This week, we are sharing all about Elsie’s dining room library that she’s been renovating these last few months. We’re also sharing a listener’s question about vintage shopping, and we have our first book club report for you!
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You can can see the “before” photo of Elsie’s renovation here.
Here are a couple photos: Elsie’s dining room library and arched doorway. So excited!
-Follow along on Instagram to see more updates (including the kids’ library).
-Links: Elsie’s dining room chandelier, wall sconces (love this dupe, too!)
-Inspiration: Knives Out house, Any Nancy Myers Movie, and the Home Alone house.
-Tips on where to buy used books: Go to any used book store near you. Elsie loves McKay’s used book store. Also, check out estate sales in your area.
-Tips for searching Etsy, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace for good vintage finds: Save your favorites, shop around a lot so you know what you like and what is really vintage, and keep saving so the algorithm knows what to show you.
-Check out this blog post by Elise about shopping on FB Marketplace.
-We mention Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
-Elsie’s Lunar New Year decorations
-Elsie’s favorite Chinese baking cookbook and mooncake molds
-It’s book club discussion time. Let us know your thoughts on A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder on this IG post.
Comment below and tell us: Do you think having too many bookshelves in a house is intimidating for a home buyer?
Miss an episode? Get caught up!
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- Episode #132: Business Secrets
- Episode #131: Reactions to 2022 Trend Predictions
Episode 134 Transcript
Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. This week we’re sharing all about my library dining room which we’ve been renovating these past few months. We’re answering a listener’s question about vintage shopping. And we’re doing our first book report this week for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.
Emma: Yeah, Book Club.
Elsie: Oh hell, yeah. The book club has finally began. What’s funny is, remember we promised them that we would do Playing Big First, but we changed it. See, that’s why we told you that the book club has to be loosey-goosey because it really, really, really, really does. But we are both done reading A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder so we’re gonna do that one this week and I’m excited.
Emma: That’s going to be at the end of the episode, so it’s going to have spoilers. So when we get to it if you haven’t read that yet, or if you’re in the middle and you don’t want to know the ending, then skip that part of this episode and save it for when you’re done with the book.
Elsie: Okay, so oh, today is Valentine’s Day. Happy Valentine’s Day, sister.
Emma: Happy Valentine’s Day.
Elsie: We think Valentine’s Day is a heart-shaped pizza holiday. That’s the most that I get out of it. Every once in a while my husband gets me a funny present on Valentine’s Day, which I love. I love a funny present. Actually, with kids, I guess I help them with their school Valentine’s. That’s all of it for me, though. What about you?
Emma: Last year, I put up some decorations, but I didn’t get around to it this year. We just had a really busy January and I feel like I’m just keeping up with work. So nothing for me.
Elsie: Yes. Okay, so another reason why I don’t do as much with Valentine’s anymore is because it’s always at the same time as Lunar New Year. Our family celebrates Lunar New Year because if you didn’t know both of our children are adopted from China. We celebrate it every year. We’re about to have our big party this weekend and I’ve been decorating up a storm. It’s really fun.
Emma: I like it. They’re always excited for the little gold coins you do in the envelopes.
Elsie: The coins are a thing.
Emma: Chocolate gold coins, I should say.
Elsie: So addictive to my kids. Last week, I was invited to Nova’s kindergarten class and my husband went with me as well. We set out oranges on the tables and we got everyone a Lunar New Year coloring book. Then we read a book about Lunar New Year. All the kids were raising their hands asking if the monster from the legend was real. I was like, no, no, no, no, no, it’s not real. It was so fun. My daughter Nova was jumping up in front of the kids being like, and there’s mooncakes and you’re not supposed to cut your hair, and just saying all the little facts that she knew. So it was very cute and it made me feel just really happy that her Asian culture was being celebrated in her kindergarten class.
Emma: Yeah. Awesome. That’s really cute. She sounded like she was very into it. I love that.
Elsie: Yes. Okay, so I just found out actually, you always find out when you do something wrong and you post it on Instagram. Immediately. Okay, so mooncakes are for the Autumn Moon Festival and Lunar New Year is more about other Asian traits. But hey, we learned to make mooncakes and it was fun. I don’t think it’s bad, hopefully. I don’t think it’s bad that we included them.
Emma: Well, to be honest, Nova got me a Chinese baking cookbook for Christmas. That was her gift to me, which was so sweet. I had told her then that we were going to do one of the treats from it, we’d make a recipe from it the next time I visited her. So honestly, I just picked something from the cookbook that seemed easy. It didn’t have a lot of ingrediants that we could accomplish with small children. So that was really why we picked the mooncakes. We did also like kind of different mooncakes, it’s one that has ice cream in the center, instead of red bean paste or anything. Which was in the cookbook, it was like one of the options, but I was like, oh, this will be easier. Cooking with kids, you try to make sure it could be something that they can help with and be successful and all of that so that was really why we picked it, to be honest.
Elsie: Yes, it was extremely easy. So in the show notes today, I will link the cookbook because it’s actually a Chinese baking book, which is super fun. I’ll also link the mooncake molds because that was a part of it, and I’ll show a picture. All of that will be in the show notes today. Then we also did a Frozen-themed tea party. So for Christmas, Emma shared a couple of weeks back that Marigold got her Princess Elsa dress, an adult-sized princesses dress. So I went on Amazon and ordered the princess Anna dress, FOMO. Then Nova got the Olof costume because she’s not into dresses right now. Then of course Marigold was young Ana, or sorry young Elsa.
