Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fabulous & Frugal Fun: Little Red Riding Hood & A Cow

Garage sales are my favorite places to find treasures, even when I'm not really looking for them. That was the case on a recent visit to the Santa Monica when I found not one, but two pieces, that tugged at my heart and called my name. The first discovery was a cow motif pitcher, that I hesitated when the seller wanted $10. When I got to a computer, I learned that my find originally came from the Old MacDonald Collection made by Regal China in the 1950s.

My second purchase put me back $5. Now there are tons of Little Red Riding Hood cookie jars available, some vintage, and some new, but from my quick research on the Internet, I believe that this one is one of the Hull-Ware originals, based on the markings on its base and the glazing inside the lid.

Regardless of their resale value, I hit the jackpot. The pitcher reminded me of my Grandma Churchill's milk barn in Southern Missouri. And Little Red Riding Hood made me think of the many times I tried as a kid to slip out a sweet from the cookie jar atop the refrigerator without my mother hearing its lid rattle.

Either way, I hope your enjoy the video of my journey and a transaction at two garage sales that took fewer than 15 minutes!

video


For more garage-sale goodness, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

Come see me tomorrow, October 1, in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a big event celebrating the season premier of Great Lifestyles at Bova Contemporary Furniture! Reserve your ticket now!



The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Find: A Little Horse

In The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects and Vintage Details, I talk about how to create a collection by creating continuity either with color, shape or nomenclature. Well, this little girl put together her treasured group of My Little Pony dolls for a colorful attraction that garnered her a second place ribbon at the Los Angeles County Fair.

Talk about hoofin' it!


Today is my last day with The Vintage Laundress at Vickie Davis' booth at The Texas Rose Antique Show. On Thursday, October 1, I'll be in Cincinnati celebrating the season premier of Great Lifestyles at Bova Contemporary furniture. Reserve your tickets here.

For more clever collections, checkout The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.



Monday, September 28, 2009

The Object of My Desire: A Day at the Zoo

As I was reminiscing the other day with my sister, Cheryl Bradley, about spending leisurely family outings at the Kansas City Zoo, I asked her if she might dig up some pictures of the days when we used to get all excited over a polar bear posing in a man-made lake, a picturesque setting of flamingoes all in pink or even an oversized, Old Woman's shoe, all of which looks less dazzling than when we were small.

Even though the pictures may have faded and the attractions grown smaller over the years, the memories they evoke are larger than ever.

I remember standing on the squishy carpeted tongue of the big, blue whale. His bones were painted white inside his mouth and his body was filled with little aquariums where fish darted about.

My sister and I loved the gigantic pumpkin, and happily posed for photos. And as I remember, it took quite a hoist from my dad to get me upon the toe of the Old Woman's shoe.

I often think back on those days in Kansas City, especially as the school year has started. We would get new clothes from the downtown Sears, and Mom would make us special clothes to accent our store-bought niceties. I hated wearing those husky sized Toughskins, but always loved the shirts with hand-embroidered yokes that I always so proudly wore.

Tomorrow, September 29, is my last day with The Vintage Laundress at Vickie Davis' booth at The Texas Rose Antique Show. On Thursday, October 1, I'll be in Cincinnati celebrating the season premier of Great Lifestyles at Bova Contemporary furniture. Reserve your tickets here.

For more vintage memories, checkout The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.




Friday, September 25, 2009

The Gift of Thrift: Garage Sale Goodness!

I love sharing my thrifty finds, especially if they're with a gift of a friend like Ruth Handel. Ruth is my favorite garage sale companion, deftly swerving through traffic to scan a tacked-up sign promising a three-family yard sale or a poster promoting a vintage-packed estate sale. We've picked through ephemera at fancy homes in the Pallisades, cruised the driveways in Santa Monica and Mar Vista, and dug through -- well junk -- just outside of freaky open garages monitored by even freakier tenants.

I bought this little fish plaque from Beachcomber Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida, for $1 at a garage sale not far from her Mar Vista home. Like Ruth, I was attracted to the crafty nature of this little treasure made of two wooden angel fish who look like they might be smoking cigars under water. And they'll look perfect in Ruth's heartwarming and retro-tastic kitchen!

For more thrifty inspiration, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

Come see me with The Vintage Laundress at Vickie Davis' booth at The Texas Rose Antique Show on September 26 and September 29. Also at the show on September 27, I'll be at Vintage Antqs Village at Zapp Hall at 6 p.m. Then I'm off to Cincinnati, Ohio, on October 1 for a big event celebrating the season premier of Great Lifestyles at Bova Contemporary Furniture! Reverve your tickets now!



