Remember how excited I was to work with the utility department again? On Wednesday, Scott went to the building to do some clean up and the water was off, despite it running the whole weekend. Guess what that means...
Lady: Can I help you?
Me: Yes, I recently set up an account but when we were at the building on Wednesday the water was not on.
Lady: What is the address?
Me: 647 Broadway.
Lady: What is the name on the account?
Me: 647 Broadway.
Lady: No, what is the name?
Me: That is the name. It was set up in a business name.
Lady: (deep sigh) Okay. It says on December 8 the water was turned on and off. The work order was signed by John Doe.
Me: I'm not sure what that means.
Lady: John Doe signed that it was completed.
Me: Signed that what was completed exactly?
Lady: He didn't tell you?
Me: No, I wasn't there.
Lady: Then who is John Doe?
Me: Umm...doesn't he work for you?
Lady: No, that's the person that signed for you.
Me: Oh, that must be one of the roofers. They were the ones that were there on Monday.
Me: So...what does it mean that they turned it on and off? Because it was already on over the weekend.
Lady: But this was on Monday.
Me: (are you surprised I'm not yelling yet, because I sure as hell am.) Yes, I understand. So can you tell me why the water is currently off?
Lady: Well, John Doe signed the work order.
Me: But I don't know John Doe. He was on the roofing crew and they are not there now.
Lady: Please hold.
Lady: The water was turned on at the street and off at the meter. You can turn it on at the meter at any time.
JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH! How the hell hard was that to say fifteen minutes ago???
* * *
Scott went back to the building Friday to do some more clean up in the basement, which out of the three floors involved, is by far in the best shape. This should probably be concerning since there is an original coal furnace about the size of a VW Beetle still hanging out down there. You could hide a body in that thing. Or ten. Pictures to come at a later date.
He got home around midnight while I was still binge watching this season of Haven and wrapping Christmas presents.
* * *
On Saturday we had the two SUVs filled up by noon to begin the process of relocating our inventory. One bike and steamer trunk at a time. It also began the process of meeting our neighbors. Guess what? Everyone has an idea of what we should be doing with the building that WE bought.
Mostly, they can't understand why we wouldn't turn the second floor into a rental apartment. First, one of my favorite features of the building is that there is a hole in the very center that goes all the way up to an amazing skylight in the roof and there is no way we are going to lose that. Second, we're greedy. WE want that space.
Also, there is definitely a misconception on what we do.
So you're an antique store? NO! When I think of an antique store I think of piles of furniture and Tiffany lamps that may or may not have any historical significance crammed into a dark and shabby building monitored by Miss Havisham. Often with inflated price tags.
So you're a thrift shop? NO! We don't just take in everyone's unwanted curbside trash. We almost always buy things that we would want in our own house if space was not an issue. And while, we certainly try to keep our prices reasonable, we are not a garage sale.
So despite helpful suggestions to open a dance studio (ballet or stripper), rest assured we have a clear vision. It may be hidden behind crumbling plaster and several layers of dust, but we've got it under control. Buy your own building.
* * *
On Sunday we took another load. At this point, Scott had the basement ready for his workshop. So it's time to move back down the washer and dryer that had mistakenly been brought up by the previous owner's movers and left in the middle of the first floor. If you were ever a reader of my personal blog, you may remember how much I love moving appliances up and down staircases. My affection has not wavered.
We also had a Nicole Curtis moment where we couldn't take it any longer. We had to see what was behind some newly boarded up areas near the entrance. We were not disappointed.
Renaissance Man has bought a building. A 4000+ square foot building. Seems a little drastic, I know. For those of you that weren't aware that our house looks like the next episode of Hoarders, it may come as a surprise that we would consider such an expansive undertaking so let’s lay down the timeline.
In June 2013 we decide that we need to get a storage unit. It was hard to get around in the garage. Flash forward to October 2014 (it’s an abridged timeline) and not only do we have a full storage unit and a full garage, we also have a full basement and I spend most of my free time rearranging our furniture so we can stack a steamer trunk here and hang a lantern there. Yes, you can walk around our living room and find price tags.
