Announcing 2 new blogs

January 23rd, 2014

We have started a new blog at www lavenderpath.tumblr.com , one for sharing articles and photos on our books and antiques.  The 2nd blog is photos, essays and prose about our 2nd home, in North Truro, Cape Cod. Please stop in, pull up a chair and enjoy our musings. Cya there, Carole

The Joy of Collecting Cookbooks

January 11th, 2013
Over 5,000 cookery tittles in stock

Over 5,000 cookery tittles in stock

I am passionate about cookbooks, our collection is always growing. Cookbooks aren’t just the basic how-to, they are the window through which we get a glimpse of the culture, social customs and family traditions of a country, a region, a people, a family. Gathering around the table, serving food prepared with pride and love unites us all as a family.

International cookbooks are not only just about the cusine of a certain country, many are travel logs as well, filled with beautiful photographs of the countryside, exquisite table settings, and glorious photos of the prepared recipes. Discover the dishes of your ancestors, rediscover family traditions and favorite foods from the “old country” share with family and friends special holiday feasts or learn cookery from many exciting countries you would like to explore or have visited. Arm chair travel as well as expand your menus. Learn what real Italian cooking is, not the Americanized version but healthy flavorful robust cookery made from fresh ingredients found in the different regions. Explore French provencial cooking, using fresh herbs, ingredients from the kitchen garden. Experience the cuisines of the sun, Mediterrean cooking with influences from so many cultures. Eastern Europe with it’s farm fresh recipes. The Middle east and Far East, Indian curries and spices. United Kingdom and all it’s different cuisines. In our bookshop we have a selection of international cookbooks from rare, out of print to used 2012 publications.

Regional cookery is another specialty. Whether Southern, Southwest, Yankee New England or Mid-west Prairie or California, we got the best. Each area takes what is plentiful for it’s particular area, adds in a dash of the area’s nationalities and creates it own special cuisine. Traveling across this great country of ours, sampling the regional foods, trying new things, these regional cookbooks can help you create special menus to experience those dishes again at home.