The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reuse & Repurpose: Hang It Up!

Often, we fall for vintage and thrift items that are either broken and missing parts or are remnants of a set -- and guess what? We tote our beloved treasures home either because of the fond memories they evoke or the uniqueness of their design and heritage, leaving us with the constant-thrifter's question: "What will I do with these lovely, yet misfit, things?" If you're the folks at Country Living, you might just hang them on the wall!

The dial from an old clock looks perfectly pleasing above an elegant wooden chair and placed just below a grouping of brown china mounted inside a white, wooden frame.


For more reuse and repurpose inspiration, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

Come see me with The Vintage Laundress at Vickie Davis' booth at The Texas Rose Antique Fair on September 26 and September 29. Also at the show on September 27, I'll be at Vintage Antqs Village at Zapp Hall at 6 p.m. Then I'm off to Cincinnati, Ohio, on October 1 for a big event celebrating the season premier of Great Lifestyles Today at Bova Contemporary Furniture!


The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fabulous & Frugal Fun: A Cake Walk

When my pal Ruth Handel proposed we spend the day at the Los Angeles County Fair last week, it took little more than the promise of lunch on a stick (a hotdog, a slice of cheese cake, a sausage or perhaps even a pork chop) and a stroll through the craft exhibitions that had me racing to her Mar Vista pad last Thursday morning for our day-long adventure. I must say, the visit was other worldly. We strolled a train museum, marveled over botanical creations, bet on a horse and watched the race and even took a ski lift (YIKES! I forgot I'm afraid of heights!) across the expanse of midway games and carnival rides. But nothing entranced me more than the baking exhibition, with it's mile-high layers of delicious-ness and colorful fondant fabulosities.


I must be fair to the fair, however. This year's annual event started on September 5 and runs through October 4, so these cakes have been sitting in their display cases for several weeks, and unfortunately, most haven't aged well. We chatted with one of the supervisors who told us that all of these cakes were delivered in pristine condition, shared the dish on the antics of some of the judges and regular contestants, and even told us how every decorated cake gets a fork stuck into it (hopefully discretely) just to make sure it's the real deal, and not just a gussied up hunk of foam.

I'm ready for a slice of cake, so let's take a stroll....


Ruth and I giggled over this fish cake and its sliced candy scales. Why, the decorator even gave this fish lovely, long eyelashes!




Aw....this cake reminds me of what most of my cakes look like. I'm sure it was gorgeous when it was presented and must have been a chocolaty delight to take a Third Award.






I'm a sucker for coconut cake, as must have been the judges. It also looks as if it were baked in my tilted oven.




Perfect timing for Halloween, this ghoulish gob of goodness was one of the judges favorites in the decorating category, most certainly before the cute spooks slid off the hill and onto the ground.





And finally my favorite. The pineapple upside-down cake. I'm certain it was light and airy when first baked, even though it now resembles a pineapple pancake.



For more vintage fun, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.


The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Find: Back on the Road Again

After my extended stay in Los Angeles a-meeting and a-greeting, I'm back on the road to promote The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects and Vintage Details.

I'll be making three -- yes count 'em -- three appearances in Texas next week. Two will take place courtesy of the fabulous Vintage Laundress LeAnn Stephenson who will be showing at the Vickie Davis space at The Texas Rose Antique Show in Round Top, Texas. I'll be there on opening day, September 26th, and then again on September 29th with tons of books in tow to sell and sign.

In the middle there on September 27 at 6 p.m., Theresa at Garden Antqs Vintage will be throwing a little shindig for The Find in her booth in Zapp Hall.

From Texas I jet off to Cincinnati for an October 1 soirée celebrating the new season of WSTR's "Great Lifestyles Today" at Bova Contemporary Furniture and heralding New York interior decorator Mark Ciolli of Carl & Co., who was featured in The Find, which will be on sale that evening. To reserve your tickets, visit www.greatlifestylestoday.com.

Hope to see you there!

For more thrifty discoveries, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.


The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!




