Monthly Archives: May 2011

Blogger Spotlight: Liz {Just About Home}

Hey guys!  I hope you all had a FANTASTIC  Memorial Day Weekend!!  I certainly did. (In case you’ve been under a rock this whole time, I did my first craft fair type event.)  It was insanely busy and tiring, but totally awesome.

Anyway,  I’m back in the office Tuesday, so I won’t be able to share all the awesome details and photos  immediately.  However. . . I’ve got an awesome guest post for you all from Liz at Just About Home! I’m excited to share this with you, because Liz has done an amazing job of decorating her home with a good mix of vintage and modern styles.    She’s so cool, in fact, that her home made it into an Apartment Therapy feature during the Small Cool Homes contest!


Hi! I’m Liz and I blog over at Just About Home. I’m thrilled that Jane is hosting me as a guest blogger here at The Borrowed Abode! Thanks! I’m talking today about incorporating vintage pieces into your modern home. I hope you learn a few tricks, since this is one of my favorite things to do in my home.

Some designers talk about having a layered home, or a collected home. When all of your furnishings come from IKEA, or West Elm, or any other modern furniture and accessories store, your home can start to look like a catalog. And while that may be nice, you might want to add some personality, some drama! to your space. One of my favorite ways to do this is by layering vintage and antique items with my modern furnishings and accessories. (I’ll let you in on a little secret too: it’s not an expensive way to decorate!)

Here are a few of the ways I’ve incorporated vintage objects into my home for a personalized feel:

Reupholstered or refinished older furniture for a custom look.  Many, many blogs highlight tutorials on how to refinish old furniture. Many books were written on this subject before blogs. It’s an old standard, but an always modern option. The lines of a classic chair can be updated with the trendiest fabric for a fresh look. I found the chair below for $10 at a yard sale and recovered it with of-the-moment lattice fabric in current colors. Matched with an equally old mirror from the flea market, it brings some history to my living room that is otherwise outfitted with modern gray couches, an IKEA media cabinet and a flat screen TV.

Source: Just About Home

Emily Henderson of Secrets From A Stylist (of HGTV Design Star fame) is the queen of reupholstery. Pretty much every episode features a couch or chair that has been recovered. I especially love these pink chairs from a recent episode. They have classic lines and ugly ‘before’ shot but stand out as featured pieces in the ‘after’ look. The pink stands out perfectly in a modern living room.  (Note the current Ikea curtains in the background!)


Source: Secrets From a Stylist / Emily Henderson


Source: Secrets From a Stylist / Emily Henderson

Vintage furniture as standalone accent pieces. Vintage and antique furniture doesn’t always need work, and the original design and purpose of the piece can still relate to furniture and accessories that are sold in stores today. It is fun to find trends that repeat and notice the slight differences in styles over time. One of my favorite vintage furniture pieces in my home is my dresser. It was left behind by the previous tenant in my former apartment, and in that Victorian row home it looked way out of place. I was considering painting it a glossy white for a while, but then I moved into my 1960’s ranch house, and the dresser just sang! This was the space it was meant to be in. The chair I got separately, but is also vintage and reupholstered in modern fabric.

Source: Just About Home

Useful vintage items. Shopping for vintage goods is like recycling! Many things, other than furniture, still can be used for their original purpose, like tea towels, kitchen accessories, and lamps. I found a beautiful crystal lamp at an estate sale that I use on my nightstand in my bedroom that goes well with my light and airy Martha Stewart bedding and gifted blue vase. This baby was a steal at $35—you can’t find a nice lamp for that price in stores!

Source: Just About Home

I also use a 60’s ice bucket on the bar. The reflective chrome and round edges play against my Crate and Barrel glassware. A mix of old and new can relate to each other and bring in playfulness, sophistication, or drama!

Source: Just About Home

Vintage pieces as objets d’art.  Unlike items that are still useful in their original form, like lamps and ice buckets, some antiques are clearly outdated technology. A typewriter can be turned into art, or a bright colored phone can stand out in a vignette or be the inspiration for a whole room, like in the photo below, from Martha Stewart Living. You may still have a landline, but they are becoming more and more rare. I only have a cell phone and I’d love this phone as a fun object. Old interesting manual kitchen tools, garden tools, or textiles framed or hung on the wall make great art!

