Call Me Sap-py! How to Make Shelves With Vintage Flair

My new buckets! Some vintage, some newer...
My new buckets! Some vintage, some newer…

Last Saturday afternoon I spent some time at Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm – it was a grand old time.

Not only did I eat a mouth-watering brunch, I wandered into the sugar shack, made friends with a gentle donkey and took a look in the main store.

In the Stonehouse Gift & Maple Shoppe, I came across a really neat idea to use vintage old galvanized maple sap buckets to create one stunning wall shelf.

Funny enough after the farm tour, I thought to myself when on earth will I find these buckets, the idea left my head until the next day…

Awesome shelf idea!!!
Awesome shelf idea!!!

One of the last vendors I visited on Sunday at McHaffie’s Flea Market was selling these buckets for $5 each – I bought seven and as I was driving home thought that may not be enough. What was I to do? As I was driving through Williamsburg, ON I noticed some sap buckets sitting point blank outside (on the side of the road) of an antique shop called, Green Triangle Design.

I totally pulled over and grabbed two of them for $4 each – to add a pop of colour and allow me to go on my merry shelf-making way. The owner of that antique & collectibles store, Pam French is super friendly and not only works the shop but she makes maple syrup. Go figure! I will be sure to post my final shelf once it’s done!

Maple syrup is fantastic, shelving is really useful and repurposing things is a big goal of mine – all and all a good end to the weekend. Stay tuned for some really interesting finds and pricing to go with them.

A house is not a home

IMG_6702“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”

― Ellen Goodman

I was surfing the net this week and came across this quote above. I realized I do not enjoy my house as much as I could for the daily time and effort I put into it. I asked myself:

How many rooms do I really use? Why don’t I use the other rooms? I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into someone’s house to find a bunch of rooms that make no sense…

Sox is rarely allowed on furniture this time I let him stay for the photo
Sox is rarely allowed on furniture this time I let him stay for the photo

The lonely living room that has never been touched, the spare bedroom that is kept for when guests come over (once a year) and the home office that ends up being used once because for some reason the laptop made its way to the kitchen table, permanently.

I am guilty myself, so took a long hard look at my house this weekend and made it my mission to give each room a real purpose. Here’s how I changed things for the better:

  1. I fixed the “feng shui” in each room to create only positive vibes + good energy. Essentially anything that was pissing me off, I fixed. I made the design of each room work for its purpose.
  2. After, I decided what I wanted to use the room for, I added a bunch of practical items that I really love to make each space, a place that invokes a feeling of joy. The kitchen has some vintage nifty kitchen gadgets on display and a replica crosley radio tuned into CBC 103.3.
  3. I made it effortless! Books were added near each reading chair for easy grab, the laptop power-cord was put where I always use the laptop,  nuts for snacking on were added in the bowl on the dining table etc. IMG_6706

The changes to the rooms are already making me feel happier and like some weight has been lifted. Perhaps surrounding yourself with positive things, just makes you more positive.

I forgot to mention I bought myself a $6 bouquet of flowers which I put right inside the front door on the counter. The beauty and smell is such a nice thing to come home to.

To me a house is not a home until it feels comfortable and lived in.

I challenge you to look at your house tonight and make sure it feels like a home. Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest difference.

Don’t forget to refer to my article How to Decorate Smart with Older Furniture and Home Accessories and Three Stores & Hours of Shopping (Ottawa, ON) to learn about some wicked places to get some antiques & vintage items – should you wish to spruce up your space.


Spend nothing and get everything

Vintage and shabby chic furniture and accessories are all the rage these days and I keep seeing people running out to stores to buy things that “look second hand” but are indeed new.

You heard it here – there is no need to pay an arm and a leg for unique looking things when you can find them for free.

I am going to do some myth busting right now! Hope you enjoy my hump day rant and save a few dollars on your next fabulous find(s).

IMG_5891Myth 1: Rugs cannot be salvaged and used ones are gross:

I found this well aged rug on the side of the road this week. I brought it home and I laid it outside in the shape of a triangle over some chairs. I then sprayed it all over with some pet stain carpet/fabric cleaner, even though there were no stains I wanted to make it smell nicer, use a gentle solution and really get it looking new again. I let it sit in the sun all day long after taking the hose to it on the softer setting. I brought it inside then the next day put it back out again to really air it out. I love this rug its so different and rather captivating. It’s not like I lick it, I walk on it, so reused rugs works for me.

Myth 2: Old cabinets and hutches require a ton of work to bring them back to life again.

I am a huge fan of the table runner and table mats and using them to disguise used furniture that I am not in the mood to fix up yet. If there is paint chipping off just use a scrapper until it stops peeling and leave it IMG_5860as is. If the top of the item has some cup marks or scratches just place a runner or mat on top. Second hand stores like Value Village have really hip small & large table toppers that are real cheap, like $1.99 each. Mix & Match and have some fun with it. If you find solid furniture for cheap that has potential don’t pass it up, play it up. I will show you some of my runners and mats in an upcoming post. I scrapped this free find down and am going to top it off this week

Myth 3: Used/Vintage couches are full of germs etc. It is better to always buy new!

pizap.com14364056349601I never buy new couches anymore! They are so darn expensive and lets face it “shit happens” especially when you have animals roaming the house. I got this Lazy Boy Large Loveseat Pull-Out tonight for $20. It came from a pet-free, smoke-free house and is in great shape. I asked the guy about bed bugs in his building, if it had ever been soiled and how many owners it had. That is all I needed to know! I am keeping this one as is but its not to say if you get a used couch you cant get new covers for it or have it upholstered. New couches have that new couch smell which smells like chemicals to me and they aren’t broken it yet. I will take a few germs I can vacuum up over spending $600 any day.