Monday, September 21, 2009

The Object of My Desire: A Dreamy Dime

I had a tough time spending a dollar the other day during a fifteen-minute, three-garage-sale jaunt through Santa Monica. When I spied this kaleidoscope pocket square -- one that can be folded in a variety of ways to feature the perfect color to complement an ensemble -- I was immediately attracted to the lovely hues and the cheery geometric shapes. When I asked the garage sale proprietress how much she wanted for this lovely piece of silk with hand trimmed edges and its bright colors, she paused," Uh, 10 cents?" All I had was a dollar bill and no loose change, so I picked up a pile of children's books that we negotiated a deal for the whole lot: one dollar! I love the colors in this pocket square and the intricate border that surrounds them.

Since wearing a tie these days is rare, I like to add a pocket square to my jackets for a dash of elegance. And who knows, it could also make a lovely op-art pillow.

For more thrifty discoveries, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Detailsat Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!



Friday, September 18, 2009

The Gift of Thrift: Birds of a Feather

Sometimes couples are destined for each other, and that's the case with Jonamor Decor's Senor Amor and Miss Jonona. Their personalities mesh perfectly, and their zest for life is obvious in everything they do. Whether they're decorating Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin's apartment in Los Angeles or throwing their own wedding just last week, everything they touch is kissed with individuality and personal charm.

So months ago when I was trying to decide what to offer them as a wedding gift, for some reason I decided to hook them a rug. It didn't take me long to find a design that fits their personalities to a tee -- a gigantic purple and blue peacock, standing proudly in all its beautiful glory. I had hooked a rug once when I was a child, so I didn't really think it would be such a challenge. It really doesn't take much skill, but it certainly requires patience and careful counting to make sure the right colors of yarn end up in the right place.

I started the rug back in February, thinking I had all the time in the world to finish. I hooked here and there, and made plenty of mistakes, requiring whole blocks of colors to be pulled out and replaced. While promoting my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details (in which the Amors are prominently featured), I let my handiwork lapse, and a week before the wedding, I was barely one-third finished. I almost gave up, until Veli told me that I had to finish it. And he was right. I had worked so hard to accomplish that third of the rug that it would be a pity to give up right then.

I started hooking. Seriously hooking. For five days straight I hooked 10 hours a day. My shoulder ached from the strange hooking movement, and my eyes crossed when trying to figure out the difference between dark cornflower and deep purple. To make a long story short, I finished that rug and here are the results. This is the photo of it before I brought it to LA for the the Amor's wedding. The newly wedded couple are away on their honeymoon and will return tomorrow, giving me just enough time to sew fabric taping on the back before offering it to them.

To see Jonamor Decor's work, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

Now that I'm off the hook....

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!









Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reuse & Repurpose: Sign of the Times

I was taken back to my childhood when I saw this sign in the window of a Brooklyn boutique. First of all, it's sale time, and these days, any way to save a dime is a welcomed sight. And secondly, the display makes clever use of a Lite-Bright screen just like the one my sister and I played with for days on end in the 1970s.

We would plug the Lite-Bright into the corner of the living room right by the piano, and spend hours in front of the plastic board creating images -- a snowman, a chicken or maybe a boat -- out of it's translucent plastic pegs.

This clever display also reminded me of the tune that ran along with the Lite-Bright ads from the 1970s:

"Lite-Brite, makin' things with light.

Outta sight, makin' things with Lite-Brite."

I leave you with a video of the ad from 1971 --


The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fabulous & Frugal Fun: The $4.16 Take

For me, there's nothing more fun than dashing into a thrift shop and being amazed by what catches your eye, especially if you're with my thrifty, eagle-eye shopper, Ruth Handel. She took me to Timeless Treasures in Culver City yesterday, and here's the lot of my purchase, not counting the potato masher that Ruth nabbed for 50 cents.

Of course, I'm always drawn to French memorabilia, like the brochure from the Champagne region on the top left. And then there's the Italian Disco Oraro right next to it. I'll use it next week to let treasure hunters know when I'm around at the Texas Rose Antique Show with LeAnn Stephenson, The Vintage Laundress. I'll be selling and signing copies of The Find: Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details on September 26 and September 29.

I could just go on and on....the pink mimeographed leaflet from the Des Moines County Historical Museum, a 1980s brochure from the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C., and a 1960s pamphlet about the Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu. And then, of course, is the Hawaiian oven mitt at the top of the photo...perfect for baking more pineapple upside-down cakes.



The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!





Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Find: Street Music

If I could remember the lessons I took back in grade school, I might have been able to tickle a tune out of this this miniature keyboard I spied on an East Village street the other night. There's a "Liberty" label on the top left corner of this musical marvel, but an exhaustive search turned up few clues regarding this unusual discovery.

