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Inspiration + Fun

Flea market adventures (and a little advice)

By on March 4, 2015


This past weekend, John and I had a rare kid-free afternoon and we decided to hit up the Kane County Flea Market, about an hour west of Chicago. We both love flea markets but realized we hadn’t ever been to one together (crazy!). So we drove out in the cold and snow for the flea market’s opening weekend of the year, not quite sure what to expect but looking forward to a few hours of browsing around. We mainly wanted to see what this flea market had to offer and hopefully find a little inspiration along the way.

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

Flea markets are fun, but can be overwhelming if you don’t have some kind of plan ahead of time. Keeping our 2015 goals in mind, we agreed to purchase something only if A) it fit our specific home renovation needs, and B) it was a good value for the cost. John wanted to look for benches for our front and back entry areas, and I planned to keep my eyes open for cheap picture frames (for a wall art project I want to do in the nursery) and interesting drawer knobs (for the toddler’s new dresser). We also brought some essential flea market tools with us: a tape measure, our list of things to look for, measurements and diagrams of the rooms in our house, and low expectations.

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

Once we got to the flea market, we kept our eyes peeled for items that were solid and affordable, and avoided the booths selling mass-market junk and cutesy-crafty stuff. We noticed that a lot of the furniture for sale was of the “vintage-repurposed” variety, like these pieces we saw when we first walked in.

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

It reminded us a little of “Flea Market Flip,” the TV show where people buy raw-state items at flea markets, create something new with them, then turn around and resell them at the flea market as custom design pieces. The “flip” furniture we saw at the Kane County Flea Market was pretty cool, but not really something we’d consider buying – both because we want to refurbish pieces ourselves, and because the “flip” prices were way above our budget. Still, we enjoyed checking them out for inspiration and ideas.

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

In terms of potential benches for our entryways, nothing we saw was quite right for our needs (or wallets). But because our expectations were low to begin with, it was fun to just browse around and see what else people were selling. We noticed a lot of vintage woodworking tools, like these old planers that John found.

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

I spent some time looking through this table full of old drawer pulls, handles and other hardware. Nothing that was perfect for my dresser project, but I got some good ideas.

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

We discovered a lot of random odds and ends, like a doll-sized metal play kitchen (so cute), an old rotary telephone (for when the toddler starts asking for her own phone), and a box of red 45s.

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

And a plethora of pop culture memorabilia, like this Star Trek game (a nice collectible for Spock fans – RIP, Leonard Nimoy).

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

I browsed around booths full of old books, and found gems like these useful handbooks for judo and revenge (hey, you never know when knowledge like that might come in handy).

Flea Market Fun | Rather Square

Ultimately, we didn’t have much luck in our hunt for benches, knobs and frames. Since we were only able to get out to this flea market during the afternoon of the last day, not a lot of good finds were left, and in fact some dealers were already calling it a day and packing up their booths. So we ended up going home empty-handed this time.

But despite the less-than-ideal conditions, we had a fun afternoon! Cheaper than a movie date (it’s $5 admission for adults, and children under 12 are free), especially if you don’t end up making any big purchases. I definitely want to go to this flea market again, but maybe when the weather warms up a bit (so there’ll be more dealers outside) and next time we’ll come earlier in the weekend when things aren’t so picked-over. And we can even bring the kids along for a fun family outing. This Conde Nast Traveler article has some great tips and advice for visiting the Kane County Flea Market, if you’d like more information.

The best advice we have for flea market goers: Have a list of ideas ahead of time, but keep your expectations low and your budget firm. Consider your visit as an adventure with a mystery ending. Expect to see fun, interesting and just plain weird things (and people!). Be flexible, and you won’t be disappointed. And if after all of that, you score an amazing find for your home too… bonus!

(linked on Remodelaholic and Miss Mustard Seed)

March 4, 2015

Gift Guide for Your Home: Design and Decor

By on December 17, 2014


You may be seeing a lot of gift guides popping up lately, with a plethora of ideas for what to get your friends and family this holiday season. But don’t forget to add your home to your gift-giving list! For us, our house is more than just shelter – it’s the hub of our family and our lives, and we want to celebrate it (since it’s been so good to us this year). So we thought we’d share some gift ideas for that special house in your life. Look for more in our Gift Guides for Your Home series all month long!


Our previous Gift Guides have been chock full of practical items to help you keep your house in top shape. In this last Gift Guide, we’re focusing on things to make your home feel pretty! In our 1920s Craftsman Foursquare, we like to mix up the decor with a balance of period-appropriate and modern-design items, and we usually gravitate toward a warm neutral color palette to tie it all together. Below we’re sharing some furnishings and accessories that would work in anyone’s old (or new!) house.

Gift Guide for Your Home: Design and Decor | Rather Square

A. How about a mid-century modern knockoff chair? (We’ve got one of these in our living room – check out our review here.) 

B. Wrap yourself up in this cozy, warm-tone blanket.

C. Open your doors with some vintage-look glass doorknobs(Have you weighed in on our keep-or-replace doorknob discussion yet?) 

D. Love the carved legs on this wooden end table.

E. Refresh your throw pillows with custom covers(We’ve done this in our nursery – an affordable alternative to buying all-new pillows!)

F. Introduce color with bright accessories, like this textured vase(This would look great on our built-in bookcase!)

G. Every room needs good lighting – try this geometric table lamp with an open base for an airy look.

H. Keep a few design books around for more ideas – we like The Nesting Place, The Furniture Bible, and Young House Love.

Check out our other Gift Guides for Your Home:
Gift Guide for Your Home: Keeping it Strong and Safe
Gift Guide for Your Home: DIY Tools and Supplies

(linked on Remodelaholic)

Links may contain affiliates.

