Unique Uses-More Round Top

There's no end to the unique uses people found for things at Round Top. Alas, these things did not come back eastward with me. I do hope they found good homes. {Sidebar: Rancho Buck came a'callin' last week with all of my purchases (click here to see them). All arrived safely and I didn't even regret anything.}

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A yellow drum topped with glass and set on feet makes a dainty round cocktail table.

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While we're on the subject of round things...I loved this huge yellow rose-y of Texas star yard art piece, which used to be a wheel of some kind. And top right, tire frames were outfitted with mirrors. Random hoops were scattered on the wall to make an artsy statement, bottom right.

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Garden items could be found in multitudes. A few of my favorites were: an iron headboard turned garden bench, old windows formed into a miniature greenhouse, golf clubs with random metal pieces added to make kooky-face garden stakes, water meter covers used for stepping stones, windows on top of a makeshift porch roof and a little ferris wheel that held potted plants on the "seats" (it actually rotated!).

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This vintage window could be hung on a back porch with plants placed on various open window "shelves."

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One trip to Round Top and you'll be convinced that anything can be made into a lamp. If you know how to weld, you might want to set up shop down there because these things were selling for hundreds of dollars each (yes, many had "Sold" tags on them). In the center, some type of cutting blade was welded onto a lamp form. Top left is an old rectangular iron piece used as a lamp base and bottom left, an old beekeeper's mask was converted into a light. Top right, some old clamps form "C"-shaped lamps and bottom right, an old orange wheel served as the base for a lamp.

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Of course not everything was meant for the serious shopper. Consider this bovine-painted door or the banjo-playing man made of nuts, bolts and license tags. The tin man thought he had it bad...

Fun Stuff at Round Top

Just please don't tell me you're tired of my Round Top posts, because I'm not done yet. There was just so much to see and photograph, it's overwhelming. Only a few more, I promise! As you can see from my pictures, collections of things make a bigger statement when grouped together in large numbers...

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Blue and white cast iron mermaids sunning on a bench.

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Colorful wooden baskets {not vintage (not that there's anything wrong with that) but pretty anyway).

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A pickup truck bed full of rusty Radio Flyers.

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Speaking of rust...a pile of old water pumps.

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Bottle caps of every beer denomination, set in epoxy on top of a counter at a diner.

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More bottle caps, this time adorning one of those bouncy animals we used to see outside the grocery store. I was happy not to find any beer caps on this old kids' ride.

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Who would have thought metal carts could look so inviting? Reminds me of stewardesses (i.e. "flight attendants" for the politically correct) for some reason.

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Whether you find this sign offensive or funny, it pretty much sums up Round Top in three words. I can't say I'd be happy if my beloved junk ended up under this sign one day, but I guess it's better than the landfill. I would rather give my kids fun memories to remember me by anyway.

Sue Whitney at Round Top

One of the highlights of my trip to Round Top was meeting Sue Whitney, junk connoisseur and founder of Junk Market Style, her brand that revolves around-you guessed it-junk. Just my kind of gal!

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Sue was there signing copies of the new book she co-authored, Junk Beautiful: Outdoor Edition. Of course, I scooped up my copy right away and asked for her Jane Hancock. I can't wait to implement some of her wonderfully creative ideas! She has co-authored other fabulous books, including Junk Beautiful: Room by Room Makeovers and Decorating Junk Market Style. Just the other day she appeared on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

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Sue's booth was totally inspiring. Items from the antiques market were pulled together into a stunning vignette and sold. Proceeds went to Houston's Habitat for Humanity. Next time you want to throw something away, just remember that even junk can be charitable.

One man's trash truly is another's treasure.

Round Top Recap #2

I actually did find some "serious" stuff in Round Top...everything wasn't totally off-the-wall, as seen in my last post. The best part was the price! The total cost of all of my purchases was less than what I'd pay for a nice sofa. I think Al was hoping I'd bring home only what I could fit in my suitcase. No such luck! It's all being shipped to me by a company by the name of Rancho Buck (what a cool name), which I used before when I shopped at Scott's in Atlanta. They are apparently fixtures at the major markets and move the heavy stuff all around the country.

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Our new house will have a screened porch and we plan to dine out there as much as possible. I found a great brown and turquoise table that seats 10-12 and these colorful chairs to go with it. The table was formerly used in a convent in Pennsylvania. I do hope it won't be offended by any of our dinner conversations.

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Our twin boys will be sharing a bedroom (I'm sure everyone will pile in there at some time or other) and I wanted them each to have a full-sized bed. I found these two painted beds (incidentally, they are the colors of my alma mater, William & Mary, an unplanned but very convenient coincidence). The yellow bed was a steal at a mere $75.

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Being a huge fan of all things animal print, I was thrilled to find this vintage desk, freshly painted a pink leopard for my daughter's room. The top lifts up to expose a mirror and secret compartment. The drawers are lined with sheet music, a lovely touch! To complete the ensemble, I couldn't pass up the little black chair (for $56!) and coordinating leopard flower magnetic board.

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I loved this cute red desk for our oldest son's room.