Classic Vintage Modern Homemakers’ Helpers

July 20th, 2011

Damask Towels for Kitchen and Bath

Damask Towels for Kitchen and Bath


Sometimes “New” is not always “Improved”. Gone are the days of shopping at W.T. Grants, the local five and dime stores that carried everything you needed for your home. Notions departments, Domestics or Linen departments were well stocked with a vast assortment to choose from and all at very affordable prices. Linens were made in mills right here in the USA. Housewives in the 1950’s had a ritual of changing curtains, linens, dresser scarves, doilies with the seasons. They had so many choices of colors, fabrics and styles. Now we have the big stores, the Walmarts, Targets ect., who have pared down our choices of items to purchase , stocking only what they perceive as a fast turnover, items made overseas and cheaply made. Below are some examples of items that have never gone out of style or usefulness. Items that help us “Go Green” with little effort, that give a big value for the money and if you know where to look can be easy to find.
1. Linen, damask or cotton hand towels. Trimmed with lace, tatting, embroidered, monogrammed, plain , woven or stamped with an all over design. These versatile towels can be for the kitchen or the bath. These vintage kitchen towels dry dishes faster, are lintfree for glasses, dry fast, can be bleached and make a pretty decorating statement and wear well. Collecting colorful souvenir towels, many are made out Irish linen, the best wearing fabric makes drying dishes a trip down Memory Lane remembering favorite trips and places. 1950’s bright coloful florals make any kitchen cheerful.
Towels for the bath with pretty embroidery, lace trims, appliques, add color and decorating excitement to the bath. Fingertip towels for your guest bath is a special touch, they dry fast, you can display several, each guest can feel like they are using a towel just for them, not one the whole family has used for a week. Fabric instead of paper, a green alternative.
2. Hankies, yes those delicate little squares of fabric. They come in all colors, embellished like little works of art. Cotton, linen whatever your favorite. Monogrammed, decorated with flowers, crocheted or tatted edges, enbroidered, the styles are endless. Forget the kleenexs crumbling and shredding in your purse or pockets, collecting lint so you can’t remember if it is clean or used. One pretty hanky can be quickly retrieved when a sneeze is coming on or a tear starts to fall. It can be washed and used over and over again. I even put one in my jeans pocket, they are small and dainty and just have a corner peeking out over the top of the pocket, making a little fashion statement. It’s a perfect little gift to give someone for an occassion like a wedding or a “just because” thinking of you little gift. Beautiful white or ivory trimmed with lace hankies just what every brides needs and teary eyed guests too. In my bookshop I suggest a pretty hanky with every sappy romance novel bought. Or with a book , tucked inside like a book marker. A hankie can be mailed inside a greeting card as a little token gift. Start carrying one with you and you will be going green and enjoying one of these little pieces of textile art and never go back to messy wasteful tissues again.
3. Aprons. So practical and so much fun. I know we are not wearing pearls and high heels around the house like June Cleaver in the 1950’s show. We are working girls, rushing home from work trying to get dinner on the table and family activities taken care of. Aprons had a very practical use, protecting one’s clothes while in the kitchen. What throughly modern gal has downtime after work to change out of her work attire and into casual before preparing dinner? Many have to rush out the door after dinner with kid’s activities, social meetings ect and need to stay properly attired to go out again. Grab a handy apron and start your frying pans. Aprons were a daily attire for past generations, they were washable, had 2 pockets for all kinds of stuff, came in handy for a quick dusting, wiping when unexpected guests arrived, gathering eggs or produce from the garden, there were so many handy uses for them. Bet they always had a hanky in one of those pockets for wiping a teary eyed child’s face. There were sturdy ones for everyday, Sunday dinner fancy ones and holiday themed ones. Usually made with leftover pieces of fabric trimmed with whatever embellishments that were in the sewing basket or purchased at the five and dime. In our busy lives these little works of textile art can save a beautiful designer outfit from a splash of spagetti sauce any day. My cousins and I even had an apron themed family reunion, each gal was given an apron that reflected her personality when she arrived, we called ourselves the Apron Sisterhood. No one took theirs off till the end of the party, they just felt so comfortable wearing and they certainly did their job protecting our clothes and keeping cellphones and stuff in the pockets. We have great photos and memories and a souvenir apron to keep.
4. Dresser Scarves and Doilies. What an assortment the previous generations had to choose from at the linen department. All types of fabrics, trims, embellishments, whatever your decorating style there was one for you. Try to find a dresser scarf now in Walmart or Target. No way. thrifty housewives would buy plain linen and then iron on a transfer pattern and the embroider the design or do cross-stitching to make it their own creation. I remember the magazine called “Workbasket” ( we sell lots of this vintage handcraft magazine in our shop now) would come every month and have a pull-out iron on transfer for you to use. In this economy where many purchases of new furniture are being put-off , redecorating being done on a limited budget, what better way to protect your furniture, cover up a well worn dresser top or just change your color fabric accessories is to use dresser scarves or doilies. Before you slide that brass lamp across the beautiful finish of your furniture consider protecting it with one of these cloths, whether plain linen, embroidered, lace or colorful floral it does double duty decorating and protecting. Washable, inexpensive and so practical. Pretty lace doilies look great under a glass top. The glass protects the furniture top from sweating glasses of water, nailpolish anything that mars the finish or could spill.

Okay we brought to everyone mind these great little inventions from the past, things that we grew up with and took for granted. Now that we are “Big Girls” with homes of our own, we realize that Mom had some great ideas, why did we not follow her example? She was saving and Going Green with these 4 handy items long before it was fashionable. Okay you see now the usefulness of them but where do you find them? The big stores aren’t going to have them, certainly not a selection of any of them or the durable fabrics, the pretty details and best of all, made in the USA. Well here is the fun part. Visit your nearest antique and collectibles shop, find a dealer who specializes in vintage linens. They are not expensive, easy to find and fun to collect. One of my shops is just filled with linens from yesterday, I stock racks full of dresser scarves, tablecloths, shelves full of towels, baskets with hundreds of doilies. I am a “Linen Lady”. Completely hooked and in love wih the handwork of my mother’s and grandmother’s generations. I rescue, wash, iron , stitch and put up for adoption these little works of textile art. Damaged pieces are redesigned, maybe cut up made into new things, trims saved, pretty pieces framed as wall art but never ever thrown away till all uses are exhausted. Even worn-out old linen has a new life as the softest gentlest dustcloths ever. Handcrafted items are a direct link to the person whose hands toiled for hours creating these pieces made with love for her special family. Maybe you will want to try your hand at creating your future family heirlooms. What granddaughter wouldn’t love having her Gram’s apron?