Emma: Not Ana. No, no, no, no. She’s Elsa only.
Elsie: Yeah, so we had a delightful Tea Party. We blasted the soundtrack of Frozen and pretty much ate some candy at about nine in the morning. It was super fun and magical.
Emma: Just a regular old tea party dressed up like princesses, normal Saturday morning stuff.
Elsie: It was really special.
Emma: It was cute.
Elsie: It was so wonderful having Emma in town for the weekend. It’s probably definitely going to be like my favorite weekend of the whole year. It was just perfect. It was the perfect weekend.
Emma: It was. It was great. And I got to see some of your in-progress renovations in person. Instead of just seeing them on Instagram, like everybody.
Elsie: Do you think it looks better in person or worse? Tell the truth.
Emma: Better. I guess I don’t listen to stories with sound on all that often, which I guess probably most people can understand, so I didn’t even totally understand the hidden library part like that the armoire was going over the whole. I didn’t even totally get that.
Elsie: A lot of people don’t understand it. I think that it’s one of those things where you’re not gonna understand, even I like in some ways, we’re changing the plan as we go because it has to be modified quite a bit. So when it’s done, and we make a video showing how you walk through it, I think that’ll be the best way to explain it. We’re doing our best to try to show it but also it’s like, I’m still even imagining how it’s gonna turn out because I can’t tell yet. At the moment right now and we’re recording, the door isn’t cut into the back of the armoire yet. There’s kind of some screwy stuff going on with the walls. I just don’t know. I hope that it turns out really cute though.
Emma: Well, it’s one of those projects that it’s very different.
Elsie: Okay, so in a few weeks, when it’s really done, and we really have videos and pictures, then we should do an episode and really explain it and show it and everything. But at this point, I’m still crossing my fingers and it turns out good. It’s definitely the strangest and most problem-solving project I’ve had this year.
Emma: Yeah, that makes sense. Well, tell us then about your library dining room. Well, there were a few other things I saw while I was there, but that was the other big thing that you’ve been working on lately. Let’s get into that.
Elsie: Yeah, so I wanted to share in this episode all about the library dining room. I was afraid that it was going to be like a large amount of backlash. Let’s start there. I thought that I was gonna get crazy backlash. So basically last year, I was desperate to just have any kind of cute spot in the house because we hadn’t started renovating yet. Cullen and I would like to put up a little wallpaper here, like paint something here.
Emma: Yeah just felt very bare. Beautiful house but just really bare, empty.
Elsie: Just super big and empty and then when it still had all the tile floors the vibe was just weird. There’s no other way to explain it.
Emma: Cabinness or I don’t know what the right word is but like it felt like a cave.
Elsie: Yeah, a big cold box. So anyway, what we did last year, I just randomly had this idea. So we had this little stone ledge, do you remember we first moved in there, there was a stone ledge little nook in the dining room. It was super weird because the stone ledge was way higher than the table so it just made everything, it made our very large dining room table look like shrunken dollhouse furniture. It was just confusing. I knew I didn’t like the stone, a lot of people did, surprisingly but it wasn’t for me it was like set into the drywall.
Emma: It didn’t really go with anything else but I can understand like, functionally it was a spot to have a buffet-style dinner. You could probably set like hot things on the stone, like a hot pot of soup or whatever. So I understand that, but like, it did not look like the rest of your house. It just didn’t go with anything.
Elsie: Yeah. I mean I’m not saying that it wasn’t useful, because we were setting things on. It was like another little table. It was just like, had no vibe. So this is a 1990s house. It can be any style we want it to be I know I don’t want it to be 90s style, what do I want it to be? So I was like, either I want to channel kind of the mid-century leaning more into the 70s, or do I want to channel more like the 1920s or earlier. Kind of like the Nancy Meyers vibe that we love. At first, I was trying to do things with the 70s style because that was the one that comes the most easy to me. It matched more furniture that we had because we just moved from two midcentury houses in a row. It just was the style also that we were like the most used to doing. It felt like it was like a part of my identity almost too that I wasn’t ready to give up. Then all year I was thinking I kind of like really just want to do like I want to try to make it a wanna be historical home. I really, really, really wanted a historical home. It just was not going to happen in our area with our house shopping options at all. I just like couldn’t ever get over it. There was this one house that we looked at that, it was sort of like the one that got away, right?
Emma: Yeah, yeah. There’s always one.
Elsie: Yeah, there’s always one that sticks with you that you just like, ah. When I was still thinking about the 70s, a little more on the modern side vibe, we did a built-in buffet. So we took the stone, hammered it out with some kind of big sledgehammer. Then we added, Cullen did his first drawers built in there. They were really, really, really oversized. I don’t think a picture can really show you. They were probably like four feet long. They weren’t moving in and out easily. Cullen’s so good at building but they weren’t like professionally made cabinets. They didn’t feel right, because they were just so big. It was his first time to make cabinets like that with drawers.
Emma: He did better than I would.
Elsie: They looked really good and they did work. It wasn’t like a drawer you open and shut every day. That wasn’t really the problem. The problem was that we did this big arch over the top and it looked super cute. We painted it pink. We put some little shelves in there and for a while, it was the cutest part of my whole house. But then when we decided to do the arch door openings and we decided to lean more into the historical home inspiration, at that point, I knew that that little spot wasn’t fitting in with the rest of it. I was afraid people were gonna be real mad just because I had just done it. I mean, I’ll be the first one to raise my hand that like bloggers are can be really wasteful. There’s times when I’ve been rightfully accused of that.
