Friday, November 30, 2012

Belly up to our home-built, super awesome basement bar!

Okay this space doesn't fall into the category of romantic, or cottage, or any of that... it just falls into the category of kitschy fun! 

When we moved to our new house in 2008, the previous owners left us a pool table in the basement rec room. So we decided to go with the theme and make a game room and bar out of it. We painted it English pub green, Mr. Piglet built a fabulous bar, and we covered the walls and surfaces with fun, entertaining and vintage stuff. Activities for this space include pool, Wii, karaoke, and drinking - those last two being my personal favorites. Ready for a tour? Here we go! 

This is (obviously) the main bar area. The bar itself is hand-built, made from kitchen cabinets (uppers) and then faced with hollow-core doors. 

Another view of the bar. The top is also made from hollow-core doors, joined together in an L shape and then anchored to the base with L-brackets.

Here's the bar mirror and the "top shelf," also hand-built by Mr. Piglet. I like the little rail that corrals the bottles.

Here's a close-up of the bar top. We glued down dozens of these little "dash plaques" from many of the car shows we used to go to, then poured liquid epoxy all over it. The epoxy was a mess-maker, but it turned out really neat.

The jukebox plays an iPod so you can pump your favorite playlist into the bar. Next to the box is one of several autographed celebrity photos all - miraculously - made out to Steve (Mr. Piglet)! The one shown here says, "Steve - we'll always have Paris! Love, Judy." 

Here's the door to the "secret room." Seriously! When we were going through the house with the home inspector after making our offer, we didn't know this door was here. A large armoir was parked in front of it. The inspector looked at it from across the room, and said, "Oh, watch this." He walked over to it, pulled on the armoir, and the whole thing opened on a hinge revealing a little storm shelter room! Obviously he had seen this sort of thing before. We had been in the house at least three times before that, and NEVER knew the armoir was attached to a door!

Here's a closer shot of the door. That's faux "diamond plate" and faux "rivets" covering the door - hoping it looks like a heavy-duty industrial bomb-shelter door... which just happens to have a tamborine hanging on it, in case Linda McCartney stops by.

Hey I could've said Davy Jones, but he's unavailable.

What, too soon...? 

The basement has a very nice fireplace, but the chimney is all screwed up so we never use it. Here's a look at the mantel, again hand-built (but not yet finished). Over on the right you can see the singer's karaoke screen - the lyrics also appear on a larger tv on the wall out of frame so everyone can see them and sing along. You can also see a few more celebrity photos ("Steve: Many thanks, Jimmy Stewart"). 

Close-up of some items on and above the mantel. That's my "Bar Hounds" picture, of course, and some other family-favorite items. The Hamms Bear calendar has the name of a TV show on it - "Beat the Bear," which was a local sports prediction show here in the 60's and 70's. The show was sponsored by Hamms, and featured a guy wearing a Hamms bear suit who would come out and write down his predictions for who would win the week's Big Ten college football or basketball games. Viewers would send in their own predictions and try to out-guess the Bear. (Hence, "Beat the Bear.") For years, my dad was the guy in the bear suit. 

Finally, here is a little corner where you can listen to the karaoke or wait your turn at the pool table. 

Overall the space is not entirely finished yet (there is still some blank wall space here and there... plus the carpet desperately needs to be replaced!)... but it is a fun party room! 

I'm linking our party room to the Remodelaholics' "Fun Spaces" link party! Join me for a beverage? 

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Swooning over Old Country Roses

I promise to stop talking about dishes real soon... maybe... but right now I just have to SQUEAL with delight over Old Country Roses. Why? Because I recently completed a "Buy It Now" listing on Ebay for four dinner plates, and they arrived on my doorstep yesterday, just as described (perfect!) and for a great price. With the purchase of these plates, I can now serve dinner for six and am only one plate away from dinner for eight!  

This beautiful pattern by Royal Albert of England is the fairest in all the land as far as I'm concerned. It is  the Holy Grail of dishes for me. It was launched in 1962 (the same year as me!), and is still in production today. It is the most popular pattern ever produced by the Royal Albert company. Yet I cannot remember the last time I saw an individual piece in a thrift or antique store, let alone at a bargain price. And on Ebay, individual dinner plates generally range from $10-16 each, plus an additional $10-12 for shipping. I am just too cheap, and too impatient, to pay that much and wait for reasonable auctions to come along, so my OCR journey has been long and frustrating. 
This past week, however, a few stars aligned. I found an Ebay auction for FOUR dinner plates, with a "Buy It Now" price of $45 - that was only $11.25 per plate, and that included shipping! After carefully reading the listing and consulting a Royal Albert web page devoted to Old Country Roses and its various backstamps, I determined that the plates shown online were actually made in England (not Indonesia, as has been the case more recently) and were at least purported - by a seller with 100% positive feedback - to be in excellent condition. I even had (arguably) a spare $45 to spend. 
After thinking it over for... oh, maybe 30 seconds, I realized that if I were at the antique mall where shipping is not a consideration, and I spotted four OCR dinner plates in excellent condition for $11.25 each, I would snap them up. So I did the "Buy It Now" and then waited anxiously for my plates to arrive intact. Yesterday, they did - and they're beautiful!  

I tell you, I almost cried. For now, after a dozen years of collecting, I think I will finally serve Christmas dinner on Old Country Roses! 

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