It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The Romantic Homes November issue inspires your creativity with recipes, DIYs and décor that captures the magic of the holiday season. Take cues for opulent, classical Christmas décor from Carolyne Roehm, learn how to bake and display gingerbread creations with Marian Parsons, explore Rachel Ashwell's soft and sweet color palettes and tour Janice Marrow's flower-filled festive abode. A sweet bonus? She shares her recipe for German Gingerbread Cake!
Also: Joann Coletti's Project Refresh continues with a carriage house transformed into a practical and beautiful studio space. Step inside Liz Fourez's neutral and natural holiday farmhouse where meaningful décor creates Christmas magic to charm the whole family and escape to Bianca Planner's winter wonderland home filled with Old World charm and meaningful memories.
Throughout my many moves and whether my home is large or small, my formula for decorating a bedroom remains the same: It must be a place to inspire peace of mind.
Selecting the right palette for the bedroom is important because it should feel like a sanctuary. It is where we have our first thoughts of the day and our last. I believe the simpler the room the more peaceful it is.
I consider all five senses and don’t get too hung up on a bedroom being neat and tidy. I rarely make my bed, but my bedding is always so abundant and sumptuously soft that methodically turning back the duvet and sheets and fluffing up the pillows makes the bed look heavenly.
Here are my favorite tips for a romantic bedroom design.
Character: I love white bedrooms, or sometimes ivory. Although for fun, I often paint a wall 36 inches from the ground up. This is easily done by marking off the area with blue tape and painting carefully below. I also love to add a little bit of vintage wallpaper for understated charm.
Glamour: Always wanting to honor romance, however small the room, I usually add a twinkly chandelier, with lighting on a dimmer to accommodate the function and the mood. Then I’ll add pretty lamps, which don’t have to match, to enhance the coziness.
Vintage mirrors: I have an ongoing collection of carved vintage mirrors. Especially in a small space, these are helpful not just for decoration but also for practical purposes, to reflect light and make the room feel a little larger.
Rugs: I have quite the collection of vintage rugs. If a floor is tile or wood, I much prefer to use several small rugs versus one big one. Partly because they are easier to take out and clean, but I also like the eclectic aesthetic. And they tend to be more affordable than larger rugs.
Headboard: A must for me, a headboard can be upholstered, although for practical purposes I prefer a slipcover. I’m always on the lookout for old architecture pieces that can serve as headboards. They can be subtle but so effective.
Storage: If you don’t have built-in closets, a carved or prettily painted armoire, which you can easily find at flea markets, can set the tone of the room.
Ambience: Subtle fragrance is a must. I have a Royal Academy collection of candles that are diverse in nature but a lovely accent. I’m drawn to the subtle scents of vanilla, fig and gardenia. The fragrance of fresh flowers, especially roses from my garden, is always welcome.
Lastly, I love to add the layer of peaceful music into a room. Some soft classical music or Enya would be the perfect layer to complete my perfect cozy bedroom. To create a serene bedroom, find the elements that speak to your senses.
I just love this time of year when the long, hot days of summer give way to the cooler days of fall. When we have had our fill of iced tea and are ready for spiced latte. And when the bathing suits are put away and the sweaters and boots make an appearance.
This season also signals a change in our home décor. Whites and soft pinks are replaced with warmer tones and hues, and for me there is no easier way to transition than by bringing copper decor elements into my kitchen.
A few pieces thoughtfully sprinkled throughout the kitchen is all that’s required to make an easy shift.
Aside from the fact that I love cooking with copper pots and pans, I also love the way they add warmth to my mostly white kitchen. The white marble backsplash that looks so fresh and clean in the spring and summer months quickly transforms with the addition of my copper pots.
I don’t discriminate when it comes to copper…shiny and new or old and tarnished all look great to me, and in fact, I think the more you mix the better.
With just a couple of antique copper pieces added to my glass cabinets, the all-white display becomes something that just feels a bit more like fall.
A touch of new, shiny copper on a cake stand and my favorite colander carries the look through to the center island, without being too overwhelming.
This year I added several new (and new to me pieces) to my kitchen. Four perfectly, polished copper canisters fill in a space on my counter that used to display a galvanized tray. And a shiny new copper stockpot is just waiting for the first soup of the season.