Emma: Did you get that response? Have you heard that a lot?
Elsie: Not really, this is what was so weird. I was like really, really sensitive about it and really geared up for this big backlash. But when I finally showed people we were going to do a fireplace there instead and that it just didn’t really fit the room plan. Everyone was like, I like the new plan better, instantly. So I was very surprised. I think that just proves that I can never predict the internet. I shouldn’t even try. I worked myself up over something that didn’t even happen. Then other times, you know, I don’t even know the backlash is coming, and then it’s so confusing.
Emma: I totally understand being worried, like I get where you’re coming from. But I also I’m like, I wonder if maybe you were feeling a little bad about spending the time and money on that project and then realizing it wasn’t a fit and changing it. If you are feeling like oh man, I made this mistake and it costs us money. That’s how I get, I’m like, oh, I can’t change this now even if I now realize, oh, this wasn’t quite a good fit or whatever. Like you just feel all this guilt, which is, it’s hard because you don’t want to be wasteful, but also sometimes you don’t know something things not going to work until you’ve done it. Then you’re like, oh, this doesn’t work. Take it.
Elsie: True. I think it was the first really big mistake I made in this house. Hopefully, I won’t make any more for a while. I don’t expect that I won’t make it anymore.
Emma: Well, I wouldn’t put so much pressure on yourself. It’s hard not to make mistakes. We all try don’t we but it’s hard.
Elsie: Maybe another thing that was helpful is that I was sharing it, like play-by-play every day on Instagram. So by the time I admitted that we’re taking out this, basically, brand new thing that we just did, maybe people were like, I kind of get it. They were going with me through all the overthinking. The lesson learned there I would say is to not start renovating and spending money until you have a full plan of what you want to do. But to my credit, this house was really hard to plan. It took a long time to get a visualization of what it could be, like a year, a whole year of living there. Then it finally one day like popped into my head. That’s not normal for me.
Emma: I feel like too that most projects you kind of have to start before you realize what adjustments you might need to make with it. Unfortunately, house projects, like designing a house, to start is expensive. It is going to take supplies and things like that. I’m thinking like, oh, well, when I started my novel, I’m trying to write a novel, I kind of realized pretty quickly after the first three chapters, I was like, oh, I need to adjust these things. These aren’t working. This isn’t the right path. I’m not going to follow this character around anymore but it cost me nothing other than my time. So it’s easier, whereas I think you start to feel this, I think there’s a word for it, it’s like sunk cost or something because you spend money all the sudden, you’re like, oh, I can’t adjust. I can’t change even if you kind of realized pretty quickly, like, oh, this isn’t the right paint color. But I already painted one wall and I already bought two gallons of paint. I don’t want to be wasteful. But it’s like, you might be better off just switching right then rather than being kind of stuck with something that thing’s not gonna vibe, you know what I mean? It’s so tough with houses because it’s just such a different thing than typing words on a screen or other types of creative projects that we do. People generally, not us, but people.
Elsie: That’s the perfect example because that’s just what it was. I think that the original design we did in there was really cute. If I would have tried to save it and build the rest of the room around it and would have left just that part in there, it would look weird. Then another part, this was hard to explain to people on Instagram but imagine this. So the new arch doorways that we put in, I think they’re like eight feet tall and the ceilings are like 10 feet tall. I think that the arch that was in there, the built-in buffet before, was like nine feet tall, so it was taller than the doorways, which was not right for the scale. It just showed that it had no planning like that was really all it was. If I would have done it all at once, I maybe could have put an arched opening buffet there if I wouldn’t have wanted the fireplace more, I could have maybe done an arch like a buffet that fit the style, and that fit the scale and that was right for the rest of the design. That could have worked too but it was just like doing it too early. I didn’t have anything to go off of. So that was the first thing was just like I was expecting people to be mad. Then no one was really mad. I actually got like kind of a million comments that were like, I’m so glad that you’re moving on from making every single thing pink, which was funny. Honestly, I still love pink so much and I will defend it to my death. I love it. I love it. When anyone paints anything pink, and they feel like they have to give me credit, it’s like my one little moment that I feel so proud to be an influencer. I’m actually not over pink. I mean, I went in a different direction just because it is fun to change things up too. So anyway, as far as what inspired it, my inspirations are so weird. All last year, all I talked about was Nancy Meyers movies. That was a big part of it. The other thing that has really inspired this house is the Knives Out house. If I could have a dream house it would be like the Knives Out mansion.
Emma: Same same.
Elsie: With like hidden doorways, paintings you can walk through. I also watched Harry Potter for the first time last year and I just got really into the little nostalgic details. I’m like, weirdly obsessed with the Home Alone house. That house actually makes me feel like the 90s of my house makes sense because it’s like a 90s movie. Some things about their decor is really 90s but then it’s also a historic home. For some reason, it’s like the last piece of my puzzle.
Emma: That makes sense.
Elsie: So my inspiration was really like, I want my rooms to feel super cozy, the bottled condensed form of cozy and nostalgia, as much as you can put into one room. That’s what I want. So the bookshelves, I just love bookshelves. If there’s one thing on Pinterest that I just like, seem very stuck on. It’s probably bookshelves or fireplaces. That is what inspired me. Then I guess my favorite part about it, right now, is that when you walk from the living room to the dining room, which used to be one big room, and now they’re separated by the little arch, which I love, have a little bit of different decor, which I love, but it’s like dueling fireplaces. You can see one fireplace from the other one and I feel like they’re like talking back and forth. They’re like best buds or something.
