Fixer Upper Fascination

In case you’ve been living under an HGTV sized rock, you may not know about their latest design superstars: Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame.  After watching way too many episodes of House Hunters, Property Brothers and Love It Or List It, I find their fun, quirky humor and cozy design style so refreshing.  For those that don’t know, Chip and Joanna are a husband-wife team that helps Waco, TX area families find, purchase and renovate homes.

Chip & Joanna

Chip & Joanna

Joanna got her start with a small home furnishing shop Magnolia Market (which now has an online presence) and they slowly graduated to more intense design and home renovations.  Their recent skyrocketing success has allowed them to purchase and renovate a whole complex known as The Silos that houses an updated, larger shop for Joanna as well as a place for vendors to sell goods on the weekend and they’re soon opening a bakery on premise!  You can read all about The Silos here.

Original Magnolia Market

Original Market

The exterior of a new location of Magnolia Market at the Silos, owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, on Thursday, October 29, 2015 at Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, Texas. (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News)

New & Improved Magnolia Market!

Now in season 3, Fixer Upper showcases Chip and Joanna’s down-to-earth personalities and fun approach to home renovation.  What I find so refreshing is how genuine and honest they come across vs. some of those other HGTV personalities that feel SO scripted.  Fixer Upper is way more docu-series than how-to show.  You see them interact as a couple, a bit of their home life with their 4 adorable kids, their huge farm the family calls home as well as all the fun design stuff.

And Joanna’s style is taking the internet by storm.  Part shabby chic mixed with part rustic industrial, she finds a way to incorporate vintage style in traditional spaces with modern luxuries.  Her expertise is truly finding something old and making it new again in an interesting way.  Think old piping turned funky bookshelf or tobacco factory beams crafted into a beautiful dining table.  Jo’s also fantastic at finding old but interesting architectural pieces and incorporating them in new ways.

Bookshelf

pipe & board shelving

Pantry Doors

I’m OBSESSED with these doors! She turned them into pantry & laundry room entries

On top of their show and the renovations that come with it, The Silos and their family farm, they also have a realty company.  And because she doesn’t have enough to do, Jo has a great blog too (which is where I originally found her before I knew about the show).  All of this in addition to the new B & B they just opened which was featured as season 3’s Christmas episode.  They really have crafted a little Waco empire over the last few years!

So for your eyeballs’ enjoyment, here are just a few of my favorite Fixer Upper moments from season 3:

Stairwell

Knock a wall down, add an interesting iron railing

Bay window

Highlight the traditional beauty of original bay windows by making them a serious focal point

Loft turned library

Extra hallway space = loft turned library Map as art

An old map makes the perfect vintage artwork

Shiplap on shiplap

Jo LOVES her some shiplap.  #shiplap

european inspired entryway

A change of pace for the Gaines: a European-inspired entryway

colonial inspired dining room

Loving this colonial-like dining room.  Reminds me of historic homes in PA!

mantle turned art

Wouldn’t be a Gaines job without some added architectural detail!

Anyone else as obsessed with them as I am?  I find Chip quirky but hysterical and it’s definitely one of the few design shows I’ve got Jefe hooked on too!

Ellen’s Design Challenge – Finale Recap

Most of you are probably thinking WTF if you happened to catch this week’s finale episode of Ellen’s Design Challenge.  I admittedly was putting it off (have you noticed my lack of recaps the last two weeks?!) because I honestly have become rather bored with the show.  I was also pretty peeved after they gave Carly the boot for that stellar couch.  But with all the hype about “a shocking final twist” to this week’s episode, I figured I’d better tune in.

First off, the show as so overproduced.  How many times and in how many ways do they have to recap all of the past episodes and our final designer’s past pieces?  I feel like I lost 5 minutes of my life I can’t get back.  Even Jefe noticed.  It was like they didn’t have enough content to fill the 60 minutes of the episode and needed to find something to fill the missing time.  But it’s reality, there’s hundred of hours of footage so I’m sure that wasn’t the case.  So it really boils down to bad editing and final say by the producers.

Now on to the actual episode.  To begin, the intro with our designers visiting The Reef – it seemed so set up and scripted.  It didn’t really make sense to have them travel there and be greeted by an audience (is this the same audience we see 3 days later?  Did they sleep there?  Or did they all just come to the Reef for 15 minutes of applause?  Inquiring minds want to know!)  Also, it seemed weird to travel to the Reef, that contains a plethora of design, and not integrate it in to the show somehow.  What was the purpose of that?  And let’s get real – no on in LA rides in those silly looking limos anymore.  A non-marked black SUV or town car will do.