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This desk will be perfect for our twins' room, since it is long and has 2 cubby holes already. It's from an old school and has lots of graffiti etched on top. I even spotted a "dirty word" but I'll be able to scratch it out with a sharp object before letting their young eyes read it.

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For $2 per pair, these salt and pepper shakers were a bargain.

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I'm really excited about this find but the photo doesn't do it justice. I bought two of these pendant lights for our screened porch. Four metal industrial crates were welded together to make an unusual light. Possibly not everyone's cup of tea but I think a good addition for what is shaping up to be an eclectic porch.

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I bought one of these round metal spheres, maybe to just set out in the yard as a "sculpture," or I might wire it and use it as a rustic chandelier.

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This little $35 light is going in our powder room, after I paint the metal areas silver.

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I fell in love with these two sets of lockers, straight out of old schools (I heard kids don't even use lockers these days? How do they pass notes and catch up on gossip? I miss the days before text messaging!). The blue set will find a home in my storage room and the kids can use the red ones and have 2 lockers each.

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Another "old school" find. How cute is this turquoise water fountain? Its new location will be in our mud room. The kids can run in from the backyard and get a drink, courtesy of this salvaged fixture from a school in Laredo, TX.

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This piece from a carnival ring toss game (bought from the same vendorwho sold me the little duckies) will look great in our playroom.

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My cousin Laura surprised me with this fun wooden sign for our lake house that she bought at Round Top in the fall. I love the colors and it has bottle tops all over it! A lady paints these right outside Royer's Cafe for those of us who like to shop while we wait to be seated for dinner. I can't think of a more perfect combination.

Unique Uses-Round Top

There's no better place to find things that are used in a unique way than a flea market or antiques market. Round Top takes the cake! Here are some fun items I purchased while at Round Top. My husband thinks you have to look pretty hard to find the good qualities in this stuff, but I think the beauty is pretty evident, don't you?

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This is a vintage golf ball bucket, the kind we used to find on driving ranges. It has been turned upside-down and wired to be a pendant light. I just saw one of these (new, of course) in a catalog! I plan to hang it over the sink in our laundry room. Being from a family of golfers, how could I pass this up?

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Another pendant light, which I plan to hang in my "potting shed" (which is actually just a glorified storage room off our garage). It was made from an old copper creamer pot.

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There was a big basket of these glass pieces, for $1 each. It used to be an enormous dangle from an equally enormous chandelier. I think I'll use it as a butter dish (after a good soaking, that is).

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Another big basket held these little glass jars, which formerly held cream on tables in diners and restaurants, back in the days before plastic took the beauty out of everyday objects. They will be cute as bud vases, along with these little test tubes I picked up for a mere 10 cents apiece.

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I found some brightly colored items at a cute booth called Vintage Girl, including these two candle holders and a couple of old door knobs, which I'm going to put in my daughter's closet to hang scarves or belts from.

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Vintage flower frogs were everywhere! Aside from the obvious use (arranging flowers, for those of you who, like me, aren't particularly tuned in to floral convenience items), I might use one for a pen holder. The test tubes will fit in the bigger frog for an unusual flower display.

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Vintage wire baskets, racks and trays were also in abundance. I'm going to hang this one in my closet to display necklaces or scarves.

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Also from Vintage Girl, this vintage register was hanging with several others, all of which had been painted fun colors like turquoise and bright orange. Even though it weighs a ton and is coated with what I'm sure is lead paint, I still think it's sort of cool. Necklaces could dangle from this quite well.

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Don't ask me why this caught my eye. It really is pretty funny though. It's one of those large red vintage Christmas light bulbs turned into a mosquito! I'm hoping it will ward off the real thing when hung by fishing wire on my back porch.

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Last but certainly not least are these vintage duckies, straight from a stint at a carnival near you (I love carnivals...we could walk to one when I was little). I purchased them from a vendor who had bought out a carnival that was going out of business.


One for each of my little duckies. And just like my duckies, they don't all want to stay in a row.

Round Top Recap #1

My cousin Laura and I recently visited Round Top, Texas, for the semi-annual antiques fair at both Marburger and Warrenton. I've always wanted to go and she lives in Dallas so we met there and drove the four hours together, along with some fun friends of hers, who followed us. We had a fantastic four days of shopping, wining, dining and photographing. Here are a few pictures from the week. Check back later for photos of my purchases and the cool (and sometimes wacky) items I spotted while shopping.

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Round Top's population really is about 77 during the year, but grows to thousands more during antique week!

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This tastefully decorated car, dubbed the "Tijuana Taxi" by our group, sold to a fellow shopper. Some Dallas friends actually went on the maiden voyage around Round Top before the buyer took it home to her son!

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Shopping wasn't only about the stuff...it included beautiful scenery too!

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Lodging is hard to come by during antique week. We stayed on the beautiful grounds of the International Festival-Institute at Round Top, a 210-acre campus that includes performance facilities, historic houses, extensive gardens, parks and nature preserves (not that we took advantage of any of these features!). It has the added bonus of being located only minutes away from the main attraction as well.

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Last fall, Laura stayed in the cute house shown above left...simply adorable, but alas, it wasn't available this time around.

