Woodland Heights // Why I Love My Hood

It's no secret I dream of moving somewhere new someday. Although I love NYC, there are lots of beautiful places where I would be happy to live. Moving across the country and adjusting to a new way of life is something I want to experience at least once in my life, even if I end up moving back.

But we own a house here. And it's not selling. So we're here for a while. 

I'm not too upset. Every winter I get deeply depressed about feeling trapped in a location that forces me to drive in bad weather, and every spring, my Seasonal Affective Disorder calms down and I realize that this is a lovely place to live and I could do a lot worse. So here's a list of the things that make Woodland Heights a beautiful district and a fun place to live. Because it really is.

10. // Beautiful Buildings

Do you have a giant minty green wall in your neighborhood? It has its perks, like lots of photo ops.

9. // Historic Homes

Most of the homes in my neighborhood range from the late 1800s to the 1930s. Lots of homes have been restored and look amazing, but there are many more that just need some love, like the one below. 

8. // Mature Trees

Giant trees are the best. I'm happiest when I'm surrounded by trees that are at least one hundred years old.

7. // Friendly Cats

There are a ton of cats in my neighborhood. For me, that's an advantage to living here. Some are even really friendly, like this guy, who was wearing a collar that said his name was Louie.

6. // Brick Sidewalks

Some are in desperate need of repair, but some are in incredible shape. I happen to find neglected old brick to be irresistible.

5. // Commercial Street

I'm a little biased, but I really think C-Street is on the rise. We have Decades Boutique and other vintage stores, plus several art and design studios, The Savoy Ballroom, White River Brewery, Lindberg's, and a weekly farmer's market. There's a historic firehouse where we see bridal parties posing for photos nearly every weekend in the spring and summer. There are also lots of art walks and live music on C-Street, and our home is less than a minute's walking distance from all of it.  I took it for granted for years before I finally decided to go for a flippin' walk one day.

4. // History

If you don't love old stuff, you might not love living here. I like old stuff, so I would call this a plus.

3. // Lofts

I spotted the sign for the C-Street Loft Walk the day after it was over, but I'm on the lookout for another. Lofts on Commercial are cheaper than lofts downtown, and from what I can see from the street, they look gorgeous. Those windows alone are reason enough to move in.

2. // Coffee Close By

Rand and I have started a Sunday morning tradition of walking to this little place and drinking lattes outside while we ponder life. I love getting lattes that have the fancy heart-shaped foam pattern on the top. Oo-la-la!

1. // Nice People

Recently I had some friends comment that my neighborhood was scary or unsafe. Crimes happen here, just like they happen all over Springfield, but I never feel less safe in my neighborhood. In fact, I always feel pretty safe because there are always people around. It's true that most of the residents here are poorer than in other areas in Springfield, though not as bad off as some. But I kind of like that. There are fewer snobs here. No one ever complains if we don't keep our lawn perfect all the time.

Or if we go weeks without mowing. Not that we've ever done that (eye dart).

When it's warm, people here love to be outside. Maybe they just don't have air conditioning or cars, but there are always families on porches and children walking to and from the public pool and people on bikes and scooters. And did I mention we have a really talented garage band in our neighborhood?  I love going for walks around Woodland Heights with Rand, or just staying home, opening all the windows, and enjoying the live music. It's heavenly.

So you see what a nice place it is? You should buy my house. Just kidding. Well, not really. It is for sale. But it's for sale because we want to go far away and have adventures, not because there is a more perfect place for us somewhere else in southwest Missouri. I don't think there is.

The Pink Chair // How to Clean Vintage Upholstered Furniture

I'm ashamed to admit it, but there was a time in my life when I would have looked at a chair like this and thought, "Ew."

Vintage upholstered furniture can look really gross at first, since upholstery holds on to gross stuff better than materials like wood, fiberglass, or metal. But it only took one look at those legs, that tufting, that pink velvety fabric, and that midcentury hotness to convince me it was worth a try to get it clean.

Also, it was FREE.

A friend of my mom's thrifted this chair and gave it to her. My mom didn't need it, so she offered it to me. It was still in great shape, but the fabric had some stains, crumbs and crustiness.

Let's see what we can do.

Here are a couple of sick before shots I took to show you how dirty this guy was.

Sorry if this first photo hurts your eyes. It ended up blurry, but I needed it to help illustrate what a good job I did.

So this is how I recommend cleaning up a vintage upholstered piece of furniture like this one.

Step 1 // Vacuum like a crazy person. I throw the hose over my shoulder and run the end of it up and down the upholstery like a paint brush. Get down in all the tufting, details, and deep inside the cushions. Go over every surface a least twice, until you have all the loose stuff removed. Don't forget to turn it upside down and vacuum underneath as well. That's where cobwebs and critters like to hide.

Step 2 // Make repairs. I had to turn this chair over and tighten some things up. I still need to replace the things on the ends of the legs because they're scratching up my wood floors, but at least all the bolts and screws and whatever are tightened up.

Step 3 // Spray all the fabric surface with a light layer of upholstery/carpet cleaner. I know you're smart enough to find the carpet cleaner at the grocery store, but I took a photo of what I used. Bloggers are supposed to do that. Actually, seeing that logo with my living room makes me realize I want a sunburst clock.

This stuff says it can clean both upholstery/carpets, but be sure to check the label of whatever you buy. Let that sit for a few minutes, then scrub the whole thing with a clean cloth. Look closely for stains and be sure to get into the little cracks and crevices. Repeat this step as many times as you need to get the fabric looking good. When you're done, the piece may still feel a little damp, so let it dry.

Step 4 // Touch up any wooden parts, like legs, with a rubdown using Howard Feed 'n Wax. Rub it on, give it a few minutes, then wipe up the excess that didn't soak in.

Step 5 // Sit down, admire your piece of furniture and congratulate yourself for being eco-friendly and stylish.

So don't be grossed out by vintage upholstery! As long as the fabric's not falling apart, see if you can revive it. If it's too worn or torn, consider reupholstering it.  I have a little green love seat that has sat in my classroom's reading nook for the last five years, and now I'm thinking I might get brave and try to recover it.

Maybe white vinyl?

I ended up throwing a sheepskin on this chair to hide all the cat hair that Max and Mitzi would get all over the seat anyway. Max never leaves this spot now.

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