The Beauty of Antique Furniture and Accessories

April 13th, 2011
Redesig Redecorate

Redesign Redecorate

The Ultimate Recycling……….
Making do or making “new” with what you have. An idea that has lasted down thru the generations. When I go shopping for home furnishings I am sorely disappointed with the quality and workmanship of what is available in the market place today. This new items will never be the antiques of tommorow. They seem to have a built-in short life time, not having the wearability or lasting quality of furnishings made in the previous centuries. The craftmanship, the details, the materials are all sorely lacking. Try to find a bookcase made of solid wood, ones that won’t warp over time with the weight of your favorite books, try to find one that has an actual wood back, almost impossible. Sorry, I don’t get the warm fuzzy feeling polishing a particle board or pressed wood piece of furniture. Look at the drawers, how they are constructed, will they last through 100’s of openings and closings? How about the hardware, which is the jewelry that highlights the style of the furniture, is it a fine brass or a horrible imitation? Buying new furniture is a very expensive purchase and should last. What special memory laden piece will your children or grandchildren be inheriting from you, to enjoy and think of all the special memories associated with that piece of furniture and you? Not much of our modern day belongings will ever make it to the next generation. Make in America? Sadly that is more and more impossible to find.

So here is my solution, it is called rescuing, redesigning and repurposing. Beautiful solid wood furniture, artfully designed and crafted accessories, all things which were designed and crafted with quality materials and creative workmanship, where special details mattered, the likes of which can’t be purchased today, need to be rescued. “They just don’t make them like that anymore” how many times have we heard that phrase and how true it is. Antique furniture and accessories which have “good bones” can be restored, redesigned and repurposed to live for another generation. Think of what a decorating impact a couple of special pieces can do for a room. Think of a beautiful sturdy walnut eastlake dresser , repurposed to hold a bathroom sink, it’s new life as a striking vanity. Or it could be reincarnated as a kitchen island with doors made from the drawer fronts for cabinets. A piece of antique furniture may have a worn finish, may need a little elbow grease to release it’s inner glow, add in a creative thought and you have the recipe for a heirloom that will withstand the test of time and have your kids fighting over when you move on over to the otherside. Nothing can imitate the warmth of real wood, the strength and the details of yesteryear, so go “Green” recycle, rescue and revitalize a beautiful old antique piece of a family’s history. Remember every little scratch or worn spot has a story of life’s events. Just like the little wrinkles around our eyes, we earned them , laughing and living, character and patina takes a lifetime to accomplish. Say no thanks to new made in China.

Vintage 1960’s “Mad Men” Fashion Show

March 3rd, 2011

Vintage Clothing Fashion Show

Vintage Clothing Fashion Show

We have been having so much fun with our latest vintage finds. For Spring we are concentrating on "wearable" vintage from the 1960's. Inspired by the AMC television show "Mad Men" which is set in the 1960's at a Madison Ave. advertising firm. The show has won all kinds of awards for it's costumes, the clothes are fabulous, direct from the 60's fashion magazines and all are perfectly accessorized. This show has developed quite a cult following all over the country with "Mad Men" themed parties and events. So we decided to stage our own "Mad Men" cocktail party vintage fashion show. It will take place at our Burlington Inn Antiques shop located on Rt. 4 in the center of Burlington, Ct. It will take place on March 20th, 3-6 pm. We will have live models, 1960's refreshments, 60's music and lots of fashions and fun. From Jackie O inspired sophisticated fashions , to 60's femme fatales styles. Clothing, hats, gloves, purses, jewelry, shoes, and lingerie. Come join us for the fun and take home a vintage treasure to create your own signature style.

