Thrift Stories: Arts and Crafts on a Budget – William Morris Quilt

As my About me page says, we’re pretty normal folk who love a “champagne look” on a beer budget so I get really excited when I read about others who are DIYers or find ways to create an Arts and Crafts look without emptying out their wallet.

Over the weekend I came across the Minniemoll Knits and Crafts blog.  Helen, who lives in York, UK with her cats Minnie and Moll wrote a wonderful posting on creating a William Morris Quilt.  On one of her lunch time wanders she passed a curtain shop that offered fabric scraps on sale.  She ended up with so many scraps that she had to leave them at the shop until she could pick them up in a car.

“I was like a child at Christmas as I unpacked it all.”  To see the beautiful results of her great find and her stunning hand-crafted finished quilt please click here or on the photo below.

I never thought of checking out upholstery or drapery shops for fabric scraps.  Of course there is bound to be more William Morris fabric in England but here in New Westminster our British roots remain very strong–for goodness sake the city’s biggest event is May day…..and with the number of heritage homes in our area and in Vancouver I’m sure there’s a chance are I might find something!

Thrift Stories – My first Arts and Crafts antique

Since this is my first Thrift Stories Thursday I think it’s appropriate to start at what I consider the beginning of my love for Arts and Crafts architecture, home design and decor.  In 1988, my husband and I lived in a basement suite of what we call here in the Lower 800px-Vancouver_spcials_01Mainland of BC, a Vancouver Special. The house including our above ground suite had been built in the 1970’s and was pretty devoid of any character.  We had moved to New Westminster because we loved the historic homes and wanted to live in one but not many of the heritage houses had basement suites then.  On top of that, those that did, often had very low ceilings which my 6′ 2″ tall husband was not about to put up with, despite my urging and pleas.

victoriaIt was also the time when the Victorian rennaisance/revival was under way.  Victorian homes in New Westminster and Vancouver were being restored and everyone wanted one.  The first issue of Victoria magazine had come out in 1987 and I was an early subscriber.  I loved the cluttered look for my living room and bathroom and since I was already a thrift store goer we picked up a shabby chic antique table and chairs, a wooden chest that served as a coffee table and a large number of vintage and antique tins that sat in my kitchen.  We did the best we could to create an English Country look in the majority of our suite despite its blandness.  Unlike many of my friends who purchased copies of Victorian furniture though, I found I was in love more with the romantic notions of the age than the architecture and furniture design.

When it came time to decorate our bedroom we decided that we were going to go where neither of our families had gone before and to purchase our first antique.  I didn’t want a dresser from a thrift store but one from a “real” antique store.  I poured over magazines but couldn’t seem to find the vision that I had in my head. I couldn’t really describe it except that I told my husband, “I want a plain, square line dresser, no frills or curls.  Something simple and plain.  I want a calm and restful bedroom”  He didn’t quite get it but he was supportive.

front street new westminsterWe decided to make a Saturday sojourn to New Westminster’s Front Street which is also known as Antique Alley.  Starting at one end we perused shop after shop.  They were filled with curvacious, heavily carved Victorian antiques, mostly from England.  I explained to each vendor that I wanted a simple, plain square line dresser.  None of them had any idea of what I was talking about.  We reached the last shop on the street and I was completely demoralized-there had been nothing like what I was searching for and no one knew or understood what I wanted.  I wandered around the last store very quickly andantique alley then told Bruce I wanted to leave.  We walked to the car and got in.  I was so very disappointed.  And then in one of my husbands finest moments he asked, “Did you see that small little dresser in the back? It was really square and simple”.  I said I hadn’t; I hadn’t seen much in the store because I’d walked through so quickly.  “I think it’s what you are looking for”.  We went back into the store and Bruce led me through a maze of huge armoirs and carved buffets.  And there it was.  A plain and simple oak, straight square-line dresser.

dresser1I asked the vendor about it.  “Oh ya, that’s an arts and crafts era dresser.  Probably made around 1910”.  I asked about the price.  It was $275.00.  “You don’t want that.  I’ve got some beautiful Victorian pieces here-this is what people want.  It’s all the rage for young folks like you.  Look at these beautiful carvings and the worksmanship”.  I told him I was interested in the small dresser that was dwarfed by everything around it.  “It’s not even a good example of the arts and crafts era.  It’s not that well made.  Why would you want something that plain?”  I persisted and before long he was writing up a receipt for $225.00. It was a steal of deal compared to all of the Victorian furniture in the store.  The price didn’t matter and to be quite frank I didn’t care that he thought the quality was not that great, although knowing what I know now, I would have to agree with him.