The piece was about four feet wide three feet high and had a lid that closed, making it perfect for a funky side table or night stand. You could also just leave it open, mount a lower shelf in the interior and make it a plant stand, since it had already been stripped of its musical guts.

What's more, you can see that it has a "free" sign posted on it, just in case you didn't know it was discarded by the big, black garbage bags it leans against.

Now, what would you do with this street find?



For more innovative street discoveries, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Detailsat Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Object of My Desire: Dimestore Fabulous!


Sonya at Dime Store Thrift isThe Object of My Desire today. I am thankful for her fabulous giveaway of The Find:The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects and Vintage Details. She is a delight, and is officially in The Elegant Thrifter's Inner Circle.

Read about her giveaway right here!

Giveaways are VERY good!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Gift of Thrift: Hot Lava-ed


If you've been following my volcano-making over the past few months, you know I've been working frantically to make 21 volcanoes for Jonamor Decor's Senor Amor and Jonona's wedding coming up this Sunday. All of my lava lovelies made it to LA just fine, and Jonona greeted me on Tuesday evening with our brown babies all gorgeously glittered! Just wait until we add more red and black lava rocks and the floral explosions that rise from the mouth of these vivacious volcanoes.

For more frugal entertaining ideas, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reuse & Repurpose: From the Vine

Who can take a jumble of Goodwill furniture and turn it into a fabulous visual merchandising display?

If you're Carlo Orrico who just opened Le Vigne, an artisanal Italian wine shop in Greenwhich Village, you call up Mad Lab Architecture and Design for a creation that's complementary to your historic store front yet modern in its topsy-turvy eye appeal.


I visited Carlo's shop the other day and marveled over the creative use for old furniture, from old tables with flip-top lids to hid precious wines to tables and desks that make for clever shelving solutions, all created with an eye for style and a respect for budget.











Editorial note: I received a kind note alerting me to the fact that this amazing installation was created in collaboration with SPURSE, an international art collective. Go visit them at www.spurse.org!




Hope you enjoy the video!

video



The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fabulous & Fun: A Pressing Conversation

A few weeks ago when I asked, LeAnn Stephenson, the fabulous Vintage Laundress in Austin, Texas, to sit down for an interview, she shot me a look (well...I imagine she shot me a look...the are-you-crazy gaze that she's known for) and snapped, "It'll be pretty boring because all I do is iron these days."

Having been a journalist for many years, I learned that if you want to get a hot story, you've got to go to it. So I recently joined LeAnn in her upstairs loft area where she
does her pressing and steaming. To lighten her mood, we set up a play list full of Edith Piaf, Adell, Dolly Parton, Pink Markini and Arnold Turboust. The mood started to relax after LeAnn drowned her fatigue in Diet Doctor Peppers and I munched on a slice of cold pizza. We started out with a friendly debate over whose follicles were more impressive -- my porn-stache or her chick stache while I'm propped up on a white slip-covered lounge rifling through an impressive collection of cocktail napkins and printed tablecloths.

But I 'm warning you right now: the conversation takes some side trips and is a little long, but that's what happens when two passionate thrifters get together and start gabbing. (Before we get going, get a load of LeAnn's lamp re-do table here. About the prettiest work area I've ever seen!)

Stan: "LeAnn, put that iron down, 'cause I've got some
questions for you!"

LeAnn: "I can't, I can't, I have to get these things ironed for the Antiques Week in Round Top coming up at the end of September!!!!, " she says with a spritz of her water bottle. " You know that; you're going with me, you goose!"
Stan: "Okay, fine! I'll just ask the questions and you can answer. Keep ironing. Spray me again and I'll shave your eyebrows while you're sleeping!"
I had to edit down my report of all of the commotion at the Stephenson household, which included LeAnn's husband threatening to separate us over our mustache argument, her son Noah's delightful serenade of "Stairway to Heaven" and her lovely daughter Olivia showing off her amazing photography on her Schmap website.

Back to the chitter chatter:

Stan: "Gosh, you're wielding that iron like a pro. Where did you learn to iron like that?"

LeAnn: "I watched my Grandmother (we called her Meme) very carefully, when she used to iron. I would sit and watch her press our clothes and drive
her nuts with a zillion questions. I'd also have her tell me stories about when she was a little girl. I used to iron everything, even T-shirts for working out. That used to infuriate my little sister, Paula.

