Vintage Transformations!

I like to decorate my home with antique furniture and accessories to the extent possible.  I typically begin a decorating project with a very clear vision of what I ultimately want the space to look like, but I always know going into a project that the decorating process will be slow-going and tedious.  I also know that the likelihood of the finished product precisely matching my initial vision is pretty low.   Decorating in a contemporary style might just require a visit to the local furniture mart; in contrast, when decorating with old things you must constantly be on the hunt for scarce commodities. Availability, condition, price, and transport are pesky and limiting factors when trying to source items for a room.  Of course, for someone like me, there just is no other way; the allure of solid, beautiful, vintage pieces is  impossible to resist.   When I walk into one of my rooms, I want it to have dimension; I love the sensation of stepping into both space and time.

I hate the waiting, though.  When I get an idea, I want the room finished before I’ve even begun.  If I could take a shortcut—if, for example, I found an old piece that I could transform  into the thing for which I’m looking—I would do it in a heartbeat!  I’m not handy when it comes to that kind of craft.  I know someone who is, though:  Becky Power.

DIYer, Becky Power

Becky Power is one of those very talented women who somehow manage to do so many things simultaneously well that onlookers forget how hard it really is to keep all of the balls in the air.  I know Becky best as a skilled and attentive technical trainer.  But she’s also a mom of three and a DIYer.  She’s changed out faucets, put up chair rails, and rehabbed old, beat-up vintage pieces that someone else might have considered lost causes.   Her magic derives from an unwavering commitment to each project—even when she doesn’t know how to move forward or what tools are required.

“I get help when I need it,” she explains.  “I find that I get the best help at Lowe’s.  I describe to them what I’m trying to do, and when I don’t know the names of things I show them a picture and say, ‘I need one of these.’  Of course, I learn along the way.”

Becky’s interest in working with vintage items began when she became a homeowner.  “When I got my own home, I really wanted to make it reflect me and the kinds of things I like,” she said.    I wondered  where she draws her inspiration.  HGTV?  “No, I don’t really watch a lot of TV.  I do like Fixer Upper, but that’s about it.  There’s always too much to do, and TV takes up too much time.”  Pinterest, it turns out, is what fuels her imagination.  The genesis of her favorite project to date, a changing table for her infant daughter Ella, was a scan of various Pinterest boards.

At left is the original sketch on Pinterest that inspired the changing table Becky made for her baby daughter, Ella. This beautiful table was once an old, distressed chest of drawers (middle picture).

Becky acquired an old chest of drawers for $35 from a friend’s grandma’s auction.  She needed a changing table for her daughter and thought the chest of drawers was up to the challenge.   What I love about this changing table is the giant mirror, which Becky preserved from the original piece.  Ella shares my fondness for the mirror.  “Ella really enjoys looking at herself.  When she’s fussy, you can take her to the changing table and she calms right down.”

Another project for Ella: A whitewashed rocking horse. This was an old horse Becky's mom had. "It looked pretty rough and had a ratty mane, but it was sturdy and I knew it could be cute again." Becky put on a fresh coat of paint and replaced the old mane with ribbons.
A nightstand before and after a fresh coat of paint. What little girl wouldn't love this pretty little piece?

Becky found some old wooden frames at the same auction where she picked up the chest of drawers for the changing table.  Her careful placement of the frames on her living room wall created a perfect gallery for artwork and family photos.  She planned the arrangement of these frames like one might arrange photos for a layout in a magazine.  She began with sheets of paper cut to the exact dimensions of each picture, then tacked them in place with painter’s tape.  “I knew I would have to make adjustments,” she said.  “And this way I didn’t have to make a bunch of holes in the wall.”  

Becky's planning for the gallery wall.
The finished product. The frames are vintage.

How nice it is to see old things woven into the fabric of a young family’s life!  I was curious about how long Becky usually spends on a project.  “Projects tend to go fast,” she explained.  “Once I get an idea and start to work, I become extremely focused.  I work straight through without a break.  I’m just always anxious to see the finished product.”  

When Becky isn’t working, mothering, or refurbishing, she’s often planning parties and crafting decorations.  This is a woman on the move!  I’m anxious to see what next project is on her horizon!

I’d like to express my thanks to Becky for giving me a glimpse into her creative world and allowing me to share her pictures with Circa 19xx readers.

By the way…Becky told me one of her favorite places to shop for antiques is Kat & Co in St. Joseph, Missouri.  Mine, too!  To learn more about Kat & Co, click here to read my blog post on that shop.

Until next time…

Jennifer Passariello