Source: Martha Stewart

So now that you’re sold on layering vintage into your décor, I have a few tips on where to find antiques when you don’t have benjamins to spend. Here are a few places to look:

  • Your mom’s /grandma’s/aunt’s basement. That old lamp that has been sitting there since before you were born? Vintage! Ask nicely and I bet they’ll loan it or give it to you. I recently bought a teak lamp at an antique fair from the ‘60’s that my mom said looked like one her family brought to Goodwill—in the 60’s. She may hate it, but I love it!
  • Craigslist. Search ‘vintage’ plus whatever you are looking for. It will bring up lots of stuff. In fact, in the Bay Area listings, I get 385 results for “vintage chair”. Type in a keyword, like ‘Eames’ or ‘Hollywood Regency’, and you’re more than likely to find something that would work well for your space and taste.
  • eBay and etsy. These sites have slightly higher prices, but you can get very specific and high-quality pieces. Lots of collectors troll eBay for the exact piece they’re looking for.
  • Antique fairs, flea markets, and estate sales. Bargain shopping! You almost never have to pay the listed price, but don’t insult vendors by offing something obviously too low. While you’re there you can check out new styles that you might not have looked into otherwise. 70’s boho? I thought I was too classic for that, but now I’ve seen Suzani and Missoni and Ikat textiles and am loving the look!

Thank you so much, Liz, for sharing these fantastic tips for mixing vintage pieces into even the most modern of homes.  And readers, be sure to hop over to Just About Home for more shots of Liz’s home, especially her fabulous kitchen renovation!

Blogger Spotlight: Kristi {A Nest in the Making}

It’s a craaaazy week at the Borrowed Abode.  In between praying and chanting and sacrificing throw pillows in the hopes that the powers that be change their weather plans and don’t actually deliver “severe thunderstorms” for the Viva Vienna festival, I’m finishing up my 50 throw pillows (think I went overboard a little?) and other tasks.

. . .  wow, that was a killer run-on sentence.

I discovered that one of my readers, Kristi, has a fun blog where she is sharing her fabulous sewing projects – and I knew I had to ask her to give you all a peek.   She’s pretty new to the sewing thing, yet she’s already churned out a ton of awesome projects!

If  any of you are thinking about sewing, or wishing you could sew, hopefully Kristi will inspire you and give you the courage to just give it a go!   I love her positive attitude and let’s-just-dive-in approach to sewing.

Sew without further ado. . .

Hi! My name is Kristi and I’m the proud blogger over at A Nest in the Making! I’ve been blogging (technically) since October of last year, but I’ve been back again since mid April!  I’m very much new to this whole blogging world which is why I was over-the-top excited when Jane asked me to do a guest post!   I mean, seriously, you can ask my husband! I absolutely adore Jane’s blog! She has such great ideas, she’s real, and she gives advice to newbies!  Perfection!  Anyway, I am a wife, a mother, an accountant (say wah!?), a runner, and newly a sewer seamstress… yes seamstress is a much better word! (ick sewer!)

I’ve been sewing since April when I borrowed a machine from a friend at work. I think that sewing is the creative outlet I lost when I stopped being so involved in music. Don’t get me wrong, I put on an insane shower concert, but growing up my outlet was always choir and orchestra and since I don’t do either anymore . . . sewing is my new “thing!” And let me tell you . . . I LOVE it!  I love the instant-gratification of making something. I can make something for function, or for fun, but I always end up so proud of what I’ve made!

My first foray into sewing clothes was to make a black knit tank (below). I used a tutorial I found online (link in my post) and had such a great time making it! This was my first attempt at making something for myself. I was so scared to try, and once I made it I was so scared to wear it out. Since then this shirt has gone to church once and to the office twice. It was an absolute hit and gave me so much confidence to continue sewing and try more projects!

I’ve never really been a purse girl, but when I saw the tutorial for this Bias-Tape Bag I was thrilled! For mother’s day, I made myself this purse. This was my first experience with bias tape and I forsee many more purses in my future! And I know it’s not necessary, but seriously how fun is it to have a matching wallet?! Ugh! Love it! I couldn’t find a tutorial for the exact wallet I wanted so I just made it up as I went! Luckily, I remembered how I made it and made a quick tutorial! I also made a matching pouch to hold my girlie accessories! Seriously, I was having too much fun!


