When we began "mid-centurizing" our apartment we knew that our mission would not be complete without barkcloth drapes. It took a while but thanks to Urban Burp in San Francisco we finally were able to find Eames inspired drapes for our sitting and living room. With tall bay windows this task was not easy but I am satisfied with the results.

I was first introduced to barkcloth fabric about fifteen years ago when I purchased a vintage window panel. I recall the sales clerk looking a bit disappointed when I shared my plan to cut the mint condition panel to make a few throw pillows for my futon at that time. Now knowing the importance of this fabric to mid century design I can now appreciate the look of horror on this salesperson's face.

With barkcloth's durability I can see why it became an easy choice during the atomic age.

As Sarah Callen explains:
The original barkcloth was quite literally made from the bark of trees. To make this type of barkcloth the inner bark of certain types of trees (primarily trees of the Moraceae family) is beaten flat and formed into sheets. These sheets are then used as a primitive fabric in many different applications.

If you hear the term barkcloth used today, however, it is most likely referring to a different type of fabric all together. From the 1930's through the 1960's (and even early into the 1970's) one of the most popular decorating fabrics was also known as barkcloth. In this case, the term barkcloth refers to the weave of the fabric which is thick, nubby and slightly textured. Barkcloth got it's name because the texture of the fabric bears a slight resemblance to the bark of a tree.

Barkcloth fabric is often made of cotton, although it can be made of other fibers as well including linen, rayon, polyester, and fiberglass depending how old the fabric is. Although thicker than a standard cotton, barkcloth is surprisingly soft and drapes nicely which made it a great choice for draperies and curtains. Because of it's thick texture barkcloth is also quite durable which also made it well suited to being used as an upholstery fabric.

In the 1970's the popularity of barkcloth faded. However, there is currently a big renewal of interest in this beautiful fabric and it is becoming quite popular again today. Some of the most coveted prints included atomic prints from the Eames era as well as soft, pretty florals with a cottage feel.

Swag, Baby, Swag!

Have you ever had that moment when you hadn't realized you were missing something until you spot it hanging in a stall of an antique mall? We had that moment last week when spending an afternoon shopping at The Antique Society in Sebastopol. Whenever we stop off at this particular mall we tend to gravitate towards our favorite dealer, Carole & Ferd Silva, to admire (actually drool over) their display of mid-century decor. And there it was. A black and white porcelain swag lamp that was to die for.

For months now David & I have been debating on what to do with an empty hook in the ceiling of our living room that had been a chandelier decades ago. As a renter, we have not been permitted to make any structural changes, especially re-wiring. We have tried hanging candles but they seemed lost in the vastness of our 15 foot Victorian ceiling. The swag lamp was the perfect solution to our quandary. Not only does it bring style to our bare ceiling but the light helps lend the right swank bachelor pad feeling to our cozy living room.

Music To My Ears

Ignoring the weather forecast calling for thunder showers, we decided to venture out of our cozy home to check out an estate sale across the bay that commenced at 8am Saturday morning. Despite arriving thirty minutes early, there was already a line half way down the block. The wait wouldn't have been much of an issue if the light morning drizzle hadn't turned into sideways freezing cold rain. After what seemed like an eternity (actually was a full hour) we finally were allowed entrance into the Hudson Gallery in Oakland. The disorganization of this particular sale (and the tempers of those waiting in line) has discouraged me from ever walking through their doors again but part of me is secretly glad we stayed (trust me, several times we almost bailed).

Now you may ask - why did you bother going in the first place? The reason being is that this particular estate sale promised a warehouse full of vintage radios of all shapes and sizes. And the believe me, they were not kidding.

After the thrill of winning the "golden ticket" to enter, I immediately was blown away by the quantity of radios still left to purchase. Sad to think that someone had spent years collecting vintage radios to only have them sold off at rock bottom prices to strangers, I selfishly smiled with glee when I realized that the grueling wait was so worth it. Our focus was on anything Bakelite and portable. We ended up walking away with several models, mostly Philco. Surprisingly all of our purchases were in excellent working condition.

My most favorite is the Philco Transitone PT-49 built from 1939-1941 (we would have to take ours apart to figure out which year it was manufactured). Made from wood it has amber colored Bakelite accessories. And looks fantastic on our mantel.