Emma: So I didn’t realize until I was there in person, quite the scale of the new fireplace, which it’s not totally done as of when I visited. But I just love how tiny it is. It’s so different from the other fireplace in the room that’s in the other living area or this is the dining room. I just the scale of it. Like it doesn’t have a chimney, you’re not planning to burn wood in there. It’s gonna have, I’m assuming like little fake candles or some kind of little thing like that. I feel like that’s a better size for doing that little cozy vibe rather than needing actual warmth, or I’m going to cook over a fire in this fireplace or whatever. So I’m like, oh, actually kind of dig this tiny fireplace. I feel like it’s the perfect size for little fake candles.
Elsie: Thank you. Yeah, I do feel like it fits the room really well. The comments that I love the most when people say that it looks like it’s always been there. That means everything to me like and I do feel like, it makes sense why the house could have been built that way. I mean, definitely wasn’t but it could have been.
Emma: Okay, I’m going on a tangent here. But you know how in that Elizabeth Gilbert book, I think it’s Big Magic. She talks about how a story idea or whenever, an art project, will like come to you, and then it’s your job to just grab hold of it and bring it forth into the world. What if room designs are like that? What if that room was meant to be a library with a tiny fireplace? That came to you, and you found it and you grabbed hold of it. I know it’s not like the Mona Lisa or anything but like what a fun way to think about your house that you’re trying to discover what this room is supposed to be for you. You know what I mean?
Elsie: Yeah, I do feel like for me, that there’s like a perfect design that’s somewhere out there to discover for every room. It’s just like trying to get to that point feels really exciting. I’ve never thought about that before but I want big magic to be a thing for interior design. That’s perfect.
Emma: I guess we’ve talked a little bit about like, how it changed the feeling of the room. Did you want to go into any bumps along the way? I feel like every project has something that went wrong and then we fixed it.
Elsie: Yeah. Okay, so this room, I don’t think that it had any really bad bumps. It has a couple of things that are weird about it. Right before we started construction, my husband was like, why do you have bookshelves in here? Can we just not? He was begging me to just, he was like do something else. The entryway has like some nice moldings and stuff, he’s like, do that, do wallpaper. He’s like, why do you want to have bookshelves?
Emma: He just didn’t want so many books.
Elsie: Yeah, he just didn’t understand why I wanted bookshelves everywhere in the dining room. Which to be fair to him. I totally get it.
Emma: Yeah, that’s weird.
Elsie: But I was so invested in it and stuck on it by that point that there was no hope. It was too late. Almost in my mind now, there’s no limit to how many bookshelves that I could put. I mean, if you have the space, if you have one extra wall, you have one extra bookshelf.
Emma: Honestly, if I went into a house viewing and almost every room had some kind of library in it or was a library, I would feel like I understood that person. I would be like, yes, exactly. This is what we want in our home. One could be like, instead of books, it’s filled with puzzles. I’d be like yes, I get you.
Elsie: Okay, here’s my question, I want to hear what the listeners think too, but do you think that having too many bookshelves in a house is intimidating for homebuyers? Because now we have three rooms in our house that have a significant amount of bookshelves, which obviously have to be filled with something. That’s like my one worry with it is like, I’m not thinking about selling right now, but if we did does it seem like what do I do with all these bookshelves if you’re don’t already have a book collection. I know how much work they are to fill. It’s honestly not that bad, in my opinion, but I think for some people, the cost of it, and then just the time commitment of going back to the used bookstores or going to the library sales, is not appealing as much as it is to me.
Emma: I hadn’t really thought of it that way. I guess you’re right, it could be a little bit intimidating. I will say though, I like it when people style bookshelves with things other than books or like a little bit of books, but then mostly decorative items or small pieces of art, or even like baskets that are full of kids toys or whatever, depending what’s going on in their family or stuff.
Elsie: That’s a good point. Maybe if they’re not all stuffed, then that’s better when you go to sell it so that people know they don’t have to stuff it either.
Emma: Well, plus, I would say the cost of ripping out a bookshelf, and then just fixing the wall a little bit versus adding one. I mean, I’d rather rip it out if I have to pick which one I’m going to pay for.
Elsie: That’s a good point, too. So you would vote not that intimidating, not a real problem.
Emma: I don’t think so. I mean, I even think moving to a bigger house when you know you don’t have enough furniture yet, I mean it’s intimidating but I think it’s also exciting. So I would imagine that the right buyers going to feel that way like oh, I don’t have enough books but.
Elsie: People probably don’t regret that until they’ve already moved in.
Emma: On the note of books, why don’t you tell us a little bit about collecting books, like tips, and where you got all your books and things like that?
Elsie: Yes. So people always send me tips. I love talking about where to buy used books. So if anyone has tips or stories, send them my way. I love hearing them. So my favorite things to do are, so there’s a used bookstore in Nashville I’ve mentioned before called McKay’s. It’s really big. Lots of the books are really cheap. I get books for 25 cents all the time or like $1. So it’s not an intimidating cost. It’s really fun since it’s a huge store. It’s really fun to collect. So in the dining room library, I’ll tell you all the sections. There’s a lot of spooky books because that’s what I’m really into right now, witches, ghosts, things like that, the Tarot, reading Auras, any kind of woo-woo thing. There’s a whole wall for that.