Perhaps my favorite additions are a perfectly tarnished large copper pitcher that pairs so beautifully with the purple-pink hues of the fall hydrangea. The addition of seeded eucalyptus gives the arrangement a soft romantic feel in the kitchen and brings in the beautiful tones of fall. And finally, a set of antique copper mugs have found a home in my kitchen cabinet and will no doubt be making an appearance on my holiday tables.
It is surprising how easily a kitchen can transform with just a few copper elements. A new tone against the white backdrop is the perfect way to gently transition to fall.
Karen Snyder writes about home, family and entertaining at Sanctuary Home, where her elegant country style inspires and educates. You can also follow her on Instagram.
Antique typewriters have a way of taking us back in time. The sound of the keys striking the page acts as percussion before the final satisfying ring of the bell. “I remember taking typing classes in Junior High, and the sound was wonderful,” Ruth Deakins says. “Everybody had to be in sync. It was like music.”
Based in Temecula California, Ruth is the owner of Typewriter Transformations, a small business that sells handmade jewelry featuring vintage typewriter keys as pendants, bookmarks, and ornamental accessories. She has been selling her jewelry at the Farmers Market in Old Town Temecula for a couple of years. “I used to sell my jewelry at the Famer’s Market, but the rules changed,” Ruth says. “Now they only accept vendors who have handmade items so I had to come up with something handmade and that is how I came up with typewriter jewelry.”
Ruth does not limit her creativity to the keys of the typewriter. She wraps each personalized package with antique typewriter ribbons. “I love something that has a story behind it, something that has history,” Ruth says. “Every piece of jewelry comes with a card that says which typewriter it came from. All of the gifts are gift-boxed and wrapped with a typewriter ribbon. I just like to make jewelry that’s special.”
Able to withstand high temperatures, colorfully produced and sentimentally linked to sweet memories of baking with Grandma, vintage Pyrex is experiencing a popular renaissance, and for good reason. Though the brand has been taken for granted as a kitchen mainstay for more than a century–with pieces regularly handed down from one generation of home cooks to the next–Pyrex glassware was once a revolutionary innovation.
Over 100 years ago, a resourceful housewife named Bessie Littleton requested and received a wet-cell battery jar made with a new type of glass that her husband, Jesse, had introduced her to. He was a research physicist at Corning Glass Works at the time, and the company was testing and producing temperature-resistant glass for industrial applications.
Legend has it that yet another of Bessie’s baking dishes had cracked, and she was inspired by Jesse’s work to find out if the same material Corning developed for railroad lanterns and battery jars would be useful for baking and cooking. Jesse cut the height of the jar down, and Bessie successfully baked a cake in it. The couple’s domestic discovery led to further research at Corning, and in 1915 the company launched a line of kitchenware under the brand name Pyrex.
In the following decades, a series of advancements in manufacturing made Pyrex cheaper and easier to produce, while World War I, the Great Depression and World War II drove patriotic and budget-conscious homemakers to the American-made, affordable kitchenware. These pieces were produced in clear glass up until 1936, when opaque white “opal ware” was introduced. Opal ware is the blank slate over which the bold colors or playful patterns were later added that we know, love and collect today.
Jessica Freitas, an avid collector of Pyrex, who shares some of her vast collection on these pages, fondly remembers the pieces her mother used and how she came to appreciate them herself. “At a young age, I honestly didn’t think much about Pyrex. Back then I was more concerned about not having to wash dishes! Truth be told, I’m still not excited about washing dishes, but I love collecting them,” she laughs.
A chance encounter at the 3 Dotters Vintage Market in Utah, where Jessica started selling furniture as a vendor, reintroduced her to the delightful dishware of her childhood. “The wide variety of colors and patterns excited me, and I’ve been hooked on buying, selling and collecting Pyrex ever since.”
Similarly, aficionado Jennifer Elizarrez recalls that her collecting journey started with one particularly arresting piece. “I found a pink Gooseberry mixing bowl in a thrift store, and I thought it was so pretty. Of course, I started searching for the other pieces on eBay and realized that they were quite desirable and expensive,” she says. “At that point, it became fun to start searching for Pyrex at thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets.” Jennie’s favorite pieces are her Hot Air Balloon chip-and-dip set, and Starburst and pink Stems casserole dishes.
