Nifty Fifties! Check Out this Time Capsule!

This is nifty! A 96 year old Toronto woman is selling her house and every inch of it is covered in 50s decor! You have to check out these photos. You have to admit, that basement bar looks like a great place to hang out!

A note about period decor:

All of those pieces in that house would look very dated on their own, but together, the whole thing just works. That is to say: if you’re gonna go vintage, go all the way. Got mid-century chaise lounge? Make your couch and chairs mid-century too, and get a vintage record player to go with it. Going Victorian? Don’t stop with the drapes. Get some bold Victorian wallpaper to go with it. Thinking of trying out a 1990s look? Well, don’t.

My point is, this house has a lot of stuff that would not work in anyone else’s house, but because it’s all from the same period and so well preserved, well, it works.

Nicole Curtis is my Spirit Animal

I just came across some interviews with Nicole Curtis, the heroine of “Rehab Addict” fame. I love her show, for obvious reasons. But when I saw that she loves anything Art Deco/Old Hollywood glamour, I thought, yes! Art Deco is the best. Well, Art Deco, Beaux Arts, Victoriana…oh and some mid-century stuff.

Why did architecture and design get so ugly in the 70s, 80s and 90s? People became obsessed with convenience, I guess. That’s why Nicole is constantly ripping linoleum off of original hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are hard to take care of, but vinyl is easy and doesn’t require as much effort. So if you don’t give a sh*t about what your house looks like, slap some vinyl over that pretty oak. Sigh.

Anyway, read more of what Nicole has to say here:


AZ Central

Aluminum Mullions for a Modern Look

Want to create a modern look and feel in your house? Knock out an exterior wall and replace it with glass an aluminum mullions. Like this.

Aluminum is a good option for mullions because it’s a long-lasting material. It also has a very sleek appearance and has consistent quality. There are a variety of finishes that can be applied to aluminum. Mullions are made through a process called aluminum extrusion, which is really just a fancy way of saying that heated aluminum gets pushed through a steel die. It’s kinda like the Play D’Oh factory.

Aluminum is very versatile, which means you can use aluminum mullions to create just about any look you want. Like this one:

Photo credit: Skazama / Foter / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: Skazama / Foter / CC BY-ND

(The one in the picture is probably wooden, but you can still create this same look with an aluminum one.)

Mullions of Antiquity

Aluminum mullions are neat, but Gothic and Elizabethan mullions are much more interesting. Wouldn’t you love to have these on your house (or Cornwall estate?) Can’t you just hear Lawrence Olivier saying, “That’s not the northern lights. That’s Manderley!”? (I need to watch that movie again soon. And if you don’t know, the movie I refer to is Rebecca.)

gothic mullion

Photo credit: Lammyman / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

You could actually recreate this look with aluminum too, since aluminum can take really complex shapes and intricate designs. But, frankly, if you’re going to have windows like this, they should be stone. Some things shouldn’t change.

Help, I’m Hooked on HGTV

My granddaughter insists it’s a crime that I don’t have my own TV show, like that woman in Minneapolis who remodels all those houses. I told her, as much as I love remodeling, I would never want to do what that woman does. She buys old houses, restores them and sells them. Often, she owns several properties at once and had to sell her own home to cover the costs of a mansion that she had restored but had not yet found a buyer for. YIKES is all I have to say about that. If someone else bought and sold the homes, and all I had to do was make them look better, then I would be on board.

But, oh, to be on TV!

There was a time when I fancied going to Los Angeles and trying my hand at acting. That was a very long time ago.

Now, I just settle for watching other people on TV, doing things that I think are fun. But I’m curious. Do you watch remodeling shows too? I want to know which one is your favorite!


There are so many TV shows about remodeling, and I'm hooked on them all! I'm curious to know: which remodeling TV show is your favorite? Vote!
Rehab Addict
2 Vote
0 Vote
Fixer Upper
0 Vote
Property Brothers
0 Vote
Flip or Flop
0 Vote

Soft Close Hinges

What’s more annoying than banging cabinet doors? Well, lots of things, but cabinet doors that shut with a loud clack! are nuisance to be sure.

Recently, my nephew asked me to help him out with his cabinets. I don’t mind telling you that they were a disaster. The cabinets were old and he’d made many improvised repairs to them. He replaced a lot of the original fasteners with heavy duty screws and rivet nuts — these fasteners are great for sheet metal (which is what my nephew works with) but for a kitchen cabinet? Not so much. He even repaired a broken hinge with a zip tie. When I saw the state of the cabinets, I couldn’t help but sigh.

