A Late Vocation

My IHOD-inspired (don’t ask how, it just was) refurbished coat-rack.

When I was a young and single thing, carefree and flush with cash from my lucrative stints in the world of Catholic non-profits, I used to dream about the way I’d decorate my eventual home, and about the many lavish and extravagant purchases I would one day make at AFW.

Fast forward three years and two babies, and while the benjamins have stopped rolling in (in fact, most of them roll out these days, what the …) my desire to decorate my nest has not abated.

$6 headboard from Saver’s, transformed ala spray paint and glaze. Also pictured: small party animal.

In fact, as Dave would be quick to point out, it is actually fairly and neurotically intense. To the point that, 2 days after a move or the night of an arrival home from traveling, I’m frantically unpacking, moving furniture, scrubbing floors and filling bags and bags (and bags and bags) of crap for Goodwill. So that I can, you know, bring home more future bags of crap from Goodwill.

Detail on headboard. You’re welcome.

So I’ve had to figure out a way to channel this latent desire to decorate – to create – in a way that doesn’t destroy our meager ‘home furnishings’ budget. Because let’s be honest; there’s just not a line item for that one yet. For some saner, holier people, I suspect the answer might be patient, gradual accumulation of nice pieces over the course of several years/decades of marriage. For me, it’s the suburban equivalent of dumpster-diving. For my husband, it is a deeply shameful exercise in humility every time I direct him to pull over in his church clothes and ‘grab that thing off that person’s curb’ wearing a sharpie’d ‘free’ tatted on a piece of cardboard.

roadside freebie turned back porch coffee table. also pictured: the truck we hauled it home in.

Figuring out that #1 I liked to do this kind of thing and #2 I was passably competent with a can of spray paint was nothing short of astonishing. 

Formerly known as ugly-ass some-assembly-required Walmart bachelor piece.

After 13+ years in the public school system, I had successfully managed to avoid a single art class past the 5th grade, so I was fairly certain I was creatively crippled, doomed to spend allllll my hours of leisure time as a SAHM reading trashy novels and emptying the dishwasher. And maybe dusting off the ‘ol trumpet for some souza-inspired afternoon tunes, since I was playing in the pep band while my cooler friends were throwing pots in ceramics class. Loser.

I have to admit, even Pinterest, with all its glittering promise and happy ‘finished product’ images made me a little nervous and not a little insecure. I couldn’t replicate anything from the culinary department, I had no desire to learn how to sew (or any machine to feed fabric into), and I was certainly not about to refinish old milkcrates to look like Anthropoligie-inspired shelving for our family library…or was I?

Basically, choosing the least intimidating (in my humble opinion) means of ‘re-creating’ something old and ugly into something new, fun, and, if not perfect, than at least passably attractive, has opened up for me an entire creative world. Instead of pallet boards, I now see potential patio furniture. An abandoned MDF bookshelf from Target looks to me suspiciously like a wine shelf waiting to be redressed. And a can of spraypaint? Liquid gold. Even if it is a more sensibly-hued turquoise or bronzed iron. (Sorry, Glamma.) And you know what? Naptime has never, ever been this fun.

Gotta be honest, one of my most amazing creations yet. Definitely a collaborative effort.


  • Kris

    I am COMPLETELY inept in the crafty department also. My main home improvement skill is painting (as in walls), which I am REALLY good at. But that’s it. I’m completely intrigued by some of the things you mentioned – can you do some “how-to” posts? I would LOVE it.

    • Jenny

      Oh my gosh Kris I could, but in the meantime you should probably just check out All Things Thrifty, whose tutorials I totally bow down before in inadequacy. Though mine would undoubtedly include entertaining outtakes. And perhaps streaking children…

  • Christine

    Ha! I am also totally guilty of the same “bring tons of crap to Goodwill every month so I can justify buying tons of crap from Goodwill” syndrome! Your necklace-holder is definitely a step up from mine. I nailed a bunch of large nails in a line next to the bureau, and just hung all my necklaces there.

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