Author: upcyclingmylife

Kate is Upcycling Furniture — and Upcycling Her Life

Kate reupholstering chairs, 2012

About Kate

Kate in England 2012
Kate in England 2012

Hi I’m Kate Williams… …upcycler, re-imaginer and re-puposer, do-it-yourself-er; adventurer in antiquing and vin-tiquing; adult learning specialist and social media strategist and trainer.

I am shopping for salvage and upcycling furniture — and upcycling my life.

UpCycling My Life is a new and evolving creation inspired by a process over the past 5 years in which I have struggled to reclaim a life with a central purpose and a lifestyle that supports bringing my best self to my personal and work life, without a huge disconnect between who I am and what I do (and how I live it and do it).

Daring Greatly

The process became focused for me when, in the interests of “daring greatly”, I decided that I stood to lose nothing by talking publicly about my life and business struggles — and that I stood to lose a lot by hiding and pretending to be more confident than I am. Avoiding the vulnerability that arises when I engage openly in struggle and inquiry comes naturally. The price is the loss of engagement and possibilities for love and joy and purposeful living that are the result of withdrawing from direct engagement with the realities of human life.

Recently, conversations with a new friend and mentor, Lynn Terry, put me on a fast track to clarity by putting the concept of Upcycling at the center of my personal and professional inquiry into “What’s next for me?”

What is Upcyling?

Here is the definition of upcycle:

Reuse discarded objects or materials in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.

But What the Heck Do I Want?

When I first asked myself…

What is the lifestyle I most want? How can my current interests and passions lead to a purpose and well-spent mature life and work aligned with my life goals? What business activities will both support my lifestyle and be aligned and integrated with my lifestyle?

Kate

… I had to do some mental prep and housecleaning before I could muster up the courage to start over — again.

Daring Greatly: Courage, out on a limb

I Arrived at My Sixties…

I arrived at my sixties feeling sidelined and “not up to it” and “not enough” and with an empty reservoir of emotional resilience for the tasks at hand. I was unemployed and underemployed from my mid-fifties and my business had not developed enough to support me. I was in a relationship that I didn’t know how to contribute to so that it could grow and sustain us both….

I arrived at age 60 broke and feeling defeated. My secret shame was that I considered myself a failure — someone who had tried hard to recover emotionally and financially from moving, divorce and unemployment in my early forties.

No Stranger to Starting Over, But…

I have started over and re-invented myself many times. I’ve had a meandering career path and also a meandering relationship/marriage path. When it was time to start over, I seemed to jump in wholeheartedly. But competence and even brilliance at work was the bedrock of my life. I started having brief successes punctuated by false starts, stumbling and financial setbacks.

Long story short, I tried and failed to leverage some money from my father into a viable business and failed. And that is part of my story. Get up, get going, stumble, fall down, get up again…

And Something Else Changed

I hadn’t been able to tap into my well of energy, persistence, determination, will and cheerful optimism and professional confidence. I think I arrived at sixty with only a trickle in the stream that feeds the well. I pull it together and run dry. Wait for it to fill up some and get going again. Fits and starts.

Partly it feels like I’m trying to do things that are out of sync with the energy and purpose of this phase of my life. (That’s BIG, right?)

So, Back to the Question

I moved to England to live with my daughter and her family for about two years. I recovered from a surgery in great health. I didn’t worry about where my next meal was coming from or how to put a roof over my head. That was a huge blessing. People loved and cared for me the way a family does, just because I am Mom and Grandma — and I helped take care of things that “need a village.” I took some time to think about things and to re-imagine my life and work.

Recently (December 2013) I have traveled back to the Pacific Northwest, USA, to spend more time with my mother and live and work back in the Skagit Valley where I lived for a decade before moving in with the kids.

So, what do I want? Work aligned with my life goals and present values, taking me toward the lifestyle I want. And I would add — taking me there fast enough to get there before I die. (OK maybe that’s just a bit over dramatic, but not really when every minute seems to race from here to there.)

