Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A perfect match....

Today a real estate agent showed my house to a rental client.  I have to be here because there are so many houses for sale that it seems the agency doesn't have enough lock boxes to go around.  It doesn't bother me though because I get to scope out the probable tenants and today I met an amazing woman.

She - we will call her Mary - LOVED the house and was excited just like I was when I first saw it.  The one big difference between us is that she has a 31 year old disabled son that lives with her ... Mary said she had been looking for a place that would give both of them space and her son a sense of his own place and this has both . She was in total awe of the view - even on a foggy day - I could see her mind churning with the ideas of sharing the warmth of the house and the closeness of nature with her son.  I hope she gets the house....she deserves it.

My friend Wendy happened to be here when this was all going on and actually negotiated a deal with Mary so that when I needed a break from urban living I could come back and sit on the deck and take in the view...perfect !  Who knows, I might even have a decorating gig....she was so taken by every piece I have that she might want some decorating help.  Just another excuse to Thrift.  It is all working out !

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Inspiration Piece...

Today is the day that I bid a fond farewell to my inspiration sofa.  It is a 9ft, orange and yellow velvet tie-dyed, mid - century modern sofa and was the first piece of furniture I had in this house. My "muse'" inspired me to create an amazing living space....from the orange walls,  to the gold 70's hanging lights,  to the vintage fabric I found for the dining room chairs....she had a hand in all of it. (tears in my eyes).

It is going to a nice home and I will have $$ money in my pocket - Craig's List is great.  The funny thing is - the people who are buying it both work for Raymour and Flannigan which is a furniture store on the east coast.  She said she is so tired of looking at boring traditional furniture and needed to find something unique.  She found it !!

Now to look for the next inspiration piece , maybe one of the pieces that I already have will be the one ... can you build a room around an oversized gold lamp ? I doubt it... but we shall see.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A dandelion seed drifting over landscaped lawns...

On the move - again. read it right...I am packing up and leaving the suburbs and headed back to urban living.   The life of a renter ... not tied to anything ... I can pick up and go anytime I want and start over . I breathe a sigh of renters relief that I am not tied to a mortgage and market value - the (rough) Latin translation of mortgage is "death pledge". I recently read an article in a magazine , the writer admitting that she rents and describing her transient self as "a dandelion seed drifting over landscaped lawns." That is me... you never know where I will plant myself.

I am one of those rare people that likes to move - weird - I love sorting through my stuff and getting rid of things ... rethinking what I really need.  The whole move thing started for me in 1982 when my parents moved from Indiana to Texas... my father's new job took the family there and my mother seemed to like the idea of a change. Change is good...I have moved 17 times in 30 years.  My mother's address book has all of my addresses crossed out - she should have used a pencil !

I will admit a few things about moving this time. I love this house .  I have had the most amazing parties. It has the most amazing views.  I will miss the sunrises, sunsets and the hawks. I will even miss my crazy landlord who would bring me fresh eggs from his farm.  It has been like being on a vacation every day
(what the Helen the realtor told me when I looked at it)...but the vacation is over and it is time to get back to living!  I have spent endless days staring at the landscape and have missed being with my friends,  missed being able to jump on a train at a moments notice to go to NY, missed the energy I get from a town, missed being able to walk around the corner and get something to eat or go to a bar or listen to live music.

So here we go again... another thrifting and decorating journey ! I love the challenge of decorating a new place .  The apartment that I am moving to needed to be painted so I was able to pick out new colors and I can't wait to see what it looks like.  The place is smaller and I have been scouring magazines for ideas on how to make the most out of limited space and will take those ideas on my thrifting trips.  I can't wait to get started.

So that is the scoop.  I will take you on the decorating and thrifting journey with me... exciting !
2012 is going to be great !

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thrifting for Fall Fashion - I am so in for the season !!