Limo Ride

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Now on to the construction phase.  I loved Katie’s initial inspiration (her uncle’s trunk and its many uses) and how that evolved in to her design.

Katie Designing

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And her picking the the zebra and purple heart wood?  It was just so HER.

Purple Heart Wood 2

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Now for Tim – I really didn’t feel like they delved in to his inspiration much at all.  Maybe that was intentional editing in post based on the final outcome, but I felt like I wanted to hear more about his inspiration (or is it “inspiration”?)

Tim Designing

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The final judging and deliberation seemed to drag on unnecessarily just to add drama.  It was a nice added touch to bring in the final designers’ families but their interactions all just seemed awkward, like so much of this show (I think next season, if there is one, could benefit from some better casting for more TV friendly personalities).

Family Intros

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For the actual pieces, I thought they were both rather inventive while being multi-faceted.  But they were both console tables with other functions which made it seem like they had a specific challenge to fulfill instead of the wide open “make something original” blanket statement.  Both pieces did scream their designers’ personalities though.

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Katie’s Final Design (source)

TIm Final Design

Tim’s Final Design (source)

In the end, the judges chose Tim as the overall winner, which I totally disagreed with.  I felt like Katie challenged and stretched herself much more than Tim while creating an innovative, aesthetically pleasing AND functional piece.

Judges

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Tim’s was functional and stunning, but to the judges’ point, you can’t put anything on top of it based on the way it opens up.  But in the end, they thought his piece was more of a standout.  Tim went on to win a $100K cash prize from Wayfair and a spread in HGTV magazine.  Why Wayfair didn’t offer to create a custom collection for the winning designer is beyond me.

Now, on to the controversy.  I’m going to preface this with the knowledge that I work in the entertainment industry and have a lot of experience with the in’s and out’s of reality shows, particularly competition shows.  In the days following Tim’s win, someone (that remained nameless) discovered that his piece was a near identical copy to a piece by a European designer.

Copy Piece

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The show faded to black and cut to one week later where Ellen meets up with Katie and crowns her the winner due to Tim being disqualified.

There’s very little explanation about what happened.  And for a contestant that was clearly a frontrunner from the first episode to be disqualified with no additional information was infurating to many fans.  He was not my favorite but I certainly understand the sentiment that the series really left the viewer hanging.

As for the actual situation, that’s on the producers.  It should have been handled better and then addressed properly in the show.  They bragged about how many designers were in the audience of the finale – how did not ONE of these professionals recognize a copy?  And where was the behind-the-scenes staff during deliberation?  They should have been researching their butts off to ensure that they crowned the true winner who earned that title.

In the end, it seems Tim did replicate an existing piece.  So that’s on him.  However, the show really did a disservice to its viewers and to its self for future seasons by the way they handled all of this.  For a show I was already on the cusp of canceling from my DVR recordings, its left a bad taste in my mouth.  Not to mention you shouldn’t have an A-List celebrity advertise the hell out of something and only show up a handful of times.  Ellen, I love you, but your lack of on-camera contributions was dually noted.

So – what did you all think?  Did you feel gypped and let down by how the show handled the “scandal”?  Were you disappointed in Tim?  Or did you just feel like the last few episodes have been a waste of time that you could have spent watching Fixer Upper (omg, I’m obsessed and want to be Joanna Gaines when I grow up!)

Fixer Upper Joanna

I feel like she & I are kindred spirits 😀 (source)

Ellen’s Design Challenge – Episode 3 Recap

UPDATED with photos of final designs below!

This week’s recap of “Ellen’s Design Challenge” begins with the Wayfair WALL ‘O CHAIRS! Each designer was tasked with selecting a chair that reflected their design aesthetic.  Katie chose first, stealing Gaspar’s prized Ghost Chair.  Gaspar had the opportunity to choose next – a black plastic chair with light, wooden legs.  Carley chose a french country chair that I absolutely adored.  Tim bucked tradition and decided to challenge himself by choosing the white plastic S chair.

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Joe then presented the challenge for the week – craft a dining table to compliment the contestants’ chosen chairs (I couldn’t see that one coming from 500 miles away…) Each designer was quick to create their designs, however, Tim and Carley’s were nearly identical. After sparring over the same beautiful slab of raw wood, Tim eventually relented to Carley’s persistence.