As the fan base for vintage Pyrex grows, so too does the value of desirable patterns. Prices on rare or hard-to-find Pyrex tend to fluctuate, and when pieces of practically mythical rarity make the evening news–as a Lucky in Love patterned casserole dish did by selling for $4,250 on eBay–it creates a ripple effect among viewers, who dash to their cupboards to check what riches might lie inside. Though sentimental value may be significant, Jessica notes that “having Pyrex doesn’t mean you’re sitting on a small fortune.”
Purchasing an unusual dish, however, could cost a small fortune. “Most collectors like myself have invested in rare and one-of-a-kind pieces,” says Jessica. “A with most hobbies, collectors who want the best have to pay for the best!” Highly prized in her collection are Butter Print mugs and a Dianthus-pattern bowl.
There are a few caveats to consider before jumping feet first into the colorful world of Pyrex collecting. Jessica, a seasoned authority on the subject, warns that many who play with the idea of starting a profitable collection “tend to think they can simply walk into a thrift store and discover that hard-to-find piece. In some states that may be the case, but this rarely ever happens,” she advises. “Ultimately, many collectors get their most prized pieces from other collectors and usually pay top dollar for these vintage gems.”
An aspiring collector would be wise to invest time in research before investing money in Pyrex. Different marketplaces, and different vendors within those marketplaces, command different prices. Likewise, Pyrex patterns, and color variations within those patterns, command different prices. This often confusing and arbitrary system can make it difficult for a novice to fix a reasonable value on eBay listings described as “ultra rare” or “very hard-to-find,” because sellers often use these terms to attract attention to items that are really quite common.
Jessica advises that research helps to cut through misinformation. “First and most importantly, don’t believe everything you read.” In agreement, Jennie says, “Pyrex, like most things, is only worth what someone is willing to pay.” Complete sets in excellent condition and printed in popular shades–such as pink and turquoise–are among those desirable patterns currently dominating consumer attention.
The Thrill of the Find
Over 150 designs have been documented–such as the ever-popular turquoise Butter Print– by passionate Pyrex collectors who are thrilled with the hunt for that last mixing bowl to complete a set or that certain casserole dish they’ve always coveted. But what really keeps enthusiastic collectors on their toes is the potential to uncover a rare piece–like the famously elusive Lucky in Love pattern–or even better, something mysterious that no one else has recognized.
Uncommon color variations, pattern test samples, promotional dishes, factory errors, employee experiments and other limited production Pyrex pieces are treasures to be studied and the crowning jewels of a serious collector. And yes, they are still out there and waiting to be found! “Being in the right place at the right time can happen,” Jessica says. “There is always a chance you will get lucky! This only adds to a collector’s excitement.”
With options available at every price and in so many different shapes, sizes and colors, anybody–serious collectors and casual kitchenalia admirers alike–can find a vintage Pyrex piece to suit their personality. Perhaps your next trip to the local flea market will reveal another Gooseberry bowl or a complete set of Friendship.
Where to Buy
$: Thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales tend to have the lowest prices, but the trade-off is many of these pieces have been purged because they are in less than stellar condition. Be prepared to wade through faded, marked or otherwise damaged goods before finding a fantastic specimen.
Tip: Jennie advises, “When buying Pyrex, it’s important to hold it up to the light and check for scratches. It is also important that it has a nice shine to it and does not have dishwasher damage.”
$$: Flea markets and antiques malls frequently host vendors who curate the Pyrex they sell, weeding out pieces with the aforementioned imperfections. Vendors who put effort into culling and cleaning their merchandise can be expected also to have made the effort to research their wares for appropriate market value.
Tip: These vendors may also expect customers to negotiate price, so feel free to politely proceed.
$$$: Etsy, eBay and other vintage vending sites typically hold the rarest pieces because the infinite Internet audience opens the potential for higher prices or bidding wars. However, there are also endless options at reasonable prices.
Tip: Ask for additional photos if you don’t feel satisfied by those provided in the listing.
Caring for Pyrex
Jennie and Jessica agree emphatically that the dishwasher should be avoided at all costs! “Vintage Pyrex was never made to go into a dishwasher,” says Jennie. “A good rule of thumb is if the piece was made before the dishwasher was invented, never put it inside a dishwasher.” This otherwise timesaving modern convenience can cause the shiny finish and printed designs to wear away. Instead, she recommends soaking in a sink full of hot, soapy water and cleaning with a soft sponge. Jessica adds that she has successfully used Peek to remove those ugly gray utensil marks.