My sister Allison has this amazing ability to spot good quality fabric, tailoring and designer labels in a sea of thrift shop clothes.  She honed her skill at Neiman- Marcus while working at the Estee Lauder counter in Chicago...I am sure every lunch break was spent looking and touching every garment on the designer floor and almost certain she spent almost every paycheck there...with all of those beautiful clothes and a could she resist!

Allison and I were thrifting at a  Goodwill store on one of my visits to Houston and she spotted a dress from across the store ... she made a B line for it.  It so happens it was a dress by Escada which is one of those super expensive fashion houses that makes beautiful clothes.  The dress is black and white , it has a nice shape and a beautiful back with buttons at the neck...a cut out ....and more buttons.  Did I mention it is was my size and it was $9.99.

I almost did not buy it (silly me) is kind of shiny...but in New York you can wear anything ! and today while looking through the New York Times fall fashion magazine I came across a dress by Salvatore Ferragamo that looks an awful lot like my $9.99 dress.  It seems that I am in style for fall without breaking the bank...Thrifting saves the day (and my bank account ) again !  Thanks Allison !
The front

The back

A nice clothing line !

Fall 2011 Fashion - I am so ahead of the game !!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The $2.99 Chair Project ( I mention the word 12 times)

I am back from my fishing trip and now back to creative thinking and projects.  As of this moment I have a  workroom full of projects ...pants and dresses that need to be hemmed and tailored, an unfinished buggy project,  a mid century screen door idea/ project and don't forget my creative outdoor space project!!!  If you are a creative person you know that if you have too many projects going at one time you don't get anything done ... and those projects sit there until you finally sort it out in your brain and you figure out where to begin.

With that said....while on my first thrifting trip since vacation I found this very nice leather and wood chair for $2.99 .  The seat is torn but the bones are good. It is not my style but since I have never reupholstered a piece of furniture I thought it would be a nice PROJECT ! Did I say PROJECT ?  Here I go again...the good thing about this blog is that it keeps me moving on my projects ...  something to write about and you ask me how my projects are coming along and that keeps me working on them.

Better get going and work on a project...FYI:  photos coming of the outdoor space...I did get something done  on it - not completely finished but the ideas are flooding out! 
My creative mind never stops...just wish my energy level could keep up with it !
The Back - not in bad shape

Nice Legs !!

The reason it's a PROJECT !!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gone Fishing !!

Will be fishing for the next week and will get back to the blog next week...unless of course I come across something great and I can't wait to share it with you.  Have a good week !

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Alexander McQueen - Creative Inspiration

On Friday I went on a journey with my friend Kristin to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We took a mid-town direct train to Penn Station at 7:39 and then took a taxi that dropped us at the steps of the Met  at 8:45...there was already a line but we were in a good position on the steps.  As the time past the line grew and grew and we were ( and still are) patting ourselves on the back for getting there early.

When the doors opened at 9:30 and we entered the museum and exhibit, it was already crowded...but we were in !!! and from the moment I entered the exhibit I was in awe of what I was seeing and the emotions and energy I was feeling from every piece of art was overwhelming.  Total artistic expression and craftsmanship at it's best.  I wanted  to  touch every piece of material and finger every seam and walk around every mannequin .  Despite the mob scene most of us are quiet and respectful, as one should be in the presence of such heartbreakingly beautiful and challenging art.

There is one part of the exhibit were there is a hologram , it starts as a point of light like a Tinker Bell and grows to an image of Kate Moss wearing a beautiful white gown.  You are watching this right in front of you and it is so incredibly real and the theme from "Schindler's List "is playing...and then you turn around and there  is that gown...beautiful in all of it's creative energy ...glowing... I was misty at that moment...the genius of what was in front of me was overwhelming.  The whole exhibit took me away like that ... and I felt sorrow in the loss of such a creative genius.

and you would ask...what does this have to do with the Art of Thrift???  I would only say that it inspired me to be myself...Alexander McQueen took inspiration from all around him, nature, culture, his heritage ...It gave me permission to break the mold of what is right and wrong in fashion and design and life. I can be that arty, thrifty girl who junks and picks....I can be true to my own form of self expression, I never wanted to follow the crowd anyway and creative energy in every form is exciting!  Thrifting gives me the freedom to try new things and break the mold without breaking the bank...EXPRESS YOURSELF !

