Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Thrifting" in Southern California

I am a native of Southern California. There are many things to love about this place. The sun, the beach, the mexican food (!) the lack of "weather". It's lovely. But there's a dark, insidious underside. Thrifting.

In most of the country, I'm told, one can enter a thrift store and purchase an item for well under what it would cost new. The thrift stores in other parts of the nation, I am led to believe, understand that since they receive items for free, and since they are a charity, and since some of these items are damn beat-up, that they should sell them inexpensively and thus call themselves "Thrift Stores"- stores for the thrifty.

Southern California did not get the memo. Usually, when one enters a thrift store here, if it is indeed inclined to call itself a thrift store and not a "secondhand shop" or "boutique for pre-owned goods", they have one of two pricing issues.
1) They have entirely forgotten what "thrift" means and are now simply selling things at prices about on par with Target.
2) A schizophrenic Jekyll-and-Hyde type character is in charge of the pricing and will sell you a brand new lampshade for a quarter but the chipped and marred mirror in the corner will set you back a c-note.

On a recent adventure into one of the larger thrift stores, there was one loveseat (in moderate need of reupholstering) for $40 set next to another loveseat with broken wood carving at the top for $250.

So... while I theoretically like thrifting, in practice, it's often just frustrating.

But today.... oh today! I've been in search of a filing cabinet to replace the two plastic filing boxes I have sitting on top of each other in my living room. (See below for the awesome organization).

Anyway, I'm at the thriftier of the three thrift stores in my immediate area, the one that really "gets" what it's all about and I spot THE filing cabinet. Two filing drawers PLUS a catch-all drawer PLUS a locking cabinet door WITH a safe inside! A safe! And it was $14.99! So I scurry up to the front and immediately put the money down (no haggling on this one) and AS I'm buying it, a regular to the thrift store starts looking at it and they're like "Ohh. Miss Chang wants it" and I'm thinking 'That's too darn bad, it's mine'.... luckily, they're cool and understand that I'm supposed to own this wonder of organization. Miss Chang gives me the evil eye and I shrug, knowing I've won.

The only thing is... how to get it into the car. I drive a moderately old sedan with the kind of back doors that, for some reason, it was deemed should only open up to a 70-degree angle. So... we spent a while trying to get this thing into my car. Eventually, we just gave up and wedged it into the trunk, after I donated a few items that have been sitting in there for.... a bit (5 years?). I'm not quite sure why I felt I needed crutches in my car at all times, but they have been in the trunk since I sprained my ankle back in '07. Anyway, out they went and... are you ready for the magic?


I only had to drive 2 miles with it. Of course, when I got home, my husband was still out so... I found some random neighbors to help me carry to my porch. I then baked them a pie to say thank you, cuz that's how I roll. (Also, I needed to get rid of some strawberries before they withered, but that'll be our little secret.)

Aaanyway. It' now on my porch. With 4 other projects I'm meaning to take on. But you wanna see what I have planned for it? Do ya? You do. This is just inspiration, it will obviously be wider and shorter, but this style (toned down a bit for my personal taste) will go very well in the living room with the lacquered silk fan and the cherry and rice paper room divider (that I use to hide storage boxes. I'll tell you the tale someday.)

And there you go. Have a lovely day!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Apartment Dwelling Riffraff- that's me

My husband and I live in a rather neat little apartment in Southern California. I mean, it's not going into "Architectural Digest" anytime soon, but it's definitely the second-nicest apartment we've ever lived in. (Out of 4. The best overlooked a state park and had exposed dark wood beams in a cathedral ceiling. But we switched cities. C'est la vie).

So, the current neat little apartment, it has been decided, will be our home until we buy a house in a couple of years. Once we decided on this, I started really looking around my home. I've also been reading a LOT of decorating blogs lately (it's been slow at work) and now I have some serious feelings of home inadequacy. Currently, it's DEFINITELY not perfect. It's not even "perfect".

At any rate, I made a list of improvements to make around the apartment. Chief of which is painting. We never painted. Well, I painted a mural of a flower in the bedroom, but as far as rollers-and-drop-cloths painting, we've done zilch. Which was fine in our other apartments. The renter's white worked with our stuff and we only lived there 2 years at most, so it was no big deal. But THIS apartment complex decided that semigloss was the way to go. All the way. Every room is off-white, slopped-on, semigloss. It is not sexy. So I've got to woman up and paint the whole damn place. Except the dining room (more on that later) and the bedroom (because of the aforementioned mural).

One thing that I've learned is that you can't sell me on tiny bathrooms with crazy wallpaper. I've been in one, and I couldn't pee in there. I'm not even claustrophobic, I'm quite content in small spaces, but the loud pattern-in-small-spaces thing makes me dizzy just thinking about it. I mean, take the bathroom below (via the wonderful Apartment Therapy). Sure, it looks cool, but I can't imagine being able to relax in there enough to DO anything. I'd have trouble applying lipstick. I think focusing on one thing in that racket would give me vertigo.

Now, our bathroom isn't tiny. It's literally a miracle of space. We hadn't actually seen the apartment before we moved in (I sent my mom to check it out, we were living in San Francisco at the time) so I didn't know what to expect. But then there it was. The bathroom you dream about. Eleven and a half FEET of counter space with cabinets all underneath! Two sinks! Vanity lights! A combination bathtub/shower AND a toilet! (Ok, maybe a little overexcited about that last bit- it's just the rest was so amazing).

And I still love it. Really, I do. But that paint... drips and globs and bits that were never sanded and just painted over and rust from the door hinges seeping through.... it's a hot mess. So to paint it!

My husband and I just got married last year and on our registry were these gorgeous pale blue towels that we got. Also, I have this sheet-turned-shower-curtain that I got in our first tiny apartment that I love, so we've got to work with that too. Plus, there are no windows. So... pale turquoise. And white. Real white, not the apartment's stock "mayonnaise-stained-with-nicotine" color that is being obliterated by this project. (Except in the 2 places where it has been deemed prudent to say "fuck it".)

So, hopefully, my next post will be on painting. Have a lovely day.