What was important was the way the wood felt under my palm, the straight and simple Dresser2-1lines that brought calm and rest to my eyes and the deep, rich, patina of the oak.  I have never loved a piece of furniture or cared for anything else as much as I do this dresser. Every time I look at it I remember the day when I learned what that straight lined furniture was called and how that knowledge has fueled pretty much every decorating decision I’ve made since then.

My dresser has served many purposes in our home – bedroom dresser, entrance way storage buffet, dining room server and it is now serving its original purpose again as a dresser in our guest room.  I regret that since the top floor of our house and our bedroom as slopped ceilings I can’t have it in our bedroom.  Sadly, one guest left a coffee stain and another a water mark and since I don’t see it all of the time I probably don’t care for it as much as I should. Still, despite it’s imperfections when I do oil it and then when I rub my hands across the grain of the wood, I get as much of a thrill as I did the day we brought it home.










My apologies for the quality of the photos.  We just lost our camera and I had to take these with my iphone.

Road Trips with Dad

I’m leaving tomorrow morning on a trip to Saskatchewan with my Father.  It should be interesting as our history of road trips is a little complicated.

Road Trips with Dad

Regina SK to Vancouver, BC
1963 Black & Pink Bel Aire
I’m 3 years old.
Main activities:  Sitting on Mom’s lap, sleeping, climbing from the front seat to the back seat (before the days of seat belts remember), playing with my lambie toy, sleeping.
Conversation:  “What’s that Dad?”,  “I have to pee-pee”, “Are we there yet?” , “Ohhh…look it’s a bear.  Don’t you eat my lambie, you bad bear!”, “Dad, I need go pee-pee NOW!”.

Regina, SK to Banff, AB
1963 Black & Pink Bel Aire
I’m 7 years old.
Main activities:  Reading my Road Runner Cartoon book while laying in the back seat with my feet out the window, sleeping, fighting with my brother for my half of the backseat, sleeping, watching my dad photograph wildlife from the safety of the car.
Conversation:  “This is so boring”, “Dad, tell Ronny to stop poking me!”, “Are we there yet?”, “Dad, don’t stop the car; Dad don’t get out of the car, that bear (he was running after to photograph) could hurt you!”, “I hate bridges, I’m not getting out and I’m not walking over it”, “Dad, he’s poking me again!”, “Are we there yet?”.

Regina, SK to Kelowna, BC
1967 Gold Pontiac
I’m 10 years old.
Main Activities:  Writing in my journal about how much I hate moving, how much I love SK and how I will never, ever be happy living in the mountains, sleeping, fighting with my brother, sleeping.
Conversation: “Leave me alone, I don’t want to look out the window at the mountains and trees”, “Dad, tell Ron to stop poking me”, “I don’t care”, “I feel like I’m boxed in by these mountains”, “How far is Kelowna anyway?”, “I hate this”.

Kelowna, BC to Jasper/Banff, BC
1967 Gold Pontiac with a happy face button stuck into the roof liner.
I’m 16 years old.
Main activities:  Sleeping, Reading the Thornbirds, Writing in my journal about how much I hate the trip, sleeping.
Conversation:  “I don’t want to walk on a glacier, I want to stay in the car and read”, “I will never, ever, make my kids go on a trip they don’t want to go on”, “I don’t care if this is probably the last trip we’ll make as a family”, “Ron, if you poke me again, I’ll kill you”.

Vancouver, BC to Regina, SK
40 ft. Motorhome
I’m over 40:)
Main activities:   I do know we’ll be stopping along the way if we see an enticing thrift shop; other than that I’ll probably journal, blog, read and sleep–Old habits die hard, but I’ll let you know.
Conversation:  It’s just me and Dad…..stay tuned.

Vintage Tin Flower Arrangement – Souvenir Magazine Inspiration

I’m excited to say my hubby has this tin although it is currently filled with nails and screws.  I think its time to dust it off, give it a cleaning and create a summer flower arrangement.

Found on Centsational Girl Blog; her report on the new magazine Souvenir by Heather Bullard, stylist extraordinaire and contributing editor to Country Living magazine.