Elsie: Yes. A whole shelf for Stephen King, a whole shelf for Margaret Atwood, things like that, a Harry Potter shelf, a Twilight shelf, Of course. Actually, the Twilight shelf is like Twilight and friends.
Emma: Yeah, I saw some Ann Rice on there so I was like, oh is the vampire shell.
Elsie: Yes. Then the wall around the fireplace is all art books, design books I’m collecting. I’m trying to learn oil paintings so I’m collecting a lot of painting books and interior design books. I love like old just like houses of New England, houses of Virginia, I love books like that. Can look at those all day. Books about old rugs, like anything like that. So yeah, I mean, I consider the journey and I will say I’ve been collecting books for a month and it’s like half full, so is not crazy. I think part of that is that the bottom portion of all the shelves is cabinets that are closed. So I don’t have to fill those with books at all those can be for other things and that saves a lot of space. It’s not as intimidating to fill and there’s storage added. So I love estate sales and I wanted to give an estate sale tip. This is something that I only just learned this year and it is amazing. So there’s this website called the estatesales.net and just go on that website and sign up for notifications for your address like 10 miles, 20 miles, whatever you want, around your address, and every weekend you’ll get updates of the estate sales in your area. It has been a game-changer because they show pictures of everything. I probably go to one estate sale a month, like I don’t go to that many, but I look every week to see what there is and if it’s someplace that has a huge collection of art books or my vampire books, I’ll be there. There’s other things like everyone has their vintage thing that they’re looking out for. So I think that that is such a good tip. You can get an idea of really quickly if it’s an estate sale that like attracts you, or if it’s like, the same as most of the other ones, like a lot of former general elderly people stuff that you maybe aren’t into.
Emma: Yeah, you can tell like, oh, this person had a style that I’m probably interested in this type of stuff for my house. It’s a similar style or whatever or like, oh no, this wasn’t my style. So probably most of the stuff isn’t going to be what I want. Anything else you want to share about the library dining room?
Elsie: I will put the mood board in it. Then I’ll put just a quick picture, like a phone picture of how it’s looking right now. It’s not completely done so we don’t have the tour up on the blog yet but I will link in the show notes the chandelier and the sconces on the wall, things like that.
Emma: The chandelier is so special.
Elsie: Thank you. I love that company Stray Dog Designs. They’re just like, a work of art. It’s not even a light fixture, it’s more like a sculpture hanging, it’s amazing.
Emma: Yeah, no, it’s beautiful. In real life, it’s even more beautiful, I think than their photos. Their photos are beautiful. I just mean like, it looks like a work of art.
Elsie: It’s incredible. I think that’s everything. I’m excited. I will photograph it as soon as it’s completed. I cannot wait. But at the moment, I think we still have to get the fireplace tiled and maybe a couple of other little things. So it could be like a month still.
Emma: That makes sense? Next, we have a listener question from Christina. She says Elsie, what are your tips for searching Etsy and eBay for good vintage finds? I’m talking about Home Goods specifically so light fixtures, rugs, furniture. How do you identify what items you need in your home and might be best to purchase vintage? How do you refine your search to find the really good not fake stuff? Does it just involve a ton of scrolling and searching or do you have any tips and tricks? Good question. Very specific.
Elsie: Yeah, I love this question. Okay, I’ll say this is for eBay, Etsy, and also Facebook marketplace. I think it works for that as well. So my first tip is to save your favorites. So when, for example, I talked about how I spent the whole two Godfather movies, the first two Godfather movies, just shopping for vintage chandeliers. The movies also got into my brain because it was like the vibeyness of their light fixtures and just like all the houses, there’s a lot of mansions and stuff in the movies. Anyway, so I still like when I’m looking in my Etsy favorites, I still sometimes get back far enough to see all those light fixtures I saved and I’m like, wow, that was a mood. I think that you can’t really narrow down the stuff to find the one. For example from that day, I ended up buying one chandelier and I probably saved like 20. So I think you should save everything that attracts you and then narrow it down from your saved selections so you’re not comparing something you don’t even like to something you might buy. You’re comparing the best of the best of the best. I think for me, that’s the way that I like to narrow down. As far as not getting something fake, I will say it gets easier the more you shop, especially shopping online for vintage. I remember when I first moved here, I bought some hardware that said it was vintage or it said it was antique. Then I got it in the mail and was clearly not it was just like crap so I asked if I could return it and they said yes. It was totally not a big deal, it was from eBay. I think that you can tell and maybe that’s not a good answer but if you can’t tell, then shop more. Shop more for that category until you can tell. I think that with certain items like brass stuff, rugs, it should be easy to tell by looking at it whenever it’s not real vintage because you get used to like it looks a certain way, and then it just looks too new to be true. Then you’re like, okay, that one’s a replica.
Emma: I have a follow-up question to add to Christina’s question I guess. Do you filter by price or do you just go into it just saving favorites and then maybe narrow down by your budget first? I mean it’s gonna vary a lot because we’re talking about different sellers. They are going to have different so it’s just going to be kind of all over the place sometimes. How does that factor into your shopping? Like just ignore it at first so that you can kind of get like the vibe that you’re going for and then kind of narrow down with that or I don’t know.