Decorating with Pyrex
Just as there is a pattern to appeal to every person, there is a pattern for every season. Jennie says, “I love constantly switching up my Pyrex displays for the holidays and seasons, although my favorite colors to collect are pink and turquoise–which of course are the hardest to find and the most valuable.” Her collection, however, is a veritable rainbow. “I do collect all colors because I love creating Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine’s Day and even Fourth of July displays,” she says. “My pink and turquoise Pyrex pieces stay up year-round when the holiday displays are not up.” You can see her retro interior style on Instagram at @jennie_loves.
With over a thousand pieces in her collection, Jessica would be hard-pressed to use them all, but she does put them to use with cooking and baking. When they’re not in the oven or full of batter, she displays the colorful collection. “These unique vintage pieces are like no other dishes,” she says. “They really make your kitchen cupboards pop. Now my entire house is decorated with these awesome pieces of vintage art.”
The vintage Pyrex pieces that are most familiar to us today were, and still are, made in America. But did you know Pyrex was also produced in Canada, England and Australia? These countries produced original designs that are just as collectable as those produced in the states. Look for stamps or labels with “Made in…” markings that show the nation of origin. Brand names like JAJ (England) and Agee (Australia) also reveal origin.
Thanks to Jennifer Reed for sharing her Pyrex collection with us. This story originally appeared in the April/May issue of Flea Market Decor. You can subscribe here to enjoy more stories on your favorite collectibles and tips for decorating with an eclectic touch. You can also follow on Instagram for more vintage inspiration.
Attics are often overlooked and designated as a space for storage only, but you can transform your attic into a retreat full of charm and whimsy with just a few simple touches.
Our attic was once such a space. Back then it was nothing but a spot for wayward boxes. But with a bit of work and a touch of storybook magic, a charming spot for childhood relics and daydreaming was created.
The narrow stairs are now covered in a simple white enamel paint that doesn’t mind a scuff or a bit of wear. During the warmer months, they’re dotted with books and jars of blooms. At the top of the stairs, a room with one-plank floors and walls and delicate French style sconces awaits.
An antique French daybed sits in the corner, along with baskets of fabrics just waiting to be reimagined and a childhood dollhouse being renovated bit by bit. The attic is much more than a spot for out-of-season décor and vintage dresses. It is a spot that invites quiet and serves as a getaway from the busyness of the house.
Here are a few elements that bring my attic to life.
Covered in floral ticking stripes with a soft color palette and chippy painted finish, the antique daybed is a charming spot for a lazy afternoon. The muted color fits right in with the vintage style of the rest of the room, while adding that French charm I love.
The old teal velvet-covered chair was a thrift-store find years ago. A bit worn and faded, the velvet is not perfect and neither is the chipping gilded paint on the frame, but I love the simplicity of the style and that it is original.
Curvy and French, the sconces are a simple charming way to light the gabled eaves, and the chandelier light on the nightstand offers extra lighting for reading a book.
Moving from the arid climes of Arizona to bustling Nashville, Tennessee, Melissa Lewis, interior designer and owner of Found Interiors, was happy to discover the city’s many flea markets.
“It wasn’t easy finding antiques in the deserts of Arizona,” she admits, recalling with a laugh how she carefully boxed her treasures for the move. Nothing was left behind, especially not her cherished chandelier. “I was afraid potential buyers would think it came with the house!” The chandelier fits her aesthetic of gilt accents and shabby elegance.
But it was in Franklin, a suburb just outside Nashville, where Melissa embraced her passion for flea-market finds. From historic bricks reassembled to adorn her fireplace to antique lanterns hanging above her kitchen table, her décor embraces a mix of old and new. “It’s hard having your house look like a model home, where people are afraid to touch anything or sit down,” she says. “The old and imperfect pieces make people feel more comfortable.”
Piecing It All Together
Many of the unique fixtures and antiques in Melissa’s home have their own stories to tell. The kitchen’s exquisite lanterns, for example, hail from New Orleans, where Melissa had discovered them in a tiny, humble shop off the beaten track. “It made no sense to buy them. They weren’t even electrified! I just knew I wanted to bring them back to life,” she says.
One of the home’s most striking design features is a once-bare wall leading to the basement that was revived with a hodgepodge of gorgeous paper cut silhouette portraits. Displaying a collection together, Melissa says, creates a powerful vibe.