"The ultimate example of this obsession of mine was when I had gone into labor when I was carrying my daughter. My contractions were a couple of minutes apart and getting more frequent, and there I stood, right in front of this very ironing board in my white cotton prego briefs from Montgomery Ward -- you know the kind that could double as a parachute or a car cover -- and ironed my little maternity jumper. I was a vision of loveliness with my waistband up under my armpits, looking like Carl Malden in his days as a Victoria Secret underwear model, just starching and pressing away. Most people view ironing as something that could almost be as rewarding as cleaning toilets, but I love to iron; its my therapy."
Stan: "And what is it that you're ironing?"

LeAnn: "At the moment I'm working my way through my stack of monogrammed Damask napkins. They're my best sellers."

Stan: "Just how did you become The Vintage Laundress?"

LeAnn: "When I first began my vintage business, I was heavy on furnishings. The cottage-shabby-chic thing was really popular, so, I painted everything I found white and distressed it. About a year into my venture, I discovered printed tablecloths from the '40s and '50s - and I was hooked! I began gathering and restoring printed
tablecloths, napkins and kitchen towels and branched out into the more formal textiles, like Damask cloths and napkins within 6 months. Oh, did you mean where did the name come from? . . . ., well, the Hubbs coined that title.

"All of my laundry was vintage, so, he just started calling me 'The Vintage Laundress,' since I was washing and soaking load after load of vintage linens and textiles. I've been through three washers and two dryers, and something like seven irons since 2004 or 2005."

Stan: "What's in the laundry right now?"

LeAnn: "Well . . . . let's see . . . a bin full of monograms, a bin full of pink linens, a bin of damask (sans the monograms), a bin full of printed blue, red, and pink napkins, a bin full of Vera Neumann scarves and table textiles and a bin with vintage Christening gowns."

Cleverly, she's hidden these bin from me as she knows of my own obsession with vintage
linens.

Stan: "When it comes to vintage linens, is there a quick way to assess the seriousness of an obvious stain or spot?"

LeAnn: "I've gotten pretty cocky over the years. Not many stains scare me. If it's a rust stain, I use a product called Whink or I use a more natural approach and use cream of tarter in hot water. My throw-down mixture is OxyClean and Era liquid laundry detergent together in the hottest water I can get. Most times, I heat the water to a boil on the range and then put it in with the mixture and let the linens soak for about five or six hours in big coolers on my back deck. I really have the white trash vibe goin' on out there when I'm washing and soaking! And some times if you listen really closely, you can hear the theme from the movie 'Deliverance' playing in the background!"
Stan: "Does your husband, Scott, ever say, what in the world???"

LeAnn: "My husband, Scott, went selectively blind and deaf approximately 24 hours after we said our "I dos." He has never complained about the piles of linens and furniture that litter our home and, as a matter of fact, he helps me add to them.

"When I was pregnant with both Miss Olivia and Master Noah, I ' nested' like crazy - I painted anything that didn't move out of my way. I re-worked and reupholstered chairs
and dressers for their nurseries and gathered and gathered and gathered items to decorate with. Scott never said, 'Don't you think that's enough?' or anything. He's always been just like that - whatever I want, he wants. He's my best friend and biggest fan. I am very fortunate!"

Stan: "And your kids, Olivia and Noah, do they ever 'Aw Mom' you about your thrifty pursuits?"

LeAnn: "The Hubbs has brainwashed my babes into thinking that their mother is
'adorably eccentric', as he puts it. (And she is, I might add!) They are actually more adept at finding cast-offs than I am now. The piles of linens, painted furniture and vintage tchotchkes came into our lives about seven years into the marriage and after the kids were born. We had moved to Austin and I was home with the kids for the first time since they were born. I was a graphics designer and illustrator for a newspaper and other publications prior to that. Liv was five and beginning kindergarten and Noah was three and home with me. I discovered Goodwill and estate sales the year that my son started kindergarten and the rest is history, as they say. In between the really pressing things on my agenda, like building a couch cushion fort, making 40 gazillion bowls of macaroni & cheese and running around the house slapping myself a la Macaulay Culkin, trying to make my kids laugh - I'd iron a stack of damask napkins or paint a little side table and sell them at the City-Wide Garage Sale."

Stan: "Where's is the oddest place you've discovered a vintage treasure, and what was it?"