Elsie: Yeah, in my Etsy favorites, you’ll definitely see some light fixtures that are like $15,000. I would never probably spend that much on a light fixture. I still want to in my favorites, because it’s a reference of something that I like, and maybe I’ll find one that’s just like it that’s $500 like, Stranger things have happened, right? It’s vintage shopping, anything can happen. That’s the thing that’s cool about it. I personally would save the expensive stuff even more because it’s something that inspires me to kind of look for it in the future. I actually don’t even think I really look at the prices until I’m actually shopping at the end. I’m in the narrowing down round and then I’ll start to consider, oh yeah, these are very different prices, this one’s double. But I think first you just have to like find your group of what you love. For me with vintage, it just is more affordable oftentimes, with rugs, light fixtures, lots of different. I buy a lot of like brass, like my brass incense collection like little sculptures, vases, things like that. It’s basically always the same price is what it would be at Target. I think it’s way more special. So I think that you really have to put in the hours though. Then another thing I’m gonna link in the show notes is our friend Elise did an excellent post about shopping on Facebook marketplace. It really inspired me after. I’m not a Facebook person, I kind of stay away from it. But after I read her post, it inspired me to go back on there and try. Her advice specifically for Facebook marketplace was basically to favorite everything that you even like at all so that it can learn what to show you. It’s very algorithm-based. It’s kind of like Pinterest, where people who think that Pinterest doesn’t show you good things just haven’t been on there enough because my Pinterest is honed in. You just like save, save, save, save, save, save for like a night or two and then all of a sudden, it’s like showing you all the cool antique stuff that you want to see. I’m like 50/50 on if it’s worth it to me to go to someone’s house to pick something up, just being honest. It’s just not my favorite thing. I have to be really motivated. I would not do it for a small purchase. So the thing I didn’t know about Facebook marketplace is that actually like a ton of people on their ship and I didn’t know that till I was doing it. Then I bought like some dishes on there and some random little trinkets and things like that. So you can definitely shop on there kind of the same as eBay and Etsy.
Emma: Love it.
Elsie: Good luck with that shopping, that is so fun. I just hope that our podcast will inspire people to vintage shop. That would be my proudest moment.
Emma: That’d be awesome.
Elsie: Okay, so now his book report time. So we’re gonna transition over to that. So the book we are talking about this week is A Dood Girl’s Guide to murder by Holly Jackson. It is a fiction book and we are going to give spoilers. We’re going to talk about the story so if you’re planning to read it or if you’re halfway through it, then go ahead and just pause the episode here and come back when you’re done. If you’re like, oh, I’m not gonna read it. I don’t care then keep listening. It’s for fun. Hopefully, that was a sufficient warning.
Emma: Mm-hmm. I think so. Yeah, I actually already owned this book. Whenever Elsie and I were planning out the book club picks for the year I kind of texted her a whole bunch of books I already had that I was like, I really want to read these so if any of these could go on the list, let me know. This was one of them. So I had been really excited to read it. I’ve never read anything by Holly Jackson before. So for those of you who aren’t going to read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, we will just give you a synopsis which will include spoilers as we mentioned. So it is about a high school student Pipa, who is investigating a murder. It is assumed that in her small town, this murder of Andy Bell is already solved and they already know who the murderer was. It was a young man named Sal, her boyfriend, and he killed himself afterward. She doesn’t believe that that’s the case. She thinks something else happened and she would like to investigate it. So she uses a school project as her reason to kind of continue the search for what she’s hoping will be the truth, which is that someone else was responsible for Andy Bell’s murder. She connects with the suspect’s brother and they kind of have a little bit of a flirtation and sort of have feelings for one another. It’s fun to watch them kind of banter but it also gives us more coloring into the young man’s life. She also meets, for a young adult novel, I felt she met a lot of pretty unsavory characters, and some fairly adult situations happen. There’s drug use in the book, there’s rape, there’s obviously murder. It’s pretty dark for a young adult, for a high school student investigation, I would say it was pretty dark. Throughout the book, she’s interviewing people, she’s trying to track down leads and she continues to use a log where she’s filling out kind of things for a school project. At the end of many of the chapters, she includes her list of suspects. So I’m going to put this person on the suspect list and different things like that. She does solve the case, she figures out who murdered Andy Bell,=. She kind of figures out a couple of things along the way because there’s two double twists at the end of the bow, there’s two twists. What were your thoughts? When did you figure it out and there’s two twists? So did you figure out the second twist or are you just like, what? I don’t feel like you’re that into crime novels or true crime podcasts because she does a lot of nods to that genre generally, which I really enjoyed. I don’t feel like you’re totally as into that world as I am so like, I’m just curious, like, were you like, whatever or were you like, oh, I know it’s coming. I know she’s gonna do this I don’t know how she’s going to do it but it’s going to happen.
Elsie: I didn’t know anything that was coming. I’ll say my take on it. So I enjoyed it. I thought it was definitely a page-turner. I listened to it over a weekend. I was cleaning my house and painting and listening to this book. I thought it was fun. I am not a true crime enthusiast. I’m probably, the only female in my age who doesn’t listen to True Crime podcasts. I feel very alone in that. So my take was that the first half of the book was very similar to season one of Twin Peaks was just giving me a strong Twin Peaks energy, which if you haven’t watched that show, then it won’t mean anything to you. If you have, I promise you like you’ll be like that thing, that thing, that thing, there’s so many little things that happen that went along with it and like you haven’t watched it right?
Elsie: So you’re like what are you talking about? As far as figuring it out, I didn’t feel like I really figured out but I never do honestly. Whenever I watch a show, I almost never know what’s gonna happen. Jeremy’s like over there saying the thing. I don’t really like knowing.
Emma: You don’t want to know. You’re just on the ride. You’re just in it for the ride. Yeah, I get that.