Vintage Clothing, To Collect, Display and to Wear

January 27th, 2011
Victorian Black Bodice

Victorian Black Bodice

Vintage and antique clothing from days gone by can be a fascinating subject to learn about and collect. One of the first places I explore when attending an estate sale is the attic. Peeking in old trunks, closets and cupboards I will discover precious memories tucked away. A piece of clothing, wrapped in old tissue, carefully stored away is a clue that this garment was something treasured by the owner and was most likely worn for a special occasion and had great sentimental value. Sometimes I really get lucky and find a note about the garment and what event it was worn for and if I am really lucky, I find an old photo of the owner in the garment. I am particularly intriqued by antique garments, I study the design, the techniques for construction, the fabric and the trims used. Ladies of the 1800s didn’t have a lot of clothing and each special piece which took a long time to create, and would have to serve them well, for a long peroid of time and for multiple purposes. Many of these saved pieces were for special events and a lot of love and details went into their design and construction. Victorian clothing was usually lined, had numerous fastenings inside the garment, they definetly would require assistance in getting in and out of the garments. One of the things I collect are antique bodices, these were worn with a basic long skirt. Each bodice is decorated with all kinds of trims, lace, piping, beading, ect. many of the trims could be removed so the bodice could be used as an everyday garment, or added to, to be dressed up for church , or black added for mourning. The beauty is in the details. Another special garment I love are antique baby items. These were made with the most love and creativity. Mostly beautifully embellished christening dresses, some have coats, slips, and hats included. The embroidery, the lace, the fabrics, these are little works of art, sometimes as fancy as a wedding gown. Along with the christening outfits, little everyday dresses, slips, nighties, all treasures in themselves.
These antique pieces are many times too fragile to even think of wearing but make excellent pieces to display in your decor and to study. The bone structure and size of these previous owners is very small compared to us today. Hang the items on pretty hangers to display on a wall, or dress an old dressmaker’s dummy if the garment’s fabric is strong enough for hanging. Shadow boxes with the item under glass is another idea. Just keep out of direct sunlight and in places were high humidity isn’t a problem. Never attempt to wash these antique pieces of clothing yourself, the weight of the garment wet could destroy delicate fabrics. Little cotton and muslin baby things can usually be gently laundered. When in doubt do nothing except air and shake out the dust. On garments I rescue that are in very poor shape with no hope of staying whole, I carefully detach the buttons and the trims to be used separately on other garments or for customers designing costumes or re-enactment clothing. Many a lace collar or other trims have ended up embellishing a newly created Civil War Dress.
Next of my favorite eras is the 1930s thru 1940s. I call it the glamour age. Beautifully designed evening clothes, and lingerie, and trousseau wear, are usually what I find tucked away. The designers of that era knew how to work with fabric, they would create designs that cling and flatter and drape the body beautifully. The tailoring details, darts, gores, linings, made the clothing fit perfectly and look custom made. Pre WWII , glamour was most important, staging a comeback after the Depression years, everyone wanted to look like their favorite screen idol. Study the old movies of the 40’s to educate your self in the styling and tailoring of the day. Many of the sweaters, skirts, suits and dresses are still very wearable today. During the war years there was a shortage of fabrics and trims, eveything manufactured was going into the war effort, gals got very creative in their wardrobes to look fashionable when their soldiers came home but they didn’t spend a fortune or suffer because of shortages. Necklaces were made from seeds, wedding gowns from parachute fabric, a simple work outfit would get instant glamour from adding little accessories for going out in the evening. Silk stockings disappeared during the war, there are stories of what “unspeakable” things a gal might do for a pair of silk stockings. It really is a fascinating study of American women’s ingenuity. She may be “Rosie the Riveter” by day but she was a femme fatale by night.
Next came the fabulous 50’s where everything was new, the war was over, soldiers had married and started families, everything was “Modern”. I call this the “June Cleaver” era after the “Leave it to Beaver ” TV show. Women wore fitted waist dresses, bright colorful fabrics with big skirts, and a coordinating apron of course. Watch the old classic shows on TV and you will see what I mean. Cotton “Pedal Pusher” pants, what we refer as Capris. Very feminine but modern. Growing up in the 1950’s I can still picture my Mom and her sisters’ clothing and remembering playing dressup with them. Many items from the 50’s are still around and very much in style. 1950’s jewelry and purses are great fun.
Coming of age in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Bohemian and Hippie style was in. Notice how styles keep coming back, nothing is new in fashion just recyled and reinvented. That bohemian look is being designed for this decade. The fun of wearing vintage clothing is finding just the right piece. Whether it is a jacket or an accessory, you can create a fashion statement that is just your style. With vintage, less is more, 1 piece rather than a whole ensemble or outfit is better. As an accessory it makes a striking statement , but to completely dress vintage from head to toe is dressing more like in costume, so unless you are going to a theme party, use sparingly.

