Buying a Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree

Aluminum Christmas Tree Pom Pom Colorful Shiny BritesI can’t seem to sync myself with the holidays this year! It feels like Halloween should have just passed and everyone should put their Christmas decorations away for a few weeks. I’m not being Grinchy – it’s just that this time of year is my favorite and I’m uncomfortable with how fast things are moving. Is this what getting old feels like? Anyways, reluctantly I’m Christmafying the house and there’s really only one way to do that up right: aluminum trees!aluminum Christmas Tree color wheelA vintage tree joined us many, many years ago and we’ve never been without one since. Once kids came along, we’ve done the real Christmas tree thing some years…but always in addition to the aluminum one. My spouse thinks this is excessive, but I think double trees is double good. Nobody keeps aluminum in a box in December!

Last year, with a little sadness, I sold the old tree that’s been with us since our first Christmas and upgraded to a larger one. Our old tree (shown awkwardly below) was a 6 footer that was dwarfed by the 9′ ceilings of our current home, where I’m hoping we will live for such a long time. I found a 7 footer (above) for a decent price and jumped on it. (Can you tell from above that I painted the walls finally in the family room? Because I did!) aluminum Christmas Tree Evergleam 6 foot goldAll this aluminum tree buying and selling got me thinking logistics so here’s a ramble about some things to keep in mind if you are thinking of switching to the aluminum side…

Good: There are many good things about aluminum trees. They are incredibly easy to set up. A baby could do it (you think I’m joking? Adorable proof below). They shine! Even undecorated, they instantly look amazing. The actual “decorating” is even easier; the simpler, the better. We change up the color combo of simple glass ball ornaments every year, and it’s always a knock-out. They are relatively cheap when you consider to cost of purchasing a cut tree each year. Or the effort of cutting your own, if you are Griswoldy. They will become a part of the family (again, did you see the picture below? Have you melted into a human puddle?!). Also a plus: once I heard of a snake slithering out of tree-lot tree into a family’s living room! That won’t happen with aluminum…congrats?
IMG_2565The sadder things: Aluminum trees don’t smell. NO CHRISTMAS SMELLS! If you are used to a real tree, this is a big blow to reconcile with before you move on. Also, they’ll be no twinking lights on the tree because it’s a fire hazard. And they aren’t very conducive to hodge-podgy sentimental family ornaments, so that is another loss you’ll need to face (our solution has been a smaller tree in our kids’ room filled with special ornaments…oh, Christmas excess!). Traditional glass balls look too good to mess with. Aluminum trees obviously need to be stored during the year, though they break down surprisingly small. Oh…your dog will probably pee on the tree just like he pees on your real trees. Your dog does that right? Tell me it’s not just ours. I thought that’s why all dogs coincidentally have their names changed to Sh*thead during the month of December?Aluminum Christmas Tree Branches Trunk Holes TapeSo, if the goods outweigh the sads, then the next step is a big one: To pom pom or not? Pom pom tree models flare at the end of each branch like a firework, while non pom pom models look more like a realistic branch. Both are rad so there’s no wrong answer. Some people just have strong preferences in this area.Aluminum Christmas Tree BranchesAnd then on to size – my recommendation is to just go big! There is a ton of floaty, airy, open space between those shiny branches so the mass of an aluminum tree feels significantly less than a real tree of equivalent size. There are a lot of tempting (cheap) 4′ trees out there, but if this will be your primary tree, get a decent size. I think 6′ minimum. Our 6′ Evergleam tree, below and on the table way above, lived with us in many different low-ceilinged houses, and I always wished it was a foot taller. And now the 7′ in the 9′ room is fine, but guess what? I wish it was a foot taller.aluminum Christmas Tree EvergleamWhich brings us to color wheels. Will you or will you not get a color wheel (prediction: you will!). There are so many different models out there. All are spectacular and all operate a bit differently, and one is fully necessary in my book. For awhile, I was collecting them but daily I work to overcome the hoarder in me and now I just have one color wheel, plus a mantra: one is enough..one is enough… Keep an eye on them though! Every color wheel I’ve ever used gets hot and some, like my current one, are prone to melting. Yowza.Aluminum Christmas Tree Color Wheel Blue Green LightAluminum Christmas Tree Color Wheel Pink Red LightAluminum Christmas Tree Color Wheel Orange LightAluminum Christmas Tree Color Wheel Green LightWant some unsolicited buying advice? OK! Ebay seems to be the most reliable source. In all my years of junk acquirement, never have I stumbled upon an aluminum tree randomly. Many color wheels, but never a tree. It could just be my luck, though? Considering that these were only produced for such a tiny window of time, there is a surprising abundant surviving stock of them out there. And, happily, this time of year is actually a great time to buy because many sellers will wait until the holiday season to sell theirs so the market floods. Waiting for the off season, I’ve found, doesn’t much change the price, just the supply you have to choose from. (Can you tell by my smooth supply/demand talk that I’m married to an economist? I’m not even joking!)