I put off making anything for my son for a while. I think I was worried about making something “good enough” for my little man! After making my adorable purse, I bit the bullet and went for it! I made a placemat for when we go out to eat.  We go out every Sunday after church, and I’ve worked in restaurants . . . I know how well those high chairs/tables are cleaned! With his new place mat, I don’t have to worry about setting finger food down for him to feed himself!  It also holds a fork and a spoon for him to feed himself play with!

The last project I want to share with you is probably my favorite so far. It came from a bored night at home. I was flipping through my fabric stash and this fabric just screamed spring skirt to me! I wasn’t really in the mood to follow directions   (I’m not the only one who has days like that am I?) so I just invented this skirt as I went. The elastic really works with this skirt. I can pull it low and make it appropriate for the office, or pull it up a little bit and wear it with a t-shirt around town!

Thank you so much, Jane, for featuring me!

– – –

No – Thank you, Kristi, for giving us a peek at your awesome creations!  Didn’t she do an awesome job?  I’m especially loving her purse!

Finally, I asked Kristi if she had a bit of advice for those of you who may think sewing is too hard, or anyone new to sewing.  Here’s what she had to say:

My advice would be to try it. You can sit back and look at the pretty things and think “I could never do that!” and if you don’t ever try you’re 100% right. Give it a shot! There’s no way it can turn out worse than not trying at all!  And you just might surprise yourself.

Amen!  If you’re as impressed by her projects as I am, be sure to stop over to Kristi’s blog and show her a little love!

PS:  I love sharing the awesomeness of other bloggers –  so if you’d like to share a project or just plain be featured on The Borrowed Abode, drop me a line!

A Tip for Bloggers & My Social Media Links

Dear Bloggers:

When I click over to your blog, like what I see, and want to follow you, lately I’ve found many of you don’t have an RSS feed icon or button at the top of your site.  Some of you don’t have one at all!  And when that happens, I have to go to the huuuuuge effort of copying your web address, opening my google reader, clicking “add”, and then pasting your web address into the box, and hitting “ok.”  If you had the RSS subscribe button on your site, I’d only have to click twice.  And sometimes I’m lazy.

Sure, it sounds ridiculous, but remember:

The fewer steps people have to go through in order to follow your awesomeness, the more likely you are to get followers.

So please, add a link.  If you don’t know how to create the RSS feed, go to Feedburner and follow the instructions.  Then, for the button – well, I am not good at explaining this stuff, so I won’t even try. . . here are just some suggestions on where to start:

*If you use WordPress, explore the plugins options to see if you can find an RSS widget or something.  I use the “Add to Any Subscribe Button,” a plugin that I downloaded.  But I don’t totally recommend it – It’s ok.  I wish it were bigger, though.      thatswhatshesaid

*If you use Blogger …  well, then I’d ask “why are you using Blogger and not WordPress?”  I haven’t used Blogger in 1.5 years and I’m so glad I switched.  Unfortunately, that means I can’t remember how to.

Ha. I’m so not helpful, I know.

Additionally, becuase I’m 30% computer illiterate, I haven’t managed to make nice big buttons for social media on my site.  I’ve been trying, but have failed.  And as you know, I have other, more pressing, tasks at hand.   But I’d love to have you join me on the following, so we can connect and share more stuff!  So here are my very un-glamorous links:

  • Most importantly, I’m totally addicted to Pinterest.

This amuses me.  Because when other bloggers started raving about it, saying they were addicted, I rolled my eyes.

Then I gave it another shot.

Hello, Pinterest is pretty much the best image saving tool I’ve ever found.  I’ve created a ton of different categories (a.k.a. “boards”) and am now able to save anything and everything my little heart desires – WITHOUT any clutter.  Love it. And I can snoop around and see what other bloggers are saving, too.  What a great way to save and share ideas and inspiration. Now I just need to stop wasting time over there!

But let’s not make this post all about me.  Let’s make it all about you!

Of the hundreds and hundreds of visitors my Google Analytics says I get each day, only a few of you ever comment.

Please, take a moment to comment and let us know where we can find you – on your blog, twitter, etc!


{Craft Fair Prep} What’s happening in my studio?

