects running through my head, to utilise all the different techniques we went through, so will have to update you separately on those.

As we chatted while we were working throughout the morning, I discovered that this creative group included some crafty and talented people, including quilters and a potter.  And one thing that each of the group today had in common - we seemed to have no end of 'project ideas' and still keen to take more on!  

And so I will share with you my first project I am going to tackle armed with my new techniques!

Trawling through my favourite Paris market last year, under the trees along the avenues in Porte des Vanves, I came across a fantastic find.

By the way, I just love this street market, as you really never know what you'll come across. Such an eclectic mix of dealers who have their own little speciality, and it takes forever to stroll up and down with so many little things to see.

And do you remember this brilliant vintage light fixture I found at this market {here}?

Not that I revealed that much, all bagged up for me to take to my shippers.  But there are a few little bits showing to give you a taste that it is metal and loopy and gorgeous and will look great painted, but at present it has brown flowers and needs rewiring and as a project I wasn't sure how to start a 'metal' painting job.

Well ... the Blake and Taylor paints I was working with today can also be applied to metal, so I am going to make this light fixture my first project.  I already know where this will go, so expect an update in the next week or so with a finished result!

I tend do this often ... to look beyond what an object or piece of furniture is ... find lots of things that can be painted or turned into something else in some way ... and as a result end up with a list of projects!  Do you?  Or do you prefer to see it as the end result before taking it home?


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