Enter Scott’s third favorite past time, looking at real estate. Nothing fancy mind you. Just a larger warehouse that would potentially have enough room to also work on bigger pieces instead of dragging them down the labyrinth that is our basement steps to the workshop.
While we would have loved to be in Tremont or Ohio City (closer to our hipster peeps – pretty sure calling them that negates them being our peeps, but we both just turned 40 so we have no use for learning new technology or slang – can you say mid-life-crisis?) it was just way out of our price range for what is essentially a hobby. So we turned west to Lorain County.
While perusing some cinder block shanties on the outskirts of such metropolises as Amherst and Elyria, he came across a two-story storefront in beautiful downtown Lorain that may or may not be related to a piece of property featured in a Tom Hanks and Shelly Long movie. So yes, we loved it. It has a skylight, people. And an elevator shaft that has been taking on water for a decade or two, but who’s counting? We’ll take it.
So here is the tail end of that timeline, unabridged…
Early November – Make a deranged low-ball offer that immediately gets accepted (no red flags there) and ask to close on December 1.
Late November – Incorporate. That’s right. We’ve gone legit. This includes actually changing our name. Scott was starting to feel awkward that Renaissance MAN might not have been a complete reflection on the effort. Unfortunately, most Renaissance variations were already taken. Stupid hotel chain. So we very cleverly looked up synonyms in a thesaurus. (I’ve had some advanced learning.)
November 29 – Go to an auction and buy more stuff. Duh! Series of unfortunate events…limited number of good items…a dealer from New York and a dealer from Texas show up at said auction in the middle of BFE Ohio and drive prices up on anything worth bidding on…the normal lunch counter is closed so I am denied the cheesey fries I have been dreaming of since emerging from my Thanksgiving food coma.
December 1 – Have not received closing documents but meet with a roofer to at least discuss the elevator shaft ceiling. This will involve having to rent a crane to get the materials to the roof. I refrained from explaining the pulley system I had just seen used on Alaska’s Last Frontier as an alternative. Fork over a deposit.
December 2 – Have not received closing documents.
December 3 – Sign closing documents but don’t have keys.
December 4 – Start work on roof.
December 5 – Told by Utilities Department that I have to come there in person with proof of ownership before they will put the water in my name. Upon arrival make a mental note to do everything in my power to NEVER have to return as it was akin to entering a 1990’s BMV.
December 6th was Saturday. Ready to put in a full day of clean up. Right after Scott goes on a run and I take Morgan to the eye doctor to get her new lenses cut to her glasses and Scott goes to an estate sale and we stop at the post office to mail packages…
Sidebar: we were shamed into bringing one package home because I mistakenly told the truth when he asked if there was anything fragile and then received a ten minute lecture on why it would never make it to Madison, OH in one piece even though it totally would. But here is a thought. Most of his reasoning for it not making it there was based on it being thrown into the bottom of a large container and additional boxes being thrown on top of it. So why in the hell do you ask if it is fragile if you are not going to treat it any differently than a regular package????
…and then a final stop at Lowe’s.
This puts us at about 2 pm. Have to pick the kids up at 4 pm and get ready for a friend’s birthday party that has a 5:30 pm departure time. So that was about enough time to stare lovingly at the old millwork around the display windows and replace a light bulb on the stairway.
December 7th was Sunday, so obviously that’s when all the real work would begin. Right after we go make 50 pounds of Hungarian sausage with my family from 11am – 4pm. That was about enough time for us to unload a cabinet we had purchased at the previous days estate sale, sweep the main floor and change a few more light bulbs. So at this pace we are on track to open to the public in January. 2020. Be sure to come see us!
Since we don't do shows very often (this is only our third), there tends to be a flurry of activity in the month prior stemming from the anxiety of having enough stuff to sell, which eventually turns into anxiety around not having enough space. I'm sure this trend will continue.
It didn't help that the weekend before, I threw a baby shower at our house.
It DID help that we hired my niece. If you're wondering about why there are more frequent posts to Instagram and facebook or how things get up on etsy so much more quickly, that would be due to our Employee of the Year...thank you, Meredith! To show our appreciation, you are now in charge of the next show...good luck!
