Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reuse & Repurpose: Paint the Town

Have you got a bunch of old paint brushes that you hate tossing into the garbage? You could turn them into a colorful, '80s-inspired piece of wall decor by swirling them in different hues of paint and displaying them on a peg board just like the creative types at Ralph Lauren Rugby did. Now go paint the town red, and blue, and yellow....

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Frugal Fun: Round and Round

Lately, I've been doing a lot of baking for spring gatherings and taking my creations on thrifted platters that I can offer as a gift to the host or hostess. But on a recent stop into Goodwill on my hunt for an appropriate serving option, I was distracted by this wooden lazy susan. I mean, how could I not be with a price tag of $3.

It needs a little TLC, but here it is sitting atop my Gene Meyer rug in the living room. I imagine it's from the 1960s, but can find nothing about the brand, "Rocky Woodenware, Los Angeles, California" that's marked on the label affixed to this piece's green-felt-covered base.

It needs a bit of TLC on its surface but will ready to take a spin at my next festive get-together!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Find: Hometown Ink

I love a good garage with tables heaped with goodies and surprises bursting forth every where you turn. I've been known to do U-turns in traffic to inspect signs posted on phone poles promising multi-family garage sales packed with treasures.

So I had a lot to say when my hometown newspaper, The Independence Examiner, called on me to talk about garage sale etiquette. Read all about it here. As you know, I not only possess the Gift of Thrift, but also the Gift of Gab!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Object of My Desire: Shelved

As I'm in the process of making changes in my bedroom, and one of the pieces I'm putting away is this shelf I remember from my childhood. It once held our family's volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica as well as other children's books in the corner of our living room in Independence, Missouri. It comes apart easily and can be stacked flat, so one day several years ago, my dad surprised me by lovingly wrapping it up and mailing it to my apartment.

I have used this shelf for many years and would never dream of tossing it out. But I had decided it was time to put it away for awhile until I could decide upon its next destination. As I was unscrewing the shelves, I noticed this unusually shaped red outline on the top -- one so familiar that it didn't take me long to remember what had once left its imprint.

Every Christmas, Mom displays her Avon, scented wax carolers from the 1970s like this one I saw at Dirty Birdies Vintage shop on Etsy. And one Christmas many years ago, Mom must have placed her wax trio on this piece of furniture, since to this day, its melted markings remain on the top shelf.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Friday!

Yesterday I told you about all the vintage origami paper I found for 25 cents at an estate sale in Independence, Missouri. And here's what I turned them into, using what I happened to have on hand in my craft drawer. (Yes, while many of you have craft rooms, I have simply have a drawer!)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reuse & Repurpose: Paper Pleasures

What to do with this gorgeous,vintage origami paper I found for 25 cents at an estate sale in Independence, Missouri? I'll show you tomorrow!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Frugal Fun: Goodwill Goodness

When I need a quick pick-me-up, a five-minute dash through a thrift store usually does the trick. I hardly ever buy, since the objects on display never fail to lift my spirits. On this occasion, however, I did buy when I ran across this marvelous Eva Zeisel serving dish in a Kansas City Goodwill. In perfect condition, I paid a whopping $5 for this ensemble. It's safely tucked away at my parents house in Independence, Missouri, and will fly back to New York with me some day in the near future.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Find: Tips to Successful Thrifting

Based on The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects and Vintage Details, here are a few tips for a successful thrift shopping trip:

• Define your shopping budget. Spending more than you have takes all the joy out of thrift shopping.

• Make a thrift shopping kit that includes your thrift wish list, color tiles, fabric swatches, design inspiration from books and magazines, a tape measure and room and door measurements.

• Know how you’ll get your purchase home. Can you call a friend? Rely on a man with a van? Drag it into your car or a taxi? And once you get it home, will it fit into your space? Refer to measurements in your thrift shopping kit.

• Set your peripheral vision to see the beauty in the unexpected. A coat of cruddy paint might be hiding a lovely dresser or a rejected, printed cape might be transformed into a glamorous pillow.

• Buy only what you love. Just because a piece of furniture you spy might have a designer’s name that makes it valuable, if it’s ugly, then leave it alone.

• Check for quality. Drawers should open smoothly, legs and cases be sturdy, and upholstery free of odor and stains.

• Always carry cash. It’s a great negotiator in many places and helps you stay on budget.

• And finally, don't be a Thriftzilla. Create good thrifting karma by being kind to the people who are offering their wares, accepting fair prices and leaving a little something behind for the next person.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Object of My Desire: Round and Round

Warm weather signals to me that amusement parks will soon be opening. And in New York, Coney Island ushered in in another season of fun.

Let the good times roll!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reuse & Repurpose: Throw a Wrench in It

Lately, I've been seeing all kinds of thrifty ideas for make wall décor, and this one was in the windows of Atrium right across the street. Not only did the creative folks there salvage an old picture frame for this display, but it also appears that they quite literally reached over to the work bench to repurpose the subject in this piece of art. Hung quite simply without any special matting or extra treatment, this element would fit right into a masculine setting -- or even a workshop or tool shed!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Frugal Fun: A Mouse in the House

So much for being teased with the spring weather now that April's showers have cast a gray haze over New York. To brighten your day wherever you are, here's a funny display that I snapped with my small camera from the windows of Vintage Thrift Shop over on Third Avenue. It's a gem of a destination packed to the ceilings with everything you can imagine, from thrifty knickknacks and lovely ladies' accessories to incredibly tempting vintage furniture finds, and might I add, all at very fair prices. And this scenario with its fearless little mouse making his own major haul is absolutely priceless.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Find: Wrapped & Ready to Go!

Here's a copy of The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details all wrapped up for Kathe Fraga, an artist in Bainbridge Island, Washington, who won last week's DesignTV giveaway.