P.S   I did some sewing today...inspired to create...thank you Alexander McQueen.

Savage Beauty- Alexander McQueen - Metropolitan Museum of Art

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who was Vera Neumann ??

If you like vintage scarves and linens like I do, you most likely will come across some that are marked Vera.  Most of them have graphic, cheerful prints and I think they are beautiful.  If you are going to wear a scarf, it should be something with a bit of personality.

Vera Neumann (1907-1993) was an artist turned entrepenuer and textile designer.  Vera and her husband George, who's family had a background in textiles, founded the company Printex in 1946.  They worked out of their NY studio apartment with a silk screen press on their dining room table and would cure the product in their oven.  The press was only big enough to make linen placemats but after securing an order with B. Altman department store they moved to a Georgian Mansion in Ossining, NY.

During WWII linen supply was hard to come by so Vera found some leftover parachute silk and thus the first signature scarf was born - Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly were fans.  Her designs are on sheets, tablecloths, linens, hand towels and clothing.  She designed fabric for Shumacher that Bess Truman used in the 3rd floor solarium in the White House.  She hired designer Perry Ellis to help with the sportswear line and he eventually struck out on his own.

Vera products are difficult to date but there are websites and blogs and books dedicated to her.  Her older work had a ladybug by her signature - for good luck.  You can find them online on Ebay and etsy....but I personally like to hunt for them and am excited when I find one.  So you know what I would say.... get out there and dig for a beautiful silk scarf for your unique look !!

Vera silk scarf $3.00 and napkins - unused $4.99 for 4.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dishes and Barware - Georges Briard

On a recent thrifting  trip I found these great dishes ( they match my house perfectly) that are by the 50's , 60's and 70's designer Georges Briard .

Georges Briard (1917-2005) is most well known for his signature dishes and glassware.  He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago . ( I am finding out that a lot of the great designers of Mid-Century art, furniture, etc. studied at the Art Institute of Chicago....I feel another blog post idea coming on...) Briard was an immigrant from Russia and served in the U.S. Army throughout WWII as a Russian interpreter and was on General Patton's staff, he was discharged in 1947.  He then began painting metal serving trays and eventually became a commercial designer and his designs where popular and numerous.  His designs were sold at Neiman Marcus and Bonwit Teller and has received several awards for his designs.

The dishes I found and paid just $1.91 each for, are from the pattern called Carousel - I will be looking for more pieces of this pattern...I love the colors.  The ice bucket - very 70's - is another find for $3.99.  When looking for comps on Ebay the dishes have a range of $6.99 per plate to $49.99 for 4 and the ice bucket ranges from $9.00 - $99.00 depending on the style.

Another successful thrifting trip !!  and a cheap hobby !  I love the hunt and finding great things and the extra bonus is, you can turn it into a learning experience by researching the designers that you find ... learn something new on your next thrifting trip!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Project - The Shaded Creative Space

Whew it is hot !!! and I have been getting up early to work on my next project.  I have a walk out basement and there is a space under my deck that has never been used and I need a cooler, shaded space to hang out in...a place to read and relax and meditate.

First of all, I don't own the place so I don't want to put a lot of money into it.  Second, I want to be able to do all of the work myself.  The original plan was to build a deck using discarded shipping pallets as the base and then use decking board....staying true to the idea of recycle, renew and reuse...that turned out to be a bigger plan than I wanted to take on.  So I am still trying to figure out what to do for the floor.  I did level it though - lots of shoveling and raking but that is done.

I have lots of ideas for the space and some would say the plan is a bit know what that means, right?...I am going to do it and it is going to be an amazing space....I'll show you...yeah!  I have thrifted some great pieces of furniture and even found some tables on the side of the road during household refuse week.