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Carley’s table was an intriguing design from the get-go and obviously focused on forged metal highlighting her expertise, however I knew the one glaring problem – the giant splice down the middle – was going to be a serious problem come judging time.

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Tim had to adjust his design based on this second choice of material. This worked to his advantage as the design was now distinctly different from Carley’s. I was thoroughly impressed with how he managed to create such a rustic yet modern piece that gorgeous in such a short time! In the end, it still screamed very masculine, but I couldn’t dispute that it was a stunning piece of furniture that perfectly complemented his chairs.

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Gaspar got inventive. Like Tim, he decided to step outside his comfort zone this week and chose to work with plexiglass. He crafted a stunning tree silhouette out of wood veneer and then sandwiched it between the plexi. The final product was not my style but was indisputably beautiful and truly one of a kind.

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Now for Katie. With Leslie gone, Katie’s quickly stepped up as the most annoying contestant in my book. I do love her perky attitude but the Valley Girl talk has gotten on my nerves. Combine that with the very cow-like table that she crafted and it was just too much for me. Had her finished product more closely resembled her initial design with a marble-like finish, I would have liked her piece much more than the barnyard animal she came up with.

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I did, however, admire her fierce commitment to wildlife courtesy of the pandas all over her pajama-like pants.

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Our guest judge, Ray Azoulay of Obsolete was another design-world insider. All the contestants seemed thoroughly impressed with him but as an average viewer, I had no idea who he was.

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His insight in to each piece, however, was spot on. Note to the producers and programming executives – not the smartest move to continually have unrecognizable insiders in that chair. Your average American viewer is oblivious to their resume and will quickly be turned off.

Ellen and Furniture

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 During judging we FINALLY got our first Ellen in-person sighting of the season. She made quite the comical entrance, but otherwise, her presence was fairly unnecessary. It didn’t add much besides some fake, crafted for TV suspense when she handed notes to Katie and Carley telling them who was going home. (SPOILER ALERT: Neither. Did you really think Ellen was there to do the dirty work?! Of course not!). So all 4 designers are safe for another week.

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Overall, I’d give the show a 5/10. It has some redeeming qualities but certainly has room for improvement. So I’ll keep watching it for now, if only so that I can critique it for you all the rest of the season.

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And just as a small aside – the folks over at HGTV and Wayfair need to work on their cross promotions. I appreciate the Wayfair interstitial ad we got right before we cut back to the show from a commercial break, however, there is ZERO presence of the show on Wayfair’s site. For the amount of in-show Wayfair mentions and commercial air time purchased, I was certain they’d be plugging it left and right but I searched for hours and couldn’t find a single mention on their site. Especially for an online retailer, thats a huge missed opportunity. HGTV Ad Sales and Wayfair Marketing – call me. I’ve got a ton of ideas for how to up your game 🙂

So what do you all think? Is anyone loving it? Watching out of obligation? Or have you already unloaded it from your DVR in favor of making room for another episode of “Downton Abbey?” Speaking of which, who watched this past Sunday’s episode?! I just have to say to Edith: you go girl. You do you; you do you!

Ellen’s Design Challenge – Episode 2 Recap

Surprise!  You guys get 2 posts this week!  First off – are any of you watching Scandal?  Last night’s episode was bananas!  I can’t handle it!  But that’s not the show I’m here to talk about today.

Apparently a lot of you lost your cable on Monday night!  I’ve gotten a lot of questions this week about what happened on episode 2 of Ellen’s Design Challenge.  I have to say, I’m still holding out hope for this show.  There were a few glimmers this week.

To start, the challenge was a lot more exciting.  Each designer was tasked with creating a piece of furniture to house the mystery contents of a storage unit.  The contents varied from barware to baby clothes to craft supplies.

Storage

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What I really enjoyed was seeing the designers spend more time with their carpenters actually designing and building their furniture.  I know in a first episode of a new series that you need more time to establish the show – the rules, the contestants and their backstories, etc.  But in episode 2 you can really dig in and see the contestants’ process.

Building

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Ellen was again – no where to be seen outside of a TV monitor.  She provided the contestants with some inspiration for the challenge, however, I really missed seeing her in person.  Knowing that they film her talk show in LA and they filmed this show in LA, I am sorely disappointed that she couldn’t find time to show up in person to tape 5 minutes for each episode that has her own name in the title.

Katie

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When it came time for judging all of the critiques were on point.  However, I disagree with their final winning selection.  I thought Gaspar’s sideboard for dishware knocked it out of the park.  I wouldn’t put it in my home but I thought it was stunning for the right space.

