Tuesday, May 31, 2011

You Might Be A Vintage House Restoration Junkie If...

Right after I woke up this morning, I did my usual check of Craigslist. Those of you who are restoring vintage homes may be familiar with the practice. My favorite section is the "free" section because lots of times, people throw out things that are very useful to those of us who love retaining and restoring old stuff - because a lot of the time, people who post these items think they're just old junk that they don't want to have to haul off to the landfill. Lucky us!

So, I noticed this morning that someone had just posted that they had a free pink toilet in great condition on their lawn free for pickup. What some might see as a threat to a neighbor's sanity reads like a golden opportunity to us. One quick holler to the Mister and he was on that very lawn within minutes and the toilet was ours. Now there may be some folks who might be saying, "Oh, Eartha! Gross! A used toilet!" but when you're in the old house restoration game, this is all par for the course. When you're restoring a vintage home, being told that there is a free vintage bathroom fixture is even more music to your ears than the ice cream truck.

(that said, I always scrub them within an inch of their life and with toilets, definitely get a new toilet seat)

This led me to think about the things that we have done since we bought this little 1956 ranch house - some of these things might ring some bells for you too if you're in our shoes and are a Vintage House Restoration Junkie.

Back to toilets. Yes, we really must! Today's find:

(Angels Singing) Free! Yes! Free!

Which is now sitting in front of this just waiting for ole Eartha to clean it:

Wouldn't you like to be our neighbors?

(more on excessive use of paint samples in a minute)

A junkie might also bring something like this home:

Without the flag and flowers...what do you take us for? Tacky?
We flushed out the pine bark nuggets and it was as good as showroom new!

And it's without shame that I admit that we restoration junkies sometimes hoard
new toilet seats in our garages:

Ahh...Venetian Pink! Just sounds like you're taking a glamorous vacation, no? Well good!
Because if you're like some of us junkies, you won't be taking a real vacation anytime soon!

Helpful Note: If you're looking for pink, try Amazon first. Blue? Try Lowe's. Don't pay a ton if you don't have to. If you're inclined to stock up (like some of us..not naming any names), you can buy several for what you'd pay for one at those fancy vintage reproduction toilet seat retailers. If you have to go that route to match your color, then by all means do. There are some great resources out there with every color under the sun - and they are also more pricey. First, try other routes. Right after we installed ours, a horrible contractor cracked it. See...it never hurts to plan ahead. If we'd paid a hundred bucks for that toilet seat, I'd still be chasing that guy down the street.

And after a long search to find the perfect color of toilet seat to match original fixtures, one of these junkies might take photos of it's installation like other people might a momentous occasion such as that of a baby's birth:

It's a girl!

I'll spare you the rest of the toilet seat installation photo shoot but let me just say that it was very
posh and included champagne toasts!

You might also be a vintage house restoration junkie if this photo makes your heart go

Glory day in the morning, y'all! Look at the grass green one!

How's the blood pressure? Can you take another?

Ooh! Ahh! Dibs on the sunshine yellow one!

Note: One of these junkies might also call dibs on things that we have absolutely no use for. Like a sunshine yellow toilet.

And one final toilet note:

Yep, it's an actual note. This is the sort of thing that you might find in a vintage house restoration junkie's house. Kind of makes you understand why we hoard extra toilets,
doesn't it?

Let's move on to paint colors. Vintage House Restoration Junkies are obsessed
with paint colors. Absolutely obsessed! You might hear us exclaiming,"But is it period?
in an exasperated tone when looking at color charts.

And we won't quit until we get the exact right shade of aqua:

Me: It's not aqua enough!
Mister: Does it need to be more blue...or more green?
Me: I don't know...just more aqua!
Mister: (blink. blink)

In that same vein, where some homeowners might see chipped or peeling paint as a major hassle, junkies see it as a wonderful archeological expedition!

Oh mama!

Thank you, Heavenly Father for what we have just received!

For it's these tiny glimpses into forgotten layers of paint that tell us what colors a house has been through the decades. They invite us to color-match them and use them once again. Sometimes, they even let us know that we're on the right track with our color choices. For instance, we recently picked a color for our front door and upon preparing the door for paint, discovered underneath the layers that the door had once been that exact same color!

Modern day color: Sherwin Williams' Holiday Turquoise

See that wall there? Peeling wallpaper is also like a great archeological dig. In this case, flocked flowered wallpaper that was glued straight to drywall and then painted over with layers and layers of paint. Can I get an "Amen"? (and the phone number of a good drywall repair person?)