But in many ways, her home also celebrates incomplete items in various states of disrepair. A lone Corinthian column leans in a corner of the house, while in the same room pieces of discarded crystals from chandeliers long gone rest in an ornate silver cup. Hanging on the wall in the dining room, a broken mirror charms many a guest to the home.
Melissa had seen the mirror crack and break one day, as it tumbled down off a shelf in a flea market. She repurposed the frame by attaching it to a section of barn wood. “I enjoy seeing two pieces not meant to be together suddenly brought together,” she says. “If something really speaks to me, I’ll find a place for it and a way to use it.”
Sprinkled throughout her home, numerous gilt frames and vintage sign holders in tarnished silver add pops of understated elegance. Sometimes the sign holders feature old book pages and postcards from Melissa’s adventures. Other times, they are left empty on purpose.
In the dining room, an elegant mirror frame has been attached to some barn wood to create a beautiful display. Sometimes ornate frames can be more interesting than the art, Melissa says.
Atop a low chest of drawers in her bedroom, empty picture frames seem more enchanting than the art work they might display. Meanwhile a large bookshelf houses several old metal sign holders, which came in a box full of similar items Melissa bought from a flea market for only five dollars. Unique pieces add character to a home, she says.
A New Life
With her own home, Melissa tries to think outside the box, and many of the items in her home she has repurposed, fixed or made herself. An old sack meant for grain covers an antique bench in her master bedroom. Meanwhile, vintage metal signs now feature old book pages and postcards she collected on her adventures. And a table, once another color, is now white. “I liked its silhouette and lines,” she says, but the original paint job failed to complement the home’s color scheme—white, black, gold and silver. “Paint is your best friend! It’s amazing what can be done with it!”
“Don’t be afraid to break the rules,” Melissa says of decorating. Besides, she insists, repurposed pieces add character to a home. “I never settle for something as is.”
I’m often drawn to flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales. The thrill of the hunt never ceases to excite me! Certain pieces just seem to speak to me, and vintage china always seems to be on my radar while I’m out treasure hunting. Recently, I’ve been drawn towards antique rose china embellished with beautiful patterns and it’s become one of my favorite things to collect. These vintage patterns are feminine and flirty, and best of all, they work beautifully for a romantic table setting.
Easy to find
The next time you visit a flea market or thrift store, be on the lookout for pretty pink rose patterned plates. You can often find them in small sets, which is my favorite way to acquire them, but unique individual plates are also quite practical and fit in nicely if they’re in the same pink color palette. My favorite patterns are made in England and made of fine bone china, but I’ve found gorgeous German examples that are quite unique and look like they’re hand-painted.
Mix and match for fun
Just like any collection, mixing and matching is made easier when the plates have a common design or color. Dinner plates, salad plates and bread plates all layer beautifully with each other, and especially look lovely in coordinating but mismatched patterns. I’ve found that collecting different size plates also helps when arranging them together at a table setting.
Accessorize with Pink
To get more bang for your buck, tie the whole table together with pink accents. Adding pink glassware, napkins and flowers will naturally accentuate the pink rose pattern on the china, and capture everyone’s attention. Think pink when setting this kind of table!
Include feminine details
What’s the easiest way to turn an ordinary table into a romantic table? The answer is feminine details. Of course our rosy plates add feminine charm, but go ahead and add one or two more girly elements, just remember not to go too over the top with frills and such. To keep this table from looking stuffy, an eyelet table runner does the trick and adds a little whimsy to this whole look.
Incorporate modern elements
A few modern elements help keep the table from looking a little too old-fashioned. As romantic as roses are, a pitcher of pink peonies adds modern flair to the table, while the colors of these fresh flowers work perfectly with the roses on the plates. Vintage bamboo flatware offers the perfect contrast against the pink tye-dyed napkins and both these elements add a much needed dose of fun to this tablescape.
Collect what you love
Vintage or new, rose patterned dinnerware is fun to collect, but if your passion is collecting another type of china, you can still keep these tips in mind when setting your table. The same rules apply for other fun collectable plates like transferware or cabbageware. Just remember to mix and match, accessorize with a fun color, add a modern touch and incorporate feminine details. Your table is sure to be a hit with your friends and family!
Crafting elegant tablescapes is one of Fabiana’s many talents and passions. She regularly shares her inspiring designs on her blog, Ciao! Newport Beach and on instagram.