The judges had other ideas though and selected Katie’s red cabinet that was VERY 80’s inspired.  I thought it was over the line kitch, but the judges just loved the artful storage it provided for clothing.  Her finished piece is below:

Winning Cabinet

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The judges eventually decided to send home Leslie FINALLY.  Although she caused drama, which makes for good TV, her overall attitude and approach to everything was just annoying and I was so happy to see her go.  The dresser she created to house baby clothes was too simple, lacking any unique features.  And as Christiane pointed out, the changing pad with a baby would have gone flying off the table without being properly secured.

So I’ll give the show one more week.  What did you guys think?  Are you still watching?  Or have you grown bored?

Ellen’s Design Challenge

Updated: Found some photos of the finished products if you scroll to the bottom!

For those that don’t know, I work in the entertainment industry to pay the bills.  So I get super pumped when my world of interests collide – television, branding, and home design.  Such was the case with Ellen’s Design Challenge which premiered this past week on HGTV.

Ellen

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First off – Ellen.  Love her.  I think she is one of the funniest, most genuine women on TV so naturally I was stoked to have another reason to watch her.  The show is named after her, she’s in all the promos and marketing so she’d be a main part of the show, right?  Wrong.  She’s in one segment.  Where the contestants watch a clip of her on a TV.  Total snoozefest.

Ellen on TV

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The format.  Totally Project Runway meets HGTV Design Star.  Pre-selected, talented contestants compete in unique furniture design challenges each week to prove who is the best.  You get the gist.  Design school graduates, self-made furniture builders, a FEMALE blacksmith (my favorite).

Contestants

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Casting was obviously done both for talent and reality TV drama because honestly, why else would you watch without at least one cat fight?!  I could list all their names here, but honestly,  no one stood out enough to remember.  Which is not good TV.

As the contestants have limited time to complete their challenges, they’re each given a carpenter to help execute their designs.

Carpenters

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Here’s what really pulled me out – most of the carpenters are smaller, but recognizable HGTV personalities themselves.  This is never acknowledged.  It’s like they’re just your average carpenter found through the Yellow Pages.

The host.  Generic, mildly charismatic reality show type guy.  I do not even remember his name and you learn nothing about him.  He just directs the contestants where to look.

Host Jay Montepare

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The judges.  Credit goes to HGTV execs for finding relevant, qualified judges for the competition: Amanda Dameron, editor-in-chief of Dwell Magazine.  She’s a little boring, but clearly knows her stuff and her expertise is appreciated.  She’s partnered with Christiane Lemieux, executive creative director of Wayfair.com, one of the show’s key sponsors.  Christiane is fairly expressive and entertaining to watch.

Judges

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They also bring in a guest judge, Jason Chauncey of Brownstone Upholstery Inc.  Here’s my gripe about the guest judge – although I’m no design expert, I have NEVER heard of this guy. And if I haven’t, your average American viewer DEFINITELY has not heard of him. He was also a bit boring.  Where’s Nate Berkus?  Or Genevieve Gorder?  Granted, HGTV probably can’t afford these now uber-famous faces, but you need another hook to keep your viewer interested.  Thought – how about Ellen?!  It is her show and she was in very little of this first episode.  She may not be a design professional, but she’s certainly a lover of great design.  Her home has been featured in some of the best home decor magazines out there.  And she’s a recognizable face (THE face that many viewers tuned in for) which is key when you’re trying to find your audience for a new show.

Elle Decor Cover

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Architectural Digest

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The night’s challenge was to take a big, boring existing box consisting of wood, steel and plexi and repurpose it in to a design exemplary of the contestants’ style (total Project Runway unconventional challenge knock off).

Box Pre Makeover

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The final designs – I was less than impressed.  We had one mid-century modern shelving system knock-off and a sculpturally beautiful chair that was under-appreciated by the judges.

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There was also an entry table made by the blacksmith (she is so bad ass!) and the most boring wall shelving unit I’ve ever seen (she is annoying and should have been the first to go!).

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Then there was the winner, a beautiful yet useful campaign desk made by the guy who, shocker, specializes in reclaimed materials.

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Lastly, I was fairly impressed with the brand integrations on the show.  So often shows like this can look like walking advertisements for Home Depot or Armstrong flooring.  But the Wayfair.com accessory wall was done very tastefully and they had a great interstitial ad just before you came back from one of the commercial breaks.  It showed you examples of the furniture created on the show and then cut to similar styles available for purchase.  It was a commercial, but tasteful (and hosted by judge Christiane.)

