There are two things that have been on my shopping list for a while – an antique adjustable drafting stool and a rolling cart, both for my studio.  I’ve been trolling craigslist and looking at local antique and consignment shops and haven’t found anything that was just right.  Well, I hit the jackpot at Junk Bonanza and found both!

One of the reasons it took me so long to locate these items is that I was being very picky.  The cart had to be the right size, the right configuration, the right color, and it had to roll well.  The chair had to be comfortable, sturdy, and all of the parts had to work properly.

Let’s start with the chair/stool.  It was my most expensive purchase at $129.  I paused for a moment at the price, but as soon as I sat in it, Chris and Cheri laughed, because my face showed that this was the stool.  It is a very well-designed drafting stool and it’s in such good condition that it almost looks new.

It’s made by Toledo, which is a sought-after brand when it comes to drafting stools.  I looked these up when I got home and they can go for over $1000!  Mine isn’t as old as some that fetched that sort of price tag, but it still made me feel like mine was a bargain at $129.

The casters and mechanism to adjust the height are both in tip-top condition.

And, as perfect as the stool is, the cart is equally as perfect.

It’s not too big, so I can nestle it in next to my easel and the wheels work well, so I can easily roll it out of the way.  The shelves give me plenty of storage for books, brushes I’m using, color charts for reference, paper towels, and anything else I need on hand when I paint.

And it was customized by a previous owner in a way that makes it perfect for me.  The top shelf was turned over, so the top is completely flat!  It is usually right-side-up and there is a 1″ lip, which would make it difficult to use as a palette.  With the flat metal top, it’s exactly what I wanted.

The cart was $85 and I had a piece of glass cut for it by a local glass shop for $22.  It’s now a nice, big palette to mix my paints on.

I put the glass on rubber spacers to keep it from sliding, but also to give me a little room to slide reference materials under.  If I’m trying to match a specific color, I can slide it under the glass and mix the paint right over it.

I also painted a value scale swatch to keep under there, so I can check the value of my colors right over it.

The dark gray of the metal is maybe a little bit darker than ideal, but it’s still a nice, neutral mid-tone gray to mix over.  And I’ve loved having the extra room on the palette.

I gave my set-up a workout the later part of last week and finished this master copy…

…and also painted some still lifes.

The studio is so close to being finished.  We just need to get the closet done and a few other things.  It was so nice to find these two perfect pieces to bring it closer to the finish line, though!


  1. Connie

    Your master copy painting is superb Marian! And patience in the hunt for the perfect piece pays off again!

  2. Susan McCall

    loved seeing this. i’m from toledo, we don’t get credit for much. love your home, your tips, and your style.

  3. sarajane

    Ha! After Susan’s shout-out to Toledo, I’m popping in to say Hi from Aurora, IL, home of Equipto!

  4. Elizabeth

    I absolutely love your artwork! It’s so soft and beautiful! How did you start with painting? Any tips for newbies?

  5. Em

    Oh, WOW! That stool! What a fabulous find!

    I just bought a bunch of upholstered reproduction Toledos for a kitchen table I made. I love mine but your original (with label) is just SO cool! I’ve searched authentic ones before, though….and you got a deal, Sister!

    Your painting is amazing. Still a newbie here…. are you an artist by training or are you self-taught (with an amazing eye)?

  6. Susan

    That cart ROCKS! An artist’s dream.

  7. Deborah Harris

    The Cart = Brilliant!

  8. Barb K

    Love your purchases! I have three Toledo (like another reader, I live in the greater Toledo area, but that doesn’t make them more plentiful!) stools-2 counter height and one desk height. Don’t want to ruin your day, but I purchased all of them for less than $40. No one has to tell me how lucky I am to find such a bargain! It makes up for ALL the times I spent waaay too much. Love the industrial cart. They are super handy. Your studio is wonderful!

  9. Margo

    Love, love the stool. I’ve been looking for something similar to use in my kitchen (I’m not a gifted painter 🙁) but need something to get me off my feet when working at the counter. There is no provision for placing stools around my island so I’ve been looking for something like this. Now, I at least have a name to go on.
    Your picture is wonderful. It must be so nice to be able to do your own artwork in whatever colors you would like.