The thrill of the hunt at a flea market is always exhilarating, not knowing just what waits around the next corner. Maybe it’ll be that elusive piece of china or stack of old signs you have been scouring every tag sale for. Or perhaps it’s the treasure you didn’t know you needed but suddenly realized you have to have.
PHOTO BY COURTNEY ALLISON
Courtney Allison: Treasure Hunting
I love shopping flea markets and tag sales simply to peruse or to search for something specific. And one of my favorite sources is shopped from the comfort of home. I have scored some of my most amazing antiques on Craigslist: the French buffet from the 1800s in the living room, that tall gilded floor mirror and even the French armoire in my bathroom, all found for bargain prices online.
But if you are more hands-on and want to roll up your sleeves and collect items as you go, here are some favorite spots to find the most unique and interesting pieces here in California:
Alameda Point Antiques Faire—Alameda, CA (1st Sunday of the month)
Goat Hill Fair —Santa Cruz, CA (twice a year)
Tumbleweed and Company —Roseville, CA (varies)
PHOTO BY COURTNEY ALLISON
Courtney Allison: Treasure Hunting
My favorite things to look for are always changing, depending on what I am obsessed with at the moment or what I may need for styling, but there are some things that always repeat no matter what.
Vintage china with intricate and detailed patterns, and simple ironstone.
Anything brass or silver—I’m currently collecting silver trophies for flowers, old dome covers and brass candlesticks for a bigger splash on the fireplace mantel.
Old books without covers, chunky baskets and wood pieces that have weathered away a bit.
Vintage mirrors—The more mottled the glass, the better.
I’ve been going to flea markets since I was a little girl in London. On early mornings before daylight, I would arrive as vendors were setting up with flashlights—their only source of light. There was something magical to me about this world.
My dad dealt in rare illustrated books and my mum in antique dolls, which she painstakingly restored. I wasn’t so much interested in books or dolls, but I learned the tricks of the trade from my parents.
From my dad, I learned how to be focused and a quick walker and thinker. From my mum, I learned patience and being selective (going home empty-handed is preferable to buying things you don’t need), creativity and finding precious bits and bobs to repurpose. Today I frequent flea markets for the purposes of resale, inspiration and occasionally for my home. I just walk up and down most of the aisles and cover most of the shows, or “fields.”
PHOTO BY AMY NEUSINGER
Rachel Ashwell: Seeking Authenticity
I’m always happy when I can find one-of-a-kind, authentic treasures. When you’re at flea markets, it’s important to know what you’re looking for, or it can be quite overwhelming. Make a wish list, get rough measurements of what you are looking for and keep notes on the clearance measurements for access.
Take along the following:
A tape measure.
A flashlight if going early in the morning.
Layers of clothing, good walking shoes and a hat.
To bring items home, it might be worthwhile renting a pick-up truck, furniture blankets and bungie cords. However, some of the bigger antiques shows have shippers and porters on sight.
If you aren’t taking something home right away, get the phone number of the vendor and pictures of the surrounding area on your phone, or jot down some notes just in case.
Cash is the best tool for negotiating.
PHOTO BY SARAH PANKOW
Rachel Ashwell: Seeking Authenticity
My favorite flea market finds:
Vintage wallpaper—I use it to line drawers.
Anything floral—I love floral carvings and floral prints on art and fabrics.
Chandeliers and table lamps—Whenever I buy lighting, I always get it checked out for safety.
Rugs of all sizes—I like to layer them, even smaller ones, always in my palette.
My favorite markets:
Los Angeles, CA:
My favorite of all is The Round Top Antiques Fair in Round Top, Texas, and I particularly love the following:
My love of flea markets started when I was just in high school, when my friends and I one day stumbled across one of the largest flea markets in Florida, and I knew immediately that this was my kind of place!
Since then, I have frequented hundreds of antique and flea markets from small roadside offerings to large-scale special events that draw hundreds of dealers and thousands of buyers from all over the country. These are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way…
PHOTO BY MARIAN PARSONS
Marian Parsons: Digging for Gems
Marian’s tips and tricks:
Not all flea markets are created equal. You really don’t know what the vibe of a flea market is until you get there. All the merchandise might be garage sale and auction leftovers or you might find high-end antiques (with high-end prices.) Go there knowing it might be a waste of time or it might be a goldmine.