Wayfair Wall Background

(best shot of the Wayfair Wall I could find)

Overall, I was a bit disappointed in the show.  The previews for upcoming episodes look promising (and include Ellen in person) so I’ll keep watching.  But if the show doesn’t deliver, I can only last another episode or 2.  Three episodes of any new show is my limit; no one has time these days to waste on uninteresting television.

So there’s my rant.  What did you guys think?  Did anyone love it?  Are you going to keep watching?

A Flea Market-ing First

A few weeks ago, I trekked out with a handful of cash, a bottle of water, and some sunscreen (which turned out to be a great recommendation after reading a few Yelp reviews) and headed out to the monthly Rose Bowl Flea Market.  This was my first forray in to the world of flea marketing and I really enjoyed browsing all the home goods; there were such great finds that would really turn a neutral space in to something unique and add loads of character.  Another fact I learned: I will never be able to buy used clothing.

The flea market is a great resource for all things vintage in LA and you’ll find all walks of life here from your average garage sale shopper to legit designers looking for those authentic pieces.  I even saw a favorite HGTV star, Carter Oosterhouse, shopping for pillows with his wife.

My first task once I arrived was making the long hike from the parking lot in to the stadium as I was not looking to spend $20 for the premium parking for just a few hours of browsing.  I definitely got my work out that day.

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(This was taken 3/4 of the way in to the stadium)

After paying the entrance fee ($8 during normal hours, a bit more for the early bird special prior to 9am), I headed to the right through the vendors that surrounded the circumference of the stadium.  Here I discovered that apparently not only do they allow vintage and antique dealers as well as all sorts of artisans selling new, one of a kind pieces.  And maybe some not so unique goods too:

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HGTV even had a stand, handing out branded tote bags filled with the most recent edition of HGTV magazine.  The people working the booth were also encouraging passersby to stick around for demonstrations on DIY gardening.

I continued my way around the bowl and once I reached the backside was when I hit the real vintage goods.  Some of it was junk, some targeted collectors, and others had great one-of-a-kind items.  And there was mid-century modern until your heart’s content.

The trick with the Rose Bowl is that you have to be very careful about pricing.  Turns out, those fancy interior designers and hipsters from Silver Lake are all willing to pay a pretty penny for a nice piece of furniture with clean lines and the sellers have definitely caught on.  So do your homework before you go if you have an idea of what you’re shopping for, know how much you are reasonably willing to spend, and NEGOTIATE.  The worst the seller can do is say No.  Or they can meet you in the middle and you walk away with a great piece of furniture.

This trip’s purpose was mainly just to educate myself on what the market had to offer as well as do a little recon work for future projects.  But I did want to share the highlights of some of the great pieces I came across:

  • Mid-Century Modern as far as the eye can see:

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  • Some great newly made industrial pieces sourced from reclaimed wood.  I’m loving the bookshelf in particular:

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  • I came across these guys and immediately thought about them as a gift for my mom, who’s looking to finish off their guest room with a slightly nautical and beachy vibe:

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  • What glorified garage sale wouldn’t be complete without a little weird?  I had no idea Trolls were still such a hot commodity!

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  • And now for the BEST: the truly vintage pieces including an old trunk and some French berry buckets that were supposedly over a 100 years old:

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Wouldn’t this be the perfect wine rack?!

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If I had the money, this beauty would have come home with me.  It was a classic piece constructed with old-school dovetail joints.  Switch out the knobs for some vintage glass ones and it would have a permanent place in my bedroom.

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One of these bad boys should have been my first purchase.  They would be great to corral our bottles of liquor on the bar/island and the red labels would have tied together our dining and living areas.  I will definitely be back for one of these on a future trip to market.

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The antique costume jewelry was stunning.  It would be the perfect place for a bride to find her something old.

  • The vintage glass and dishware was incredible.  I now know where Don Draper’s bar cart is stocked from:

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Still wishing I would have brought this simple dish home with me. Would have been perfect on top of my dresser for perfume bottles.

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This dish was huge.  At least 20″ across.  It would be beautiful on a dark wood dining table.

I was surprised to only found one stand with old letterpress pieces.

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Luckily, it was the perfect first-time find to take home with me.  After much searching, I found the last ampersand and paired it with an M and a G.  I think it is a great addition to my desk space:

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All in all, it was a great first trip to the Rose Bowl.  I’m really looking forward to heading there in a few weeks to see what else I can find!