Upcycling is What I Do

Kate Upcycling Furniture

What you’ll see here at UpCylingMyLife.com is my process of experimentation as my life and projects unfold through engaging heart and hands in the process of learning, trial and error and reflection. You will see how I go about the process of upcycling my life, re-imagining, re-inventing and re-purposing the parts of my life I want to reclaim and renew and combine in new purpose.

You will also see how I spend time in the places I love to hang out and the things and materials that are so much fun to discover, explore, and upcycle.

Warm regards,

Kate Williams: UpCycling My Life into something with new beauty and purpose.
Mount Vernon, WA – February 20, 2014

P.S. I will always value your comments and messages here in my blog and at my Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/UpCyclingMyLife

About Kate Williams

Kate Williams is an upcycler — re-purposing the elements of her life (and things) to create something with better quality and value. Find Kate at work in the Pacific Northwest, USA, and East Anglia, UK. Upcycling: antique furniture and vintage home decor. Profession: adult & social learning specialist. View all posts by Kate Williams →

Join Kate in Upcycling Adventures

Join Kate in her adventures in upcycling her life, shopping for salvage and re-imagining, reclaiming, re-purposing and recycling.

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Buying Furniture on a Budget at McMillan Bros. Auction

By Kate Williams on April 1, 2014 in Salvage Shopping, Upcycling Furniture

I recently moved from England to the USA and I’m living in the Skagit Valley in Washington State. I’m house hunting and also exploring my options for buying furniture and other home decor and home furnishing items, with an eye to upcycling and re-purposing materials and items.

My search started with a trip to McMillan Brothers Auction Gallery on Dunbar Road in Mount Vernon, Washington. What a great place! And to think I never visited them when I lived in Mount Vernon before I went to move in with my kids in England. I guess I was just too distracted by my job and commute. Becoming an auction junkie commenced in England.

First Visit to McMillan Bros. in Mount Vernon, WA

First Visit to McMillan Bros. in Mount Vernon, WA

I found some great furniture — and I got a personal tour around the auction room and storage areas.

Display inside front door of McMillan Bros., Mount Vernon, WA

And there’s plenty of furniture ready for your bids to buy furniture on a budget!

One way to buy furniture on a budget — at McMillan Bros. auction.

And here’s one that got away….Bids were just too high on auction day. It went for more than I wanted to spend at my first experience buying furniture on a budget at auction.

I have my heart set on a piece like this at some point…but first things first…I need to hold out for some basic pieces to set up a new place to live (like a couch, kitchen table, etc.). And when I buy furniture to refresh and refurbish, the price has to be right. <Sigh>

There will be many more auctions and flea markets to come!

Check out the website for McMillan Bros. Auctions  if you are on the trail, buying furniture on a budget. They have some exciting auctions coming up. There’s something for everyone from furniture to jewelry and other collectibles including fine art and toys.

Warm regards,

P.S. My next post about treasures found at auctions will be this week or next. I’ll focus on treasures to be found outside, in the architectural treasures to be found in auction yards. Don’t miss out! Sign up for my list (right hand sidebar) and get my blog updates.

P.P.S.  More McMillan Bros. pictures available at my Facebook page. Take a look (and please LIKE my page)!

Milk Paint Powder: What is It? From Wikipedia: Milk paint From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Milk paint is a nontoxic water-based mixture used as a paint. It is made from milk and lime with or without pigments added for color.[1][2][3] Borax may be added to the milk paint recipe to assist the lime in dissolving the casein and as a preservative.[4][5] Though milk paint has been used for thousands […]Continue Reading 0

Vintage Costume Jewelry: Kate Upcycler Following Her Nose

By Kate Williams on March 30, 2014 in Vintage Jewelry

Is This Vintage Costume Jewelry? I have a new source of income to add to my multiple streams (trickles for now  ) — a part-time gig as Instructional Coordinator for a training company whose entrepreneurial founder and executive is not only growing a school providing  career and technical education, she’s drop dead gorgeous and a […]Continue Reading 0