Elsie: Yeah. So then when it got to like the twist time, I was very into the double twist. I was glad that there was another second twist. But I had like a very, very bad can’t let it go.
Emma: You felt it was unrealistic. You couldn’t buy in.
Elsie: I felt it was unforgivable for me. I’ve talked to a lot of people, a lot of listeners are on Instagram, and they DM me about the books and stuff and we talk about it. I didn’t hear anyone else who had this particular can’t let it go so I think I’m probably going to be alone. Let me know if I’m not. But mine was, so at the end, the teacher, school teacher dad is hiding this woman in his attic at an old house that he didn’t sell for five years. He basically mistakes her for another person. So he has the wrong girl captured for five years and he didn’t notice. I can’t let that go. The other girl comes in and sees the girl and basically immediately knows that it’s a different girl and it’s not the girl who he thought it was or who they were looking for. So for me, I just, kind of my brain started melting after that part because I just don’t understand how I understand, like people were saying, oh, maybe he just wanted it to be her so bad. But I think that like faces are different and even when you know someone who looks like someone else, you kind of never think that someone is someone else for at least any length of time or someone who you knew. This was like a teacher who had had a relationship with a student so I think he would be able to tell it was a different person. That’s my can’t let it go.
Emma: Yeah, I see your point there. I don’t agree. I think mistaken identity happens a lot, especially in traumatic situations, I kind of think our brains mess with us a little bit whenever we have trauma. I’m not a psychologist by any means, but this is just sort of my hot take for whatever it’s worth. So I can buy into it. So I knew it was going to be the dad teacher, because of this clue she leaves fairly early in the book.
Elsie: About the home copier?
Emma: About the home copier, the home printer, I was like, that’s going to come back. And it can’t be the girl who lives there because that’s too obvious so it must be the dad. So I was like, okay, it’s gonna be him but I was like, I hope she does a double twist because that’s always kind of a thing in crime thrillers. I mean, it’s not always, but it’s a common thing that happens is a double twist. So I was like, I hope there’s a double twist because I have no idea what it will be. I think it is really hard to pull off for an author because it does have to kind of come out of left field because readers shouldn’t know that there’s even gonna be a double twist. So I felt she did pretty well with it and I enjoyed it. But I guess I was sort of hoping that it would be that the murdered girl was still alive. That’s what I was hoping for but that was not the double twist. The actual murderer was her sister and that was interesting too so I like that. But I also felt exactly like you is a real page-turner. Once I started it, and like really got into it. I feel like you have to give every new book a chapter or two. If you put down a book after the first chapter, I’m like, give it another couple chapters, because there’s just so much to accomplish out of the gate of like meeting the new characters and understanding them and caring about them. But once you’re into a book, if you’re just flying through it, for me, that’s like, okay, I really enjoyed this. So I would say this book fit the bill for me. I flew through it. Any minute that I had to read where Oscar was taking a nap or anything, I was like, okay, I’m reading this book, because I love it. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen. So I loved it. I really liked when she did lots of like, so it’s a high schooler who’s trying to figure out a cold case essentially, it’s assumed that it’s solved, but she feels it’s a cold case so she’s trying to solve this murder. She’s doing it for a school project. I liked how the book kind of had her filling in paperwork for her school project.
Elsie: I did love the logs.
Emma: Yeah, the logs. I really loved that device. I thought that was very fun. It was like, oh yeah, this is a high school project but this is pretty dark material. It’s just really interesting. I like that the author did that. It was interesting. I also really liked all the little things that sometimes come up in thrillers or true crime podcasts, like she did a murder map. So a map where she kind of put where people were or where the victim could have been things like that. Then she even did towards the end of the book, one of those I don’t know what it’s called, but like all the possible suspects and red thread that who connects to who and that’s like, such a cliche thing that I felt the author was kind of like winking at us a little bit. I really enjoyed that as to kind of like this genre. I like crime thrillers. I like mysteries. I love to guess who it is, I’m usually wrong. So I think it’s a blast. I like that she was kind of playing along with us I thought and bringing us into this world that we were a little bit familiar with, but like she was doing her own take on it. So I felt that was really fun.
Elsie: Yeah, I would definitely say it has a lot of familiar things, no matter like what you’ve read or watched in the past you’ll recognize, like there was strong ties to like the Serial podcast and like other things that are just big popular culture things. Okay, so what would you say was like your favorite part of the book or like, you’re happy can’t let it go?
Emma: I liked the flirty relationship between her and the other victim’s brother. I liked their kind of banter. I always like flirty banter. I think it’s fun. So she’s also throughout the book trying to work on her personal essay as she’s applying for colleges. I believe the subject was kind of like, who are you basically, like tell us who you are or one big thing that happened in your life that like defines you. She sort of goes through this thing towards the end of the book where she’s like, once I solve this and it’s done, I feel like I don’t know who I am because I don’t know who I am when I’m working really hard on projects because I kind of lose myself while I’m really into something. It seems like too throughout the book, they kind of tell us like she’s kind of a straight-A type very studious, works really hard. Her parents are always like, take the night off, have more fun with your friends.
Elsie: She’s a little baby Emma.
Emma: I really did identify. Yeah, I grappled with that too, more in college than high school. She was ahead of the curve for me, but of like, oh, who am I when I’m not working my a** off to achieve my goals. Who Am I? Is anyone gonna like me if I’m not like working, working, working? I liked watching her kind of piece that apart because I was like, oh, I get this. I understand this bit of humanity. I have felted. So, what were your favorite bits?
