Be our guest

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Though the entire concept of “interior design” and, er, decorating is still a new one for me, I’m getting better at the whole visualization thing.

When we bought our house last year, I was most excited about the idea of a blank canvas I could design to my heart’s content. I spent weeks before move-in obsessing about paint colors, art work and color schemes . . . overlooking the fact that we had repairs to make before all the fun stuff could start.

Also, that I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing. At all.

It’s taken almost a year, but we’ve made major progress in our guest room! Our energy had to shift to Mr. Oliver’s room this past spring, but we have the nursery just about finished (and I’ll plan to give you a tour soon). With my mother- and father-in-law coming to visit next week, I’ve felt the urge to push and get our guest space looking nice for them.

We started out with a dusty, closed-off room with featuring walls where the previous owners had painted around furniture. That’s right, friends: furniture lines.

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Painting that room was our first order of business, actually, because it was just so hideous. The dark blue carpet was stained, quite possibly by coffee, and the shelving in the closet had been unceremoniously ripped out. Spencer patiently patched the holes, removed any lingering wood bolted to the walls (hunks of plywood, specifically), and we painted the entire space a cool, calm dark gray.

The antique white bed was a purchase from Overstock, and the tables were recent finds at Christmas Tree Shop. I spent months looking for cute, affordable end tables that would match the overall style of the room, then stumbled upon these when I least expected it. Isn’t that always the way? Bonus: they were the cheapest ones I’ve seen!

Finding yellow lamps to pop the bedspread, purchased at Target, became my recent mission. Every yellow lamp I could find was either a) super expensive; b) the wrong style; or c) both.

Enter Goodwill!

My husband is addicted to the thrifting experience. He adores the thrill of the hunt — the serendipitous way certain items will fall into your lap. We spent many Saturday mornings at a giant outdoor yard sale, combing through others’ trash and treasures looking for it. Whatever “it” might be.

I’ll admit that, in the beginning, these adventures held little appeal for me. I went because I know he loves it, and he does have a knack for finding awesome things quite cheaply. Because he’s so handy, items that are broken or old to others are just brimming with possibilities for Spence . . . he can envision something more. I love that about him.

On Sunday, we were running errands and taking Ollie on his first Goodwill/Lowe’s run when I spotted them: two perfect, vintage yellow lamps high on a top shelf. Dusty and missing their shades, they were nevertheless exactly what I was looking for . . . and I got both for $15.

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We have a little more to do . . . mostly sprucing, like hanging the sheer curtains currently draped on the bed. And all the artwork I’ve found over the last year or so. But the bones are finally there, and I’m loving how tranquil the room is feeling! Especially by soft lamplight.

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We’ve come a long way, baby.

And now I can’t wait to go back to Goodwill.

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Bargains and a barn

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Last weekend was beautiful. Really beautiful. Not like winter at all here in Maryland, with abundant sunshine and temperatures in the 50s and a glorious hunt of spring to come. (In six more weeks, apparently.)

When we ran out Sunday to complete a Craigslist transaction (always nerve-wracking, but we meet folks in very public locations — and this man turned out not to be a serial killer, thankfully), Spencer and I swung into a local barn renovated to hold . . . well, to hold junk. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s a combination of a thrift store, salvage shop and last-resort home for stuff no one else wants.

My husband can’t get enough of it.

Spencer leaves no box unturned, no screw unscrewed. A yard sale devotee and serious handyman, Spence loves the thrill of the hunt — and in the dead of winter with no Saturday morning sales in sight, we tend to pop into places like the Bargain Barn more often.

I used to dread going into places like that . . . out of pure snobbery, I guess. I just didn’t “get” the allure of pawing through others’ discarded ephemera, seeking this or that at a discount. I never found anything. I never really looked.

But Spencer has introduced me to the wide world of treasure-hunting. We all know the saying, right? One man’s trash . . . ? I didn’t believe it until recently, but I’m starting to see the light. I haven’t found anything life-altering, but I have found a skein of hard-to-find Christmas yarn (woo!), some books, nice artwork. We came across some Ethan Allen nightstands Spencer lovingly refinished years back for our bedroom, plus an assortment of tools he wanted at a steep discount.

The Bargain Barn isn’t quite the haven of disaster I once fashioned it, and I really do enjoy the feeling of giving used items a new home — and second chance. Though I’m not the craftiest of folks, I’ve been spending lots of time hovering around home blogs and see the value in repurposing, freshening up something old again.

Giving new life to things as we build our new life.

And who knows what we’ll find next time?


Sidenote: My normal Twosday/Wordless Wednesday posts should resume in coming weeks. I wasn’t feeling well some of the weekend and without my camera, so inspiration has been a little lacking. But I’m hoping to pull myself together here shortly!