Old Stuff

I can’t recall exactly how long ago I first caught the antique bug. When Hanna and I moved back to Jefferson City, we settled into a rental house on Marshall Street. To my delight, an antique store named Memories and Wishes opened right next door. Hanna soon charmed the owners, who usually let her select a trinket from a special box. We stopped in almost every weekend.

I repaid their kindness by making a purchase when something caught my eye that I was able to afford. My first acquisition was a eight-foot bench that still graces our upstairs hall. Since then I have picked up other pieces here and there, many for our front room (of last week’s redecoration fame).

I picked up two of our front room pieces in the period before meeting Phil. The first was a trestle table that I initially used as a computer table. I bought it during my lean single-parent years using the proceeds from a $25 savings bond my grandmother had given to me when I was a baby. I had never cashed it in for college, and it accumulated enough interest over the years to cash out at exactly the amount I needed for the table.

Phil likes to call this our “library table.” It is a repository for incoming mail, packages, etc. The clock and the radio/CD player are reproductions. Phil received the clock for ten years of service at Missouri Hospital Association.

The second piece was a small display case. It’s not a fabulous piece, but I have always liked its lines.

My wedding bouquet and Hanna’s flower girl basket are kept in this display case along with an antique camera, some teacups and Phil’s baby doll, Henry. Ugly Santa is perched there for this year’s holiday season.

Phil had some antique pieces of his own, including a little smoking stand that he inherited from his great uncle Alonzo. The space behind the door is lined with copper and has a strike plate for lighting matches.


When Phil and I bought our current house, his living room furniture went to the family room while mine furnished the front room. My couch was worn to the point of always having a slipcover thrown over it, but we were waiting until Joseph started school before replacing it. That plan flew out the window when I visited an antique store and found this gorgeous secretary.

If you ever watch the movie Arsenic and Old Lace, pay attention to the scene where Cary Grant calls his attorney – there is a secretary just like this one.
Hanna and Laura argue over who will inherit this piece when I die. I think I may be cremated and buried in it.

I also spotted a sofa and loveseat that complemented the secretary.

The upholstery coordinated perfectly with the old Bayberry green walls. It also looks great with the new paint colors. It’s starting to wear thin in a few spots, though, so I need to give some thought to reupholstery – not a job I wish to tackle myself.

Since I was also interested in a curio table, I was able to negotiate a substantial discount for the four pieces. Thank goodness.

The houseplants love the southern exposure.

When I was growing up, my parents had a lovely old buffet. When we moved my mom to Jefferson City after my dad died, my brother insisted that I take it. I was hesitant at first, but now I’m glad that I agreed. The buffet turned out to be a great place to store knitting and sewing supplies.

There is an interesting annual phenomenon in Jefferson City known as Spring Clean Up. On a specified date, residents may place unwanted items at the curb instead of fitting everything into their 65-gallon dumpster. Pickups cruise all over the city the weekend before as their occupants seek treasures among the trash. As a rule I don’t participate, but one year I spotted this circular mirror in our neighborhood and was intrigued enough to stop and pick it up.

It’s hard to see in the photo, but toward the top of the round mirror, some silver is rubbed off and a bit of yellowed Wall Street Journal peeks through.

When the kids were younger we used to go to the annual St. Paul Lutheran High School fundraiser in Concordia. My dad grew up in Concordia and Phil and I were married there. There was not often much in my price range, but one year the former post office box for St. Paul was up for auction. Nobody was bidding and the auctioneer was stuck at $10 so I raised my hand and became the proud new owner.

One of these days I am going to ask Phil to build a wooden enclosure to turn the post office box into a little safe, but for now it’s a handy spot to drop the daily newspaper.

A lovely elderly lady used to live directly across the street from us. Ellen owned a little dachshund that Laura liked to pet, made delicious cherry cider jelly, and graciously allowed her neighbors access to the city park through her back yard. As she got older and her health declined, she moved to California to be nearer to one of her daughters. As a thank you for visiting Ellen in the hospital and helping to pack her belongings for the moving van, her daughters gifted me with a chair and ottoman that Ellen herself had reupholstered in an adult education course. Thank you, Ellen. Rest in peace.

At first glance, it appears that the chair matches our other front room furniture. The colors are spot on, but the pattern is slightly different. It’s amazing how well the pieces coordinate. Ellen’s upholstery is standing the test of time better than the sofa and loveseat, despite being the favorite seat in the house.

A few non-“old stuff” details: when we moved here, I noticed that the mirror had a lot of dings and scratches, especially around the edges. Phil suggested taking it down and hanging¬† his rifles there, but I vetoed that idea. Instead, I painted a dogwood border. It took four days to stencil the different layers of color, but I was – and continue to be – happy with the results.

Phil’s gift to me the first Christmas we lived here was an IOU for stained glass for the picture window, to be made by some friends who created stained glass pieces as a hobby. Our design goals were to be consistent with the character of the house, let in as much natural light as possible, and still be able to see children playing in the yard. I designed a pattern that utilized lots of patterned clear glass with splashes of purple and green in a reflective floral motif. The finished window was installed before the following Christmas.

None of the lamps are vintage, but I looked for pieces that fit the mood of the room. The floor lamp came from Target, the table lamp on the library table from WalMart. The matching lights on the buffet are from Hobby Lobby, also the source for a replacement teardrop drawer pull and the house plant pillar.

I was quite pregnant with Laura at the time I painted the mirror, which means it was done more than 18 years ago – creeping toward antique status.

Our house was built in 1952 by a contractor for his own family. It is, as our inspector put it, “substantially built,” using steel I-beams and brick over block construction. It also has some lovely design details, such as the picture window, arched doorways to the foyer and hallway and a pocket door to the kitchen. The fireplace also has a nice feature: air intake grilles on either side and a vent on the front. This allows more heat from a fire to remain in the room instead of escaping up the chimney.

That is the history of how our front room developed. Next week’s post will feature some of our newer furniture pieces and what makes them extra special.

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