The photo below is the before and I will be working on it and will send you the updates along the way.  In the meantime, if you have any ideas for the space send me a note and if I incorporate any of them in the design I will make sure you get a mention in my blog post when we have the big reveal.

Have a great weekend and take on a  creative project ... create an environment that stimulates interior growth ....incorporate found objects, textures, and sounds into your space in a way that breathes new life into your being!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nothing says summer like....

Nothing says summer like a wicker summer girlie !  I had one of these in high school  by Aigner and I bought it at the Fashion Shop in Columbus, Indiana ( the things we remember?).

I picture this with a great vintage day dress, flats, a big hat and of course a picnic in Central Park...sweet!  These were all found thrifting , of course, and I paid no more than $4.00 for each one of them.  Check out the beautiful, perfect vintage lining ...that purse will be going to a new home next week as I will be having lunch with a good friend who is originally from New Orleans and is prim and girlie. She can be a  real southern belle or a real Jersey girl - whatever she needs to be at the moment and I love her spunk...she will love the purse!

Remember to make a gift of thrift... really search for that perfect thing... make it as unique as the person you are buying it for....( and it is so much fun).

P.S.  Going to the last day of the Morrow Methodist Church Turnover Sale tomorrow...should be fun.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Goodies - Ferragamo Shoes and Dead Woman Walking

First let me tell you about the Goodwill Outlet Stores(Goodies) see the Outlet puts new stuff from all of the local stores out everyday, this is the last chance for the items to be sold.  Clothing items are .85 cents, coats are $2.00 and shoes are $1.75... crazy !!  but you have to be willing to dig.  Why do we do it?... because sometimes you come away with the most amazing finds.

I was shopping with my BFF Wendy and my Dad at a Goodies Outlet Store in Pennsylvania.  Wendy and I had spent a couple of hours going through every bin ... searching, tossing things aside and throwing things in our carts.  It is a crazy process but we love it and there is a method to the madness...Wendy goes down one side and I go down the other...we go through the bins, talk, laugh, throw things in our carts for us and everyone we know and then we sort through it at the end..."I thought you would like this"...."something vintage for you"...."something perfect for Ernie (a friend that lives by Wendy)."  And it goes on like that until we have narrowed it down to the days treasures.

On this day my Dad was with us and he would take breaks from us and we wouldn't see him for a while and then he would be back to check on us ( amazed that we were still at it).  We had had enough and  were just about ready to check out and we thought twice about taking on the huge pile of shoes that was piled over our heads.  My Dad decided to tackle this with us and he asked what we were looking for..."nothing in particular...just good quality shoes." (shoes are never know... it is worth a look-see though) So my Dad , who is 6'3" reaches down in the middle of the pile and comes out with a pair of beautiful Ferragamo T-Strap shoes..."What about these?" he says.  Wendy and I almost tackle my Dad for those shoes...we could not believe that he found them! We were giddy ! Those shoes were so beautiful and hardly worn and for some reason we were convinced there were more in that pile...and there were...I have 5 pair and Wendy has 2 pair of $300+ Ferragamo Shoes.

A very classy woman, who had most likely passed away, had her whole shoe collection donated to Goodies and we were the lucky ones to find it... and that is why we call it Dead Woman Walking !

Oh what fun we had ... get out and dig...there are treasures to be found !

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shagadelic Frock! and Retro Fireplace

Que the Austin Powers music ! Check out this super cool pantsuit.  Absolutely fabulous....looks like a long dress but it is pants.  I can see myself at one of my house parties in this outfit...cocktail in in a fall ( ask your mom what that is) and a headband.  Groovy.

Check out the photo with the orange retro fireplace.  It was FREE....what?...FREE.!  Wendy , again, got it from a guy in West Chester, PA that she bought a bunch of old doors from. It was black and rusty and I panted it this great orange color.  I actually had one of these in my basement growing up in Greenwood, Indiana.  Who knew it would be so cool?!  ours had a heater and faux wood...mine has a TV with a yule log dvd...whatever works...right?

