Spring always makes me want to spruce things up at home. And, happily, this year I find myself vintage treasure hunting again.
I’ve always been a lover of old things. My house is full of beat up wooden boxes and tins, bits of old furniture, jugs, you name it. Most of the treasures in my house are family treasures. The wooden tool box and butter churn in my sun room that came from the farm. A blue and white tea set, a few pieces of furniture, and a painted plaster cat chasing a red ball which all came to me from my grandmother Sullivan, and which all lived in her house when I was a child. Lately I’ve acquired some treasures from my mum. My favourite being an orange and green painted tea set which now resides in my buffet.
The things I have that aren’t family treasures I found when my friend Mary and I used to regularly scour antique shows, and shops, back in the eighties and nineties. But I haven’t gone vintage treasure hunting for a while now, unless it’s the vintage clothing show in the fall. Which I love.
The last ten years I was working I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to home decor shopping in the spring. Mostly because once April hit, things at school kicked into high gear. Major projects in all of my classes, and piles and piles of marking. Then, once I became a head, there were tons of other things to be done between April and June. Budgets, staffing and timetables, and curriculum planning for the next year, plus meetings, meetings and more meetings. I’m lucky I had time to shop for my spring wardrobe.
House stuff was definitely relegated to the summer holidays. And to be honest, shopping for the house actually took place during a designated couple of days in the summer holidays, and mainly consisted of restocking sheets, towels, and other necessities. Because, well, the rest of the time I was more interested in travelling, camping, cycling, reading, having lunch with friends. You know, holiday stuff.
Once I retired I felt the spring urge to go vintage treasure hunting again, but there were always other things to preoccupy me. Major outside renovations, siding and windows one year, then inside work removing carpet and having hardwood floors installed. Then we bought new living room furniture shortly thereafter. Of course there was the spring Hubby had heart surgery, and the years we travelled in the spring. And once the summer arrived, oddly enough, the urge went away. Weird, eh?
If those all sound like excuses, I guess that’s because they are. If I’d really needed something, of course, I’d have made the time to buy it. But vintage treasure shopping isn’t about need necessarily. It’s about the hunt, and enjoying the process, as much as it is about finding what you’re looking for. At least in my world. If you know how I shop, you’ll understand that I need a lot of time to find just the right piece for just the right place in my house. I know, I know. I’m as anal about shopping for the house as I am about clothes shopping.
But this year, folks, I’ve been doing my research, looking in decor magazines, and on Pinterest for inspiration, and I am ready to shop. I’ve identified a couple of areas of need. I want to find a series of small vintage pictures to put on a wall in my dining room. And some jugs to use as vases. And of course I’m open to being inspired by whatever I find.
That’s what was so lovely about Saturday this past week. My friend and I attended the Ottawa Antique & Vintage Market at the field-house at Carleton University. We happily strolled and browsed, up one aisle and down another, and then we came upon the “Heirloom” booth. I thought it was the most beautifully curated booth I’ve seen in a long time. I just wanted to stand and gaze. And then take everything home. Ha.
Like this “tablescape”, below. See how they tucked all manner of plates, and even some non-plates under each other? Mixing instead of matching. I love that. Each place setting is different. I love how they hung white sheer curtains at the back of their booth, overlaid with unfurled sheets of old paper from player pianos. Everything was white, or cream, or had the soft patina of age. Except for a couple of tiny pots of green, and those cheery daffodils below. The whole effect was stunning. At least I know I acted stunned, standing in the middle of the aisle, gazing, blocking traffic, while the flow of shoppers moved around me. Ha.
Then I started chatting to one of the owners, Emily. That’s her below with the dark hair. What a lovely young woman. And so keen about her growing business. We chatted about where she and her partner find their treasures, how much fun (and how much hard work) it is to set up their booth. How lovely it is to be able to be creative, and to share their passion for their finds with their customers. Emily said they have a permanent booth at the flea market in Carleton Place, located at 525 High Street, and will soon be opening a second spot in Perth. You can also find them at the spring and fall Ottawa Antique & Vintage Market held at the Carleton University fieldhouse. If you want to, you can follow Heirloom on Instagram here. Or contact them at Heirloomhousehome@gmail.com.
I didn’t buy anything at the “Heirloom” booth… this time. But I went home with lots of food for thought. I didn’t leave the show empty handed, though. I bought a lovely cuff from the 1920’s. And a teensy, weensy cotton handkerchief, soft green and pink and white. Just like the ones we used to tuck into our little-girl purses when we went to Sunday School, along with a dime for the collection plate. Ha. I’m really dating myself now. That hanky will make a sweet pocket square for the jacket of my navy spring suit, don’t you think?
I suppose that I will get to wear my navy suit before autumn rolls around. Maybe. Sigh. But looking out my window at the sleet coming down, and the snow covered lawn (again!) … it feels as if I may just have to move somewhere warm to be able to wear my spring wardrobe.
Now, “enough of that” as my mother says. Instead of whining, I’m going to get on my exercise bike and pretend I’m pedalling to Perth, Ontario to go vintage treasure hunting. In my sneakers and my navy Max Mara suit. With a lovely little green hanky tucked into the jacket breast pocket.
On second thought, I’d better leave the bike at home and take the car.
When one goes treasure hunting, one needs cargo space to bring home the treasures.
I wonder if Hubby will lend me his truck. 🙂
Now, how about you my friends? Are you doing any spring sprucing up. Shopping for treasures, vintage or otherwise?