Yesterday was so freakin’ fantastic.  Desperately in need of more prep time before next weekend’s big craft fair, I took a day off work without pay (because I’m low on vacation time).  I spent the day and night sewing, and though I went to bed that night with an aching back and pin-pricked fingers, it felt good.

I discovered my computer has a camera that takes collage photos :)

I already know that ideally I’d like to build  a small company where I design products, and have my employees produce them (because I don’t want to spend all day every day hunched over the machine) but you have to start somewhere, and put in the hard work yourself.  And it was fun, sitting there by the open window, listening to a combination of thunder, rain, and some fantastically loud dance tunes.  I was seriously on fire!

The funny thing was, I was way more productive than I am on weekends – and I think it was all about my state of mind.  I simply approached Wednesday as if it were a true working day, where I had to work from morning to night; not a weekend where I “hoped to get work done.”  Does that make sense?  It’s silly, but true – and it’s something I want to remember for future “working weekends” so that I can maximize my productivity.  There was also something invigorating about the knowledge that, if I do a good enough job, that truly *could* become my typical work day.

These guys certainly would like for that to be a typical work day.  They have a lot more fun (or so they think) when someone’s home with them to let them in and out  about 20x a day.  And when they’re not busy going in and out, or barking at the mail man, they are happy just being my cheerleaders:

Back to the work day.  I finished up a ton of fun and colorful throw pillows – all the while remaining impressed with my self-taught invisible zipper skills.  Mad skillz, yo.

While working, I enjoyed the fruits of my new organizing labor.  What organizing, you may wonder?  Well even though it’s not readily apparent, I implemented a bit more of a system for product creation.

I had all these stacks of pillow covers in various stages of completion – and finally I realized that I should create labeled spots for them.  The only open space was on the top of my shelving unit:

Because time was of the essence, I didn’t go for a fancy, blog-worthy approach – I just made my piles, and then labeled them with some tape and a marker.  “Ready to sew”   “Piece Together”  “Zipped”  “To Finish” and then scraps.  I’m temporarily using a few cardboard boxes (which I have collected for a fun new up-cycling project!)  to keep things sorted, as you can see.

Another part of the day was spent dissecting ugly old blazers and suit jackets.  (This task is especially productive when paired with episodes of Ally McBeal on Netflix. )  Wait, what?

That’s right, I’m totally reincarnating ugly 1980’s style powersuits as fun, modern pillows (and other things).  Finally, there’s a good use for those women’s 2XL fuschia and orange blazers that go to Goodwill to die.  And yes, I’m watching Ally McBeal.

I thought this nubby maroon blazer went particularly well with the modern Calliope  print by Jessica Jones.  Isn’t it a fun combo?

I haven’t photographed many of the products yet, but here’s just a bit of a teaser.

I’m loving playing around with collage pillows, where I use strips of different fabrics.  This one is made with various Japanese fabrics as well as some cotton velvet:

A gratuitous shot of my sexy lil’ invisible zipper   :)

I also used some of that Japanese fabric to make some fun little sunglasses cases.  Actually, they’re not so little.  I sized them a bit bigger and wider than you might be used to – because I was tired of finding cases that were too narrow to hold my big, wide sunglasses – you know how the big fat glasses are so popular right now.

I also made some cases from scraps of felted (shrunken) wool sweaters and quilting cottons.  I LOVE them.  Big-fat-sloppy-wet-kisses love them.

Let’s take a moment to talk about this item. I had NO intentions of making sunglass holders. None whatsoever. But I just was inspired one day, and grabbed some scraps and played around.  And I had so much fun, and the idea worked, so I decided to make more.  I really love mixing and matching fabrics and textures, and finding new uses for old fabrics.

And speaking of reusing old fabrics, would you like for me to share some tutorials for making items like this in the future?   I’d really like to learn how to make patterns, actually, because a part of this process that I like the most is the figuring-out of how to create things.

And. . . now this blog has gone down the path of rambling.  Perhaps that’s a cue for me to end it . . . and get back to sewing.  Or making dinner.  I have no idea where Ryan is, I came home from work and thought he was on a conference call in his office, but I just checked and he’s no where to be found.  His car is in the driveway. So I think I’ll make bacon-wrapped chorizo sausage. Yes, you read that right.  Bacon-wrapped-sausage. It was that kind of day.  And we have both in the fridge.

Next up:  I’ll share how I’ve created a simple little inventory system to track items and prices.