I would be comfortable paying around $150 for a 6 footer, $250 for a 8+ footer. Rare trees can go for much more (the hard to find colored ones, pom poms with colored “berries” in them, very large ones, and rotating ones). If you are willing to dig around a bit, deals can be found from sellers who don’t want to put the tree together to take their listing picture. People, understandably, are more hesitant to purchase without seeing the tree. But, if you can find the maker and model (often from the box – how have so many survived???), the condition of the branches, and confirm that all parts (the correct number of branches, a base and a “trunk”- usually 2 or more dowels that fit together) are there, you may get a steal. Note that many trees are sold with color wheels, which adds to the price. And if it is a sought after color wheel model, that increase can be significant.

This goes without saying but I’m saying it anyways…obviously go vintage! Sometimes stores carry repro silver trees made of cheap modern day tinsel (usually PVC or mylar). Those SO pale in comparison to the real thing. Can you tell I’m all about aluminum? I am.aluminum Christmas Tree color wheelHappy Christmas tree-ing everybody!

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Fences and Acquisitions

fence primingHey everybody! I’ve been doing so much painting around here and zero blogging, laundry, cooking, nail upkeep, vacuuming, or toilet scrubbing. Basically, me and my house are disgusting, but my fences are looking fresh. I spent the last few weeks repairing and painting a shared fence with our neighbor and then I got to looking at my backyard fences. They were so bad that I panicked and started to paint them before El Nino supposedly arrives. And then I found termites (live ones in the ground and the fence!) when prepping for paint so that’s added hours and drama. And then my thoughts turned towards my peeling house and my wonderful neighbor had the idea that I should just paint the woodwork myself (half is stucco and just needs washing, she noted, and it would be good for at least a few more years…genius! Thanks!!!) so that is on deck, and soon because people won’t shut up about how much rain is coming. Plus, I still have the dining/family room painting on my mind, though it may not happen ASAP with these new developments. Either way, here I am in the middle of a painting marathon. Yesterday I even destroyed a plastic kid’s chair (and my elbows) in my madness by Matt Foley falling/crushing it into a thousand pieces while trying to reach a high spot without getting out a ladder. All part of my future children’s book, If You Give a Jenny a Paint Brush.vintage tulip table coffee knoll saarinen burke laminate top black baseMore excitingly, I’ve acquired some radical things recently, which means things are coming together. The most unexpected and thrilling was this vintage tulip coffee table. I made my kids eat dinner in the car so I could pounce on this before the competition saw it on Craigslist. I’m sure it’s a knock off and not an original Knoll (a Burke?), it has a chipped laminate top, and the base is scratched. But that’s all great by me. I’ve been looking for 2 years for a tulip dining table for the patio because that’s the ONLY table I want out there. I had finally accepted it as an impossible dream because my hands are physically incapable of parting with $500 for a table. Literally a week later, this coffee table showed up for ridiculously cheap and I think it’s my solution…I’m going to build a bigger white top for it (I’ll save the original, no worries) and possibly re-powder coat the base if I can’t clean it up. I love the idea of a coffee table as outdoor dining space! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? Now, I’m on the hunt for some chairs and I know exactly which ones. Wish me good Craigslist vibes, even though it’s lookin’ like I already have them.vintage mid century lamp orange lava genie teak hugeAnd then, as you may have noticed here, this lamp of my dreams entered my life. I didn’t know I needed until I saw it. Filling my house with things I unequivocally love is my idea of living well. I ridded myself of a few lesser loved lamps, so I’m all squared up. Welcome to the family, big guy.vintage cone fireplace preway black lightsAnd then there was a big purchase: I finally bought a new rug for the den. The old rug (above) was cheap to begin with, small, thin, dirty and cracking. It may not look THAT bad, but it lived through 2 muddy Ohio winter/springs and was super gross. I didn’t like to hang out on it. Finding the perfect combo of pattern/color, size, material and price is daunting to me, so I never buy good rugs. But I am so happy with this purchase. The new rug, below, (which I almost bought on Rugs USA during their usual 75% off sale but found on Overstock cheaper, though their prices seem to change daily?) is huge and fluffy and CLEAN!
preway fireplace nuloom rug hallween decorations vintage lightsOn looks: I was concerned it was a little too Moroccan-trendy and would look dated in a few years (do you love that I said that when the rug sits under a giant passé fireplace?), but I wanted thick white shag that kept up, but didn’t compete, with the other crazy stuff going on in here. The brown squares work so well in this weird, colorful room. I seriously spend so much more time in here now, which is how it should be because I love this room more than a person should love a room. I didn’t get a full room shot yet, but above shows part of the cozy thing, along with the Halloween “decorations” I barely mustered up the energy to put up because Weather has decided October in California will be so hot that you’ll be too tired to put out Halloween decorations. (Decorations that Domino Magazine featured on their site….WHAAATTTT?! Thanks Domino!!!) saarinen-womb-chair-medium-knollI’ll leave with an incredible tale of a not-purchase: Just days ago I found myself saying “I’m gonna have to pass on this vintage Saarinen womb chair and ottoman for $75”. What? (Above is a new repro version from Knoll.) An original! Black frame, vintage fabric and all. It undoubtedly needed reupholstering. And that’s where the problem popped up. I was thinking it would be a couple $100 to reupholster, which I was open to considering, but still not 100% sold on. Then my quote from my favorite good and honest upholsterer was $1500!!! Not including fabric. I made the mature decision to pass. Ouch. My instinct is to just buy it and wait until free reupholstering jobs are falling from the sky, but that makes no sense. My husband jokes that I am gonna leave him with a “reverse will”, where instead of inheriting my stuff, he inherits my list of things to acquire. This would have made my list in my college years, but I kind of got over it because it seemed so unattainable. And today I honestly don’t need or have a place for it, so it’s officially not on the reverse will…which is why passing it up was the right, but sad move. But it is still on Craigslist, so maybe this still isn’t over (cue Ryan G.)? Join me next time for the riveting conclusion.