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Here we are enjoying a little apres shopping wine and cheese at a house where some friends were staying, right in Round Top square.

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After hours, the bubbly flowed at the "Bubble Lounge" at Zapp Hall, where weary shoppers can unwind with some Veuve Clicquot and music. The motto of the fair, after all, is "Come for the antiques, stay for the atmosphere!"

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We thought this little Doll Hospital sign was cute, and just perfect for this doll (aptly named "Tony") Laura and her friends bought for another friend back home. Tony is the long-lost mate of Tina, who was purchased during the fall show. He's shown below sporting a vintage-scarf tutu I bought for my daughter (maybe I should spray it with something before I give it to her!).

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By far the best (well, actually, almost the only) place to eat in Round Top is the eclectic Royer's Cafe, where we had dinner two nights. Patrons think nothing of waiting an hour or more on the porch (even with a reservation) and the mashed potatoes, homemade pies and ice cream are totally worth it (they ship pies too!).

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A big vintage cooler sits on the tiny front porch. Customers can partake of beer and wine from the cooler on the "honor system" while they wait to be seated. Only in Texas!

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Inside the small eatery is decorated with menus, t-shirts, Christmas lights and this little Santa, which reminded me of something we had when I was growing up.

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Waiting outside Royer's for our table. We may have had a sip or two from the honor bar!

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This sign on the front door pretty much sums up the general feel of the restaurant. I'm just glad we didn't see any 70-year-olds in spandex!

Anger Management Tree Stump

I'm not quite sure what purpose this tree stump once held. Hundreds of nails have been hammered into its top. They are so far down in the stump they form a top that's as smooth as satin.

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The little stump's final resting place is now our corporate museum, which means it originally resided on a girls' college campus. I can only imagine how it came to be: were the girls so angry about something that they took turns hammering nails into the stump? Boys, grades, professors?

Was the project part of an old-school P.E. class? Perhaps would-be suitors drove the nails into the tree while taking out their frustrations on an unrequited love or disdainful house marm.

I suppose we may never know. Until then I think I'll sit here a while and read my anger management book.

Unique Uses 2

I spotted a few other unique uses for items last week. First are these old windows grouped together in an interesting art form at Roanoke C0-Op. I love old windows and this innovative use of them suspended from the ceiling makes quite a statement. The windows could also be hinged together to form an outdoor screen for a patio or greenhouse.

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You might just walk right by this next piece of "art" (like I did) if you didn't know its new purpose. I found it at Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke. It's an old gas tank for a torch welder.

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The tank has been suspended from a rusty iron ring. The fun part is that there is a wooden stick perched on an attached stand and when the tank is hit a wonderful bell sound emerges.

My grandfather owned a mining machinery business and I remember seeing what seemed like hundreds of these gas tanks everywhere in bright colors (mostly orange). My uncle still has them in the old shop building.

So of course this find held a bit of nostalgia for me and I couldn't resist it when I heard the bell ring. I decided it would be perfect for us to put in our backyard and call all the kiddies to dinner.

We will be living on a golf course though, so I'm not too sure how thrilled the golfers will be with the gong. I think I'll wait until someone hits a particularly bad shot to ring it just for fun.

Unique Uses 1

I'm always spotting unusual ways that people are using vintage items so I decided I would start a new series called "Unique Uses." There are lots of ways to repurpose an item. Here are a few ideas...

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This drum is being used to hold magazines and other brochures at JJ's restaurant in Bristol, TN. The front was opened up and a shelf installed in the middle, with a chain to hold the front "door" open. The restaurant has a music theme, so this is a perfect little accessory for the front table.

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The next two items are hanging at Rockfish in Roanoke, VA. Above, they took an old stair railing and simply added some hooks. It's hanging near the front door for patrons to store coats and hats while they're dining.

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This one is an old door turned on its side. One of the panels was removed and a mirror was put in its place. A small ledge was added to the top for lights or other decorative trinkets. 

Think twice before you throw something out! You'll save money and it's the green thing to do.

Before & After

You don't have to spend a lot of money to transform a piece of furniture. All you need is a willingness to dig around in antique stores or flea markets and a little elbow grease.

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I purchased this loveseat (I say "loveseat," you say "settee") at an antique store for about $60. The woven cane back was a shabby tan before but I spray painted it gold. Spray paint can be used for so many projects and comes in great colors! I've used it to paint our outdoor wrought iron railing, our mailbox, wicker outdoor furniture and more. You can even get chalkboard paint that you can spray right onto your wall!

I also gave the arms and legs a lift by first painting them gold with a brush, after lightly sanding. Over top of that I painted everything a dark umber color. In between those two steps I rubbed certain areas with wax, areas where wear and tear is likely to occur and where I wanted the gold to pop. After the top coat of paint, I then lightly sanded the waxed areas and ta-da! The gold glittered through the brown. To finish I put a sealer on the wood.

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A few yards of relatively inexpensive fabric took the bench from blah to wow, with the help of two pillows in a coordinating fabric and fringe trim.

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This loveseat cost about $40 at a second-hand store and it simply needed a few yards of fabric to make it spiffy.

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Just about right for two lovebirds.