Eh, Better


I was going to start a new series and name this post, “Before and After.” In a “Before and After” post I would, of course, show a picture of some mussy garage sale find and then, of course, a stunning “how did she do that?!” picture of the reinvented piece. Then I would humbly wax poetic about my abilities for finding the diamond in the rough, and round-about brag on my ability to find the cast-off that everyone else ignored. My design vision is superior and I would write about it.

But I quickly realized that the “Before and After” concept of this millennium has kicked my butt out of the arena and I can’t compete. I’m no match. See, as soon as I use the words “Before and After,” my dear reader, you will expect a jaw-dropping junkamorphosis. A spectacular redo (with just glossy paint and a few glass knobs!) that lifts you off your couch.

And I can’t give it to you.

I blame cable TV makeover shows entirely for my own makeover mediocrity. Before this silly genre put home decorating on crystal meth, I did pretty well for myself.

But makeover shows have humbled me. A too-pretty designer* starts the show by identifying a family’s home dec problems and giving a detailed plan of her overhaul. And I really feel hope arise in my soul. Then, tripping around in cute clothes and kitten heels, she and her 250-member crew knock out walls and crown-mold and tile and patina until the space is unrecognizably stylish. She has handed this family a better life. And I mean it, she has: never fail these designers also gift the poor schlumps with tearful Oprah-presents that cure their bad credit and reverse their Stage 3 cancer.

And I just can’t do that. (I’m only one woman.)

So I decided instead that I would start a series called, “Eh, Better.” In an “Eh, Better” post, I would take an OK garage sale find and improve it, almost imperceptibly. I would wax poetic about how my child broke a china plate at a garage sale, so I felt obligated to buy some blah piece at full price AND three Dixie cups of lemonade from the lemonade stand, then slink away with a piece I didn’t really want. Then I would show the “improvement” made to justify this purchase. I am stressed-out and unshowered, and I would write about it.

For this “Eh, Better” I found myself at a shoddy garage sale with no few good finds. There were lots of “seed packet” kitchen art pieces mingling with assorted sundries like shoe horns and lemon reamers. Yikes. (When I’m in a cranky mood, these kinds of garage sales bug me. It’s hard to say, “Oh well, better luck next time” when I know I just spent 20 minutes and $3.84 in gas just to get here.) But as I was about to run leave, I spotted a piece with a little potential. A bit of gaudiana from the early 70’s paneled living room era: a pair of brass leaf sprays for $1. I imagined these leaf sprays flanking a framed print of an oilpainted sailboat but maybe that’s not fair.


As they were, these leaf sprays were tacky, with a garish raw brass finish. But the lines were good. I’ve spied similar pieces in current decorating magazines, where the gilded leaf sprays spill over entryway mirrors. A pretty look, and I thought I may be able to fake it with these tacky leaf sprays. So, with a coat of cheap gold spray paint, I got a look I like. The difference between the raw brass finish and the gold paint finish is not huge, but it’s important. The gold paint has a richer color, and marries well with today’s palette. I decided to hang the spray right above a framed photo I have in my bedroom. I used two small brass nails to hold the spray in position. And by angling the nails up and catching branch intersections, the spray stays put like it should.


I think this spray would also look cool as a Christmas decoration. If I tied a long red ribbon to the stem and hung it branches-end down, it would look like a mod spray of mistletoe, and I like that!

OK. Bad garage sale saved.

* I have long told myself that beautiful people have flaws like the rest of us. Sure she’s gorgeous but she probably can’t carry a tune, or make a decent pie crust. I’m sticking with this theory.