Collecting vintage clothing is a lot of fun and and an interesting way to learn history and look back at styles and trends, personalities and events in the world. It is a connection to the past and a way of reaching out and touching the women of generations back, learning what was important in their lives, the sentiments they cared about in how they dressed. Many current day designers use vintage clothing as their muse to spark their creativity for their new designs. You never have to worry about someone showing up wearing the same outfit, by accessorizing with vintage. You have developed your own individual style.
When shopping for wearable vintage clothing always take a tape measure, sizes on vintage labels are very different sizes from clothing sizes today, they tend to run much smaller than today. Look fabrics over, look closely at points of stress. Rips or tears in seams can be mended if there is extra fabric but thinning fabric can’t be repaired in other places. Check for stains, most set in ones are hard to remove, light soiling is no problem. Buttons, zippers ect. can always be replaced.
MY friend Sandy Michaud, owner of Vintage and Retro , who is a vintage clothing dealer and myself , owner of Lavender Path Antiques of Harwinton, Ct. are putting together a Vintage Clothing Trunk Show, bringing in pieces from both our collections for sale on Feb. 6th at the Burlington Inn Antiques shop, Spielmann Highway (rt 4) Burlington, Ct. . We will have clothing from the Victorian times upto 1980’s. Lots of wearable vintage including a special group of Paris fashions and American designer pieces, also featuring designer Bonnie Cashin. Refreshments, door prizes and a lot of fun for the vintage collector. Also vintage accessories, jewelry, lace trims, buttons ect. will be there. Time : 12pm to 4pm. Snow date following Sunday. Email me at carole@lavenderpathantiques.com for more info. We are also looking for new items for our collections.

Celebrate The Holidays With Antiques

December 19th, 2009

Holiday memories are made special because of family traditions. Who doesn’t have many stories to tell of past holidays, as with all families, some good warm fuzzy stories as well as the disaster ones, now humorous with time. From childhood thru adulthood, certain family heirlooms or special objects can trigger a flood of memories. Passing down vintage and antique items as well as the stories attached to them help make “home for the holidays” the best place to be. Even if you are across the country from where your first memories of christmas began, you can still have that special feeling. Old fashioned Christmas ornaments to decorate your tree, a display of vintage toys, a well worn copy of “The Night Before Christmas”, Grandma’s special Christmas tablecloth, Mom’s old silver tray that every year was filled with an assortment of everyone’s favorite cookies, to Dad’s funny old Santa hat, all bring back the warm memories of Christmas past. The few treasures that have been passed on down thru the generations when retrieved from the attic and the holiday preparations begun, bring all of us back to the years of our favorite memories.
Borrowing from the past and building upon new creative ideas we have discovered, we keep the memories alive and create new traditions of our own for the newest generation to look back on with fondness in the next decades to come. Every year I puruse my favorite magazines looking for inspiration to pick a theme for this year’s decorations. I never copy what I see because I want to use things from my own special collections but looking at new fresh ideas gets my creative juices flowing and all of a sudden an idea takes hold and I am off and running. Christmas trees can be decorated with all sorts of items, from a seashore theme using shells and starfishes, to an elegant victorian tree dressed with small lace doilies, velvet ribbon garland and beautiful ornaments, to a teaparty theme, orphan pretty china cups tied on with ribbons and ornate silver spoons tied on with velvet ribbons, a country theme with dried flower and herb bunches with old fashioned metal cookie cutters, the themes are endless, all ideas from one simple thought or item. This is the time of year to take out your collections and decorate with them. Work with a theme and stick to it so that the decorations flow from one room to the next, and not done with a overabundance of different colors and different unrelated objects which leads to clutter. If you decide on a Country Christmas, use things from nature, branches, pine cones, plaid ribbons, gingerbread men, baskets, and wooden toys. An old wooden sled, decorated with a simple red velvet bow makes a stunning decoration. Fill all sorts of old looking containers with pine branches, a pewter pitcher, a clay jug, a big basket, a small wooden barrel, add one of these pine branch arrangements to each room for the wonderful color of green and the Christmas pine scent. Add twigs and pinecones, a Christmas ribbon bow to the larger arrangements. Fill an unused fireplace with a large arrangement. A small porcelain pitcher filled with greens on the bathroom vanity. A bouquet of red roses with greens in a large crystal vase can be a focal arrangement in any room for color and fragrance.
Old toys arranged around the tree can bring back memories of Christmases past. A collection of dolls, a red Flyer wagon, old board games in colorful graphic boxes, vintage ice skates, anything that you enjoyed as a child, your favorite toy that Santa brought you, all these vintage items can be used in your decorating themes. I once did a small tree in the diningroom with all silver babyspoons and baby forks tied onto a Christmas tree with thin red satin ribbon bows. The little baby silverware was silverplate, a little worn and bought for a song in an auction box lot but after polishing and adding ribbons it sparkled under the christmas white lights with a special elegance. Of course my very own babyspoon had the place of honor on the tree.
So as your unpack the boxes of well used and loved ornaments, take the time to share the stories connected with the special ones and leave room for a few new additions with new traditions and stories for the next generation to handle fondly and remember.

