Guest Vignette: Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One

I love the internet….pure and simple.  It is one of the few mediums that brings people together across a variety of different barriers.  If it wasn’t for my blog, I would have never had the opportunity to meet Alycia of Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One.  We may have bonded over our love of pretty tables, but we became fast friends because of Alycia’s kind nature and her never-ending knowledge about running your own business as a second career.

I am excited that Alycia finally agreed to participate in my Guest Vignette series where I ask fellow bloggers to photograph a vignette in their home and explain why it is meaningful to them.  Here is Alycia’s contribution…..

The whole retirement thing is nothing but a big scam! When I hung up my wedding design [business] hat two years ago, everyone led me to believe I would be able to sleep in and then enjoy long, leisurely lunches with my friends. They said I would be eager to learn something new like tennis or Israeli martial arts to work those lunches off before heading to meet still more friends for martinis. They said I would be able to spend more time with my husband and become the glamorous, trendsetting lady of leisure I used to be. Lies! All lies! My so-called “retirement” has been more work than running a design store ever was! I get up earlier, go to bed later, and the time in between is a whirlwind of activity. Lunch is usually scarfing down a sandwich in my sweats while folding clothes. I see my husband for about 10 minutes in the morning before he scoots out the door, and another hour at night before we both fall into bed exhausted. There is no tennis court in my future, and martinis are more like…well, to be honest…just swallowing a handful of olives and taking a swig right out of the bottle because I don’t have time to stand there and shake.

This vignette is a corner of our little library that offers 10 minutes of solace each afternoon.   I fix myself a cup of tea or coffee and just sit there. (OK, you got me…it’s brandy in the cup!) I may stare out the window plotting my escape from suburbia.   I may catch up on my correspondence (uh, yes…some people still write letters despite the advent of email!), or I may just swoon to the strains of Frank Sinatra and Engelbert Humperdinck. (Hush! I like Engelbert!) What makes this corner my favorite place is that I am surrounded by memories of family members from generations past. To my right is the violin played by my maternal Grandmother in the 1920s, then my mother, my first cousin, and finally my second cousin who is now in his 30s. The strings are fragile with several missing and the bow is worn, but I love it. On the wall to the left of the desk is a portrait of my paternal Grandmother as a child at the turn of the last century. Next to that are the high school diplomas earned by my paternal Grandfather and Grandmother in 1912 and 1916 respectively. Living in rural America as they did, earning a high school diploma was something of a big deal back then. Judging by the size of those bad boys, it must have been like winning the lottery! My Grandmother actually went on to earn her college degree which was a real coup in those days!

I am grateful for all that I am and all that I have in this life. To be able to sit for 10 glorious minutes each day to enjoy my retirement surrounded by mementos from those who came before me is a blessing.

Indeed Alycia, you truly are blessed!  I love that Alycia has been able to carve out a niche in her home filled with personal antiques that serves as a restful retreat.  Thank you Alycia for sharing!

Do you have a special place in your home that is your “zen corner”?  Drop a comment and tell me where those cozy corners are in your home.

Check me out on Facebook and Pinterest as well as Twitter.

Loving Out Loud: Clars Auction House

I went to Paris in 1999 to celebrate my graduation from my masters program.    I was lucky enough to have befriended a wonderful woman named Ines while attending Stanford who is half French and half African but 100% European!  She and I spent countless hours talking, laughing and sharing our perspectives what it meant to be “American”.  Ines was unique in that  she was born in France but essentially grew up in Maryland with foreign parents.  I on the other hand grew up in grew up in Greenville, OH- a “foreign” in its own right.  Surprisingly, we found multiple commonalities in our perspectives on the world and grew a friendship that still lasts to this day.

In any case, Ines moved back to France to attend business school a year prior and invited me to visit should I have time.  Well scheduled worked out and I was able to make the trip to visit her in Paris.  While she was in school, I roamed the streets of Paris, playing tourist and like many, getting lost.  On one of my “lost journeys” I found myself at an auction house and decided to wonder inside.  What I found inside was a large room filled with antiques and people milling about.  In front, a woman in a smart turtleneck, scarf and skirt (very French) rambling in French as a large screen displayed items and lot numbers.  None of this made sense to me since (1) I don’t speak French and (2) as outlined yesterday, I wasn’t interested in antiques at that moment.  However, what did intrigue me was the buzz in the air – the energy – excitement.  Collectors held paper and scribbled messages,  dealers raced to place calls and way too-cool-for-school art students sketched works of art on their artist pads.  This was Paris and I fell in love with the idea of auctions.


