Things To Do in Arizona....When you Want to Go Vintage Shopping fair AZ flag wood

Things To Do in Arizona….Go Vintage Shopping!

Vintage shopping is not always in a tourist’s mind when traveling unless you are me (hopefully I’m not the only one). Every place I travel to I like to see what local goodies I can find. And when I say local goodies, I’m not talking about the local foods and yummy drinks (well, I check those too!) but historical local goodies. For example, if you visit states in the East coast you are more likely to find older furniture (British, French, Primitives) and smalls from the Civil War (forks, cans, bags, buttons, etc). Go to Missouri or Louisiana you will find lots of French goodies (furniture, lace, etc).

But what about the West? Compared to the rest of the country the West is relatively young or so we think.

amigas4all things to do AZ old wood heartsWe know that the Spanish visited some areas of Arizona between the 1500 and 1700s with their forts and missions but this was a long, long time ago and we wonder how much of it survived. And what history can we gather since, say the late 1850s, when things became a little more official (the United States bought Arizona from Mexico in 1853)? We also know that Arizona was a territory until 1912. If you think about it, it’s not that long ago. Sorry, I must have lost you by now with the history lesson but this background is important when looking for certain antiques or vintage items. Which brings us to the question above: What kinds of antiques can one find in Arizona?

Well, most people think Cowboys and Native Americans when they think of Arizona. Sure they are a great part of Arizona’s history. Trailblazers, inhospitable heat, dryness, creatures Things To Do in Arizona....When you Want to Go Vintage Shopping fair AZ wagon wheeltrying to kill you (rattlesnakes, scorpions, Gila monsters! Yaiks!). It took these pioneers a lot of courage and it took a lot of tools to build this State! And you can count on one thing from Arizona’s vintage shops: spurs, primitive tools, cowboy hats (oldish and new), dried wood boards-the kind you can make signs with! (Heart palpitations and itchy hands just talking about it!) and lots of Native American goodies (moccasins, dream catchers, headdresses (old and new), arrowheads, turquoise and more.

But Arizona is not all about cowboys. People have been living here for a while and one thing Arizona is big with: New residents! That’s right! People who come from all over the country and the world to live in Arizona and with them: Stuff!! French furniture, British desks, the works! It’s like having the world at your feet, right in your back yard (I mean, not literally your backyard but close enough).

So with that in mind and knowing I can find all sorts of goodies from all over, what is a girl to do? Where do I go to find those things?

amigas4all things to do AZ pipe lamp

Arizona is filled with vintage/antique stores everywhere. Some of the places I like to go are not too far from me in Phoenix. But cities nearby also have great stores and some are pretty close to the “old west”. I mean, they are new cities but still growing and you still see the same buildings from the early days of the West full of vintage goodies. It’s like traveling through time!

Please note that I am not making any money telling you about these places. In fact, they don’t even know I’m talking about them but I will tell you because these are my favorites in Phoenix. I will give you names and if you Google them you will find the addresses very easily.

Brass Armadillo: They have two stores in Arizona but my favorite is the one in Phoenix.

Imagine a store the size of a giant supermarket (big box type) full, I mean FULL of goodies. Vintage, old, rusty, rustic, used, beat up goodies. Furniture of all kinds, from primitive to mid century to mid 80s. Old books, clothing (vintage and old), hats and purses (imagine finding hats from the 30s-so adorbs!).

The store is divided in stalls where each vendor displays their goodies and the aisles are given street names. Why streets? Because this place is huuuge!! If you find something you like and you can’t carry it around, you’ll need to be able to find it somehow to pay for it. Street names are an easy way to do that. They even give you a map of the store when you first come in. The map has lines for each street so you can write the vendor number, the item number and the street name so the store assistants can locate the piece and save it for you, especially large pieces. I have “lost” what I wanted many times because I forgot to write the street name. The place has so many “streets” and “stalls” that you can easily spend 4 hours there and not even see the time go by. They even have a resting area with tables and chairs by the bathrooms so you can take a break during your shopping. The only drawback is not having a coffee shop (it closed recently-sniff!).