As far as projects since last we spoke...
My brother gave us an old storm window he tore out of his farmhouse, which I spent several hours painstakingly drafting stencils and painting letters on backwards to create the hugest family message center this side of the Mississippi (maybe the other side, too, I just don't get out much). We thought it would be great for the lake/beach theme of the marketplace.
The graphics came in for the steamer trunk. RenMan scrubbed this trunk clean, worked with the designer to choose nose art, applied the adhesive graphics to either side, and clear coated the entire exterior to smooth it out and protect the artwork.
The HUGE locker we brought home a couple months ago, finally received its much needed makeover. The handwriting on the inside of the door led us to believe this locker may have been at a gun club of some kind in the early to mid part of last century, as the owner had jotted notes down around the type of rifle he had used on particular days.
The night before the show revolved around organizing everything we were taking in a very systematic, itemized, and cross-referenced methodology. Or making three big piles. Girls to daycare in the morning, followed by picking up the UHaul to start loading by 9:15am. Finished loading by 11:30am. That, my friends, is record breaking.
If Santa would like to know what to bring us for Christmas, it involves having our very own trailer. I would prefer it look something like this...
And be pulled by something like this...
Begin emptying the truck and promptly lose the True North window to a stiff breeze, shattering the bottom glass into millions of pieces. So that happened. I then spent the next hour unloading and trying not to cry. And that's all I want to say about that.
The next hour was spent cursing ourselves for not purchasing two spots instead of a spot and a half. By the time guests started to arrive (well before the time the market opened) we had pretty much crammed it in. And I don't really remember what happened after that because, my god, THE PEOPLE! They were everywhere! Seriously. Congratulations to The Summer Market. I hope all of those people bought raffle tickets for the amazing gift packages they put together for the Girls Give Back fundraiser.
Morgan put all her tickets in to win the package with the mermaid rag doll. Zoe put all hers in to win the dog items for Irene, which I thought was pretty sweet of her. Unfortunately, none of us won, but I have a feeling a mermaid will make its way to our house anyway.
And let's take a moment to talk about the weather. As we finalized getting the makeshift sides of our tent up it started to drizzle which lasted well into the night, but was gone by morning. Then a perfectly beautiful Saturday, which again held off rain until we had packed back up. I think it was Karma making up for breaking my window.
Saturday traffic was much more manageable. And while we were really hoping someone would buy the locker we busted our asses to finish, we were very excited about two of the bigger sales that DID happen. The bombshell beauty steamer wardrobe went to a family that had been searching for a way to display their father's World War II uniform. When they saw our uniform inside the wardrobe they loved the idea. And the firetruck pedal car was purchased as a gift for a fireman who had been searching for one to display in his home. So happy to be a part of that.
It really was a great weekend overall. It was worth it just getting to know the other vendors. We were next to Flea Market Chic from Culver, IN and her crew was SO nice, but really all of the vendors that stopped by our booth were very friendly and complimentary, which is a big deal for us. We are always wondering if we are doing the right thing, so it feels good that someone with an established shop would take the time stop in and give us feedback.
As we were packing up, Kristine May and her husband stopped by to talk bikes. Turns out...she is the mermaid rag doll lady! and she even remembered that Morgan had stopped at her tent a couple times and told her how much she liked her dolls. So that makes me super proud that my kids go out of their way (and their comfort zone) to be kind to strangers, too.
And it does not surprise me at all that the Gillette family of Emmie's Handmade not only helped us close up on Friday, despite their own exhaustion, but didn't seemed fazed in the slightest that our girls decided to hang out in THEIR booth all of Saturday. We can't put a price on your friendship. (But we will give you a big discount on all our stuff!)
So how did we spend our recovery Sunday? Well, RenMan went on a two and half hour bike ride as training for his IronMan. We enjoyed a lovely brunch on the patio. We cleaned up my parent's barn to give the Kansas cousin's a place to stay for the family reunion this weekend (don't worry Phil, we didn't make it TOO clean). And I rearranged the living room to account for items that didn't come home or are going to storage, giving True North a place of honor above my cabinet.