Myth 4: Decorating is expensive!

It does not need to be expensive! Go to a garage sale or two and have a IMG_5881field day. I enjoy taking things like vintage plates and using them as dishes to put things in or putting them on display. You can get 5 plates for $10 or so and use them for different things.

Old bottles can be used as vases and most things can really be repurposed. I like to look at things outside the box- what is this supposed to be and what can this be when I am done with it.

I hope you look at things with a different eye next time you are on the prowl. I just furnished and dolled up my entire living room for $35 couch and all. Photo to follow!






How to Revamp a Lamp Fast

pizap.com14357876098301If there are two things I like to save, it’s time and money!

Are you in a crunch and can’t find that perfect lamp to finish off a space? Or do you have a lamp that needs some TLC?

I was in this particular dilemma a few weeks ago when I got a whole room ready to go and was missing a single floor lamp. I couldn’t find anything to match my style. I had a quick chat with my parents which ended in me taking home their old-school gold floor lamp. For reference older floor lamps can easily be found at secondhand stores for $10 and under.

IMG_5848Looking for an amazing fool-proof spray paint for lamps? I used Krylon Interior/Exterior in a medium brown and only required one good coat. I waited 15 minutes for it to dry then I used Tremclad Hammered Indoor/Outdoor spray paint (in brown hammer) on top a little more sparingly. I allowed for a little bit of the gold lamp to show through.IMG_5839

*Make sure to put some cardboard under the base of the lamp and use the sprays outdoors or where there is good ventilation.

IMG_5840I was astonished at how easy the makeover was and how great the lamp looked.  I unfortunately do not have the before photo just wanted to share my latest spray finds for lamps. I got these sprays for free from a lady but I am sure they can be found at your local Canadian Tire or Home Hardware.

Way better than spending $50-$75 on a new lamp without the shade.

Have fun and spray on!


How to sell vintage, antiques and more like a pro

Dear Readers,

I thought I would post some of my thoughts today on something near and dear to me – where customer service meets money making.

I have been watching with intrigue at who is the best in their class and who still has a few things to learn. The craft of selling has never been easy especially if you are trying to turn and earn a hefty profit. As someone who is both a buyer and seller I have tried to carefully take a step back and really note what the differences are between those who earn money and those you want to earn money.

These tips below are more for someone with a physical shop, space or set-up however I promise the ones for those with an online store will be soon to follow.

Be attentive of what buyers are looking for: Do you have people coming in your shop or space? If so, it never hurts to say “are you looking for something specific?” I have seen some people shy away from this question since it could lead an end result of them not being able to fulfill the customer needs ex. they don’t have what they are looking for or can’t answer a specific question.

Let’s flip this to a positive: Even if you don’t have it (the object or answer) you should jot it down, I bet in a week or two you will have a list. The stuff people are looking for or want to know is the stuff you want to have on your shelves or information you want to have in your back pocket. In the end people will also appreciate the time you took to help them scope something out. Lastly maybe by asking them this you will help them to find something they may not of otherwise found on their own. This could be what they wanted or another option.

Improve your business with deeper routed feedback: A close friend of mine in the hospitality industry once told me if you have served someone a meal you never go back to them and say “how was/is your dinner? you should be more specific and say “how was your steak, was it cooked to your liking?” You are doing two things by asking for feedback this way:

#1 learning how to better your business and;

#2 making the customer think less about things as a whole (it sure is easy to say it was FINE) and focus more on one item.

How can you use this in your business? Let’s say you have a regular customer, Sally and she always buys vintage items from you by the handful including radios, telephones and watches. One day you ask Sally, how she likes the radio’s she bought off you. She may say they are working great or could say the sound is a little off in one of them etc. There is a trigger and you realize Sally has not been buying as many radios off you lately. Maybe Sally stopped buying radios from you for a reason and you now know why.

You would be surprised how many repeat customers are actually not 100% happy customers. There are some stores I still buy from but I could tell you specific things I would change about them to make them even better.

Side Note: Also sometimes the people that know your business best are the ones that can give you the best feedback. I have always said to people if they (owners/managers) just asked their staff for process improvements they could save themselves a whole lot of money.

Don’t make me think: This happens everywhere (consignment stores, antique shops, vintage etc.) I go and I see it all the time. There always seems to be a shortage of things including price tags, shopping bags and mirrors. People need to:

#1 Easily see the price: If you leave them guessing they will be less likely to buy it. Make sure the price is visible and on the item.

#2 Juggle…nothing: Not only is it annoying to be holding more than one thing at a time, it is unnecessary.

If you build it they will come… remember that famous line? The same goes for a basket or bag. If you have them handy for people during the shopping experience there is a chance they will fill it or stay around longer. I went to Giant Tiger today for one thing (a bath mat) I ended up grabbing a little cart and it was full of items by the time I left. People also generally grab a phone call or two while they shop and its way easier to pick up a call when all your things are safely kept in a bag – just an observation.

#3 Mirrors: Don’t make me guess if this looks good! If you are selling clothing or accessories the more mirrors you have the better. Plus people just generally like to take a quick look at themselves when they are passing by ;). Bonus item: Good lighting and music. Having good lighting in your store or spot makes a huge different as to how people see things and feel.

These are only a few of my life lessons and maybe it is more than just customer service -it is a way of being. Paying attention to how you treat customers through every part of the buying process makes cents.