Some of my best furniture I found at that store. Including these babies

amigas4all things to do AZ daybed

Amigas4all things to do in AZ low daybed fireplace

These were super well made 1960’s twin beds. I paid $120 for both beds and while the varnish was chipped, the wood was in excellent condition. I sanded and painted them and since I needed a day bed and a couch for two different rooms I used the two head boards to make my ultra fancy “daybed” in the “inside porch” I created in the parlor (yes, a parlor! Cute!-Left Pic) and the “couch” went to the fireplace area in my living room (Right pic). For that one, I used the foot boards so it would have lower sides.

Amigas4all things to do in AZ candle holder antique 1820Other goodies I found there were this 1820’s candle holder for $100 bucks!!

Amigas4all things to do in AZ white side table

This cute table

These salvaged doors from the 1910’s

Amigas4all things to do in AZ door mexican primitive

Amigas4all things to do in AZ valance old door

One became a Mexican primitive art project (I will soon post this step by step project) and the other became frame/valance in my bedroom.

This is the kind of place that you walk around and feel the good times come back: “Oh look! My mom had those plates when I grew up!” Or “I had that very lamp in my bedroom!”, “Grandma had that collection of pictures in her house!” It’s like walking on memory lane.

The best part is that it’s not just old or vintage. It’s re-purposed, recycled, renewed and/or ready for your own talented hands to do that same. It’s worth checking that place out.

Amigas4all things to do in AZ Vintage art

Melrose on 7th Ave”: This is not a store but several stores in one street! 7th Avenue in Phoenix (between Camelback Rd and Indian School) is a street that used to be a run down area with tire shops and miscellaneous office buildings. It was slowly revitalized and it is now a great spot for vintage, antique and all sorts of stuff to recycle and reuse.

If you like walking you can park your car in one spot and go up and down the street (bring comfy Amigas4all things to do in AZ Vintage art trunk deskshoes, it’s a long street!). The problem is you’re gonna want your car nearby because it’s impossible to leave those stores without a lot of stuff! You will find places selling just clothes, mid-century furniture (Mids are a big deal in AZ-Frank Lloyd Wright built and inspired a lot of building designs in Arizona). You will also find “Goodwill type stores” where you can buy good quality dressers and other furniture you can refurbish to give it that vintage look. I am sure you will find a lot of inspiration pieces too and lots of materials to create new “old” things.

One of the stores I like to shop in that area is Home Again. It’s not a large store but it is PACKED with stuff.                                                                                                                   

I found this screen door from the 1810’s there. Amigas4all things to do in AZ 1810 doorI use it as a display piece for my babies’ feather wreath (I have a lot of birds who shed feathers every 6 months! I can smell another tutorial right now) and I also use it as a frame for my favorite wedding photo (notice the same pic in the salvaged door above?)

Zinnia’s at Melrose: This is another store I like to shop for vintage and unusual stuff. This is a two-storey warehouse type building with soooo much stuff your wallet will be shaking in its boots (do wallets have feet? Wow, that’s deep, man!). 

There are also vintage fairs here and there, especially when the weather is not ridiculously hot in Arizona. Just two weeks ago I went to this lovely fair at the Cardinal’s Stadium where lots of vendors were showing their creations. From upcycling to recycling, from shabby “chic-ing” to plain old rusty stuff, there was something for everybody.

Amigas4all vintage fair things to do plate flowersAmigas4all vintage fair things to do vintage things Amigas4all vintage fair things to do buckets                                                                                    

I got great new connections for future blogs and inspiration for my future projects and posts. I had to really control myself not to buy everything (well, I wanted this wagonwheel for my bar decorating project-here). In the end it was a little too heavy for my ceiling (sniff).

amigas4all things to do AZ old wagon wheel metal

Well, this is just a sample of things you can do in Phoenix when vintage shopping. Believe me, I didn’t even scratch the surface.