Thanks again to RenMan's parents for watching the girls Friday night. Thank you to all our friends that stopped in to say hello over the two days. I hope you all found something fantastic to take home with you. And thank you to The Summer Market. We hope we will be invited back next year.
Now I can look forward to a pleasant nap on a pile of dirty laundry.
P.S. Only kidding that my cousins are staying in the barn. It does sound like something we would do though.
I'll give you a hint...it involved paint. We are now on the local hardware store's watch list based on the frequency and abundancy of Rustoleum we purchase. Also, please ignore the black mixed with yellow speckles that coat my right arm. I have never heard of spray painting in anything other than a tank top, as moronic as that might be. Also (again), I got to use those cute little Valspar sample colors that you can pick up at Lowe's, which made me inordinately happy.
My mission in upcycling is to leave at least some portion of the item in it's vintage state. And you will probably notice I have a thing for stripes and stenciling numbers. I have two more weekends before The Summer Market to build up this inventory (but will happily sell it to before then, of course.)
RenMan has rehabbed another bike, given some patio furniture a face lift, and...wait for it...FINISHED MY CABINET. Yes, the cabinet that was purchased in the auction that launched Renaissance Man (blogged about here way back in 2012 on my personal site), is fully functional in my living room. If I had my way, it would be full of all things Alice, but since he worked so hard on it, I'm willing to compromise.
This two piece cabinet was originally covered in pealing mint green paint that had to be stripped and sanded down to bare wood. The base of both the bottom and top units was painted with Behr "Willow Grove" Eggshell Enamel. The drawers, cutting boards and glass doors were stained MinWax "Dark Walnut".
So now that it is done, I will be redecorating the rest of the living room around it. I just need a few "new" things...couch, chairs, rug, coffee table...
Sometimes its a little scary to leave RenMan to his own auction devices. But this past Saturday I took the girls around to some local mini fleas while he went down to a three ringed circus. (Not kidding, there were actually three auction rings going on at the same time.) The girls and I found a few treasures here and there. Then we came home to this.
Yes, that is eight boxes of mason jars.
"The earliest glass jars were called wax sealers, because they used sealing wax, which was poured into a channel around the lip that held on a tin lid. This process was complicated and error-prone, but was largely the only one available for a long time, and widely used even into the early 1900s.
By far, though, the most popular form of seal was the screw-on zinc cap, the precursor to today's screw-on lids. The earliest successful application of this was discovered by Mason and patented on November 30, 1858, a date embossed on thousands of jars. Jars with "Patent Nov 30th 1858" were made in many shapes, sizes and colors well into the 1900s. Since they were made in such quantity and used for such long periods, many of them have survived to the present day."
We can attest to that. I am on day three of washing jars. Some more vintage than others. And I have exactly ONE of the famous "Mason" jar as described above. The majority of our stock is Ball or Atlas and range from small "jelly" jars (make awesome juice glasses) to half gallon jars still sporting their zinc lids.
While one can never have too many jars, even if you aren't into canning, we are excited to have the chance to upcycle some of these into pendant and sconce lighting fixtures. Let us know if you would like us to create something for you! And don't forget to tell your friends about us.
RenMan and I each had our own upcycle projects this weekend. One of them might have been a little more involved than the other, but let's not judge.
RenMan's project was a dining table we picked up way back in the original auction. This is a piece we were doing for one of our covered porches. Prep for the project was just a quick sanding to make sure it would take the paint well. Our signature color was lightly brushed with random strokes across all areas. Second coat was a layer or watered down white brushed over entire surface. Third layer was another watered down layer that had been ever so slightly tinted gray. Topped with a clear protective coat.
My project was a small metal stool. Okay, not quite as elaborate. This is the first of my pile of metal/industrial upcycles to build as inventory for the Summer Market. Prep was a steel brush and steel wool to remove all flakes (but not sanded down smooth). I liked the color that remained on the top of the stool, so I taped off most of that prior to applying a satin white spray paint. Two coats. Tape was removed and a matte clear coat was applied (two coats again) to make sure no additional paint would chip off.