House Hunting with an Upcycler: Finding a house to do up and make a home

By Kate Williams on March 17, 2014 in Kate’s Adventures

Larry is a really nice guy, a real estate agent who is house hunting with an Upcycler. I am the Upcycler searching for a house to do up and make a home. I don’t have a big budget so I’m competing in a hot market full of bargain hunters who want to find a house […]Continue Reading 0

Kate is Upcycling Furniture — and Upcycling Her Life

By Kate Williams on March 3, 2014 in Kate’s Adventures

About Kate Hi I’m Kate Williams… …upcycler, re-imaginer and re-puposer, do-it-yourself-er; adventurer in antiquing and vin-tiquing; adult learning specialist and social media strategist and trainer. I am shopping for salvage and upcycling furniture — and upcycling my life. UpCycling My Life is a new and evolving creation inspired by a process over the past 5 […]Continue Reading 0

Kate’s Upcycling Projects in the UK: Upcycling a French Country Cupboard

By Kate Williams on March 2, 2014 in Twisted Wood, Working with Antiques

In 2012 Kate moved in with the kids and daughter Georgia and Kate had some wonderful adventures in antiquing and vin-tiquing in East Anglia. This upcycling project was first featured on the Facebook Page for Twisted Wood, our furniture business in the UK. Upcycling Projects from the United Kingdom: Our First French Piece This cupboard […]Continue Reading 0

Vintage Furniture Restored: Summer 2013 at Twisted Wood

By Kate Williams on July 12, 2013 in Twisted Wood, Vintage Home Decor

Vintage Furniture Restored: Recent Twisted Wood Projects Solid Oak School Desk The desk graduated from our backyard workshop after: Rust clean up Removal of some permanent marker graffiti Light sanding Danish oil treatment This piece was not polished, varnished or heavily waxed as we found it. We used Danish Oil to finish. From Judith Miller’s […]Continue Reading 0

How to Flatten Bubbled Veneer with Hand Weights

By Kate Williams on July 9, 2013 in Twisted Wood, Working with Antiques

A Project: Flatten Bubbled Veneer with Hand Weights One of the projects for this week is to flatten bubbles that developed in the top of a dining table we are refurbishing. Lacking the tools from the restorer’s guide I was using, here’s how I’m achieving the result with the weights I borrowed from my grandson: […]Continue Reading 0

UpCycling and Recycling for Money: How to Make Some Money on the Road

By Kate Williams on July 6, 2013 in Recycling for Money

Upcycling and Recycling for Money Do you have a way to make money while you are on the road? A side gig that you can do even while you are traveling? When I moved to England recently (moved in with my kids), we needed a way to make more money that we had coming in […]Continue Reading 0

Our Own Antiques Roadshow 2012

By Kate Williams on January 31, 2013 in Adventures in Antiquing, Kate’s Adventures

On the Road in East Anglia, UK: We take in the sites and begin our education in antique and vintage furniture with our own Antiques Roadshow on the road in East Anglia, UK. In the late Spring into Summer 2012, Georgia and I (Kate) combined exploring the UK, especially East Anglia, and exploring the world […]Continue Reading 2

Seared by the Memory

By Kate Williams on January 22, 2013 in Moving In With the Kids

“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. (Applause.) Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. (Applause.) Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is […]Continue Reading 7

Vintage Furniture Restored: Summer 2013 at Twisted Wood

Vintage Furniture Restored: Recent Twisted Wood Projects

Solid Oak School Desk

The desk graduated from our backyard workshop after:

  1. Rust clean up
  2. Removal of some permanent marker graffiti
  3. Light sanding
  4. Danish oil treatment

This piece was not polished, varnished or heavily waxed as we found it. We used Danish Oil to finish.

“….oil has fallen out of favour during the past century. However, it is extremely durable, produces a lustrous satin finish and provides very good resistance to heat, liquids, and knocks and scratches.”

From Judith Miller’s “Care & Repair” of Antiques and Collectibles”

Curio Display Cabinets…

…in all sizes and shapes.

…all lovely.