LeAnn: "I didn't find these pieces in an odd place, but they certainly seemed odd to me at the time. I discovered four bedroom sets of metal furniture at the Round Top Antiques Week several years ago. They were from a military base in Georgia, and there were several pieces like a bed frame, a desk, a chair for the desk, a side table and a dresser with a mirror attached. They were from the '40s I believe, and were covered with several coats of paint and lots of rust. So, I decided to rent a sandblaster and strip them and seal them with clear coat or
wax. This was my first exposure to the industrial look and I really loved it, and so did all of my customers. They sold almost immediately after I finished them."

Stan: "Have you ever sold something that you wished you'd never?"

LeAnn: "Yes, I sold these marvelous round Vera Neumann placemats that had these graphically printed flowers, like pink poppies and big floppy butterflies on them. Whenever I think about how rare they were, my jaw kinda tenses and I throw up in my mouth a little bit! But, they went to a loving home and a lovely lady here in Austin, so, I have visiting rights if I want."

Stan: "I know you have an Etsy shop, which by the way, is tempting. Where else do you sell your wares?"

LeAnn: " I have a website in addition to my Etsy store and I have been setting up at The City-Wide Garage Sale here in Austin for close to 10 years now. For the last 7 years, twice a year I have been participating in the Antiques Weekend at Round
Top/Warrenton."

Stan: How did you develop your utterly creative eye?

LeAnn: "I graduated college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in Graphics Design and Illustration. All of the Art History, color theory and design courses really broadened my horizons, visually speaking. After school I designed and illustrated for various publications and newspapers. Those experiences were key in my forming the daily habit of gathering images and logging away color combinations and pairings that I use in creating my home's interior design. My philosophy on decorating is don't take yourself too seriously and have some fun. Most of the time, it's just paint and that can be changed really inexpensively."

Stan: "What are your creative inspirations?"

LeAnn: "This is probably going to sound cheesy, but, my Mom and Aunts have always had beautifully decorated homes without spending a gazillion dollars. It almost makes my home seem even more special, because I managed the decorating on a shoestring budget. You know what I mean?
"Also, these days blogs are my instant gratification when it comes to inspiration. It seems all I can do most days is hop from one to the other. I just sit and gaze upon all the 'super-delicious' photos and discover all these companies, designers, crafters, thrifters and artists. Such is my crush on some of these people that all I want to do is pass them little origami notes that read, 'Can I feature you on my blog? When I grow up, can I be you? Circle Y or N.' I recall one of my first and strongest crushes being on some guy named 'The Elegant Thrifter!'"

(And I blush....)

Other than blogs, I'm always inspired by Philippe Starck, Trina Turk, Nanette Lepore, Jonathan Adler and any and all things French."


Stan: "Ah, mon dieu. Moi aussi.....If you could search for treasures anywhere and your budget was limitless, where would you go?"

LeAnn: "I would love to scrounge around in the flea markets of Paris. Belgium, Italy and Greece are other places on my wish list."


Stan: What do you tell people who want to decorate their homes but are afraid to give it a whirl? (And relish the pure gorgeousness in her own home, will you?)

LeAnn: "There was a time in my life when I did a lot of keeping up with the Joneses, if you know what I mean. I thought I needed to decorate my home like so and so's or dress like this person. Then I realized that really wasn't what it was all about. I began to think about my life and how I could live it like no one else - you know, authentically. My motto is don't be timid and squeamish: Experiment! The more experiments, the better. You have to live in your house, so make it something that you love."

Stan: I couldn't agree with you more! What would the ultimate Vintage Laundry be?

LeAnn: "I have a lot of goals and dreams for my business. Unfortunately, these goals are set by my brain. My brain and chaos are very close friends. I'm not sure if it's the artist in me or what, but linear thought is not my forte. My own personal chaos theory goes something like this: some random thought inspires some seemingly insignificant decision, which, in the end, throws my whole universe off it's axis.

THE THOUGHT: I want to start a textile design business.

THE IDEA: Research it to death and realize it takes a lot of cash.

THE DECISION: Find someone to partner with.

THE RESULT: A sprained cerebellum and an up-close-and-personal look at my other Forrest Gump-esque personality. My brain over-heats and smoke comes out of my ears in little spirals! Then I get frustrated and stop moving in that direction all together.