Best Antique Store in Petaluma

With the arrival of Vintage Style I now have a good excuse to stopped off in the quaint town of Petaluma whenever my antique hunt takes me to Sonoma County (yes, it not just about the wine in this region). The truth is the moment I stepped into this shop I felt like I had come home as a mid-century lover. It wasn't just the warmth of owners, Dean & Robin, who made me feel like a long lost friend but their natural ability to stage their store to appear like someones living room made the experience so inviting. Not to mention their excellent prices.

Probably why I am so fond of this little shop is that so many other storekeepers have a habit of either ignoring you or following you around like a shoplifter. Vintage Style is the complete opposite. If anything, you will want to sit down on one of their beautiful couches, put your feet up and stay a while.

The Vintage iPod

Living with a record collector I was not surprised when David starting coming home with vintage record cases.

Meant to carry one's 45s and LPs from party to party, this "iPod" from the past provided organization in a stylish and hip way. Most came with dividers to help its owner find their favorite record easily.

Honestly, I never had seen one until David began purchasing them on eBay and at flea markets. Now that I am familiar I thought it would be fun to show off his ever growing collection in the blog.

With patterns ranging from psychedelic to plain ol' adorable I am impressed that these cardboard carriers survived the test of time.

Resortation Project Takes A Turn For The Better

After only one coat of stain our little side table already seems refreshed. It still had some streaks towards the back so coat number two is drying as I write. It is not completely out of the woods yet but I am happy with the results so far.

The Restoration Continues....

Day three and our little table is starting to show its true colors. After sanding it down last night for what seemed like hours our hearts sank when we discovered several shiny areas where the old varnish remains.

So I have lathered on more stripper to conquer this battle once and for all. My hope is that our naked table will be ready for new coat of stain tomorrow. We'll see.

I am still baffled as to why she said this would be easy.

She Said It Was Easy - Diary of a Restoration Project

The store clerk really did promise that it would be easy. Having found an inexpensive Lane Acclaim tiered table at an antique store in Sacramento I felt it was time to master my skills at learn about refinishing wood furniture. Perhaps it was the eagerness in my eyes but the elderly (yes, she must have been in her mid to late 70s) sales clerk convinced me that the table in front of me was the "one" to practice on. Maybe it was my ego but after hearing that this frail woman found this type of project "easy" I signed up for the challenge.

After a little online research, I ventured off to Cole Hardware today to buy the necessary supplies. Taking advantage of the nice weather outside, I applied my first coat of stripper onto the table outside on our deck.

Then reality set in. After applying the toxic stripping chemicals over and over again I started questioning if the promise of an easy project was just a sales pitch. After three rounds of removal my table looks blistered and sad. Luckily there are some sections where the natural wood is starting to show through so I am encouraged not to abort ship by throwing the table in the dumpster. I am confident that with a few more rounds of stripper and elbow grease, I will win the battle I have waged against the lacquer that has been on this table longer than I have been alive. And hopefully not contract some horrible disease in the process.

But I would not call it easy.

Luckily I Am Fond of Puzzles

Discovered a new flea market this weekend. We had to travel 100 miles to get there but boy was the Sacramento Antique Faire worth it. To break up the drive while guaranteeing that we would not miss the early morning action, we booked a hotel room to make the journey easier. Hitting a few antique stores on the way made the trip more adventurous. The funny thing, however, was that we kept running into a dealer we know from one of our San Francisco favorites, The Other Shop. Running into him time and time again at our various shopping spots reminded me that we weren't that crazy to venture so far away from home to satisfy our thirst for vintage. But back to the faire.

Better than Candlestick but not as vast as Alameda, Sacramento's faire was well worth it. Not only was the entry fee only $3, there was plenty of free street parking available within walking distance to the faire. Situated under a freeway, there was plenty of shade available to avoid unwanted sunburns. Knowing that prices are always cheaper the farther you stray from San Francisco, there were some real bargains to be had at this flea market. There were even a few dealers who mentioned that they would be charging double if they were at Alameda instead of Sacramento. I believed them.

The greatest challenge was not the distance but how to fit all our new goodies into the car. Luckily we both like puzzles but are always surprised when everything fits.