This lovely girl doesn’t need more than a clean up and a bit of evening out of the color where time and light have bleached out the color in some places. Did you know that mayonnaise will sometimes do the job? I also have a couple of products designed to feed the wood at the same time they add color to even out the color of wood with rings, marks and places lightened by sunlight and/or drying out.

The patient is waiting for her next treatment on the operating table. LOL. This beauty had its wood worm treat outdoors. Next step? Fix wobbly legs. Some glue and some small nails needed, I think. The inside back wallpaper is in good condition despite needing to rush out about 4 a.m. this morning to bring her inside out of the sudden downpour of rain. Good thing the thunder and lightening woke us up in time to rescue her.

Not every girl can have such lovely sturdy and shapely legs!

The chairs in this pic sold as a set before the table. The table is the same one in the first picture in this post which is having weight applied to let the top surface dry to its final hard surface without bubbles. The legs and frame have been waxed to a soft deep glow so the wood will be protected and last another one hundred years.

The table was finished with a lot of elbow grease but not much complicated “fixing”. The new set of chairs are getting a final sturdiness tune up and some wax to finish off the wood. They are a upholstered in a wonderful red color.

And There’s More

More posts coming up to highlight specific projects and work in progress. (And as always, we love your thoughts and ideas and reactions/feedback left in the Comments section below this post.)


Ultimate Blog Challenge #12 July 2013


About Kate Williams

Kate Williams is an upcycler — re-purposing the elements of her life (and things) to create something with better quality and value. Find Kate at work in the Pacific Northwest, USA, and East Anglia, UK. Upcycling: antique furniture and vintage home decor. Profession: adult & social learning specialist. View all posts by Kate Williams →

Join Kate in Upcycling Adventures

Join Kate in her adventures in upcycling her life, shopping for salvage and re-imagining, reclaiming, re-purposing and recycling.

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Upcycling a French Country Cupboard

Kate’s Upcycling Projects in the UK: Upcycling a French Country Cupboard

In 2012 Kate moved in with the kids and daughter, Georgia. Georgia and Kate had some wonderful adventures in antiquing and vin-tiquing in East Anglia. This upcycling project was first featured on the Facebook Page for Twisted Wood, our furniture business in the UK.

Upcycling Projects from the United Kingdom: Our First French Piece

This cupboard was discovered one Friday morning in The Covered Pens at the Diss Auction Rooms of T.W. Gaze. We rescued this piece from rain damage and wood worm and hauled it up the stairs to its first home in the hallway of the base house at Lakenheath Air Force Base (where I had moved to live with Georgia and her family).

As a rule, pieces of French vintage or antique furniture sell for more than English brown wood, and this piece was not an exception. We had to bid higher than our comfort level (for beginners) to get this piece. And, we had no intention of re-selling it so no plan to recoup our investment and make a profit.

You can’t see what Kate Twisted Wood had to do on the folding stool (far right) but it involved a lot of cleaning and treating of the wood on the back and top of this beauty. Also notebooks propping up bottom of cupboard where foot broke off when we carried it from the van to our upstairs landing. — at RAF Lakenheath.

Bees Wax to rub into the wood which was very dry and splintery.

Exterior starting to shine (so much the flash is reflecting off the wood). Elbow grease!

Wood Glue to put the foot back in place.

Wallpaper added to shelves.

Upholstery and curtain fabric and sewing supplies stashed on the shelves.

Fabric stash for a couple of new “secret” projects.

Finished with Tim’s trophies and mementos replaced for safe keeping.

Twisted Wood: A Commitment to Up-cycling Old Wood with Natural and Traditional Restoration Products

As we spent many hours learning the ropes at auctions and trying our hand at repairing and restoring old solid wood pieces of furniture we (Georgia and Kate) learned to avoid restoration projects that involved too many volatile chemicals. We developed a preference for products that fed the wood and refreshed the finish versus stripping and refinishing. The wood worm treatment of pieces became routine but this is the last piece I treated for wood worm indoors. Outdoors with mask and rubber gloves became my rule!

