A Tweak @The Beach

Most people go to the beach and they actually GO to the beach. Ya know, frolic in the waves, stroll the sand, burn their flesh to an unbecoming shade of crimson.

:Luckily, our granddaughter Molly, and her cousin Ellen, have plenty of time to romp on the beach this week at Tybee.

molly&ellen ebbtide


Not me. I go to the beach and I tweak. The beach house. Last week was no exception. As you may know, we rent our Tybee Island beach homes, The Breeze Inn, and Ebbtide, through Mermaid Cottages. Not being filthy stinking rich–I know-waaaaah–we don’t usually go to the beach in the summer because that’s our busy rental season. But we had a last-minute cancellation at Ebbtide last week, so off we went.

In my own defense, I had no real right to relax. I had to read the final copy-edited version of CHRISTMAS BLISS, which goes on sale Oct. 15. I had to read and answer copy edit questions for the re-issue of MIDNIGHT CLEAR, which will release Nov. 19. And I had to write! Next summer’s book is already over-due. So no rest for the weary.

We did do some fishing off our friend’s dock on the Back River–and lucked into several nice-sized flounder. Which meant Mr. MKA whomped up a fish fry–to which I contributed a homemade tomato pie made with my friend Linda’s heirloom tomatoes. We also served Linda’s fresh-picked corn. And her homemade pickles. It was a real throw-down.

flounder dinner


But in between writing and editing, I had several little projects i was anxious to complete at Ebbtide. And I had the luxury of having the ever-handy Mr. MKA on the premises–and willing to attack my long honey-do list–in between fishing expeditions. We filled both our cars with tools and paint and bins of vintage treasures I’d been hoarding for the house.

First on the list was hanging this vintage grocery sign I picked up at my favorite North Carolina antique mall, The Depot at Gibson Mill, in Concord. I talked my husband into making a plain frame for the sign and painting it black, and I knew it would be perfect in the kitchen. Like so.

kitchengrocery sign

Next on the list was assembling and hanging the cheap Michael’s glass floating frames for the collection of vintage DO NOT DISTURB hotel signs I’ve been hoarding for eight years. Yes, eight years. Some people might accuse me of buying a second beach house just to have a place to display these sweethearts. And some people might be dangerously close to understanding my peculiar brand of insanity. I adore these hangtags. Also the story behind them. When we were living in Raleigh, I went to an estate sale of a sadly dilapidated house down the block from our own house on St. Mary’s Street. The elderly lady who’d lived there was apparently quite a character. She’d traveled with an actor’s troupe in her youth–probably in the 1940s and 1950s, and I discovered a trunk full of items she’d stolen, er, appropriated during her long-ago travels. Shrivelled-up hotel soaps, stationery from long-closed hotels–with great graphics, and these ten “Do Not Disturb” door signs. Finally, last week, they found a home in the guest bath at Ebbtide. They are sharing wall space with a vintage 1920s wool bathing suit. i “might” have a thing for these suits. i have three of them framed in this house alone.

bathroom donotdisturb

While we’re on the subject of hoarding, i’d been hiding (and hoarding) a primitive folding wooden daybed under our bed in the master bedroom at Ebbtide since January. I bought it for $10 at an estate sale in Atlanta and was told it came from a cabin in the North Georgia mountains. I thought it would be ever-so-lovely at the foot of our bed. But it was just big enough that I would have gotten up in the middle of the night to pee and tripped over it. So I had to find another spot for the daybed. And get a cushion made for it, and slipcover it . . . But finally, last week, Alison, the magic slipcover girl who has definitely slipcovered everything in this house that doesn’t move, delivered my daybed cushions. And it was worth the wait. Because in the meantime, I found a red and white antique crib quilt at another Atlanta estate sale–for $15, to go on the daybed. And I bought a vintage French grain sack from my pal Beth at KnickKnack Paddywhack which Alison magically transformed into a long bolster. To slipcover the mattress and end bolsters, Alison used some of my vintage blue and white ticking. I bought a bolt of this stuff, probably 15 years ago, from the Atlanta estate of an upholsterer. The bolt probably had a hundred yards on it–and it cost $40. Over the years I had a sofa and love seat slipcovered with the ticking, and still had plenty left. The daybed was screaming for ticking like this. Doesn’t it almost make you want to swoon? And nap?

ebbtide daybed

But the big project we tackled was setting up a dining and seating area in the open area on the ground floor of  Ebbtide, adjacent to our grilling area. I assembled most of the mismatched, oddball pieces for the area over the past few months. One trip to Scott’s Antique Market a couple months ago yielded two wrought iron “bouncy” chairs, a wicker settee and a glider. Everything needed help. Another trip to an Atlanta thrift shop brought me a pair of wicker chairs–they also needed paint. I found a wooden swing at an estate sale, and at yet estate sale in Druid Hills in Atlanta, I found a beat-up wooden farm table in the garage–for $10. It had old linoleum glued to the top, and when i peeled back the linoleum I found that the wooden top stained with large blotches of red, green and blue paint. At a yard sale in Savannah i found a second pair of wrought iron bouncy chairs. And then on a morning walk in my neighborhood I found a set of seat cushions–they were coated in yellow pollen and mildew–but they were striped red and blue. Yoink!

After Alison slipcovered all the upstairs porch furniture I turned her loose on the downstairs porch–with the last of my ticking fabric and some feed sacks I’d bought at the Depot. While she was sewing, Mr. MKA was building me benches to go with the farm table. We found the plans for these here on Ana White’s website. I used gel stripper to get off the worst of the paint on the table top, then sanded it and topped with a coat of poly. Then we attacked all that mis-matched furniture with Rustoleum spray paint. Here’s how the glider looked when we started. Bleah, right?

glider before

And here’s Gladys the Glider, after she got tarted up with some Rustoleum navy spray paint, with white painted inserts and her glam new cushions. The throw pillows, by the way, are from Home Depot.

glider after

Here’s the rest of the seating area. I ran out of time to style it, but I think you can get the general idea.

porchseatingareaAnd here’s a shot of the also unstyled porch picnic area. Perfect for shrimp boils, right?

picnic porchTime for one more picture? Here’s the vintage coke sign I found on Craigslist in Atlanta. We literally met the seller in the Target parking lot to conduct this “coke deal.” It found a new home on the upstairs porch at Ebbtide.

icecokeYum, right? Maybe next time I’m back at Ebbtide I can actually walk on the beach. Nah–I’ll probably spend the whole time styling that new porch area.