Elsie: Okay, I think for me, I liked the remember the motel where there was the woman.
Emma: The tile.
Elsie: Yeah, the tile. There’s like a selfie reveal where they get a clue through an old selfie. Then there’s a part where the front desk lady thinks that she’s seen the girl in the picture recently, which would mean she’s still alive. Then at the end, the tie-in is that it was actually her sister who she saw, I really liked that part because it kept me thinking that she was alive.
Emma: So you believe that mistake and identity. I’m just trolling you.
Elsie: It was a picture. It’s not like having someone in your attic for five years.
Emma: Okay. Okay. I’m just trolling you.
Elsie: No, no, no, I thought it was a good book. If you love true crime, you’re probably going to love this book so you should definitely read it. A lot of people did read it. We have gotten lots and lots of messages. So today on Instagram, we will put a picture of the book up in our feed, and that is your spot to come and tell us what you thought to say if you agree with me or if you strongly disagree. I want to hear that. What was your favorite part? Anything you didn’t like? Anything? Anything?
Emma: If anyone out there knows Holly Jackson, tell her we love her. We’re so happy we’ve read her book. She’s awesome. Keep writing.
Elsie: Yes. Yeah. So there’s more right? Is it a series?
Emma: Yes. Yes, I believe so. I don’t know if it’s the same character. I haven’t read like the back of the books yet but I saw that there are definitely more. There’s at least two more so I’m excited for that.
Elsie: Well, that was fun. I’m just like, so happy that we’re doing this book club. I feel like it, cheesy as it sounds, I do feel like it’s changing my life because I’m just like reading all the time. It got me into a zone and I’m reading books in between our book club books. It’s just like the happiest new habit to have. So I hope some of you are feeling that way as well. It’s just like, it’s just fun.
Emma: Yeah, I love readings so much. Sometimes when I’m kind of like sad or like scared about the future, honestly, a way that I make myself feel a little bit better is I just think about all the books that I want to read and it just makes me feel like oh well, I have all these books to read in my future that will be so fun. It’s just like a happy little hobby.
Elsie: That’s really sweet and I think about all the houses I’m gonna buy.
Emma: There you go.
Emma: Okay, thank you so much for listening this week. We really appreciate you. I hope that if you join us in the book club then leave us a comment on Instagram and let us know what you thought about the book. I want to hear what everyone thought and we will be back next week.
34 year old mom here, and I’m not into True Crime either, Elsie. You are not alone!
Omg thank you for answering my question *fangirling*
Same feedback as everyone else – I would looove a home full of bookshelves! I also love using Thriftbooks to source specific used books. It’s super easy to find different editions and they have good condition notes to tell you if it’s an ex-library copy, etc. Each book is $3-5 (depending on quality) so it’s definitely not as cheap as your local store, but you get free shipping on orders over $10 and can rack up points quickly (which you can then use for free books). It’s been worth it when I have specific books in mind, like if I’m completing a series!
I love the arched doorways so much! They remind me so much of the cottage in Gilmore Girls.
I am also on team “never enough bookshelves.” And on that note-this was a great start to the book club! I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book on my own, so I’m thankful y’all picked it. I was totally hooked! If you liked Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, I highly recommend Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. It has a similar YA crime/mystery theme, but also beautifully incorporates the main character’s Native American identity and community.
Came here after listening to podcast update & it is beautiful! I LOVE how you found your inspiration in historic homes & Harry Potter! Great work making it cozy & special.
Haha thank you so much Katherine :))
I absolutely love how this room turned out! And on the subject of having too many bookshelves for resale, the last two house we bought didn’t have ANY bookshelves! As an avid reader, it was an immediate problem that I had to quickly remedy so I definitely appreciate an abundance of shelving.
I’m not very confident with my decorating but I’d much rather deal with a bookshelf than those weird plant/art ledges and niches. Those stress me out!
Also here to say that you can’t have too many bookshelves. I would find it so inspiring to visit a potential new home with many bookshelves. Like Emma said, they can be full of books, art, kids toys, etc. As a potential buyer I’d be imagining all of the possibilities for hobby storage and how to incorporate things I love.
You’d probably really enjoy following the interior designer, Jean Stoffer. She’s got a new show on Magnolia Network (The Established Home) and is based out of my hometown, Grand Rapids, MI 🙂
Thanks for the recommendation! I need to watch the show 🙂
Re: the listener question. My problem shopping on eBay is I get pages upon pages of cheap versions of what I’ve searched that are clearly all new and from the same manufacturer. How do you avoid this? Do you use search filters? If so, which ones?
Hi! I find it helpful to add more keywords like “antique” until the replicas are gone. It’s definitely something to always keep an eye out for!
I buy vintage items on all eBay all the time. Just make sure you put in “used” as a search filter. I find this is much better than using search terms like “vintage” or “antique” as it brings up a wider array of stuff. Plus, people tend to jack up the price of anything they label as vintage/antique. I also use a tonne of terms for the same thing (e.g., “cloche”, “dome”, “cover”, “glass display”) unless I’m looking for a specific brand (but even then it pays to think laterally – also, consider common misspellings). Also, make sure you click the link to “watch” any items you like. Here in the UK at least, sellers will often offer discounts to watchers on items they’re selling. You’ve got to look regularly and be prepared to sift through pages and pages of stuff, but I’ve found some truly amazing items over the years.
Just came here to say for me, there is no such thing as too many bookshelves! 🙂
I’m happy to hear it!!