"But, if I were able to get through all that nonsense, the ultimate Vintage Laundry would be multi-faceted. I would love nothing more than to continue to gather vintage textiles, furniture, lighting and china, but along the way, I would like to develop my own designs inspired by vintage pieces. The pinnacle of the wish list would be to have Vintage Laundry store fronts all over the country. Having my own fabric line is long time dream of mine, as well. "


Stan: "Ok, now lets fold this stuff up and go have some Tex-Mex and margaritas!!"

LeAnn: "You read my mind! But on the way, I have this great little thrift store I'd like to show you!"

Here I am with the entire Stephenson cast of characters!

Thank you, LeAnn, for letting me barge into your chores with our gab-fest. You are inspiring to so many people, me included.

For more creative inspiration, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details atBorders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

A bientôt! Y'all...

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!





Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Find: Kind Words

Over the past few months, I've been overwhelmed with many gracious words offered regarding my labor of love, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.

I am truly thankful.

Here are a couple of the latest entries regarding The Find that I thought you might enjoy.
Heidi at Dreams Intertwined called it her "new favorite read." And if that weren't enough, Amy at Whisper Wood Cottage ran a huge interview with me a few weeks ago, and Vanessa at MaxxSilly is doing a fun giveaway of The Find.

Check out The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.


The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Gift of Thrift: Lava Love!

Before I head off for a few days, I'm leaving you with a video I made of my making papier mâché volcanoes that'll serve as vases during Jononamor Decor's Senor Amor and Jonona's wedding next week.

I made 20 of these lava lovelies, and my only cost was the acrylic paint and the shipping. Beside viewing my take on an inexpensive accent to what is sure to be a non traditional wedding, get ready for several birds-eye views of my bald pate and a scene that features (Yikes!) dirty dishes in the sink!

video

On my way to Krakatoa.....


The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reuse & Repurpose: On A Paper Roll

Lately, I seem to be reading in the most unlikely places. Last week, I took in a tale transported by wreaths fashioned from elegant old texts by Lana Manis at Honeysuckle Lane's Simple Joy space.

And then this week while taking a leisurely stroll in my neighborhood, I peered back to 1930s Barcelona via vintage newspaper La Vanguardia at a Catalan restaurant called Mercat on 45 Bond Street. Simply affixed to the exterior wall and left to weather as they will, the images will transport you through time to the time before Barcelona fell to General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Silver War.

When John Derian used old books to wallpaper his foyer that I featured in The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details, he used nothing more than white glue and water to create alluring wall details.

I'm looking forward to dining at Mercat, and just in case there's a wait, I'll be sure to take along some of my own reading material to peruse while lounging on the bench made from a trio of old school desks.



For a gorgeous take on French accounting ledgers turned into place mats by Coastal Living's Heather Chadduck, check out The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders,Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

All this mealtime talk is making my stomach growl....

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!










Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fabulous & Fun: Game On!

The other day while walking by NBC studios at Rockefeller Center I was reminded of all the fun I had as a kid with my mom and sister rummaging through heaps of games and puzzles piled high on spindly card tables in the garage sales that dot Independence, Missouri during the months of summer.

Right there in NBC's retro-themed windows were boxed games based on the network's beloved games. And if we had found these while sorting through boxes and bins during our summer break, we most certainly would have snapped them right up!

Our garage sale adventures were true treasure hunts, as we checked meticulously to see that all the game essentials were in tact and got assurance from the owner that all the puzzle pieces were, in fact, all there. Sometimes a tear of masking tape might say, "All Pieces Here," or we'd just open up the find and try to eye it ourselves. The biggest prize was a box that was unopened, especially when it came to puzzles, virtually assuring that there would be no gaping holes in a diorama of Mount Rushmore or a cartoon drawing of H.R. Pufnstuf.


These boxed games remind me of the day when there were really only three networks. Our old black and white TV barely got the three, so some of the early shows are hazy in my memory. Of course, I remember "Bonanza" and "Jeopardy", and then the later shows like "LA Law" and "Cheers." But "The Mating Game?" Never heard of it, but it sounds fun, even though I'm most certain that my mom would have frowned upon our watching it.


Even so, I found this little window display a pleasing walk down memory lane, reminding me of the days before a gazillion cable channels and video games. In those days, we were quite thrilled watching Batman in black and white, or on a snow day, piecing together our gigantic Jolly Green Giant jigsaw puzzle that my mom most certainly redeemed from the label on a can of vegetables.

For more vintage memories, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble,Amazon or Powell's.


Always Frugal, Always Fabulous

The Elegant Thrifter






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