my reward for raking leaves

ginger tea still lifeI don’t know why, but autumn always makes me crave chamomile tea and ginger cookies. It must be something about the warmth of the mug and the bite of the candied ginger, but it’s what I reach for each autumn when I come in from the cold after raking leaves or after a crisp morning spent at a particularly good estate sale – like the one we went to this past Sunday. We caught it on the last day (when everything was marked half off) and my husband scored some fabulous vintage National Geographic magazines from the 1960s, including the much coveted December 1969 – Apollo 11 issue …

Nat Geo Space Issues 1964, 1969, 1971

for a dollar each!

Nat Geo Space Issues 1960 & 1969

How cool is that? In addition to the articles and photographs, we’re also enjoying the vintage advertisements. The following examples are all from the July 1960 issue focusing on Hawaii “Our 50th State” and NASA’s goal to launch a man into preorbital space via Project Mercury (with much interesting commentary regarding NASA’s late entry to the post-Sputnik era space race with the Soviets).

vintage Bell Telephone Hawaii ad

vintage Space Laboratories advintage Coca-Cola Hawaii ad

Aren’t these interesting? Although I grew up going to garage and sample sales with my mom, I had never been to an estate sale until a dear friend invited me to one on Chicago’s North Shore over ten years ago. I was instantly hooked and have been on the prowl ever since. Within the last several years, my husband started joining me and now he’s hooked as well. We love the thrill of the hunt, the unique wares and the incredible bargains. Since much of what’s sold today as “new” is of such poor quality (seemingly designed to be disposable), we’d rather buy vintage. I’ve found bargains on everything from stainless steel mixing bowls to furniture, garden tools to live houseplants, studio pottery to Persian rugs. And somehow, I always manage to get my treasures home in our little Jetta. As is often the case, there’s always one item that got away; this past weekend, it was a nicely framed piece of paper-cut art – priced less than fifteen dollars.

estate sale papercut artI’m still kicking myself for not buying it.

I’m curious, do you like estate sales? I’d love it if you’d tell me about your best find (as well as the one item that got away) in the comments. And as always, thanks for reading.

Before & After: Our Eichler Guest Bathroom

eichler guest bath before & after

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about our Eichler renovation, but since some changes are afoot, I though I’d take a stroll down memory lane while it’s all still fresh in my mind. You remember our house renovation, right? Long story short, in 2007 we bought our 1964 Eichler from the estate of the original owners and almost immediately began a down-to-the-studs renovation/restoration that included … well, pretty much everything. New windows, roof, mechanicals, floors, kitchen, baths … you name it. Almost two years past before we were able to finally move in, and the house still wasn’t done. Thankfully, this guest bathroom was finished, allowing us to move in while the kitchen and master bathroom were being completed. But I’m getting ahead of myself …

This is what the guest bathroom looked like when we bought the house:

Eichler Guest Bathroom Before 1Beige walls, beige tile, a beige formica counter top and a beige vinyl floor. The white bathtub was in perfect condition (I don’t think it had ever been used) so we decided to keep it, along with the original globe light fixture, the original window and of course, the beautiful original redwood ceilings.

Eichler Guest Bathroom Before 3

On the surface, this bathroom was in remarkably good condition, but a leaking pipe forced us to gut the entire space. On the bright side, this unforeseen catastrophe gave us the opportunity to make a few changes; in this room we opted to lower the wall separating the sink area from the toilet/tub area to allow more natural light into the space.

Eichler Guest Bathroom DuringThis is what the space looked like after demolition and installation of the new copper water pipes. Notice the rectangular hole in the ceiling from an old air vent … in order to fix that we had to have the roof opened up and new redwood tongue & groove planks installed and stained to match. Then the concrete floors were bead-blasted and a cementitious skim coat was applied and polished, the tub was refinished, new insulation and sheetrock were installed, new clear safety glass & bug screens were installed in the original window, new wire-reinforced mortar shower walls were constructed, tile was installed, grout was sealed, a new cabinet, sink, faucet, mirror and 1.6 GPF toilet were installed and last but not least, a new door with new-in-box vintage 1960s hardware was installed. Whew!

This is what it it looks like now!

Eichler Guest Bathroom After 1

My goal was to create a light, bright, airy, uncluttered space that was neutral, but still full of personality. I chose simple white subway tile, and since our house is a mid-century modern California Eichler, I arranged the tile in a stacked pattern rather than the more traditional running bond.

Eichler Guest Bath Detail 1

In that same vein, we chose fixtures and fittings with clean, simple lines and used a stainless steel Schluter strip, rather than bullnose tile, for the transition between shower walls and sheetrock. Our biggest splurge item? High quality, independent thermostatic and volume control valves in the tub/shower. If I had a nickel for every “high-end” bathroom I’ve seen that irritatingly lacks good valves … it makes me sick.  Anyhow … my other favorite feature? The adjustable height shower/hand spray – I love it!

Eichler Guest Bath Texture 1Modern white spaces can sometimes feel cold and sterile; to make this bathroom feel warm and inviting, I added texture with this patterned cotton shower curtain, Turkish cotton hand towels, a graphic cotton rug and wood rattan laundry hamper. Most importantly, we chose not to paint the original redwood ceiling.

Eichler Guest Bath Texture 2

Eichler Guest Bathroom After 3

To add a splash of color, I added some Blik wall decals to simulate bubbles. The best part is that when I’ve grown tired of them, the dots peel right off without damaging the paint.

Eichler Guest Bath Detail 6

Why yes, blue is my favorite color.

Eichler Guest Bathroom After 3A

Eichler Guest Bathroom After 2

I forced myself to design this space on a tight budget (the mirror, sink and base cabinet are all from IKEA), but still had fun in the process. Our trips to Istanbul and the Turkish countryside gave me loads of inspiration and by adding this little marble slab along with just the right textiles and accessories, I was able to make this space feel like a modern version of a traditional Turkish bath. I found the perfect finishing touches – this antique hamam bowl, coarse linen kese bath mitts, and pure olive oil soap – at Dervis, in Instabul’s famed Grand Bazaar. Oh, and the medicine cabinet is original, we repurposed it from the master bathroom … cha-ching!

Eichler Guest Bath Detail 5Similar high quality Turkish cotton towels, or peshtemal, can be found at this Etsy shop.

Thanks for reading!