Elegant Entertaining with Antique Silver

October 21st, 2009

Fall has arrived, and the holidays will soon be upon us. As we do the fall cleaning, hanging the heavier drapes and curtains, adding some deeper, warmer colors to our decorating schemes, making our homes into a cozy, warm, welcoming nest, our plans for holiday entertaining are being pondered. Family traditions that are passed down through the generations help set the theme for memorable holiday dinners. Nothing says welcome to your guests, more than a beautifully set table. Using Grandma’s favorite china, the family silver, your Mom’s crystal glasses, your special damask tablecloth and matching napkins all can make it into a special event. Even if the family heirlooms have dwindled and disappeared, you can still create the magic with your own collections and not spend the family fortune doing it.
Silver has for centuries been an important part of elegant dining. The Victorians had so many different pieces making up a place setting, there special forks, spoons, knives for every course as well as indivual foods. Fortunately our style of entertaining has simplified things a lot. But silver flatware is still an important part of setting an elegant table especially for the holidays.
The two most collected types of silverflatware are Sterling Silver which is all silver and Silver Plate which is silver over a base metal. Sterling is the most expensive of the flatware. It is long lasting and has a beautiful patina that only gets better with age. Most sterling is marked sterling either in letters or symbols also known as hallmarks. Silverplate is also maked as such or as inlaid silver, AA silver or quadruple plate which is a common marking for Victorian silverplate items. Silver has to be polished to remove the tarnish that can build up and turn the silver item dark. Polishing silver can be made part of a family holiday tradition also. Make it into a girls night event, having a few special family and friends over to sit, chat, snack and polish, maybe a few nights or weeks before the big holiday feast. The old adage, “Many Hands Make Light Work” comes into play here, it’s a great time to make holiday plans and menus, deciding who is making what recipes, laughing about past disasters, sharing special holiday memories and starting new traditions. Before you know it all the silver is shiny and ready for the festivities. Remember silver should never be put in the dishwasher, after polishing with a silver polish, rinse items well, dry and then rub and buff with an old terry towel for a beautiful warm patina. I collect silverflatware, I find patterns that I like that are similar and mix and match and build a set over the years as I need to add pieces. I do have a complete set that passed down from family but it wasn’t a pattern that I would have chosen had I purchased it myself. I love it because of the memories and the people who loved it but put my own touch on the table setting by adding other patterns that compliment it but add bits of my style to the table setting. I find here in my shop, people tend to buy individual items in quantities of 6’s or 8’s or 12’s of spoons, forks, knives ect. separately rather than buying complete sets of place settings for 8 or more. Serving pieces are often collected in an assortment of patterns and mixed and matched.
When buying silver either from a dealer, auction or estate sale or online, condition is important. Scratches from use are part of the charm of old silver but scratches or worn spots down to the base metal on silver plated items is not a good investment nor should be used for eating. Heavily tarnished silver can hide problems. Try to look closely and rub away some of the tarnish to try to examine what condition the silver is underneath it. I buy lots of silver at auction in boxlots, much of it heavily tarnished and sometimes it can be quite a surprise when I start polishing what I find underneath. Taking a dark blackened piece and cleaning it and it turns into a beautiful gleaming piece of silver is great fun. Sometimes I find under the tarnish the word “sterling” which wasn’t visable when it was black and then realize I truly found a treasure. I can also be disappointed and find pieces that have most of the silverplate worn off. But it is a treasure hunt still. Never use abrasive cleaners, brillo or wrap with rubber bands all these will harm the finish. The old fashioned wooden silver chests are still the best place to store the silver when not in use. You can still find these silver boxes in many thrift shops, some are so beautifully crafted, like fine furniture. There are also fabric rolls that have pockets for the pieces and tie up with a ribbon to store your silver in.
So even if Grandma’s silver has gone you can collect and create your own collection to use and set an elegant table. Like the ecletic style of decorating that makes rooms so inviting and interesting, a mix of patterns can lead to creating a striking table setting. Mixing and matching china and serving pieces can create your own special style, just find one unifying trait to tie the collection all together
Sorry I haven’t added any images to this post, I am suffering from a crashed PC and am awaiting delivery of a new one and will be slowly filling it with new images and information and will hopefully be up and running soon and off this laptop.