Have a plan. Flea markets can be distracting and overwhelming—there’s so much stuff! A list of things you’re looking for will help you stay focused. It’s also a good idea to have dimensions of your space and a measuring tape, so you don’t buy something that doesn’t fit in your house!
Cash is king, but credit isn’t irrelevant. Cash used to be the only payment method accepted at flea markets, but more and more dealers are accepting credit cards. Cash will usually get you a better deal, though, so it’s still a good idea to have plenty on hand.
PHOTO BY MARIAN PARSONS
Marian Parsons: Digging for Gems
Come prepared. Flea markets can be as exhausting as a day at an amusement park, so it helps to come prepared. Bring a cart, large canvas shopping bag or wagon to carry your purchases. I would also suggest bringing some plastic shopping bags to wrap around pieces that might be rusty or need a good cleaning. Also, bring a water bottle, hand sanitizer and some snacks in your bag to get through the day.
Be realistic. It’s easy to get carried away at a flea market. When you’re assessing a piece to purchase, especially a larger, high-ticket item, take a minute to think through the purchase. Do you love it? Will it work well with your style and in your home? Do you have the perfect spot for it? Is it in good condition? If it needs work, are you capable of doing it? Asking these questions can confirm that the purchase is a good one or help you avoid buyer’s remorse. Also, make sure you can get the piece home. Will it fit in your vehicle? Will you have help to unload it at the other end?
So grab some friends, take out some cash and go hunt for treasure!
Nestled into the relaxed hillside of Los Feliz in Los Angeles, California, this colorful French style cottage fits perfectly within the neighborhood of established and aspiring creative types. Homeowner and designer Kaari Zabala took an innovative approach to the design of her home, combining old and new pieces, along with French and Native American-inspired décor.
“There are lots of primitive pieces used to soften the atmosphere,” she says. “We have a mix of old and new in our home—but mostly old!” Kaari is the owner of the popular craft-workshop store, French General. Her store promotes a French-inspired lifestyle and sells items like textiles, ephemera collections and household décor found only in France. Her affinity for French things are directly seen in her own home as well.
Kaari keeps the store and her inspiration thriving with her trips to the South of France every summer, utilizing the items from her store and inspiration from her trips in the design of her home. With a twist on traditional provincial style, she takes advantage of unique décor, combinations of old and new, rustic elements and a vibrant color palette to bring the essence of French style to her home.
Built in 1936, Kaari’s home is 1,500 square feet of cozy space that channels classic aspects of provincial style. Throughout the home, Kaari creates feelings of grace and comfort that are highly valued by the French.
In the main bedroom, pieces such as a hanging chandelier, bedside lamp and chair boast feminine curves and gilded accents that add fanciful flourishes to the space. A lovely French sliding glass door opens up to the exquisite backyard, bringing the outdoors into the elegant design of the bedroom.
The kitchen boasts a mix of fine antiques and rustic patinas. While kitchens used to simply be a place to cook, Kaari turned her kitchen space into a display for her favorite collectibles. A country-inspired armoire has open shelving to display her delicate chinaware and, inspired by French vintage, Kaari turned one of the walls into a display of old-fashioned scissors, framed butterflies and other household items.
The main table, on the other hand, speaks to the relaxing atmosphere of a French marketplace with bright sunflowers, croissants and fresh jam. The chandelier adds a touch of elegance to the space, while a gilded painting brings in a rural element. These décor items blend the rustic and the refined in the space, creating a comfortable and inviting atmosphere.
Color and Textiles
In the living room, Kaari combines her passion for textiles with a classic French theme. She loves to collect antique Navajo rugs and uses them to cover the floors of her home. Their colorful presence prompted her to use their color schemes as inspiration for her color palette, resulting in reds, creams and earthy browns. To help balance the boldness of the bright reds, she created a contrast with soft yellow accent walls and creamy linen décor.
Kaari takes advantage of her own collection of fabrics from French General to create lovely patterned pillows in plaid and striped designs, as well as for upholstering most of the homes daybeds, sofas and chairs. She uses Old World sensibility paired with cheerful colors and patterns to channel French provincial style throughout her home. To help others achieve the style, Kaari suggests repurposing old textiles. Try reinforcing old quilts with a layer of linen on the back or use old tablecloths to make pillow covers. Kaari says, “Every scrap of fabric can be used to add personality to your home.”