Saturday, November 22, 2008

We're still plugging away!

Wow. Where has the time gone? It's been 2 months since I've posted, and...we're still not open! But we've made major progress. Let's see....we've re-wired, re-plumbed, built a bathroom, finished out the store's office (which Rob will inhabit), hung hundreds of doors and windows on the ceiling, torn down the old and built a new balcony and railings, and much more that I probably can't recall at the moment.


The original wood balcony and railings were rather rotten and unstable, so we ripped them all down and started over. We were going to redo them in wood, but then decided that iron would be more indestructible. Here's a visual:

For awhile, the building truly looked like Dogpatch. Witness:

But now it's finally almost done! We just have to get our awning built, the new lighting installed and the sign hung. Hallelujah! Here's the sign that will eventually hang over the door:


It seems like we've been hanging doors on the ceiling forever. We had no idea how time consuming this particular idea would be. But the end is in sight -- they should all be up in a few days.

After we'd installed a few dozen doors, it became obvious that the weight of them all was not structurally ideal, to say the least. So....we had to add a giant beam the entire length of the store and install several posts. We used barnwood again....and a few trees for good measure.

As for the in-store bathroom, it turns out its floor was completely rotted. It's a miracle some poor soul hadn't fallen through to the basement. So, we completely ripped it out and rebuilt it, walls and all. During and after:


So what have I been doing in my spare time? Making all kinds of goodies for the store.

I've been doing a lot with feathers. ;-)

More stuff:

That's all for today, folks. Onward and upward!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Big damn bands and the great depression

As the financial sky is falling…and I'm reading online how some people are already hoarding food and gasoline and such for the next great depression…our little tourist town seems to be bustling with traffic this weekend. It's a good thing, as Martha says.

Of course, my view of the traffic in town this weekend is strictly as a casual observer. Perhaps our tourists are not buying anything, just soaking up the atmosphere. With my store not open, I have no sales information. (sob)

I'll update you, dear readers, about WHY we haven't opened yet in a future post. This, that and the other have conspired to delay things considerably. Just in time for the great depression. What wonderful timing we have! More later on that...

In other brighter news, the welder was here all day, actually until after 8 p.m.…on a Saturday, no less…shoring up our new steel deck structure. Now it won't budge…or rot…for the next couple of hundred years.

I went to Harrison, Arkansas today and made a haul. My intention was to just hit Home Depot and get a light fixture for the new bathroom and head home, but I made a stop at my favorite little spot (and no, I'm not going to tell you where it is!!) and found some luscious sconces, bunches of lampshades that I'm going to re-cover and tart up, and a couple of very tall silvery lamps. Yum.

And last but not least, I love this town! We walked up the hill to Basin Park last night to hear Rev. Payton's Big Damn Band, followed by Trout Fishing in America. What a fabulous concert. Things like this are why we moved here, and we haven't been disappointed.

Life goes on.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dear deer

I hit a deer yesterday.

I was on my way to Rogers in the rain and fog, and a young deer (I know he was young because he was spotted) dashed out in front of me. Thwack. I stopped as soon as I could, and there was no sign of the deer and no damage to my I think I just grazed him. Maybe.

Anyway, I am now initiated into the "I hit a deer" club of Northwest Arkansas. Deer are everywhere. They are in the woods. They are downtown behind our shop. They graze in people's yards. It was just a matter of time before my car met one up close and personal.

Speaking of deer, just look what came in this week! Wonderful deer items -- even more beautiful in person than the pictures show:

More later!

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Things are just not progressing as fast as I'd like. But then I've never been known to have any patience whatsoever. We did get the sconces up and most of the barnwood. And Jeff is building out the window display.

After much discussion, I think we've decided to do away with any institutional overhead lighting and just use chandeliers. I ordered a bunch a few days ago, and we're planning on converting old chandeliers into colorful works of art. So no chicken lights. Maybe.

Merchandise continues to pour in. And it's everywhere: in the basement, in closets on the first floor, and in our apartment. Witness half our bedroom:

I went to the annual Eureka Springs "Yards and Yards of Yard Sales" on Friday and picked up a few cool things. We actually got up and out at 7 A.M. (unheard of for me, but I guess I'd better get used to it.) Candlesticks, bookends, books, and this:

It has finally gotten HOT here and I'm not liking it. More later!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Progress report

Things are humming along! The wall panelling is up and painted:

Now it just needs its barnwood trim. Speaking of barnwood, here's my assistant Amber scraping and cleaning our huge delivery today:

Note that the specks in the photo are dust particles flying through the air. (Amber hates this particular task.)

Jeff, our carpenter, is finishing up the display window, putting in old hardwood flooring. (It will be scraped and painted.) The ubiquitous barnwood will line the window frames and back the display unit.