And going once...twice ...... SOLD!!!!

Photo Credit:

Fast forward to 2008 and I find out that there is an auction house in my backyard.  Clars Auction House has been in business since 1971 dealing in appraising and auctioning personal property, such as fine art, furniture and jewelry.  It is now one of the largest auction houses in the Western United States and works with buyers and sellers globally. The majority of its clients, however, are located in Northern California, which includes little ol’ me!

It conducts monthly two-day estate auctions of 1500-2000 lots at its North Oakland location and about 6 months ago, The Partner and I finally bit the bullet and went.  We attended the Saturday auction which is the lower priced items while the Sunday auction is for collectibles and antiques.  What surprised me was that many of the lots on both days are available for bidding online, so it was really easy to review the list of items, bid and then attend the auction live to see if we won.  We ended up bidding and winning the artwork that currently hangs in the guest bedroom for $35.  It is by no means a collector’s item but it’s original artwork for cheaper than I could make it!

Overall, the experience was awesome and fun!  By no means was it as moving as my time in Paris, but there is still the same excitement and anticipation in the air albeit the female auctioneer was wearing Crocs and the man in front of me was wearing an FBI t-shirt (aka Female Body Inspector).  While not as classy as Paris, it was just as enjoyable for a Saturday morning.   If you do go, get there early as parking is limited to the street.  Additionally, they do not provide shipping, so if you are looking for furniture, bring a truck as you will need to take possession of the lot that day.

The next auction is November 6 -7, 2010.  I am pretty sure I will be there with my hand held high on some lot.  Come join me…I will buy you a coffee!

Clars Auction House

5644 Telegraph Avenue

Oakland, CA 94609


Antique Trophies Remind Me……

I have never been a person who adored vintage or antique.  I think it is partly because as a child, I grew up receiving many hand-me-downs from friends & family.  At one point, our annual “back to school shopping spree” was a trip to the neighborhood Goodwill Store.  “Vintage” was a word that my Mom used when my step-Dad brought home pieces of furniture he found along the side of the road to use in our apartment.  What it implied was that we could not afford new furniture or clothes.  “Antique” was a nice term that my friend’s parents used when describing my family’s hodge-podge of decor.  It inferred not matching, broken and at times just plain ugly.  The hidden connotations of each of those words and how they were used to covertly describe my family stayed with me and I hated them.  So I avoided anything and everything that even remotely reminded me of something used for a good portion of my life.

Let’s just say that “shabby chic” never entered my design vocabulary in the 1990s.  I also gladly missed the boat on boho chic, salvaged, industrial, rustic and country.  Each one of those design styles translated into:

Boho Chic = Homeless

Salvaged = Dumpster Diving

Industrial = Institutional

Rustic = Old

Country = Backwater

Do you see a pattern here?  Honestly, I could write a book on how growing up in Greenville, OH changed me for the worse though my 20s.   It was not until about a year ago that I fully embraced that vintage and antique have a deeper meaning than what I previously associated with them.  For a better part of my life, I associated “new” with having money.  However, as I entered my 30s, I began to see the beauty in the patina of silver.  The grace in a crackle finished chest.  The grandeur of inherited crystal.  The shift was subtle but I am positive it was due to my own change in age.  My 30s marked a transition into true adulthood and I felt a sense of pride in myself that I had not felt in my 20s.  I enjoyed my age and all the markings that went with it.  My laugh lines, crows feet and slight pudge on my belly all marked a life lived and enjoyed.

I think in turn that is why antique trophies caught my eye about that time too.   Now all the rage in design magazines and blogs, they held a deeper connection to me.  Aside from their sheer beauty,  the idea of owning a piece of someone else’s life deeply moves me.  Trophies are embedded with such deep meaning since they mark a high-water point in an individual’s life.  They are the physical embodiment of success and triumph.  Honestly, why wouldn’t I want to own something like that?  Owning that physical embodiment of someone’s achievement is a reminder for me to strive just a bit harder.  In turn, it also helps keep the original owner’s memory alive.  I recently purchased a small trophy from a second-hand store in Oakland for $0.99.   While it was not engraved, I like to imagine the backstory to the trophy and who won it.   I like to think they treasured it as much as I do and it held a special place in their home until I received it.

I am looking to purchasing a few more trophies for the master bedroom project.  I think they would be a perfect touch to a masculine bedroom.   Until that is done, here are a few pictures to help us all remember the winners in life and design…..

Elle Decor

Country Style

1st Dibs

High Street Blog

Laurel Wreaths

Grant K. Gibson


Junk Market Style

The Old Painted Cottage traditional living room