MONTHS ago Gadora and Sandra set about Austin with a few bucks and a mission: hit up some garage sales and blow our wad. We had a ball, and late in our day we hit the mother load. A lovely lady was selling the farm and we scored a funky rug for $5 and four ladderback chairs for $2.50 a piece. That’s practically free, we thought.
4 ladderback chairs…
They sat in the garage all of the fall and most of the winter. Staring at me, sometimes I stared back. Once in a while I’d give them a close inspection. No markings, they appeared to be handmade. A little wonky, the front legs were longer than the back. But they’d make someone a nice set, and surely we’d recover our $10 investment.
The seats were tightly woven jute, soft and pliable, and in really great shape.
When Gadora first moved to Austin, I maneuvered my new city by mapping out consignment furniture stores and set sail. Navigating new (to me) boutiques, I rated them on a very serious four smiley-face scale. 1 “=)” was given to mediocre stores of which I’d already seen enough and 4 happy faces were awarded shops with discerning taste—those I’d recommend to friends. On one such outing, Gadora and Paige the Wonder Wagon happened upon an empty building at the busy intersection of Mary and South 1st.
Ooooh. It was fun. The cinder block walls and flat roof line immediately drew me in. The building reminded me of so many of the mid-century buildings that littered Tampa’s palm-lined streets, it simply felt like home. I parked and stuck my nose in every window it had. Who owned it? Why was it empty? Oh, wouldn’t I turn it into something marvelous! I pitched the notion to my GF—together we were sorting out how to turn “Gadora Wilder” into a viable source of income—but she just couldn’t see it. It was dingy. Lackluster. And needed work. With a little imagination, and with a few strokes of Photoshop, I reworked the building into this…
I’d paint the thing Gadora’s favorite Chartreuse green. Working with the building’s original metal awnings, I also envisioned adding a teak pergola along the street-facing front. As I’d use the space as a workshop-of-sorts to refurbish furniture, its garage doors were perfect for throwing open on those rare days the Texas heat let up. I showed my partner that pic, she immediately got on board. We mentally carved out every square inch of space: allocating room for my wares, a roomy workshop space, a place for gathering and learning and even fathomed a coffee spot. That was more than a year and a half ago now…
Gadora has happily been off-line lately. Out of the country, actually. Just returned from Istanbul, not Constantinople*, where I spent a splendid week with the family.
Beforehand I’d hurried through the packing, sure to include only the most essential wardrobe elements: slouchy Frye boots, sensible-but-saucy walking shoes, 2 leggings, lots of lightweight sweaters and tops for layering and a Harajuku Lovers cross-shoulder bag. I was certain to buy a mess of stuff at the famous Grand Bazaar. On the quickie layover in Chicago, where I caught up with a dear friend, I remembered I’d neglected to pack a journal. I wouldn’t survive the 10 1/2 hour journey across the Atlantic with Sudoku alone! After perusing a few shoppes in bustling Geneva, Gadora decided to make her own.
It would boast no lines. I’d be doodling in it, after all. We found it at the local Walgreens, but it was lacking any style. My friend had a recent style-guide with a suitable cover, and allowed me to commandeer it for the project. Tape, I’ll need tape. And scissors. Easy enough, though she’d just moved into her new digs.
Just as rotten wood cannot be used for pillars, so base people cannot become masters. ~ Chinese Proverb
Speaking of wood… the pieces for the 2nd Floor lounge are still coming together. We. Are. Almost. There. Gave a brief presentation yesterday letting the company know about the rooms’ various cool bits. MP3 player and built in speakers. Indeed. Metal car parts-turned-coffee table and bar console. Check. Interactive chalkboard wall. Yep. über durable hand-woven hemp rug. Dude.
Gadora envisioned funky wooden blocks that might serve as extra seating or side tables, and a bar along the back wall for laptops and drinks (keep reading!!). I found a stellar wood resource through a contractor, who then connected me with Lee Edwards of Old Texas Floors. Walking through Lee’s massive warehouse of stacked wood harkened a bit of nostalgia. The smells and infinite hues of lumber reminded me of my Granddaddy Henderson who, among other things, was a wood turner. I’d saunter down to his self-built metal barn and proclaim, “whacha doin?” He’d stop long enough to entertain me for a bit, then would get back to his wood-turned bowls and twisty candelabras. On my way out I’d stir up some sawdust, climb on his old Ford tractor, then skip my way back to Grandma in the house. I was too young to truly appreciate how special those days were.
Lee was excellent to work with, and skillfully interpreted my original ideas better than even I imagined. AND the finished pieces are a PERFECT complement to Joel Hester’s coffee table. I can hardly stand it!!!
Support beams turned stools…
The stools came from 100-year-old beams rescued from a warehouse in New Orleans. They were stacked so neatly and begged for a little attention. He’d normally use them for flooring, but a quick negotiation promised them for the 2nd Floor lounge project.
I knew immediately they’d turn into something spectacular.
An update on the 2nd Floor lounge. We’ve put the petal to the metal, andit pretty much rocks. But first a quote, “It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.” ~Author Unknown.
It takes the work of one genius—Joel Hester of The Weld House—to reshape automobile metal into relevant home furnishings. He’s got a knack for seeing the future in old rusty car parts, which he translates into working furniture. Here, a ’65 Chevy stepside…