Category Archives: Thrifting

{Thrifted Finds} Estate Sale Reality

I’ve never been to an estate sale. They always sound too fancy. Guest what? They are. Well, mostly. 

I was lured in this weekend thanks to a local Facebook yard sale group. They posted the estate sale and there were some cool (read: funky, old. rusty, shabby, unique) pieces I was interested in.

First up, this patio set. We need a table and chairs for our deck and I loved how funky and old this was. I was totally picking out the color I would spray paint it on my way to the sale. Who else would want this rusty, weird table??

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Second, this old armchair. I loved the upholstery color and am looking for our living room/entry that continues to prove challenging to design.

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Third, these rugs. I need some rugs that aren’t the obviously-Target geometric ones I currently have i.e. grown-up rugs.

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I got up super early on Saturday to ensure I was there when the ropes dropped so I could definitely scoop up the table and maybe grab the chair – I guessed the chair might be a little pricey. I got there promptly at 8am per the advertised Facebook start-time, and NO ONE was around. Umm…I looked at all the signs and they said 9am. I rechecked the Facebook group which I’d checked before I left at 7 and it now said 9am…she changed it last minute….what the heck?!? So, I drove to Home Depot to peruse the electric lawn mowers and pick out the spray paint I was going to paint my new table.

I returned at 8:50am and people were already milling around. Oh no! My table would be gone! I made a bee-line for the patio, passing the rugs on my way. I did a quick price check – they were all at least $150. Ouch! And, noooo way!

I made it to the patio and the table was even cooler (funkier, rustier) in real life. I located the price tag. Guess how much it was? As a reminder, this is what we’re looking at:

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$500?

Not even close! $1000?

Nope. 

$1525. Yes. You read that right. $1525 for an old, rusty table with a FAKE slate top. Apparently it’s a collectable, vintage set according to eBay. #thanksebay

The lurker guy sensed my disappointment, told me that the seller would be open for negotiation, and asked what I’d been hoping to spend. I told him my max was $200. He said, “Well, it never hurts to ask.” Which is usually my motto (at work), but I highly doubted she’d drop the price by $1300. I was beginning to worry my 45 minute BCOD drive was going to be a waste of time, sleep, and gas.

Ok. The chair. Maybe I’d have a chance there. I finally found it (after passing a few more too-expensive rugs) and …. $300. #notgonnahappen Ugh. 

I decided to do a more thorough tour of the house and see if I could redeem this trip. I noticed some AMAZING vintage orange duck-patterned curtains. I can’t even describe them (in my excitement—and confidence she’d sell them to me—I forgot to take a picture). They were so tacky they were awesome. Do you know what I mean? I have no idea where I’d put them, but I needed them. I ran back upstairs to ask the price on them and she wanted $100. Seriously!?! I can’t believe anyone would pay that much for old, tacky curtains. At that point, I made her my offer on the table and she told me I could leave my name and number and she’d call if either item was still left at the end of the weekend. #shesnotcalling

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I did one more pass through and spent some time at the bookshelf. I discovered a stack of skiing books from the 30’s. They all have personal notes in them from the authors to the homeowner, calling him a champ. They are SO.FREAKING.COOL.  As a former ski instructor, it’s amazing to see ski technique from 85 years ago. It turns out the owner was a Cornell and Dartmouth grad, was on their ski teams and avid skier, and also a doctor. He just passed away, but was a skiing champ in the 30s…he must have been close to 100 years old. I keep wondering what his story was?? 


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There were also some American Heritage cookbooks from the 1960s, which I couldn’t wait to look through. I stacked the 8 books up and knowing she wanted $5/per book, planned to negotiate. 

I peeked in a back room and saw an armchair in the perfect 60’s-era mustard yellow-green color I love. I expected to have my heart broken by the price tag, but it was only $50! I sat in it, it was comfortable. Ok! This day wasn’t going to be a bust.