I said to my nephew, “We’re going to take all these down and redo everything.” We took the cabinet doors down, sanded them, and replaced the heavy duty fasteners with screws that were made for cabinetry and new knobs. We also replaced all of the hinges with soft close hinges.

Soft close hinges prevent cabinet doors from banging, which for some people is very annoying. In my nephew’s case, I figured that soft close hinges would help extend the life of the cabinets — I figured that the cabinets were in such bad shape in part because my nephew was always banging them shut. After a while, all that jarring can loosen the fasteners. Anyway, the cabinets look a lot better now, and they don’t make noise when we close them. It’s a vast improvement.

Soft close hinges are super easy to install — you certainly do not need to take your cabinets down to install them. You can add soft close dampers to any existing cabinetry without changing out the rest of the hardware. It will take you an afternoon to install them, tops. And then you can watch TV and not be bothered by the sound of cabinets slamming when your kids are rooting around fro snacks. Win, win!

For Reference: Victoriana Magazine

My oh my I have been a busy bee lately! The Hidden Springs Inn passed inspection, but we still have a long way to go before it opens. Furniture, linens, curtains, and all kinds of things still need to be acquired. Rooms need to be decorated. Stationery needs to be chosen. Once we do all that, we can start planning menus, a grand opening, special events…all kinds of good stuff!

That’s why I’m really happy I came across this online magazine called Victoriana. It’s a super handy reference guide to all things Victorian, which will really help a lot when we have to decide what kind of ferns we should buy for the rooms, or what kind of cakes we should serve for high tea.

My friend, who purchased the Inn and drafted me to help renovate it, is toying with the idea of having Downton Abbey viewing parties as a way of attracting new clientele to the property. I’m behind this idea, and thankfully, Victoriana has a ton of Downton Abbey stuff in it. So we should be good to go!

I’m really excited to be done with this project. It’s been a lot of fun — a lot! But I’m ready to see the finished product. And to have time to watch “Judge Judy” in the day time again.

How to Get Fireplaces Working Again

restored fire place

Seriously. How gorgeous did we make that look?! Photo credit: slimmer_jimmer / iW / CC BY-NC-ND

A friend of mine recently decided he wanted to get the old fireplace in his living room working again. The previous owners retrofitted it with a fake one (the kind behind glass that you turn on with a remote.) He plans to remove it and restore it to its original state as a wood burning stove.

He called me up and wanted to know what to do.

I told him I had no idea, but that I would do my best to help.

So first we set about prying the fake fireplace out — it had been crammed into the recess of the fireplace. It took over two hours and a lot of sweating and lot of swearing, but we finally got the darn thing out. Let’s just say that the installation of the fake fireplace was artless.

After we took out the fake fireplace, we had to re-open the original flue. The flue had been sealed off when the fake one was put in. That wasn’t such a fun job, either. But after we got it done, we got to get down to the fun part: shopping.

We found a new fireplace grate, a screen, and a set of pokers. We also looked for new tiles to place around the fireplace. The house was built in 1899, so we found some lovely Victorian tiles – I’ve become an expert on Victorian-era decor!

We put the new tiles around the fireplace, and lit a fire. It was wonderful to sit around a REAL, crackling fire. So much better than a phony one. We even opened the screen and made s’mores!

Sorry for the short-ish post today. The inspector is coming to Hidden Springs Inn in a few hours, and we have to make sure everything is in tip-top shape!

Detroit: A Re-modeler’s Paradise

My granddaughter sent me this link and wrote, “You should go fix up this house, Grandma!”

What I wouldn’t give to be able to do that! This house in Detroit — a paradise city for people like me who like to make old things new again — is a lovely Tudor selling for a mere $48,000. $48,000! The article says that the house is “suffocating under layers of musty carpet.” I swear, I can smell the mildew! In my mind, I’m already on my hands and knees with a utility knife, ripping away stained dusty moldy carpet, revealing the beautiful oak floors beneath! The room with the warm, wood paneled walls looks especially wrong with carpet in it. In fact, ripping out that blah blue carpet might be where I start!

carpet is bad

Source: Curbed Detroit

I’m not stopping with the carpets, though. I’m also prying up that horrid tile that looks like it was laid in the 1980s. And WHO in their right mind uses the same tile for both the floors and the countertops? Hideous! It has to go. The floor will be replaced with bamboo or cork, and the counter will have some faux granite or something. Definitely nothing that matches the floor. Honestly. If you look at the photo, does it not look like they just had extra of that tile, and decided to slap it up all over? Eesh.

