Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Mantle and Decorating with Vintage Windows

I have been sewing so much these past few days, that I had to take a break and rearrange my mantle.  This mantle was inspired by one of my favorite spring trees the pussy willow.  I love their soft velvety buds announcing spring has finally arrived.  I could not resist picking up a couple of branches the other day and using them over my family room's fireplace.

I found these great vintage milk bottles at a consignment store here in Lynchburg.  I just love them and their bright graphics. (I wish I had a better picture to show you of the milk bottles.  I will try to get one today!)

Isn't this old window great?  I am seeing vintage windows all over Pinterest these days.  In most towns you can find them at salvage shops or at a Habitat for Humanity Restore.  (You can find them for less than $10).

Just be careful when handling them, they are usually older than 1978, which is the magical year lead paint was taken off the shelves, so the patina you love so much is LEAD paint!  I would recommend washing your hands after you handle old windows and don't hang them in reach of your little ones.  I think their is a common misconception that lead is dangerous on old windows because our kids will chew on the wood and get for me, I have never walked into a room and told my child, Whoa stop eating that window!  I doubt you have either! 

 LEAD is dangerous because when you open and close a window that was painted prior to 1978 with paint that was on the shelves prior to 1978, it creates lead dust.  That lead dust floats through the air, or is found on your hands after you open or close the window, or when your little ones play near the window sill.  High levels of lead can be extremely dangerous.  This is why the experts recommend replacing windows or at the very least painting over the old paint with a new non lead based paint to encapsulate the poison.  Here is the current design dilemma.  We love patina!  All that vintage chippy wood makes our hearts pitter patter! So when using vintage pieces, keep them high, and wash your hands after handling.

Don't forget that stain prior to 1978 also contains lead paint, so when you sand your vintage piece to get it ready to paint you are releasing lead particles into the air.  This is why products like Annie Sloan's Chalk paint are so great.  You don't have to sand before you paint!  Here is a link to her product line...Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint. (In full disclosure I have not yet used her paint, but I hear it is amazing!)

Picture from Perfectly Imperfect Blog
If you are really concerned about limiting lead paint in your home the best way to get that chippy look is by buying new and distressing it yourself.  If you are like me and you can't resist the price tag and quality of an older piece just be careful with how you handle and refinish your piece.  The more sanding and distressing, the more dust you create. At the very least work on your projects in a well ventilate area, or outside, wear a mask, and shower and wash your clothes after sanding.

 Here is a link if you want to read more about the dangers of LEAD paint. EPA's LEAD PAINT DISCLOSURE (Okay I will get off my soapbox, and back to my design...)

As you can see, I love old vintage peices. And I continue to use them in my design.

I know I should probably put my bunnies away, but I just was not ready, so maybe I will keep them out just a little longer. :)

I would love to see your spring mantles.  Send me a picture, or leave me a comment with a link.

Thanks for joining me today. And reading my LEAD PAINT speach, I love to decorate and share my projects with you, but I never want someone to go out and do something that could potentially endanger their family because of a project they saw here on my blog.  I want my readers to be well informed, and honestly when I decorate with vintage finds, my first thought is not is this item potentially dangerous for the well being of my I thought this was the perfect oportunity to remind myself and you that we need to pay more attention to what goes into our vintage peices.  Please pass this information on...


p.s. check out our button Where We Party!


  1. Beautiful mantle! I like the bunnies,you should keep them out a little longer. You are right to warn readers about the dangers of lead paint! Go you!


  2. Thanks Jessica for supporting my comments about lead paint. I sold real estate for 10 years, and had to give that speach just a FEW times, I guess I still want to bring attention, and awareness to the potential danger of LEAD and especially little ones.

  3. Hi Rebekah, I think another option would be to "paint" over the lead paint with a clear sealer. I've read that people do this, and it preserves the patina, but keeps you safe from the lead.


  4. Marilyn,
    Thanks for the tip! I think that is a great option. I don't know why I was on such a roll today about lead paint, I guess it was because I am seeing all of these great furniture redo's and I worry about our reader's unknown risks. If you have any other great tips. Please post them!

  5. Your mantel looks wonderful. I love old windows too, but have yet to purchase one.

    Have a great weekend.

  6. It looks wonderful! Don't worry about the bunnies - I still have my eggs out.

  7. I love your mantel. Thanks for linking it to the Home Decor and Organizing Link Party. I will be featuring it tonight.

  8. You have some great tips for the lead paint issue! Good to know before using old windows!! I love your garland! So sweet!

  9. Thank you Alison! We wrote a tutorial on the garland awhile back. It is posted under Rag Wreath. Thank you for linking back to my projects from your link party at Oopey Daisy!

  10. You know I love to have old windows on my mantel, but I never considered the lead paint. Thanks for the tips! Maybe that's the excuse I need to buy the AS paint?? :) I knew I'd find an excuse soon!


  11. Lead dust can be both dangerous to you, the children (which are often affected), or your guests at home - having a paint check on your windows would be a good idea (a paint that looks like alligator hide might indicate lead paint). Anyway, the decorations you made were totally creative - not to mention the vintage bottles and rabbits, they sure look good on both sides of the window. I can tell you like vintage stuff as I do. As a matter of fact, I have a vintage flower window at home.

    1. I wish I could see this vintage flower window you're talking about, Elwood. :) I strongly agree with what Elwood had to say. In adults, lead is eventually removed by the body. In children, their growing bodies grab onto any lead they ingest, and worse, it builds up. :( These are the three things that can help reduce the risk of lead dust poisoning in your home: suitable high-density room ionizers, good housekeeping practices and common sense. :P

  12. This is a gorgeous window revamp, Rebekah! The pastel color has definitely brought a new, sophisticated appeal to the unused window. We had a window turned into a drawer vanity at home. My mom etched details at each side of the frame. =)


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