Fraga shared a photo of a vintage Goyard trunk that she paid $40, not knowing what she had just purchased, only to find out that it was a treasured, French find. Congratulations!

If you have a copy of The Find, email me your information and I'll mail you a personalized bookplate.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Object of My Desire: Take the Hint

I ran this post a while back, and this book still tickles me every time I flip through its colorful pages.

Among my favorite thrift finds are old entertaining and decorating books that I find and garage sales. You never know what you might turn up -- a Technicolor cookbook filled with improbable concoctions of gelatin and food coloring or tawny toned meats accessorized with pineapple rings or wrinkly tomatoes.

When I dug this "Hits from Heloise 1966 Diary Appointment Calendar" book out of a box with my cousins, I am most certain I discovered the pre-cursor to what Martha Stewart has become today. (Note the lovely ball fringe on the cover of this "Deluxe Library Edition.")
Inside the front cover Heloise Cruze is described as a "petite five-two, hundred-twelve, blue eyed kind of hurricane from Texas [who] measures 34-27-34."


The description of Heloise's mission to take drudgery out of house work continues:

"The naturally attractive and vivacious Heloise loves color. She finds release from her work in painting, and her closet-full of muumuus covers the spectrum. Heloise works the way she talks -- fast and often, also plays an electric organ."

I guess when she wasn't pumping away at the keyboard, she was busy rolling out bon mots of the household kind to sprinkle into a calendar that notes her celebrated hints throughout:

January 5: "Keep dustpan waxed. Dirt will slide off it much more easily than an unwaxed one."

April 4: "Don't forget that the idea of making smashed cheese sandwiches, wrapped in foil and ironing them, with an electric iron is fabulous."

July 8 "Don't keep your husband in hot water all the time because this will not make him tender."

And then here's the general tip for August that I will never forget, and may just try:

"When preparing hamburger meat, shape it to look like a weiner. Then cook it the same way as ordinary hamburgers and serve on hot dog rolls."

Always frugal, always fabulous, and whipping out my electric iron to prep for lunchtime,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reuse & Repurpose: Frame It!

Here's a novel way to show off a collection and at the same time re-use an old picture frame, an object so common in thrift shops and often over looked because of the art inside it or the state of the glass that covers it. I saw this piece at Enamoo, a gift shop in downtown Brooklyn, while on a springtime stroll there a few days ago.

You could take any frame and if needed, remove its glass and secure its corners with wood glue. Let the glue set, give it a quick coat of paint, let it dry, and finally tack a piece of fabric-covered foam core to its reverse. Voilà: a palette on which to display a lightweight collection. You could create an eye-catching display of colorful earrings, special photos, favorite postcards or buttons, just like they did here, and show them off for everybody to admire.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Frugal Fun: Thrifty Thrift Shopping

I may do a lot of thrift shopping, but unless I'm looking for something specific, I actually buy very little and take home most of my memories in photographs.

This kissing Dutch couple on the street in front of Yesterday's News in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, were awfully cute, reminding me of all the lawn ornaments my sister and I admired as a kids. With the exception of a bird bath, our own yard was fairly minimalist, and any decoration was left to all the plants and flowers that populated the outdoor space.

So I left this springy duo right where I saw them, since I couldn't imagine where in my New York apartment I would put them. And can you imagine watching me haul them home on the subway?

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Find: And the Winner is....

A Goyard trunk will get you anywhere -- or at least a copy of The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details for Kathe Fraga, who won last week's DesignTV giveaway.

Contestants were asked to post their favorite finds on DesignTV's Facebook page, and Fraga's fabulous trunk was a clear winner. Fraga, an artist based in Bainbridge Island, Washington, said she paid $40 for this wardrobe a few years back and had no idea it was such a coveted French brand.

"I remember opening it up and seeing the distinctive bright yellow interior," Frage said. "At the time, I have to admit, I thought it was a joke. Bright yellow in such a beautiful piece? I thought it was a re-do." But after a little research she realized that the interior's exuberant hue was a trademark of the luxury bag maker.

Next, she felt compelled to learn about this mysterious trunk's owners. . A tattered piece of masking tape held the first cues, and when she matched them to the faded initials on the trunk, she eventually discovered that it belonged to Rosemary Cooper McCone (R.C.MC.C), the wife of John A. McCone, head of the CIA under President John F. Kennedy. The couple married honeymooned in Paris in 1938, where the iconic trunk was made.

"That's the fun part of collecting vintage," Kathe says. "Go with what you love, and you never know what'll happen! And the next time I spot a Goyard trunk, I'll know better than to question the interior color choice!"

Congratulations, Kathe! I'm wrapping up a special copy of The Find and dropping it in the mail just for you!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, April 4, 2011

Th Object of My Desire: Mixed Messages

If there's one thing at a garage sale or a flea market that can capture my attention for hours, it's a tempting pile of postcards or an enchanting plate filled with old greeting cards just begging for my attention. I can literally spend hours sorting through every card, picking out examples that hold special significance, either reminding me of someone to whom I might owe a note or possibly a favorite destination.

While I enjoy looking over the messages that written on these cards' reverse sides, I only buy those that have not been used so I can add my own note, affix a stamp and pop it into the mailbox for a heartfelt, vintage surprise.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Gift of Thrift: She's a Looker

She's certainly a bit naughty, but she's a whole lot nice. Meet Sofia, a metal vintage Rodo clutch created exclusively for Bergdorf Goodman. She's packed full of funny money, a nip of vodka and a pack of candy cigarettes. And she'll tell you a tale of Sicily, just in time for Mother's Day.

If you'd like a Hooch Bag created for your mother, for a special occasion or for yourself, let me know at

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter


Blog Widget by LinkWithin