Pick, thrift and junk...have no shame when it comes to rescuing the things that others have discarded...breathe new life into it and make it your own.  Live artfully.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vintage Dresses and All That Jazz

Today my friend Jan sent me a text and asked if I wanted to thrift with her...I never say no to thrifting !  She was on the hunt for some vintage dresses for her gigs ... she is a wonderful jazz singer....check out her CD at

We shopped at  2 Unique Thrift Stores and a Sallies.  As usual I came away with the most finds.  I scored a 70's light blue knit dress ( $5.99) that makes me look a bit like a gypsy...I had to have it.  Jan found a trapeze dress  at the second Unique with a wild print ($5.99) , she didn't think she could make it work for her so I snagged that baby and vowed to wear it to one of her gigs. (check out the photos)

We had a great 4 hours of thrifting, I just wish we could have found some vintage dresses for Jan. I am looking forward to the barn sale in Chester, NJ that Jan was telling me about and we can't forget the Morrow Church sale in Maplewood , NJ.

Get out there and thrift and create a unique , fabulous wardrobe  for yourself - break all the rules!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Awwww isn't that a pretty sweater...

So the art of thrift is in the finding , the wearing , and of course the quality and craftsmanship.  Sometimes you find an item of clothing that is just so beautiful or different and perfect in every way that you can't pass it up.

On a recent trip to the best thrift shop in the whole world - Unique Thrift - I came away with this really beautiful hot pink beaded sweater for $4.99.  I don't wear pink but I will wear this sweater! (with my Joes jeans that I bought for $5.99) It is in perfect condition with no moth holes (tip: hold it up to the light to see if there are any holes) , every single bead is in place and the silk lining is intact.

Can't wait to wear it in the dead of winter when I need something to brighten my day !  Another great tip for thrifting...just because it is summer don't pass up the sweaters and winter coats.... you can score some great finds.

Have a great 4th of July (Unique is having a sale - I am on my way !!)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Art of Thrift Gift

Before I start this I want to make sure you check out my last post - Valerie's Cottage - Operation Decoration.  You can find it in the archives on the right.

Check out .  Chester County Cottage Girl's birthday was last Sunday and I found the perfect gift for her.  Grandma's China !!  that is what I call it when you find those pretty dishes with flowers on them. 4 plates, 4 side plates, 4 sets of cups and saucers.  I also found frilly napkins that someone paid a ridiculous price for at Anthropology and then decided they didn't like them so they ended up at the thrift store unused with the tags still on them

The breakdown - China = $13.16....Napkins = $5.99 (for 4)...a basket to put it all in = .99 cents....for a grand total of $20.14.  And she loved it !!!  

Be creative and thrift !  make your next gift a work of creative expression -  
make an Art of Thrift Gift !

P.S.  Happy Birthday Kelly !

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Valerie's Cottage - "Operation Decoration"

It has been a busy week... my friend Wendy was in town and we thrifted like there was no tomorrow.  The one thing I learned from thriting this week:  Bring snacks and need energy and thrifting is exhausting !

The big project of the week was Valerie's Cottage.  My friend Valerie moved to this really sweet cottage in May and has been so busy that she hasn't had a chance to really get it together .  Valerie is one of those people that you can always count on ... you could ask her to help you paint every room of a 10 room house and she would say , " Sure...after I get home from school ( she's a special ed aid ) , walk 10 dogs ( a side business) and frame for an hour (she does the framing for a custom framer)."...and she would want to do the trim "because I am short !" (everybody hates to do the trim) .  She is the best and I couldn't resist the temptation to help her out.

The first purchase was a white wicker chair for $4.99 and wicker side table for $3.99 -both were in great shape and just needed a coat of spray paint.  I painted them a color called Wildflower Blue...I am not a "blue" person but this color is really pretty.  Next was a magazine rack for $1.99 ... it looked like a grandpa had made it - perfect for a cottage and I painted it the same blue.  Found a nice brass standing lamp for $5.99.