In finding these clues, it's in the same spirit that we leave notes for future owners of our homes to find, in the hopes that they too will want clues from the past. We leave time capsules in attic joists and between wall studs. Messages behind medicine cabinets and wallpaper:

For instance, when replacing a broken mirror, we found this tatter of old wallpaper. We left it there but not before researching it so that we could tell any future owners what year it was from. Notice that we also noted what the mirror cost us as we're convinced that people in the future will think that things now are cheap just like we do when we look back at vintage prices.

What about you, buckaroos? Are you junkies too? Maybe you're not and think that we're crazy as you watch us snatch things from your curb or prattle on about the perfect shade of yellow in the paint store? Tell me all!

Until next time,
x's and o's,


Christaface said...

I'm just sitting here nodding, and I'm sure I'm not the only one! I left our names and the year on the wall where we installed a new kitchen cabinet- I couldn't help myself! Seeing the names of the teenagers who lived here in the 60s/70s carved into doorways and the backs of closets has been such a treat for me, I can't help but hope that someone unveils traces of us way down the road :)

Eartha Kitsch said...

I love that you do it too! We haven't found any notes yet but I sure hope that they're here. My Dad taught me to do it back when he'd remodel a room or build a piece of furniture - always hide a note. I love that stuff.

Barbara said...

The first house I remember living in was furnished in mass from the Gerber Dump. My parents used to peruse it like we do thrift stores today. Only back then, it was FREE!

Kally said...

It's a poor month if I don't come home with at least one thing somebody has thrown out, and I'm not above wading into the middle of a skip (do you call them skips in the US?), screwdriver/looting sack clenched between my frothing lips, to pry off a bakelite door pull or root for buried treasure. Thing is, I don't even have a place to restore yet, I rent, so I'm just hoarding these thigs for the future!

For some reason there seems to be an abundance of vintage mirrors left by the curb in my area, I've now got eight of them ranging from 1900s - 1950s. Why do people throw them away? Bizarre.

Eartha Kitsch said...

Barbara: Yes! Are we still allowed to go to the dump and rummage these days? I don't think so? Back in the day, you could take home as much as you wanted. It's really ideal because hey, less in the landfill!

Kally: That's the spirit! And it sounds like you'll be in fine shape when you get your own place one day. Until then, I'm sure your current place is amazing looking. We never get vintage mirrors on the curb here.. I'd love that! And no, here they call skips "dumpsters" - a much less glamorous name. We who climb inside are called "dumpster divers". :)

Anonymous said...

I was remembering when my tour guide asked us to sit on the Roman toilets at Bet she'an in Israel.....even after 1500 years...I couldn't do it..More power to ya! : )

Eartha Kitsch said...

Ha! If it had a brand new toilet seat, I bet I would.

Betty2Tone said...

I have to say that the fact that this post was mosty pictures of toilets truley captures the reason why I love this blog :)

Eartha Kitsch said...

Ha! Thanks! We go where no other blog dares to go! :)

cheshirecat666 said...

So that explains your wonderful kooky nature: the constant paint fumes!

I applaud your energy,just looking at all this makes me wanna go lay down and watch TV! This makes me thing of Walt Disney's saying "as long as there's imagination left in the world,Disneyland will never be finished"

NOTE: make sure you put in the Captcha word thing before you refresh the page. ARGH

Eartha Kitsch said...

Aww! Thank you! And yes, I'm running on a solvent or paint high a good part of the time. Okay, or candy bars! I love that Disney quote.

Sorry about the captcha thing. Trying to keep robots from taking over.

Theresa Thompson said...

That's so cool! The last photo reminded me of when I was little my mother let my siblings and I draw pictures and write on the walls before covering them in wallpaper.

Eartha Kitsch said...

That's SO sweet! I love it!

Barbara said...

Personally, if I were redoing a vintage bathroom, I'd lean towards that green twaa-let. It's a stunner.

Eartha Kitsch said...

It IS! I'd go for that one too if it remotely matched anything that we have in our bathrooms. I've never seen that color in one before.

GoVintage said...

My mother-in-law recently told my husband that my friends are lying to me when they tell me that they like my vintage style. That made me feel pretty bad, but reading your blog shows me that I'm not the only one that likes this stuff. Thanks Eartha!

Eartha Kitsch said...

Oh, that's mean! :(

Don't you believe her. There are bazillions of us out there. And more joining every day. Do what you love and don't let that comment bother you. I'm sure that she didn't take a formal poll or anything. :)

Anonymous said...

my brother tore down 50s cowboy wallpaper from his attic. i knnnnnow.

Eartha Kitsch said...

Oh, you're breaking my heart! Saaaaaaaad. :(

Nina said...

Yippee for people like us who love vintage!!!
Love the stories here too♥

Eartha Kitsch said...

Yippee! You're right about that, Nina! :) And thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ha! I too am a vintage junkie! So pleased to have found this blog! Eartha,
you are FANTASTIC! -Kathy

Eartha Kitsch said...