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I put on my American Pickers bundling hat and went out to negotiate. Her offer was $40 for the chair and $40 for all the books. I pulled a Frank, summarizing what I was buying and offered her $60 for all of it. And I got it! 

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Moral of the Story #1: Unlike yard sales, Estate Sales have fancy stuff that will be priced appropriately. Otherwise they’d call it a yard sale.

Moral of the Story #2: Taz approves of the chair choice.

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Moral of the Story #3: The goal should always be to match your library to your decor. 😉

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{Kitchen Update} DIY Iron Pipe Gallery Wall

Happy Monday friends. I hope you had a good weekend! I got our taxes done, binged watched House of Cards (omg!)and enjoyed the sunny weather…I’ll call the weekend a success!

As promised last week, I wanted to share the update I made to the kitchen. We haven’t moved forward with any lighting projects, but the tips I got from Carmel and her readers are definitely setting things in motion. And, this project will actually influence lighting decisions…now a chandelier is in the mix.

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I’d been trying to sort out what to do on the long wall behind our kitchen table. I kicked around a gallery wall and then read that picture ledges are the new gallery wall, which I loved, for 5 minutes. Then, I imagined all the head and should bonks on the ledges as people walked to their seats or stood up. Ledges were out.

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Then, I was out to dinner in Syracuse at this restaurant that looked like Joanna Gaines had decorated it. With the exception of a random fake tree in the middle of the room, they had some awesome decor. I noticed a gallery wall of pictures hanging from an iron pipe. Y’all know how much I love iron pipe decor. Sold! 

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I went on a wild goose chase looking for the same black pipe Larry and Tim used to build my bookshelves. All the hardware stores only had super black iron pipe (too black) or galvanized steel pipe (too silver). It wasn’t until after I went to two different stores that I called TimTheFarmer and learned that when they washed the grease off the super black iron pipes, they also lightened the color. Ugh. #lessonlearned 

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I was so excited to do this project that while dinner was in the oven, I scrubbed down the pipes in kitchen sink #keepingitclassy. I just used dish soap and one of those green scrub pad things. How wild is the color difference?

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I assembled the pipe pieces and TimTheFarmer helped me figure out where to put the anchors in the wall for a level hang. #yayforhusbands Then began the never-ending process of installing the anchors.

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It was at this time that TimTheFarmer informed me that he’s figured out our relationship. According to him, I’m the chef, and he’s my sous chef  – – prepping everything for me to finish the project. Does that mean he’s calling me bossy? Probably. I sort of am though. #IllBeYourSousChefTooHoney

Once the anchors were in (and I ran back to the hardware store because we discovered the anchor screws were too small and slipped through the pipe mounts – which I fixed my getting little washers), we hung the pipe. Using, of course, my new hot pink drill from my dad. I then went around the house collecting items to hang from the pipe. I’d picked up an assortment of things I hoped would help with hanging (clear picture hanging wire (basically thick fishing line), ribbon, a wreathe hanger, etc.) and crossed my fingers. 

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This project did involve dismantling the picture frame wall I showed you last week. I have a piece coming for that wall, which is why I was OK taking the wall apart. Stay tuned! I used the same technique and laid out my plan on the kitchen floor.

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As I set out to figure out how the heck to hang all this stuff, I thanked my dad (in my head) for making me tie on my own fishing hooks for all those years – that knot came in handy with the clear picture hanging line. To minimize my knots, I looped the line around the bar and then tied it to the object being hung. The objects were floating a bit, so I used some good ol’ ticky tack to stick them to the wall. On the flamingo I used the 3M velcro mounting strips because the ticky tack couldn’t hack it.

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Side note on the flamingo. I had an Audubon calendar a few years ago and saved it (#hoarder) for future decor projects. See honey, there is a reason I keep all this crap. I cut the calendar up and put this picture in a frame. The flamingo was the only picture I wanted to look at while eating. Unlike this one, which one freaks me out.