I liked the results enough to enter it in local thrift guru Something To Be Found's May Thrift Challenge in the nick of time. Now we just have to see if this piece will still be around come Summer Market time. or if it will get snatched up before then.
NOTE: If you didn't notice our homepage change, we are willing to come do attic, house, garage, barn clean outs. Whether you are just looking for a little more space or getting ready for an estate sale we are interested in your vintage "junk."
5:30 AM - RenMan gets in a 20 mile run in preparation for the Cleveland Marathon (wife sleeps soundly)
10:00 – Leave our home with energy and enthusiasm
11:00 – Leave my parents’ home after switching out our vehicle for my parents pick up
11-12:30 – Drive to auction
Points of discussion on the ride this past Saturday:
12:30 – Search for parking space in a town that is literally one square block
12:40 – Get our auction number and head outside (we are LATE!)
12:50 – Make RenMan bid $2 on an old television set because I once saw a Storage Wars where Barry had one upcycled into this really cool art piece. I could totally do that…or have a friend do that. Whichever.
1-4:00 (Outside/cheap lots)
4-8:00 (Inside collectibles and antiques)
8-10:00 Load truck – Yes, two hours. Why?
I honestly think an entire reality show can be created by filming RenMan and I loading and/or unloading trucks.
Midnight - Home again, home again, jiggety jig. Now it's time to UNLOAD. But first I have to congratulate myself for sitting jammed next to an old television despite my paranoia that there were spiders all over it.
2:00 - Finally in bed. Exhausted and dejected that its all over for another month.
Please "like" Renaissance Man on facebook and get the word out. I'm going to start posting some of our more interesting finds and our LOCAL PICK UP ONLY pieces straight to that page. We would appreciate anyone sharing! And since you all will immediately be out and sharing our page, you may as well share the Summer Market page while you are at it.
A while back our oldest daughter asked if she could have her own room and could that room have a loft bed. This spurred all kinds of ideas to turn the shared playroom into a bedroom.
The ideas were a mix of what she loves (oceans, beluga whales, and bright colors) with what we love (vintage, rehab, and uniqueness). Throw in the fact that we live in a century home with limited storage space and that’s what we had to work with.
It all started with the fact that I wanted to paint her room blue and have large white beluga whale silhouettes painted on the walls to make her feel like she was in the ocean.
When our daughter said “loft” she was thinking more about having a desk under her bed, but when we started envisioning how we would raise the platform, I immediately thought of a berth on a boat and that is what the focal point of the room became.
It started with finding the perfect dressers that could serve as the bed base. One we had found at a yard sale the previous summer for $20. The other we saw at an estate sale and thought it matched up pretty well size-wise. Paid $15. After a small amount of leveling (cutting down the legs ever so slightly on the green one), we fit the puzzle pieces together.
Next we built the platform to hold the mattress and anchor everything to the corner of the room. We purchased new, but you save money and resources by scrounging wood at garage and estate sales. You could also go to shops that specialize in reclaimed wood. It would definitely be green, but won’t save you much money.
Trimming out the “berth” included bead board, cornices and moldings. Also purchased new.
To fill in the remaining base of the bed that is not supported by the dressers, we built two rectangular bins. Since the dressers were on legs and we had a pile of spindles we got at an auction for a couple of bucks, we cut those down and lifted the bins off the floor. One bin will serve as a laundry hamper holder. The other will just be a book shelf and a place she can have and alarm clock and set her glasses after she climbs in. Includes bead board and trim scraps from what we had already purchased.
The boat ladder was an auction throw-in with some lot we won. We cut off the length we didn’t need from the bottom.
Once everything was in place, we caulked seams and filled holes before painting everything white. Several times. Boat cleats from a discount marine store online were added as the drawer pulls.
And voila! The bedding is new PBTeen bedding that was purchased off eBay for about a 40% discount.
