Pieces of the Past and a Painted Lady

I have loved antiques, old houses, and places since I was a young girl. I must have gotten the gene that makes you like the smell of must, dust and old things in general. Perhaps that’s why I am attracted to antiques and vintage furniture as my canvas. An elaborately turned leg, a curved drawer or the entire form of a piece will strike me and I will have to bring it home! I guess my need to rescue these “pieces of the past” and give them a new life in these modern times is a way of preserving the past in some small way.

Do you feel the same way too? While my friends are reading the latest best selling novels, I’m luxuriating in books on The Decorative Arts, Arts and Crafts Period, Victorian Living, English Country and French furniture, Country Gardens and of course, farm life. I adore watching movies made in the time period 1700s to late 1800s just for the scenery. Ladies dresses fashioned in beads, brocade, silk, satin, velvet, and hats with feathers. And who doesn’t love a buggy ride

or a stroll along the beach at low tide?

I began collecting antiques and china in my mid 20s.

I collect for the pleasure of it. I use the heart beat factor as my guide.


If I see something and my heart skips a beat, I know it’s meant for me!

Like these egg coddlers. Aren’t they cute? Once I got them home I promptly learned how to cook coddled eggs and served them for breakfast fairly often until the fascination wore off! I haven’t done that in forever but I love to see them peaking out of my china cabinet and I still remember the rush of excitement I felt when I discovered them!

The time comes for all of us collector types to decide how to display our treasures. I always wanted a china cabinet for my little gems but it had to be just the right one. Some of my furniture finds are meant to remain as I have found them, but those that have lost their luster from a previous life call out to me for something more.

A dear friend invited me over to take a look at this china cabinet (made in the late 1800s early 1900s from quarter sawn oak). She was moving and had no use for it but in a glance I knew she was perfect for me. It belonged to her grandmother once upon a time but it had been doing hard storage duty in her basement for 30 years! The original oak shelves had warped due to moisture so I replaced them with new glass shelves. There were stains and gunk on the bottom shelf from years of spillage of who knows what. I loved that it had glass on all 4 sides, and that the entire front of the piece was glass too. On the way home I envisioned my china pieces arranged just so in their new home. But what about the outside?

All I needed was a bit of inspiration!

A fun birthday gift got me rolling.

I decided early on that this cast off was going to be something special. I wanted it to be an expression of my personality. She’s a little on the sassy side and a bit funky too. At heart she’s really just an old fashioned gal!

I combined the art of stenciling, mosaic work and a bold color pallet for a look of sophisticated farmgirl whimsy! The black and white toile pattern on the mosaic tiles add an old fashioned touch to the rounded feet which were too damaged for paint alone. I stenciled the red back panel with gold metallic paint in a swirl pattern. Oh, you want to know about the cheetah spots on the front? Animal prints have been used in the decorative arts for centuries. They can be used in a myriad of ways in any room.

They’re just plain fun! Use a little or a lot! It’s your house!

The most important thing to remember when re-purposing your thrift store and flea market finds is to have fun and be imaginative in the personalization of your pieces. They’ll be more than just recycled; they’ll be your “one of a kind” family heirlooms for years to come.

Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found.

~James Russell Lowell

Royal Design Studio has some of my favorite stencil patterns for furniture, walls, floors, and ceilings. Check out this link!


If you’re hungry for more coddled egg info visit this link too! http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/CoddledEgg.htm

Tell me, what nifty- thrifty things have you creatively recycled lately?

Until our next shoreline visit…

Make Each Day Your Masterpiece

Beach Blessings farmgirls!
Love, Deb

  1. MaryFrantic says:

    Well, you took MY breath away! I am very impressed!

  2. Marie C. says:

    I love what you did with that piece of furniture! Stunning!

  3. Margaret says:

    How lovely! You were able to breathe new life into that nice old piece while still showing its beauty! Keep up the good work! Maybe it wil inspire me to tackle a couple of pieces that I’ve had hidden in storage! Thanks for the peek! Have a lovely day at the beach!

  4. Cherry Mastro says:

    I share your passion for antiques, I have been online all day looking for dishes–Old Country Rose–it’s been a dream of mine to own a whole set.
    Loved your blog!

  5. Marji says:

    I must say I was aghast at the idea of painting an antique. I was always taught not to do anything to them except clean and polish. But after I saw your finished project, Wow!! How great did that turn out?!!. Your treasures are so beautiful in their new home. I think I need to "re-think" "re-purposing". Thank you for the lesson.

    Blessings to you and yours.

     Thank you everyone for your comments and praises for my painted lady! Marji, you bring up a very good point! I should have included that it’s always a good idea to do your research before you pick up that paint brush! Some antiques are NOT meant to be painted if they are worth a considerable amount of money. I knew mine wouldn’t fetch much with an antique dealer in its shappy condition and I planned on keeping it anyhow. 

     Beach Blessings, Deb

  6. Merry says:

    Kindred spirits are such fun! After enjoying your creativity on the outside of the cabinet, I strained my eyes trying to peek inside. Love the cake pedestal on second shelf up from the bottom. Thanks for sharing!

    So true Merry! I had never seen a square cake pedestal so I grabbed it from a local antique mall in Reno many moons ago. I also love the cut glass designs on it. It’s perfect for finger sandwiches or small-ish deserts, and I’ve piled fruit and cheese on it for brunches too!

  7. Brenda says:

    I love how you made it yours! I like to paint vintage furniture. Make’s my woodworking hubs crazy. He can never see what I am trying to do in his mind anymore than I can see what he is creating in his mind until it is done. Usually he is ok with the end result but I will never again paint something he has built unless it was built in mind of painting because I once painted a little folding table he built and he later told me it was built with some special wood he had gotten from an uncle. Whoops. I always check now.

    Uh oh! That’s a hoot Brenda!

  8. Shery says:

    Now that took a goodly measure of confidence, fearless use of color and visionary imagination! Your painted lady is a "beaut". I’m still on the fence about which color to paint an 1800s era step-back cupboard and there are just 2 colors to choose from :o) I love old china too. I recently watched the movie, "Emma", and thought of you when I read that you like the fashions and dress of that period. I love the language. I bet you’ve seen it. Great blog!

  9. bobbie calgaro says:

    Just had to share my creation with you although not as elaborate. My daughter’s changing table/dresser sat unloved for years, after all she is 27. But it has had many reincarnations during the years although it always looked the same. I found some great china drawer pulls at Anthropology on sale and bought enough for the drawers. They are white with a blue and yellow floral print that looks like a French country pattern. After taking the railing off the top and painting the chest black, the drawer pulls pop and the chest is the perfect storage in my sewing room for fabric and package wrapping needs.I am loving repuposing too.

    Your re-purposing project sounds great! I love Anthropology as well. They have a wonderful selection of funky knobs and pulls…It’s so fun to re-think how to use things we have had for ever… Thanks for sharing!

  10. Carol Sue says:

    Thank you for sharing your creativity. This was great to read on a rather gray day, frought with challenges, it was my rest for the day. Thanks.

  11. Tess Sole says:

    Hi Deb! I just discovered your blog and am soooooo impressed with your creativity and talent! I love your painted lady. You have inspired me and given me a boost to try reworking cast-off furniture and other used items. Thank you for sharing!!! Tess

  12. I to love to collect antiques. I do have a hard time getting my husband to paint something old. ( he did a wonderful job on some shelves and mirrors. Thanks for the ideas…Fran

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