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Insider Tip: I liked how the hangers looked more intentional in the inspiration wall in Syracuse, but I have no idea what those hangers are. So, I hung everything with the clear line. Then, I used more ticky tack to stick a glittery burlap ribbon to the line to make it look like it was hung with ribbon. 

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And….here’s the finished product!

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I’d like to figure out an easier hanging method so I can switch things out seasonally. I love the idea of switching out the flowers depending on the season, too.

And, what are your thoughts on a wedding picture in your kitchen/dining area? I love this picture – it’s really a work of art from Casie Zalud. But, is it too personal for a dining/community space?

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Project Sources:

Pipes: Lowes/Home Depot/Ace Hardware 
B: Michaels
Picture frame: thrifted find
Dalias: Michaels
Antique blue mason jars: thrifted find
Bird: I have no idea – I’ve had that for years. 
Flamingo print: page from Audubon calendar in a frame we had
Picture line, ribbon, ticky tack: Michaels



{Friday Favorites} Crowdsourcing Design

Between a blogger milestone and a doggy confiscation, this has been a doozy of a week.

1. Isn’t That Grand? on Our Fifth House!

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I was so excited to see Tuesday that Carmel had featured our Design Dilemma as part her new series! I’d submitted our kitchen lighting challenge more than a month ago and while I knew she was going to mention our pendant lights, I didn’t know when and I didn’t know she’d dedicate a whole post to it! The first thought that went through my mind when I saw her post was, “Oh crap. The most recent thing I published was about mayonnaise. None of her readers will ever come back.” I mean, I stand by my love of mayonnaise, but when an influential home design blogger links to you, it’s good to have something a little more topical on your homepage. Oh well, welcome to Isn’t That Grand? I’m Katie and I make mayonnaise. In addition to bringing new visitors, Carmel and her readers gave me some AMAZING ideas for our kitchen: where to put the lights, a chandelier over the table, a subway tile backsplash (which I’d been kicking around), and painting the soffit above the cabinets – brilliant! I love this design crowdsourcing and can’t wait to make some progress on the kitchen! A huge thanks to Carmel!

2. Otis is Home

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We had a wild, insane, scary, heartbreaking incident with Otis this week. I’m still processing what happened and will do on a post on it soon. I’m not trying to be weird, I just don’t want to post about it until I’ve digested the whole thing. Otis is back with us now and is OUR forever dog. I’m putting this in my favorites because I’m grateful for people who do the right thing, for things working out the way they should, for my FIL being in the right place at the right time, and for an awesome dog who loves our family (even if he chewed up my ski sock).

3. Putting All our Eggs in One Basket

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We’ve got eggs! As I mentioned Monday, we’ve been through a serious egg drought. While our chickens have been making themselves at home since we moved in, they haven’t been earning their keep. It is SO great to see our egg basket finally filling back up and I’ll be selling eggs at work again before long!

4. Vitamin D to the Rescue

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I go back and forth about how much of my journey with chronic disease to share. For right now, I’ll say Vitamin D rocks. I’ve long been told to supplement with Vitamin D (often a deficiency for those with fibromyalgia), but I never knew when or how much. My current nutritionist required me to get blood panels (amazing that she’s the first person in 15 years to ask for them) and I wasn’t just deficient (most pasty-white Americans are a little, due to working indoors and sunscreen), I was massively deficient – like less than 50% of the acceptable baseline. I’ve been supplementing for about a month and trying to get a bit of non-sunscreen outdoor time each day, which is hard in the winter. And, it’s amazing how different I feel. I have lived with severe fatigue since I was 18. I power through it and people don’t usually see it. Lately, I’m not as exhausted all the time now and I don’t completely crash in the afternoons anymore. Yippee! I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’ll take any small win I can get.

5. Vintage Mason Jars

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I picked up these mason jars at a garage sale this summer and have been trying to find the perfect use for them…I may have found it. I can’t wait to share this whole project with you next week!

I’m looking forward to some crossfit, orchard work, and downtime this weekend. Have a fabulous weekend friends!