Into The Garden With Antiques

June 4th, 2009

Accessories for Decorating the Garden

Accessories for Decorating the Garden


Bringing antiques into the garden can really make your landscaping fun, unique and eye catching. I look at my landscaping as an outdoor room, the sky is the ceiling, the trees a canopy, my groundcover or hardscape the flooring and garden borders, stonewalls, fences, hedges define the space as walls. Just like in interior design, carefully chosen and placed accessories add the final “wow” factor. In the years I taught landscape design, at the end of the course I would schedule one of the final classes on creating an outdoor room. This class was the most fun, you can get really creative, break all the rules and do your own unique thing. The work is done, the gardens designed and planted, the patio and deck done, all that is needed is the finishing touches, just as jewelry makes the outfit a real fashion statement, garden accessories add the interest or focal point that grabs the eyes’s attention.
I am going to pass over the common items, the urns, the planters, the normal patio and yard furniture and focus on the redesign of antique items to use in the garden. All kinds of unusual items can be used to hold plants, from old barrels and wooden kegs, galvanized washtubs, wheelbarrows, old pottery, the list is endless. The important thing is to make sure the item will provide drainage, this may entail drilling some holes in the item. Stones can be added to the bottom of the container to help with drainage but I use styrofoam packing peanuts, they are lightweight as well as providing drainage. I am constantly moving my potted containers, taking advantage of the ones that are at peak performance moving them into the spotlight and rearranging so the ones that are past prime or their flowers are inbetween blooms or ones that are needing a little TLC are not center stage. I even place some in the garden where it needs a burst of color if the perennials are not giving me a show at a particular time. Plus using the peanuts saves on the amount of potting soil needed to fill the containers. So if an item can hold enough dirt for a healthy plant it can be a container in the garden.
Old teapots, pitchers, mason jars, watering cans can make interesting vases to hold cut flowers to place on your outdoor tables. Anything that can hold water and withstand the weather can be used. Great way to use a china or glass piece that may have a chip or 2 and not welcome in your diningroom anymore, give it a 2nd chance as an outdoor accessory. Using these former inside pieces makes quite a statement outside.
I have an old galvanized bathtub, it belonged to my grandmother from the turn of the century, it was lightweight would be brought into the kitchen and placed by the old gas and gas heating stove and filled with hotwater heated on the stove and the bath night would begin for the family. I have now placed this tub in one of my gardens, sunk it down about 6 inches in the soil, and filled it with flowers and for the winter holidays, I fill it with greens. It makes a great planter and has very few weeds to deal with in it. It has been in my garden for almost 20 years now. At my seaside cottage I took 2 big old galvanized washtubs and sunk them into the ground, filled with soil and planted hydrangeas in one and a dwarf alberta spruce in the other. The shrubs are growing happily, because they are in good soil, seaside gardens have poor sandy soil and need a lot of additives to get things to grow. Along with this washtub theme, I found and old galvanized settub or sink, it is divided into 2 sinks inside , each with a drain spigot on the bottom to release the water. It has a wide piece of wood for a cover. This piece as well as providing an interesting accent for my “Washtub Garden” has had many useful purposes, it is great for filling with ice to cool cold drinks for a picnic, I have dragged the hose over to it and filled and washed all kinds of things in it, soaked pots, hooked rugs, cleaned garden tools, cleaned fresh caught fish, stored clams on ice, it is an old fashioned sink, still performing it’s intended uses but also decorating the garden. An added plus it is on wheels, I guess in Grandma’s day it was placed next to the old wringer washer.