Weird Estate Sale Thing

Estate sales combine two great things: digging through piles of weird old stuff and snooping in houses. I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes I only drag myself out of the house for the snooping part. That’s what I did last weekend. The house blew my mind and, as an unexepected bonus, I bought one of the weirder things I’ve ever purchased…mid century fountain vintage space age atomic water feature

I keep tabs on a certain neighborhood in my town where I don’t live but think I will someday. This certain neighborhood is where the house of my dreams stands (hopefully being preserved rather than trashed by it’s current owners while it waits for me). So I saw an estate sale in this ‘hood in a particularly stand-out house. It’s a mid century but very Frank Lloyd Wright-esque. I could tell from the ad that the furnishings were not at all my kind of deal and, in an ordinary house, I wouldn’t have wasted my time. So glad I did! There’s no lady like way to say this…the interior was a pants crap. Amazing. Original. Wood and stone everything. Crazy views. The coolest bent wood baffling on the walls.estate sale

While almost everything there for sale was not my thing, the few things I did really want were firmly not for sale. Like these dang vintage tiki torches of my dreams. They refused to sell them for anything less than the $1.8 mil asking for the house.mid century vintage tiki torches propane polynesianana

But I did score this. What is it? Did it fall from space? Is made of moon pieces? Or a meteorite? Did it come from Stovall’s Cosmic Age Lodge? (<—-which, by the way, is the subject of my favorite little photo in the blue bathroom. I had a Disneyland motel obsession until they were all disgustingly destroyed and plundered in the past decade.) It’s a fountain and I can’t answer the other questions. All I knew was that this ugly hunk had to be mine. I have no idea what I will do with it or how it even works but I know I’M THE BIG WINNER HERE.mid century fountain vintage space age atomic water feature

mid century fountain vintage space age atomic water feature

I also found a few other unnecessary essentials plus a giant bag of vintage Christmas ornaments, not pictured.vintage mid century starburst pitcher danish teak nut cracker

But the fountain is the score of my summer.
mid century fountain vintage space age atomic water feature