Happy Shopping!

Decorate a Bar With Primitive Mexican Painting DIY and Save a Bundle!

I love Primitive Mexican Painting. But they cost a lot of money. Even in non-touristy areas, it is hard to find a Primitive Mexican Painting that will not break the bank. At least in my book.

So I decided I was going to DIY my Primitive Mexican Painting! Or Paintings, since I can’t just have one!

But before we get into that I will tell you a little bit about the research that went into finding the art I wanted to make.

The research (ahem, “shopping”)

Amigas4all primitive mexican painting diy do it yourself diy living thrifty angelThe Primitive Mexican Painting you see in the pictures are not mine but inspirational pieces! Each would have cost over $150 per picture on the average.

Way too much since I wanted to add several in the bar I’m decorating with a Mexican/Day-of-the-Dead theme. I sure didn’t want to pay that much.

So I decided to use some of these ideas to create my own art. And you can certainly get inspired and try your own style.

You may even free hand it if you have the skills I sure don’t have! While I can do a little bit of everything in life I was never a painter. But this one is actually is easy even for the paint-challenged like me.

The Materials for a primitive MExican painting

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All you need is a photo of the art you like. PAmigas4all primitive mexican painting diy do it yourself diy living thrifty katrinarovided you are not selling copyrighted material you can certainly copy and modify it so it does not violate any laws or rights. Personal use only!

You will also need an old board, log, tray or rustic surface to create this art. Old windows or doors can also be used for a statement piece in a room or entryway!

These are so cool it will look like you traveled the world and brought some pieces with you.

Finally, you will need a good qualify acrylic paint (here’s where to get a kit) and a printer (black and white is just fine 

So first, start your research on the images you like to try. If you have traveled somewhere exotic you can also use those images. We will talk about the transfer process in the next post (but here is the link if you want to start now).

In the meantime, you can check what I have done so far with my bar decorating part 1decorating with bar stools part 2 and finalizing the bar stools part 3.

See you soon!

remodeling tips, safe remodeling, asbestos and mold

Remodeling Tip of The Day: Demo Day is Fun But Full of Surprises!

DIY, safety, safe remodel, tips, decor, mold, asbestos, constructionRemodeling tip of the day: when demo-ing your house or room in your next project make sure to test walls for lead and asbestos.

You can find these kits online for almost nothing and test your walls before doing anything.

If your house is older than 1978 very likely you will find these unwanted surprises. Also check for mold in wet areas.

But don’t be surprised if you find mold a few feet away where is not wet at all! Water has the uncanny ability to travel and you just never know.

Types of Materials to avoid mold infestation

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In my bathroom remodel, I found mold in an area very far away from where the original trouble spot was. And get this, wood floors!! In the bathroom!!! It looks nice and all but wood and water don’t mix!

Remember the old nasty habit of putting carpet in the bathroom? EWWW! With the new products out there you can find tiles that look like wood boards (I used that in the bathroom redo) or you can use vinyl planking

It looks like wood but it’s laminate and waterproof! I used vinyl planking in the upstairs bathroom. And it looks great! (more on that upstairs remodel in a future post).

Seal, Seal, Seal

Be wise when choosing flooring or even counter tops for wet areas. Be sure to seal any exposed grout and gaps on counter tops, showers and tubs. There are new materials out there for sealing including silicone in colors! You can now match your grout color to the seal. No more white gunky looking seal around the tub. Another EEWW!

Safety measures when remodeling

It seems pretty obvious but always wear a mask when doing demo. You never know what you have behind your walls and even cabinets. We all love demo day but finding mold and other toxic substances can be dangerous without the proper protection.

If you come across any suspicious growth get it tested and if positive, have it handled by professionals. You can still do your remodel afterwards. 

remodeling, DIY, safety, safe remodel, tips, decor, mold, asbestos, constructionToo often I see clients who did their own remodel and now they are disabled because of lung issues, cognitive impairment, tremors, confusion and the list goes on.