We acquired some solid wood furniture pieces that were destined for paint. Our favorite paints became those based on older, more traditional paint formulations, like chalk paint and milk paint.

More about wood refreshment and furniture finishes coming up!

Warm regards,

P.S. I’d love it if you took a moment now to “LIKE” my Facebook page for UpCycling My Life. There’s a LIKE button in the sidebar to the right of this post. If you’d like to receive email updates from me, sign up in the sign up box also in the right-hand sidebar.

P.P.S. If you haven’t already shared this post, the place to share is below. Click on the icon to share at your favorite social network. Sharing REALLY is caring!

About Kate Williams

Kate Williams is an upcycler — re-purposing the elements of her life (and things) to create something with better quality and value. Find Kate at work in the Pacific Northwest, USA, and East Anglia, UK. Upcycling: antique furniture and vintage home decor. Profession: adult & social learning specialist. View all posts by Kate Williams →

Join Kate in Upcycling Adventures

Join Kate in her adventures in upcycling her life, shopping for salvage and re-imagining, reclaiming, re-purposing and recycling.

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Seared by the Memory

Photo ® http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com

“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. (Applause.) Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. (Applause.) Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends — and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.” ~Inaugural Address, Barak Obama, 2013

Our Citizens Seared by the Memory of Those We Have Lost…

It wasn’t until I lived on a military base and watched AFN (Air Force Network TV services) that I have felt “seared” daily and really felt impacted by the memory of those we have lost.

Each day, AFN presents a public service announcement as a memorial to the men and women recently lost in conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq primarily.

The announcement includes the name and rank of the service member, their age, where they died, the base they were from, and their home town. It is searing indeed to see the recent loss of young people, mostly aged 18-24, who died in service so far from home and just days before I see the message.

I am a proponent of showing these messages as public service messages to replace commercial break in morning and evening news shows on network TV at home. I’m also a proponent of showing the caskets arriving with ceremony at US bases. Part of being an informed citizen is seeing and feeling the deep impact of our decisions as a nation–and acknowledging the price we have paid collectively and as families.


About Kate Williams

Kate Williams is an upcycler — re-purposing the elements of her life (and things) to create something with better quality and value. Find Kate at work in the Pacific Northwest, USA, and East Anglia, UK. Upcycling: antique furniture and vintage home decor. Profession: adult & social learning specialist. View all posts by Kate Williams →

Join Kate in Upcycling Adventures

Join Kate in her adventures in upcycling her life, shopping for salvage and re-imagining, reclaiming, re-purposing and recycling.

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Our Own Antiques Roadshow 2012

On the Road in East Anglia, UK:

We take in the sites and begin our education in antique and vintage furniture with our own Antiques Roadshow on the road in East Anglia, UK.

In the late Spring into Summer 2012, Georgia and I (Kate) combined exploring the UK, especially East Anglia, and exploring the world of antique and vintage furniture. We dabbled at first looking for what we liked for our own house and what people started telling us they would like to find but hadn’t yet. What follows here and in the next “volumes” of our Adventures starts with photos we have posted at Facebook.

About Kate Williams

Kate Williams is an upcycler — re-purposing the elements of her life (and things) to create something with better quality and value. Find Kate at work in the Pacific Northwest, USA, and East Anglia, UK. Upcycling: antique furniture and vintage home decor. Profession: adult & social learning specialist. View all posts by Kate Williams →

Join Kate in Upcycling Adventures

Join Kate in her adventures in upcycling her life, shopping for salvage and re-imagining, reclaiming, re-purposing and recycling.

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2 Responses to Our Own Antiques Roadshow 2012

  1. Leslie Jeansonne January 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm # Stunning photos. I have always wondered if thatched roofs leak? If they don’t, why not?
    • Kate Williams February 1, 2013 at 2:22 am # Leslie,
      Thatched roofs do not leak. They function like tightly woven baskets. Many overlapping and tightly woven layers shed water.
      Kate

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Kate is in a phase of her life that has put upcycling and re-purposing at the heart of her life and work.

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