Friday, October 21, 2011

A Trip to Gladewater TX

Sorry for the few week gap in posts. It has been been a crazy busy month of October and life is just now getting back to normal. I have had this post written for a couple of weeks now and just haven't had time to get around to posting. If you are lucky however and we remember to take pictures of all the progress happening in our house right now you might get multiple posts this week.

If you head out of town on 271 past the UT Health Center you are going to run into Gladewater, the antique capital of East Texas. In my 15 years of living in East Texas my only experience with Gladewater was the frustration it caused with its 35 mph speed limit on the way to Arkansas. It’s one of those places I heard people talk about, but never really imagined myself gracing the streets to peruse store front windows filled with other people’s unwanted junk.
Over the last few months (or year and half) Katie and I have been planning for the renovation of both bathrooms in our house. We enjoy the older home charm that comes with a 50’s style house, however could do without the quaint 50’s size bathrooms. Both of our bathrooms are small in size, and outdated. Our first thought was to add an addition to the house with a grand master on suite. We actually purchased the house with this intention, however when we started to add up the bill, the major addition price tag just didn’t make sense for a house in our neighborhood. We feel like we got an exceptional deal on our house when we purchased it, but we still analyze every choice we make in the grand scheme of will this project add more value to the house than it cost, and does it make sense for the neighborhood both in terms of style and price. You never want to price yourself out of the neighborhood you are currently in by spending too much on your home renovation.

For our bathroom we wanted a 60” double vanity. That sounds simple enough right? We thought so too, but when we started to see what the big box stores had to offer we found 2 options. You have your standard cheaply made builder’s grade cabinet which is boring, or something with a little more style for twice the cost and up which is more than we wanted to spend on this project. After several trips back to the store just to see if anything new had arrived we decided to explore other options and talked about using a dresser or other piece of furniture to convert into a vanity. You have probably seen this done all over for the past 15 years, it’s nothing new, but still a good alternative and adds a little more interest than you would get with your basic vanity. So where better to look for antique furniture than the antique capital of East Texas.

Gladewater is a small East Texas town, population just over 6,000 and it seems every one of them decided to open an antique shop. We parked downtown next to the railroad tracks and were able to walk about a quarter mile in every direction. We did find a map at one point which was helpful. These are some of the more interesting items we came across and thought we would snap a few photos of them. Above is a medic bike used in WW2, and below is a popcorn machine from the 1800's. Both of these were a little bit out of our price range and weren't exactly on the list of pieces we were looking for.

This is one of the shops we entered, and immediately turned right back around. The owner had just returned from Italy were she acquires a lot of her items, however her style of displaying them stressed me out.

She did have an entire hallway full of century old iron and wooden doors that had been removed from churches and other buildings overseas. I can't image what it would cost to ship these beasts back to the states, but then again after checking a few price tags, I probably have a pretty good idea.

Luckily our trip was a success and we were able to find exactly what we were looking for. We found this vanity at our first stop and thought it would work perfect, but of course we had to go hit every other possible option to verify that indeed it was the best option. After several hours and an excellent lunch (see below) we can back to where we started and purchased it.It is exactly 60" wide, has tons of storage with all the drawers working perfectly, and even has a matching mirror that was included. It is currently 34" tall and the plan is to add a two inch think concrete countertop (that we are pouring this week) with a glass vessel sink which is already sitting in inventory in the guest room. We are really happy with this purchase, we got the vanity and mirror for $350 and plan to paint the entire piece a light grey and replace all of the pulls. We are not sure how old it is or even if it is an antique or not however through Katie's knowledge she obtained during her years of selling furniture she is able to point out to me the dove tailed drawers and dust covers that tell her this is a quality built piece.

While were were trying to find our way out of the maze at the crazy Italian lady's shop, she asked us if we had eaten lunch and directed us across the street to Alba's Italian Kitchen. We knew we needed to grab a bite somewhere and really had no other plans or recommendations in the area so we decided to give it a try.

It was a late lunch and we ended up being the only table there but Alba was great and her food was outstanding. The menu included only a few items so we asked her what she recommended. Katie got the Lasagna and I ordered the Cheese Tortellini in cream sauce which she had just finished making when we walked in the door.

We were so hungry and it was so good we had already eaten half our food before I realized I hadn't taken any pictures. Both entries were delicious however the homemade lasagna was amazing. The portion were enormous and I had to decide to forgo eating the rest of mine to finish Katie's leftover lasagna (actually I ended up coming back to mine and finishing it, really you thought I left food on the table?). Since we were the only ones there and the place is not very big we ended up talking with Alba during our meal and learned that she is from Sicily and had only been in the states about 18 months, moving to Gladewater to be closer to her daughter. She is retired but needed something to do during the day so she decided to open a little restaurant offering food she has cooked her entire life back home. We told her we were from Tyler and had just came over for the day and she mentioned that her daughter had just finished making home made cannolis for a catering company in Tyler. Didn't take much convincing before we had to order our own. We got laughed at for trying to eat it with a knife and fork so I had to pick it up with my hands and finish it off from this point.

If you are ever in Gladewater be sure to make plans to stop by Alba's, or take a long lunch today and head that way, its only about a 30 minutes drive and well worth it.

This past week we went on buying spree and purchased everything we needed for two bathroom renovations that got underway this past weekend. In the bed of the truck is two bathtubs a vanity and a toilet, with another toilet hanging out in the backseat. We had made a lot of progress already, the old claw-foot tub is out of our bathroom (if anyone is interested in it let me know) and the new tub is installed and we will be ready to tile this week.

Also, a big thank you to my parents who spent practically their entire weekend helping us demo and plumb up this bathroom. Just another reminder how fortunate we are to have parents living nearby.


  1. Can't wait to see all your projects when we visit this Christmas!

  2. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?