Category Archives: Inside

Estate Sale Find – Woodmark Wing Chair

Hekman Wing Chair, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

Check out the fabulous wing chair my mom bought me for $50 at an estate sale! I love it. It is made by Woodmark which is now owned by Hekman.

Here it is with a long dog needlepoint pillow on it:

And here it is with a long dog on it:


Ruby likes!

DIY Distressed Dining Table

Not too long ago I decided to change up the arrangement of the formal living and dining areas in my house.  I’d rather formally dine than formally sit around, and there was just too little space for a table in the originally intended spot under the chandelier.  So I flipped living and dining areas.  I like it much better now.  We sit in this area a ton more.

At first we sat at the old table:

Nice but stuffy.  I sold it for $140 for it on craigslist a couple weeks ago.  The lady who picked it up, she was eccentric.  She wore riding pants and equestrian boots and spoke about her horses with a real twang.  She pulled up with a flatbed trailer, and she talked as if she has a giant warehouse on her property full of craigslist furniture.

To replace it I purchased this one (also from craigslist) for $75, with the intention of refinishing it:

Inspired by Holly Baker’s fabulous blog In the Fun Lane, I decided to go with a distressed white/gray look.

This trend is everywhere now.  Hot hot hot.  I have read that since the economy is bad, design is all about old and beat up finishes now.  Paint it gray!  Rip those jeans!  Embrace your inner junkiness!

After a couple coats of paint, some hammer banging and sandpapering, here is the after.  I think it turned out well.

Free Wood Everywhere

My Neighbor’s Woodpile, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

About a month ago there was a gigantic snowstorm here in Dallas. In one day it snowed more than 12 inches.

This record-breaking event also broke a lot of branches. Evergreens were especially hard-hit, with huge live oaks and magnolias snapping like twigs under the weight of the snow.

Since then, piles and piles of wood keep appearing out in front of houses for brush pickup. The city has made at least one sweep through my neighborhood, but as the cleanup continues the piles keep growing and multiplying, and the city seems to be slowing down. The pile above has been blocking my dog-walking path for weeks.

This got me thinking – what could I use all this wood for? Firewood is an obvious option. But my fireplace has gas logs, and I don’t have an outside fire pit. Surely someone should pick up the huge stumps for firewood?!?

Here are some other thoughts:

Branch arrangement (from

Another branch arrangement (at my local Pottery Barn, and every other similar store)

Wall decoration from Life in the Fun Lane (hands down my new favorite blog!!)

Stump table (from West Elm, who would have thought?)

Magnolia wreaths.  This one ( looks like a holiday one, but I’ve seen square ones recently in stores that are more year-round.

Fear Not the Leaky Faucet!

Is this yucky or what. I am embarrassed to say this exists in my home. It’s the guest bathroom sink, and yes, it’s rusty and gross. This photo reminds me of a visiting China a few years ago and seeing lots of odd unpleasant bathrooms.

This room is on my 2010 to-dos, but in the meantime, the faucet started leaking when my mom visited a few days ago. This leak was pretty major — the cold side was a steady stream. It put me in a really bad mood. I’d just had the plumber here for a different issue, and it was a Sunday, and I just didn’t feel like dealing.

Surprisingly, underneath the sink, only the hot side had a shutoff valve. Not surprisingly, it was raining outside, and I had a tough time finding the key to open up the main water shutoff in the front yard.

Having never fixed a faucet I gave myself 50-50 odds of fixing the problem without a plumber. After consulting the internet, carefully disassembling and visiting Home Depot for parts, I put the thing back together. Lo and behold, no drips! Maybe 2 hours tops. My mom commented later it’s nice to turn a faucet, have the water shut off, and THEN have the faucet turn a hair further so you know it’s all good. I must agree, that is satisfaction.

So for anyone unlucky enough to be searching how to fix a faucet this morning … buck up and do it yourself! I immediately calculated what I saved on the plumber and spent it on a new kitchen machine I will blog about soon.

How to Build a Simple TV Riser

New TV Riser, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

Is there any more important DIY pursuit than that which improves one’s ability to appreciate TV?

I have not yet invested in a flat screen TV. Here in the bedroom, the TV I bought back in college at a Wal-Mart in Austin is still kickin’. It has traveled the country and seen the inside of more moving trucks than 99% of America’s TVs. I will never forget how my friend Jay, who was helping me load furniture into a U-Haul truck during afternoon rush hour in NYC, dropped it onto the Fifth Ave. sidewalk in front of my building. I was upstairs at the time. Jay felt so guilty and said it even bounced a bit. There’s barely a dent on one corner to show for it. And you would never know any of it happened from the excellent picture.

Anyways, a recent changeup of furniture in the bedroom meant that this TV was sitting about a foot lower than previously. This was a bit of a bummer, and it especially irked Michael who found it much more difficult to see.

I searched for an inexpensive way to lift it up. The solution had to be cheap, otherwise why not just buy a flat screen and retire the old TV to a lucky person on Craigslist.

At first I got excited about this blogger’s plywood and PVC monitor riser solution. I priced out materials at Home Depot and it looked like this was going to cost me $25 and quite a bit of time.

Then, I found an easier and more elegant solution: the LINDEN table from IKEA, chopped off at the legs to perfectly accommodate the TiVo and cable box. It comes in birch or black. It has a slight Asian aesthetic to it. And at $29.99, the price is right. I used a hacksaw to chop off the legs and glued some thin cork on the leg bottoms.