Thanks so much, Kathy! :) Glad to have you! Please come back any time! I am glad to know that I'm not the only vintage junkie.

Bandita said...

hahaha i love this! and will do all of these same things when i am a home owner vs. renter. how fun!

Eartha Kitsch said...

Thanks! And yay! Yes, girl...keep it going. As long as there are people who want all new stuff, we can have their great old stuff!

Charm and Poise said...

The only thing we do is the leave the price tags on some of the things we get from thrift stores so that we might relive the glory days of finding a paint by numbers for a buck! Maybe when people come to our place they think we have a price tag fetish? Or that we are unclear about the fact that it is indeed legal to remove price tags once you leave the store?

In any event, I think you two crazy kids are the tops!

Eartha Kitsch said...

You do? Ha! I have never thought of doing that but I LOVE it! Wait, I *have* left on some vintage price tags to prove how cheap something used to be. I guess that's the same thing!

And thanks! We think the same way about you two!

Sara In AZ said...

Oh boy, I can totally identify with this post! Restoring Mom's 1959 condo has become my life for the past month. Hopefully we will wrap it up this month. I LOVE the toilet y'all just snagged! We could not find a vintage toilet to go in the condo, so we had to go new - if I find a light yellow toliet though it is so there! :D

Steven Keylon said...

You KNOW I understand...

Eartha Kitsch said...

Sara: Oh boy but can you! Y'all come here and we'll take you toilet searching at the salvage yard. Good times!

Steven: Oh yes you do! By the way, I wish that I'd never seen that photo of you elegant laundry bar. Every time that I'm in my slum hole of a laundry area, doing laundry next to the lawnmower and spider nests, I think about it. I DREAM about it.

Steven Keylon said...

Yes, but just think of how drunk I get every time I do laundry!

Eartha Kitsch said...

Ha! I DO kind of like to think of that.

Amber Von Felts said...

This was a great post! You two are the Indiana Jones' of Vintage Home Restoration. Those pictures of acres of ter-litts reminds me of when I broke my dad's toilet's tank lid. I went off on an adventure to different plumbers until I happened upon a similar toilet graveyard. They had an exact match for the tank lid. My Dad never knew!

Eartha Kitsch said...

Ooh! You're GOOD! I'd want a daughter like you. And thanks. :)

Jen said...

LOL Oh my gosh, we must be Vintage Kindred Spirits, woman. The excessive use of paint samples, the heart racing at the sight of a collection of vintage toilets (STILL not one to match our bathroom...!), the "ooooooo!"-ing over original wallpaper and seeing what colour the rooms were originally painted. Even the notes. LOL LOL

BTW, if it helps...in your "aqua" pictures, the greenest one, the top sample chunk above the door on the left-hand side as I look at the picture, is a darned close match for our home's original 1951 bathroom. Just FYI. Ours might have a slight bit more touch 'o turquoisey-blue in it (oh, the colour distinctions...!), and it's a smidge lighter (say, 10% or so?), but awfully close!

Rae - Say It Aint So said...

oh man i want to install a pink toilet in my home so bad but i've let people convince me that will hurt us when we eventually sell it. but we've still got all the beautiful old glass knobs and all the wallpaper is in great condition. but a pink toilet is really calling my name. we went to an estate sale today and the house has this PERFECT condition all pink bathroom and i was DROOLING.

Eartha Kitsch said...

Jen: I think that we might have gone with that color..or something quite close. Maybe added some white? I can't remember now but we finally did get the color I wanted.

We are definitely vintage kindred spirits! :)

Rae: If you ever decide that you want to go that route, this toilet is yours for free. We'd much rather see someone who can use it have it than for us to hoard it away in case we ever DO need it. And yeah, that's a hard call sometimes. To be honest, I've worked with and for a lot of realtors and they're always going to tell you to bland things down - "neutralize". But in actuality, we have to LIVE in our houses. We should enjoy them and their vintage charms if that's what we're into. And I have to hope and believe that there are enough people like us that if we have to sell our houses one day, someone will love the vintage touches and consider them positives. I say, go for it! :)

Eartha Kitsch said...

Oh, and p.s. - just an example. Before our current house was bought by us, the Sellers replaced the kitchen and sunroom flooring. It was the original old VCT tile (love!) and they wanted to replace it with the new version of the same thing - pretty colored squares. Their realtor told them "nobody is going to want that" and convinced them to put down hard, ceramic and yes, beige tiles. In actuality, we would have LOVED to have the vintage or newer colored squares in here so they could have saved money and we could have all been happy. Now, this stuff is here to stay unless we have our floors jackhammered out.

Retro-luxe said...

Realtors and flippers can really screw things up like that! Great post, Eartha!