And finally, the merchandise is pouring in! Boxes and boxes and boxes...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sneak preview

I've been on an ordering binge, making sure I have all the core elements before we open. Let's see, I ordered several pieces of gorgeous whitewashed furniture (chests, sideboards and shelves), lots of white linens, glass knobs, vintage laundry accessories, silver deer accessories, unusual vintage cards, and tons of blue-and-white, which I've previewed below:

Plus, we've ordered all our barnwood and are having several display tables made. There's a wonderful place here that carries a plethora of old wood, plus the owners build really wonderful furniture out of their better stock. I bought one table from them months ago, and now I've commissioned them to make the rest of the tables for our store.

The wall panelling is going up this week, so we'll finally be able to see what the store will look like. Woo hoo! It's really coming along.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chicken lights

So I'm wandering around Home Depot looking for very simple stainless pendant lights for the store when I come upon these "brooder" lights. (Brooder lights are used to heat henhouses...I think.) If I thread them with the same heavy chain I'm using to hang the doors from the ceiling, I think they'll look cool. Plus, they have matching smaller clamp lights for highlighting other areas of the store. Perfect!

But my workers think I'm nuts. They finally bought into the concept of doors on the ceiling, but they think chicken lights are nuts?! I don't quite see the problem. I think they'll just have to see it to get it. Or perhaps these lights will look stupid and I'll get something else. At 12 bucks apiece though, you gotta admit it's a pretty appealing lighting solution.

And...ta da...the doors are done. We decided heavy chains and hooks will indeed do the trick for hanging them. Since we have to sand the floors and that will make a LOT of dust, we'll probably hang the doors last. That's too bad, because I just can't wait to see how they look!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Oh no!!!

We had a minor disaster today .... although it didn't seem so minor at the time. We decided that we wanted to change the location of the cash stand, which involved cutting a hole in one of the walls. Now mind you, this is a stone building and the walls are 2 feet thick...and stone. But we found a portion of a wall that obviously had once been open and was merely boards and sheetrock, so we went into destructo mode and hacked into it. It happened to contain plumbing from a previous bathroom, but no problem! We'd been told that the plumbing shut-off for the whole building was upstairs.

Au contraire! We cut the last pipe and water started gushing everywhere ... including through the floor where the toilet had been ... which happened to be over where my merchandise is being stored in the basement. EEK!!! Lots of cussing and running and mopping ensued.

In the end, it wasn't as bad as it seemed. We were able to rescue most of the merch. But the adrenaline rush just about did us in.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hard at work

This is the store in all its gutted glory. The original store space had pegboard on all the walls, old carpet on the floor, and popcorn ceilings. We immediately ripped out most of the pegboard and the carpet, but the lovely popcorn ceiling finish was a dilemma. Having just dealt with that issue at our house in Dallas, we knew that we had to come up with an inventive solution to cover it rather than scraping it off. (It's a nasty job, believe me.) We toyed with doing tin ceiling tiles (too expensive) and slatted wood (expensive and time consuming), but our final decision was to put old doors on the ceiling. So....we painted the popcorn dark brown so it would recede into nothingness, and bought 57 doors of varying sizes and degrees of disintegration.

Note that I just mentioned "time consuming" in eliminating another ceiling treatment. It turns out that getting the doors suitably aged but not filthy and falling apart is a very very labor intensive operation. First we blew the initial dirt off with an air hose, then went over them all with steel wool, then vacuumed the dust off. That process worked on a few of the doors. The others had to be stripped, sanded and painted, then we'll apply a crackle medium. After that, we paint again and clear coat with a sealer.

We're still debating how to attach the doors. I initially imagined chains holding the doors about 8" from the ceiling, with lights hanging down through the areas where glass or screen had been. However, there's some concern about stability, so it's back to the drawing board.

So much for the doors. We're going to put whitewashed barnwood on the walls and paint the wood floors in a large checkerboard pattern.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Welcome to Cottage Caboodle

Hello all! This marks the first entry in Cottage Caboodle: The Blog, which will be all about cottage style and all about Cottage Caboodle: The Store. The store is under construction as we speak, and will open in a few months. I'm shooting for September, so cross your fingers, please. It is located at 11 North Main Street in beautiful Eureka Springs, Arkansas in a wonderful old building we bought a few months ago.

The building has a rather colorful past. Built around 1885, the charming stone basement originally housed a swimming pool, the first floor was a saloon, and the top floor hosted...ahem...a brothel.

But we've cleaned up the old girl's act, and now half the basement is my husband's workshop, where he'll build wonderful goodies for the store; the first floor and the other half of the basement will be Cottage Caboodle; and we are living "above the shop" on the second floor. We moved from Dallas about a month ago and have finally fine-tuned the apartment to my satisfaction ... and now we're working on the store. In the meantime, I'll keep you updated on the store's progress as the days and weeks go by until our grand opening. And once we open, I'll fill you in on what's going on in the store, in Eureka Springs, and in the cottage world.

Cottage Caboodle will feature new and vintage accents and accessories, furniture and fittings, fashion and finds, all chosen to enhance the cottage lifestyle. What is cottage style? Warm, cosy, homey. Sometimes a little shabby and worn. Sometimes new but reminiscent of vintage. Lovely smells and tastes, gentle textures and serene surroundings. A tad funky but always tasteful.
Stay tuned!