I spray painted the table bottom black as it came unfinished. And I used a black Sharpie to touch up any chipped areas from the hacksaw. I rather like the finished result, I am thinking of submitting to to IKEA hacker:


Firebrick with History


Colonial brick.

In today’s newspaper I had a brief piece about a product offering from a specialty fireplace company.  Earthcore Industries is now selling historic bricks that they dug out of New England harbors.  The bricks were originally used as ballast on voyages from England during colonial times.  They were dumped into the harbors and replaced with goods like tobacco for the return trip.

The bricks have a distressed, handmade look to them.  Earthcore mainly uses them as firebrick, which is the lining of the inside of a fireplace.  I would insert a link to the story online, but it doesn’t appear to be up there, which I fear will become the norm now that the organization has laid off so many people.  Anyways, here is some useful info from the Earthcore literature about different ways firebrick is laid:

Some common firebrick patterns are: (1) herringbone (2) stack bond (3) basket weave (4) running bond.




Puppies and Flowers

Ruby with Pink Roses, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

Ruby likes the roses!

Earth Kind Rose: Spice

Spice Rose, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

One of the roses I planted in my front landscape this fall is called “Spice.” It’s an Earth Kind Rose, so designated by Texas A&M for it’s easy-to-grow nature that doesn’t require lots of pesticides or fertilizer.

From The Antique Rose Emporium:

Here’s another rose that some believe to be the true ‘Hume’s Tea Scented China.’ Right or wrong this rose produces the palest of pink, tea-like blooms on a 3 to 4 foot thick bush. The plant is twiggy in growth, more like our China roses and can mildew a little in the early spring. The flowers are good for cutting and have an unusual fragrance that probably earned it its name.

China roses are varieties that were brought to Europe from China in the late 18th century. Hume’s Blush Tea-scented China is said to be one of four stud roses that many modern roses are descended from.

As you see above I cut one of the blooms to brighten up my dreary desk. I may have to start collecting bud vases!

It has a strong, spicy green fragrance that would make a fine perfume. Here’s another photo from the Rose Emporium:

Visit my previous rose blogs:

Decoupage Floors Story



A story I wrote about McKinney artist Lisa Raymer ran in today’s Guide section of The Dallas Morning News.  For nearly 20 years, Lisa has decoupaged floors and other surfaces in homes and businesses around Dallas.

I was skeptical before seeing her work, but now I am a believer.   It’s hard to tell in that tiny photo above, but the end result has a soft, textured appearance.  This finish would look appropriate in many situations, and it has a high end look.  A lot of faux finishes aim to have those qualities but miss the mark. 

I hope to do some decoupage soon and may try out using brown paper as Lisa does.

Lamp Rehab Part One: Cleaning Stiffel Lamps, Sourcing Shades


In the past few months I’ve acquired some great old lamps.  Two pair came from an estate sale, one from eBay, and a couple from the Habitat ReStore.  I’ve become quite a lamp lady, but only if they need fixing it seems.  In my quest to rehab them I’ve learned quite a bit.

Lamp tip 1: Use WD-40 to clean up non-brass metal lamps. 
My favorite Dallas lamp parts shop is Royal Touch Lamp and Fixture Service, and the folks there told me that most old Stiffel lamps (including these) are not brass, as many people believe.  Instead they are made from high-quality, heavy zinc plated with brass or some other metal, which is then antiqued and lacquered.  As such, they shouldn’t be polished with brass cleaner because that would ruin the finish.  The Royal Touch experts said to use a soft rag with WD-40 as a solvent to clean the surface without removing the patina.
That suggestion was easy and worked great.  These were $10 each and look quite nice now.  In the photo below, the lamp on the left hasn’t been cleaned, and the one on the right is after cleaning with the WD-40.

Stiffel lamps

These came from an estate sale in Amarillo and were $10 each.  You can tell they were made by Stiffel because they have metal tags along the top of the socket.  The three-way switch is on the base of the lamps.  Base switches are surprisingly superior to those on the socket.  They save time and arm motion, so if you find an old lamp with a working base switch I think it’s worth a premium.
Beyond surface cleanup all these needed were new shades.  Unfortunately that can be an expensive proposition.
Tip 2:  Become a savvy shade shopper.
  1. Bring your lamp with you when shade shopping.
  2. Start with premium lamp shade stores to get an idea of what you want, and try on as many shades as you have patience for.
  3. Check the following stores for shades, in order from least to most expensive:
  • Ross Dress for Less
  • Big Lots
  • Tuesday Morning
  • Antropologie (good sale shades)
  • Lamps Plus (also sometimes good sale shades)
  • Pottery Barn (occasionally on sale)
  • Restoration Hardware (excellent selection, shades tend to be horizontally wide rather than tall)
  • Specialty lamp stores (tend to break the bank!)
The shades on these lamps are the box-pleat silk shade in size F from Restoration Hardware.  They were expensive ($80 each!), but I thought they looked really great and decided to splurge since the lamps sit prominently in my living room and are visible from the street.  It irks me now to see they are on sale for $54.99, but they still make me happy every time I turn them on so I suppose I can live with my full-price lamp shade guilt. 
I’d love to hear comments on where you buy shades!  Perhaps I am need to add some places to my list.  Next up will be a post on solid brass lamp rehab.