So here is the rest of the room…keeping in mind that it still needs some additional touches like throw rugs, curtains, and a desk chair. On top of the fact that we have not moved ALL her stuffed animals into here and she basically owns an entire zoo. And lastly, I had some mermaids printed on fabric to use on either pillows or just to frame. Not too sure about how I will use them yet.
Craftsman/Art Deco desk previously blogged about. Containers all from Pat Catans. Whale bookends from Urban Outfitters because I could not resist.
Leaning shelves have up to this point been in our living room, but we needed to move them to make room for something else and thought it would be the perfect match. Glass containers with her sea glass and "fossil" collections from Pat Catans (I thought the fishbowl ones were a good fit with the ship theme). Oars were $5 a piece at auction. I painted them myself to match her bedding, but still look a little distressed.
Bulletin boards were Santa presents because he knew she was getting her own room. You know...four months later.
The beluga whales are decals made by a local print shop called Speedpro Imaging here in Westlake, OH. These people are AWESOME to work with. They have helped us on some other upcycle projects and have great customer service and quick turn around.
The hope chest has been in my family since the 1940's. It was one of RenMan's first restoration projects back when our oldest daughter was born. The Poohs come with the kid. Obsessed much?
And here is that other oar. In very poor lighting.
Not sure if we'll be tackling another project like this anytime soon, but we did finish in the nick of time for a certain someone's 9 year old slumber party.
Do you know how much energy goes into harvesting the raw material, manufacturing, and shipping of a new piece of furniture from your favorite store? We don't either, but we bet if you Googled it, it would be a lot. Sure, there are eco-friendly companies out there. And renewable resources like bamboo don't have the same impact as, say, logging walnut trees. But eco-friendly comes with a hefty price tag. You know, that other green.
Don't get me wrong. We have bought our fair share of the mass-produced. Case in point, our IKEA dressers. I was honestly so excited to get brand new dressers after having stacks of clothes sitting on the floor of our bedroom while we worked on other areas of the house. Of course, I would have rather had the Pottery Barn Farmhouse collection, but we were on a budget. So we bought these.
That was about four years ago. Before we realized what we were missing out on. And that's about how long it took for each of these dressers to go South. Since the bottoms of the drawers were not real wood, they quickly bowed from the weight of RenMan's t-shirts (of which there are many, to be fair).
Now, the most energy we consume when picking out a new piece of furniture is however much gas we use to pick it up from somewhere in Northern Ohio. Estate Sale, Auction, Flea. Whatever. For our upstairs bedrooms alone over the last six months, we have reclaimed five dressers, a desk and a full sized bed. Two of the dressers and the bed, only needed to be cleaned up with wood polish. The other three dressers are getting fresh coats of paint. If I had to guess, all these pieces combined cost us less than one "vintage inspired" piece from Anthropologie (still one of my favorite stores).
Yes, there are vintage and antique pieces out there with hefty price tags, too. Especially if you run into famous designers or intricate styles. But if I had to choose between two $800 chests of drawers, I'd probably pick the one that had a little history behind it. That's just me.
I guess when some people think of antique, they are picturing these Queen Anne and Chippendale fancy, shmancy things. So they can't see how to relate their Crate and Barrel style. But if you are willing to take your time, you can find just about anything comparable to what you easily find when you open a catalog. Especially if you know the right terminology.
Like clean lines and minimalist structure (Crate and Barrel/West Elm/Pottery Barn)? Try Craftsman (AKA Mission), Shaker, Art Deco, or Mid-Century Modern.
How about a few more curves or interesting wood veneers (Arhaus/Ethan Allen)? Try Federal.
Something you can turn into Shabby Chic (Anthropologie/Pottery Barn)? Try Hepplewhite or Sheraton.
If you still think they look too "old," picture them with a new finish or different hardware. Both cheaper and more eco-friendly than producing something from scratch.
RenMan and I are pretty eclectic. And I have come around to the thought that I don't have to buy a room "collection" to tie things together. It's more important that I find a piece of furniture that has managed to stay solid for close to a century, as opposed to one I have to throw away after four years.
We will be moving to a new website soon! Keep tabs on us through my weekly blog on the creation of Revival.