  10. Pamela

    The heck with the stool and cart, I want that wood storage unit both top and bottom AND the green one I see there. I was just saying this past week one thing I need to find is some sort of storage item with numerous very thin slots in it to store the “unfolded” or not put together or however to describe it of the white bakery boxes I keep on hand for delivery cakes, pies, cookies etc. I would prefer something rather than the upright rack they have at Hobby Lobby as over time when the boxes are standing in some way gravity begins to win and they begin to droop. However I know its only going to be through a miracle I find what I want with the slots large enough. The boxes, unformed, can be at least 30-inches or a bit more in width and as much or more in depth. But I just love your items no matter what I would store in them. Having a metric ton (well….it feels that way at times) of cake decorating tools and supplies I’m sure I can find lots of things to store in almost anything and that’s not even getting into baking and cooking and all the rest of the things in the house. One can NEVER have too many storage places.

  11. Heidi

    Love love LOVE the cart. Such good value. Rare to find stuff in the uk at reasonable prices. Rough lux is my style and i would love this for my kitchen which i am in the process of refurbishing. I have been ill with a rheumatic problem. Six weeks into a long term steroid treatment i finally feel more energetic and I’m feeling the love for my home again! The fatigue is lifting. I have been getting my ‘hit’ from you Marion the past three years whilst i have been too poorly to do very much of anything. On my worst days struggling to get washed and dressed. Thank you

  12. Laurie

    How exciting!! Several steps further down the road.

  13. Kim

    I got a cart like that out of the neighbor’s GARBAGE pile when they moved out. Still in its vintage 1950s oil paint and wooden castors. My daughter now covets it for her future home. You just can’t beat those utilitarian furnishings for versatility!

  14. CathyR

    Your studio is making me so jelly! I love the light, all of the furniture and the light floor. Does your stool& cart roll easily over the floor? And of course your finished paintings are superb!

  15. Sue Anderson

    It is wonderful to see how you customize a space and describe the thought process and applications of the design. Thanks for sharing.

  16. MaryLisa

    2 great finds! The cart looks like it is green metal not gray to me. I love thief’s of having the glass fit on top to customize to your use.

  17. Jessica | Petal + Ply

    What great finds!! Both pieces look perfect in your space. Also, I am so impressed by your paintings. Wow! Beautiful work!

  18. Patti

    You have a unique ability to describe the little details in such an interesting away that also makes me think about my own home differently. It’s very nice to have a blog to read that, although of course sometimes has sponsored posts, is much more about you allowing us a peek into your way of doing things. Thank you for sharing your process!

  19. Michele M.

    Gorgeous painting – you are soooo talented – and love your two new additions.

    I always get a kick out of vintage and antique Toledo chairs and stools – both my parents were born there and half my siblings. Toledo at one time was such a gem of a city.

    Love your studio – what a wonderful place (and that office now) to do your work. How can you ever leave your home?

    Well done, Marian.

  20. Cindy

    Such beautiful and functionalnpieces for yiur studio! I have a Toledo chair just like yours but mine was inly $30. Injust lucked out while shopping one day – I saw it and loved it so much! I use it as my current office chair and as a chair I sit at while I am at my quilting rack. BTW I drool everytime I see your studio!

    • Marian Parsons

      What a great bargain! It is a comfortable chair, isn’t it? I wouldn’t want to watch a movie in it or anything, but it’s great for work!

  21. Amy Enserro

    Do you have the same 24 hours in each day as the rest of us? How do you get SO MUCH ACCOMPLISHED! It amazes me!

    • Marian Parsons

      As far as I know! To be fair, this is my job and what I do all day and I’ve been doing it for almost 10 years, so I’m in a rhythm with it. It probably looks like I do more each day than I actually do.

  22. Susan

    I love how u mix ur colors and put the example of them above ur painting. Can u please explain ur process to a fellow painter. Also, how do u save ur color palette if it is on the glass ? Plastic wrap?


    • Marian Parsons

      Sure thing! Once I was done with the underpainting (basically the value sketch in paint), I spent some time matching the colors. I put the picture of the painting I was copying in a protective plastic sleeve, so I could paint the color directly over the picture, making sure I had a good match. I worked through the painting mixing the main colors used. When I was happy with a color, I painted it on a piece of cut from a canvas pad. I then clipped it up while I was working on the painting as a guide.

      I don’t cover my paint, but I just leave it sitting out. Since I paint most days, it doesn’t harden. If a pile gets clumpy, I just pull the dried bits or “skin” out with a palette knife and add more paint.

  23. Linn

    Wow! An “old-masters technique Underpainting”!!! Beautiful Painting! I learned how to do that over 35 years ago at the Art Students League in NYC. Congrats on your studio “finds” – They’re wonderful!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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