We all like to save money but your health is priceless. Be careful!

I was starting my bathroom remodel and found all of the above (mold, asbestos). The sign on the picture was hanging on my laundry and bathroom entry for days! (sniff).

I was still able to do the remodel once the professionals gave me the green light. It only took a little longer than I was hoping for but I still had fun finishing the project. More on that project soon.

Have a happy and safe remodeling!


Bar Stool Redo part deux

How I Brought My New “Old” Bar Stools Back To Life-Bar Decorating Part Deux!

 bar stools, DIY, restoration, furniture to life, restore furniture, restoring furniture, bar decorating, bar of our dreams, new "old" chairs, stain, how toOh! The “Wild West” home bar of our dreams …but no bar stools to match!

As you saw in part 1 of our bar decorating saga (here’s part 1) we managed to get the bar of our dreams in a bargain deal, but when we were looking for the chairs we were shocked to discover how expensive they were, especially if you wanted to use a rustic style.

Out of Our Price Range

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Some of these bar stools were more expensive than a car!! Who pays $1000 for bar stools? No offense to those who can, but seriously?! My head was going 1000 miles per hour thinking: Who in the world could pay for 5 bar stools if they were that expensive?

And the look I wanted complicated things. I wanted something “Old West” or Rustic style like this:

bar stool redo image sample

The price wasn’t bad but I just could not afford 5 of them. So, I looked here, there and everywhere for something similar. 

How We Found Our Bar Stools!!

I engaged the help of my research queen and friend “McGiver” Carol. She lives in a place where there are a lot of Mexican goodies including rustic furniture, just the way I needed.

She searched a little bit and wouldn’t you know, she found them! And after a little bit of back and forth, she was able to buy them for $35 each! Guess how much these are brand new? 260 bucks! 

The bar stools looked perfect in the room (Here are some more pictures). They were only selling 4 stools but we figured out later that 5 bar stools would have looked a little cluttered.

Especially when you add two more tables and bar stools around them as I later did (see my posts for table 1 here and table 2 here).

Getting the bar stools refinished

The first thing I needed to do was give them a good scrubbing.

Once that was done the bar stools were ready to be restored. I mean, ready to be stained.

Note that the wooden seat in one of the chairs was deformed and the other was separated.

I could have just replaced the wooden seats with a new wood base, but I thought that even if I sanded all the wood around the legs and back, they would never match the rest of the chair no matter how much I tried. I later decided to upholster the seats (here’s how I did it)

But before that, I started by nailing the warped seat to level it a little. Even if the seat was not perfectly level the foam and fabric would certainly hide the problem. 

The other bar stools had other minor imperfections and they were easy to fix. But once the bar stools were stained they would still have some “character” since they would still show that they had a previous life somewhere.

In other words, they would not be the cookie cutter stuff you find with faux rustic stuff. These were the real deal. Especially because the wood in my bar is completely rustic. It has even wormwood holes in it!

Love rustic everything!!!

The next task was to stain them. I opted for two colors of stain: one to bring life to the wood – Minwax Wood Finish Stain- Color Provincial 211 (a little more yellow). Then Minwax Wood Finish Stain – Color Red Chestnut 232, a more reddish color to change the pale appearance and match at least some points of the wood in my bar (see).

So here’s the final product! I know it’s hard to see but these chairs were very dull and ready to crack because of dehydration.

bar stools, DIY, restoration, furniture to life, restore furniture, restoring furniture, bar decorating, bar of our dreams, new "old" chairs, stain, how to

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Join us for the next step, the upholstery project, and see how simple it is to give life to a stool/chair by simply adding foam and fabric!

It is not difficult, and it is super fun to see the final product. And you can tell everyone that you made it yourself! Let us see your project in the comments below!

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See you in a jiffy,