Another fun thing I have done both here and at the cottage, is to take an antique chair, that has lost it’s caned seat and placed a big clay pot that fits right in the seat, it’s lips stay above the seat opening so it doesn’t slide down. Fill it with flowers and place in the garden. Another idea is to find a old wooden chair, paint it an interesting color, place in the garden , maybe in the middle of a flower bed, in a place where no human would be tempted to go into the garden to sit but a place for the garden fairies to rest or the chipmunks sun themselves, or the birds can perch on the back of the chair and sing their hearts out.
An old iron bedframe can be a “Garden Bed” I had riped out an area of berry bushes last summer and had a large hole in a section of garden but it was too late to plant new plants in the ground, so I put the bed all together and arranged it in my garden, covered the springs with a piece of dark green painted plywood and filled it with pots of mums. Now that was a garden bed. This year it is now happily redesigned and living on my deck, covered with outdoor cushions and pillows and has a new life as a daybed for relaxing in the shade with a book. I also have just a headboard of an old iron bed and are using that as an interesting back-drop like a piece of fence or garden gate for ivy to grow up and around. I couldn’t find an old garden gate at the time this garden went in so the idea for the iron headboard came to me and I love it. It is now covered with vines and has a whole garden planted around it.
Creat garden rooms, paths leading to little secret alcoves and using atypical pieces of antique furniture in the outdoors can make your space unique. Everyone can go to Home Depot and purchase the everyday variety of garden and patio furniture. But by using the unexpected you can really decorate an outside room. You can paint wooden furniture with a good outdoor paint to try to preserve it or just let it go au natural, chippy paint, bleached out stain, rust all which add to the rustic charm of using less than perfect antiques outside. Their life may be limited because of the elements but your redesigning and reuse has extended their time as they were put out to “pasture” as not being good enough to reside inside any more but they add charm to your outdoor scape.
Old chandeliers can get a new life with candles being placed in the sockets , but remember to hang them carefully when using lighted candles, I even have found some old glass globes to use to protect the candle flame from the wind when lit. Lamps can be de-electrified also and candles used.
Don’t forget about your broken china pieces, don’t throw away the pretty floral pieces and shards they can be used in the garden, mixed in with stones, seashells ect. A mosiac tabletop can be made with the broken pieces and fastened with mortar or grout, the ideas are endless. I have put a few large pieces of broken china that had roses on it as stepping stones in a birdbath for the birds.
These are just a few ideas for using antiques in the garden, your imagination is limitless. get creative with your cast-offs. Remember these are accessories, use as a focal point to make a staement, don’t over due it, let these be little surprise touches here and there. After a few seasons and they have worn to beyond shabby , let your creative self rescue something new and give it a new life in your garden.

A Thank You To All My Readers

May 4th, 2009
Carole Romano

Carole Romano

I just wanted to thank all my readers and hope you are enjoying reading these tidbits of decorating ideas. I enjoy sharing them and hope you find some useful information and go out an rescue some interesting antique pieces yourself. No time for do-it-yourself, then check out my website www.lavenderpathantiques.com or stop in my shops and say hello. I will match you up with a perfect treasure to adopt for your home.
Looking to learn more about a topic I haven’t covered, drop me a line and I will consider adding it to the blog.