I found an amazing cabinet for $16.00.  It is a china cabinet and is a nice petite size which was perfect for her small space.  The TV fits perfectly in it and all of the components fit in the bottom and there is a drawer which is perfect for junk.

Next, I painted and recovered a directors chair that our friend Kathy had found.  Used a nice white to paint it and covered the original canvas with a really beautiful girly fabric that brought all of the colors together.  Hung up the pictures that her mother had painted years ago . Made a couple of pillows and there you go....Operation Decoration! (just need to find a few things to make it really homey)

So I spent $32.96 on furniture, $12.00 on spray paint and used fabric I already had.  Round it up to  $45.00 for the start of a really nice room.  Living artfully with thrifted items...perfect !

Forgot the curtains on the Ikea shelves in the kitchen - super cute and functional.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Want I want NOW !!! - Ben Seibel Designs

Ben Seibel (1918-1985) was another great designer of Mid - Century dinnerware.  In 1952 he designed dinnerware for Roseville Pottery Company that would help revive the company.

He designed many patterns for Mikasa including the one in the photo below which is called Duplex Yellow Poppy.  The color is so bright and cheery and I think my Mid - Century home needs a whole set...and the hunt is on !!!!

I bought this plate for .69 cents and prices range on ebay from $5.99 for a bowl to $69.99 for a tea pot.  Another steal and another thing to collect !  Fun !

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fabulous Mid-Century Finds - Michael Lax Designs

On a recent trip to my favorite thrift store I scored these fabulous cast iron, orange enamel coated, teak handled beauties...designed by Michael Lax for Copco and made in Denmark.

Michael Lax was a great industrial designer from the 60's and he was intent on bringing beauty to very utilitarian pieces - he was one of the first to introduce enamel to cast iron.  Best known for his craftsman appreciation for texture and color.  His designs for Copco brought an international, Scandinavian flair to basic american products. Michael Lax died May 28, 1999.

These 2 skillets and 1 sauce pan are in excellent condition and they are heavy but they heat evenly and are an easy clean up. I looked up some comps online and I stole these babies...I paid $30.00 - more than I usually shell out but I knew these were special and I am looking for more !!  Keep on thrifting !!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Ultimate Chair - Harry Bertoia

The coolest chairs were created by Artist and Designer Harry Bertoia in the 1950's.  He sought to create sculptural pieces that were also functional.  His chairs are highly sought out by collectors of mid century modern furniture and can sell for upwards of $500.

Well here is the kicker....My friend Wendy ( one of the luckiest pickers I know)  found this original Bertoia Knoll Diamond Chair with the original teal cover in near perfect condition.

Lucky for me it really goes with my house and I get to borrow it -  forever !  Oh, forgot to mention what she paid for it -----$2.99 ----(did you just fall off of your $500. Bertoia) !!  At  Sally's ( aka Salvation Army) in West Chester, PA.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I love this video

Check out this video on Ted TV.  Thanks Kris !  and while you are there...sign up ! Great discussions on all subjects.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Junkers Paradise

I moved to a Mid Century Modern house three years ago and did not have a clue how to decorate it.  I scanned books and magazine ( Dwell and Atomic Ranch - my favorites) to come up with ideas and I was determined to do it all by thrifting.  It started slow....I scanned Craigslist, thrift stores and after a long search I finally gave in and ordered a sofa from Crate and Barrel but it was not what I wanted to do.  That night I decided since I had broken down and gone pure retail I was going to have get some cool vintage fabric off of Ebay to make pillows...while searching through fabric I came across a 9 ft mid century sofa with orange and yellow tie-dye crushed velvet fabric - I could barely contain myself !! The next day I cancelled my CB order and bought the sofa.  The sofa was in Philly and he offered delivery for $100.  I had that sofa in my house by Saturday. Did I mention I paid just $300 dollars for it !!! 

It was the start of something great and I designed my whole first floor around it.  To say it is uncomfortable would be an understatement....everyone complains....even I am starting to complain but I can't part with it - I love it !!  The start of beautiful, creative expression.
(Click on the photo to get the ideas up close and personal)