December 17, 2014

Riding the holiday train

By on December 15, 2014


I had a very merry ride home from work last week…

Riding the Holiday Train | Rather Square

Riding the Holiday Train | Rather Square

I was lucky enough to catch the our local holiday train! Every year during the holiday season, volunteers transform train cars on each branch of Chicago’s mass transit system with lights, decorations, music and a real live Santa. It was (conveniently!) scheduled to show up at my usual station around the end of the workday, so I made sure to get to the platform in time. It’s hilariously over-the-top awesome, and of course I took lots of pictures.

Riding the Holiday Train | Rather Square

Riding the Holiday Train | Rather Square

I rode this train last year as well. It’s a really fun experience, especially for kids (there were many of them with their families in my train car, riding along with us regular commuters). Maybe next year John and I can take E and T – they’d probably think it was the best time ever. Particularly the “elves” handing out candy canes at each entrance.

Riding the Holiday Train | Rather Square

Even after speeding along in the cold open air for hours, Santa’s still a jolly sport.

Riding the Holiday Train | Rather Square

Happy holidays!

Riding the Holiday Train | Rather Square

December 15, 2014

category: Inspiration + Fun  • Tags: , ,

Gift Guide for Your Home: DIY Tools and Supplies

By on December 8, 2014


You may be seeing a lot of gift guides popping up lately, with a plethora of ideas for what to get your friends and family this holiday season. But don’t forget to add your home to your gift-giving list! For us, our house is more than just shelter – it’s the hub of our family and our lives, and we want to celebrate it (since it’s been so good to us this year). So we thought we’d share some gift ideas for that special house in your life. Look for more in our Gift Guides for Your Home series all month long!


This next Gift Guide features some essential tools and supplies for all the DIY projects you’ve been meaning to start (or finish!) around your house. Have a painting party, cut through some walls, build some stuff, or do a little crafting. It’s the holidays!

Gift Guide for Your Home: DIY Tools and Supplies | Rather Square

A. This oscillating saw makes quick work of cutting cleanly through plaster in old houses – see what’s behind your walls without making a huge mess. (John used his during our bathroom light installation project.)

B. Another great tool for cutting things – a reciprocating saw – can come in handy for both indoor and outdoor jobs. (It helped us cut down our giant yew bushes.)

C. A lightweight drill/driver set is the perfect all-purpose power tool gift, and we especially love that it’s cordless – great for those spots in your home that aren’t near an electrical outlet! (Check out how we used this drill to easily move our kitchen counters.)

D. Use a paint sprayer when you want to cover a large surface area in a short amount of time, and make it look professional. (We’re coveting this for our kitchen cabinet makeover! Santa, are you reading this?)

E. High-quality paintbrushes are a must for any painting project. (See all our painting projects here.)

F. For a dust-free way to prepare surfaces for paint, try a deglosser instead of sanding. (We used this for our built-in bookcase renovation with positive results.)

G. Mix this fabric medium with regular latex paint to transform upholstered furniture without breaking the bank. (Or use it for painting inexpensive fabric bins to match your new nursery decor.)

H. A staple gun is a good tool to have on hand for a variety of craft and upholstery projects. (See all our furniture projects here.)

I. Sharp X-acto blades or a utility knife are essential for scoring lightweight materials like paper, foamcore and cardboard. (They’re great for making a quick cardboard Christmas tree!)

Check out our other Gift Guides for Your Home:
Gift Guide for Your Home: Keeping it Strong and Safe
Gift Guide for Your Home: Design and Decor

(linked on Remodelaholic)

Links may contain affiliates.

December 8, 2014

Gift Guide for Your Home: Keeping it Strong and Safe

By on December 3, 2014


You may be seeing a lot of gift guides popping up lately, with a plethora of ideas for what to get your friends and family this holiday season. But don’t forget to add your home to your gift-giving list! For us, our house is more than just shelter – it’s the hub of our family and our lives, and we want to celebrate it (since it’s been so good to us this year). So we thought we’d share some gift ideas for that special house in your life. Look for more in our Gift Guides for Your Home series all month long!


Our first Gift Guide showcases some great tools and materials to protect your house inside and out.

Gift Guide for your Home: Keeping it Strong and Safe | Rather Square

A. Seal cracks in your house’s stucco exterior with this clear paintable silicone caulk to keep out the elements and prevent further damage. (And don’t forget a caulking gun!)

B. Use landscaping shears, heavy-duty loppers, or even a chainsaw to cut back overgrown tree branches and bushes that are encroaching on your house.

C. Protect your exterior decks and porches with a coat or two of weatherproofing sealant. It’s available in many colors and its rough-traction surface will help reduce slips and falls during icy winter days.

D. Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your house (we like this combination carbon monoxide/smoke alarm). You can’t see or smell this deadly gas, so a detector is a must to keep you and your family safe from leaks.

E. Lead test kits make great stocking stuffers (if homes had stockings…). Since old houses are notorious for containing lead paint, keep several of these test swabs on hand to test painted surfaces before starting any home improvement project. Red means lead, people!

Check out our other Gift Guides for Your Home:
Gift Guide for Your Home: Design and Decor
Gift Guide for Your Home: DIY Tools and Supplies

(linked on Remodelaholic)

Links may contain affiliates.

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December 3, 2014