Sunday, June 9, 2013

New House News

   Although we're building a new house, my heart belongs to the look of old houses. I definitely plan on incorporating vintage charm into this new home. One way to accomplish this was to find an old fireplace mantel instead of the new oak one the builder tried to talk me into. I've been hearing about Preservation Station in Burlington, Iowa, where they offer for sale architectural salvage from old homes and buildings being razed locally. It is run by volunteers belonging to Heritage Trust. I did some inquiring and found out they are only open on Saturday mornings, 9 AM to 1 PM. Yesterday was the first Saturday I've been free for over a month, so off I went to Burlington with high hopes. It was love at first sight. That place is an old house lover's paradise. I asked if they had fireplace mantels and the lady at the counter said, "Well, we do, but they are all (four) listed on ebay now. :(  If you know me, you know I can be persuasive and persistent. My devastation was obvious on my face as I told her what and why I wanted one. She hesitated and called "Steve" (not sure who or what he is, but he relented) and I was shown the mantels. The first was small, curvy, lady-like, and painted "kitchen green". It looked like it belonged in a lady's bedroom, but it was very charming. I just couldn't picture it as the "one" for my living room. The next was big, oak, had "wings" on each side coming forward, needed refinished, and alas, was missing the mantel shelf, all for $500! The third was neat, dark finish, but in rough shape. The last one was AMAZING! AND like Goldilocks, I found it was just right! It was 7' tall x 5' wide, dark oak finish, columns on each side holding up a full-width mantel shelf, with a beveled glass mirror over that, followed by 2 more columns supporting a top shelf. I was in love. I tried not to let myself become too attached and asked what the dimensions were, as it may not work for our house. The builder told me the corner wall space is 6' 8" and the firebox is 36", so it had to fit on the wall while allowing for the firebox to fit too. My heart raced as they measured and then they announced the dimensions. I actually teared up when I found out it would fit and the price was not out of reach for me. I was so emotional the lady gave me a hug and said, " People like you are why we do this. We love to see someone find exactly what they want  and have that instant "heart connection" with it.

   Here it is...

  It took me awhile to settle down after my love affair with my mantel. I wandered around looking at the other old treasures. I suddenly remembered the other items on my wish list. I asked if they had old tiles. I had envisioned tiles with a delft look or willow ware in crisp blue and white, even age crackling would be forgiven. I wanted them to use around the firebox. The lady started showing me tiles, all stone look or solid colors, nothing ornate. Then we went around to the other side and she opened a box and said, "These aren't blue, but they have a design." I was love struck again! Does that mean I'm promiscuous?! They weren't delft or the shade of blue I had wanted, but they spoke to me and made me think of all my trips to Maine and the majestic ocean waves thundering on the rocky shoreline. Do they even have dolphins off the Maine shore? I didn't care, they still made me "homesick" for my annual visit to Melissa's with my Sissy. I took one out on the sidewalk to see the color in true light. Definitely teal/blue, and my heart was racing again. They will be installed one dolphin wide all around the firebox and I'll have plenty left over to possibly use along the top of the master bath counter.   
  I also found a pair of french doors to use in between the family room and my quilt studio. Didn't think to take a picture of those. I spent over 2 hours at Preservation Station and will be a frequent visitor from now on.

  Jane had invited me to meet her for lunch in Fort Madison since she was picking up her husband after a bike ride from Fairfield and it is only 6 miles across the river from Mom's. I just made it from Burlington in time for our 1 o'clock lunch at the Ivy Bake Shoppe. We had a good visit while eating and then visited an antique shop up the street. You won't believe it. I walked in, looked to the right and hanging on the wall was a painting on wood of a sailing ship with the exact same teal used for the water and the ship's sails. I had to have it to hang by the fireplace next to the dolphin tiles. It wasn't till I'd paid and the lady was wrapping it that I noticed a label on the back. It gives the story of the painting. It is signed and dated 2002, but is a copy of an 1827 painting of "The General Brown" sailed out of Boston, Massachusetts, captained by Austin Matson.  It was definitely my lucky day.

  I spotted some poison green among a stack of quilts on the way out and stopped to investigate. It was a Civil War Era quilt and priced reasonably, so, of course, it came home with me too! I haven't taken a picture of it yet. It will be in my display for the first time when I speak in Missouri Valley the 18th.

  It's killing me not to be able to quilt, but I can at least work in Mom's garden since mine is now owned by a lovely couple who adore it!

  Till next time, keep stitching!


  1. What a beautiful mantel! I love your story of how you found it. It must have been meant to be. I share your love of old mantels. Several years ago, I went searching for one of my own at a salvage warehouse. The odds were against me as I wanted a 19th-century marble mantel. Lo and behold, I found one and it was just what I envisioned for my parlor. I can't wait to see your new mantel in your new home. You will have to share pics with us once you're settled in.

  2. here in England we have reclamation yards, where, if old houses are demolished their fittings can be sold again to people like you and me, who love old things.
    I know what you felt when you saw your treasures waiting for you!

  3. What a great day. To find just what you are looking for on the first trip is just wonderful. I love the look of old houses too, alas we live in a 1970's subdivision.

  4. What wonderful additions to your new home, can't wait to see them in place!

  5. Love the fireplace mantel....can't wait to see it in your new home...

  6. That restoration place is a dream come true! You found so many beautiful things......that mantel is gorgeous! And those tiles match that painting perfectly! Awesome!

  7. wow I would be a visitor to this place too
    I am so thrilled you found the perfect fireplace mantel and those tiles , I love that color!
    I am sure with your antique and your quilts and pieces like these your going to make this house look "older", lived in and loved very quickly!

  8. Sounds like a place I'd visit often! I love old things that speak to me. And that's what happened to you!!

    You new home will be mixed with old and new and that's how it should be. Your new home will start of with a few stories to tell. Your gonna love it when you all settled in! Looking forward to seeing pictures!!!

  9. What great finds!!! I love your fireplace and mantel, it really is just perfect as are the tiles and painting. We have a place a couple of hours away and is a similiar business called Restoration Station. I love visiting there, so easy to spend hours lost in all those glorious pieces of old to add character to your home.
    Well done, I'm sure this fireplace and mantel will add such a homely touch to your new home!!!!!

  10. Not sure how I missed this wonderful post from a month ago with all your finds, but I had great fun reading through it today. It was meant to be--you found treasures that were meant to be yours. Thanks for sharing your adventures of the day. I'm sure you'll be back there.

  11. The mantel is beautiful! When we built our farmhouse, I found that the old mantels would not work. Our oldest son drew the plans from several old mantels that we had fallen in love with. A wonderful cabinet store near us built the mantel from his drawings. When you get a chance, check out one of my Christmas blog posts. You will see that my new mantel looks much like the treasure you picked up. I know you will enjoy it!
    Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

  12. Hi, I've just found you from your comment on Morning's Minion's blog. We are at the end of a looooooooong restoration process on an ancient Welsh farmhouse, and I can really understand your wanting to source genuine pieces to use in your new house. Architectural salvage yards are fairly common over here (though expensive!).

    I love quilts too, and my eyes are on stalks from all the beautiful ones I've seen in the past week or too (just discovered Pinterest!) I can't start on any sewing until redecorating has been finished as our house is about to go back on the market.

  13. When it comes to decorating a new house, I either go with modernizing some of it, if it’s an old one, or shifting some of the elements to a classic classy style, if it’s too modern. I dunno why, but I kinda like the effect of having that opposite effect in my home. It adds character to it, plus it surprises first time visitors for the most part.

    Kristopher @ Paramount Title