When I’m done with the kitchen, I’ll re-tile all three bathrooms. Yes, all three. No house should have salmon-colored tiles covering almost the entirety of two bathrooms. And dingy yellow isn’t a good look for any room. So I’m chiseling those tiles off the walls and floors, and am selecting something new — something clean, bright and not overwhelming. The trend seems to be moving toward having one wall tiled in bright, colorful and even iridescent tiles to accent the other walls, which are tiled in plain white tile. Like this. I think that’s a great look and would serve this house well.

Lastly, I’ll find a replacement for that sad fire place in the basement.

With all of the rundown properties in Detroit, I could go hog wild! And unlike people who want to “flip” properties to resell them, I’d be doing it purely for fun. I wonder if I could get a government grant?


gingerbread trim

Photo credit: m01229 / Foter / CC BY

It’s that time of year when coworkers complete to construct the most elaborate gingerbread houses. The time of year when teachers instruct students to “glue” graham crackers onto the side of milk cartons with frosting (does anyone still do that?) And the time of year when time-pressed people buy gingerbread house kits at the supermarket.

Of course, if you own a Victorian-era house, you’ve got another kind of gingerbread on your mind. Depending on how long the house has been standing and the number of iterations it has gone though, the original gingerbread may be weather-beaten, damaged or missing altogether. So how can you fix this?

Weathered Gingerbread

If the gingerbread on your home is gray with peeling paint, start by removing it. Because gingerbread is an embellishment that is added to houses — not built into them — taking it down is relatively simple. Once you’ve got it down, simply sand it down, repaint it and after it dries, add it back to your home’s exterior. DO NOT try to do this without taking the gingerbread down first — sanding gingerbread while standing on a ladder is dangerous and completely unnecessary. Moreover, you’ll do a better job if you take it down first.

Damaged Gingerbread

Gingerbread sometimes breaks. If you’ve got gingerbread with broken spindles or missing pieces, remove it and find a carpenter who can recreate and reattached the missing part.

Missing Gingerbread

Your home was built in the Victorian era but the gingerbread went missing long ago. Why? Maybe it disappeared around the time that Victorian architecture went out of style. Maybe it was in bad shape, and rather than restore it, the homeowners decided to just get rid of it. Or maybe they needed extra cash and decided to sell it. It doesn’t matter, really. You don’t have to have the original gingerbread to restore your house to its original Victorian glory. Salvage stores — stores that take things like porch pillars, mantle pieces and stained glass out of old houses right before they’re demolished — sell salvaged gingerbread.

If you’re shopping online, this is a good place to start. There are quite a few pieces of salvaged gingerbread on eBay also. In short, you should be able to find enough pieces in salvage to fully decorate your house and bring back its 19th century beauty!


No Space for Turkey? Expand That Kitchen!

turkey TV dinner

If this is your idea of a turkey dinner, you probably don’t need more space in your kitchen. Also, that flattop haircut gives me the willies. Photo credit: classic_film / Foter / CC BY-NC

Time really flies. It seems like I only just wrote a Halloween post, and already it’s the day before Thanksgiving. I can’t keep up. I’ll fall asleep on Christmas and wake up in time for Memorial Day. Time seems to move faster every year, doesn’t it?

Anyway, Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, really puts your kitchen to the test. What does your kitchen need to pass the test? Space. Space in your oven to fit the turkey, space to fit that big commercial-grade oven into, and lots — and I do mean lots! — of counter space. But if you don’t live in a big McMansion with a fancy island in the middle of your kitchen, how can you create space in a smaller, older home?

1. Make existing counters bigger. By adding a bigger counter top (and building out the bottom so that it doesn’t tip over) to an existing counter, you can double the space. That means your pies can cool while you whip the mashed potatoes.

2. Hooks. Remember when Jane Leeves was on Seinfeld as Jerry’s closet organizer, and she suggested to Jerry that he should put “a series of hooks” in his closet? It makes more sense to do that in your kitchen than it does in any other part of the house. Why? You can hand pots from hooks. Put the hooks in the ceiling, hang the pots, and get them down when you need them. That frees up space in cabinets for other stuff.

3. Build new counters. If you can sacrifice a few feet of space, you can build an additional counter top with storage underneath. I did this in my own kitchen. I added a counter to the breakfast nook. Now I have tons of space for letting bread rise, rolling out ginger bread, stuffing eggrolls, whatever. You WILL lose some space in your kitchen when you do this. You just have to decide what you most want to do in your kitchen: mince or waltz?

4. Try some of these. My word, these are clever. I especially like the one that turns decorative fake drawers into real ones. I’m going to do that in my kitchen — that will be my “Black Friday” project.

Anyway. That’s all for now.

Happy Turkey Day!