Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reuse & Purpose: Knock on Wood


I always seem to be drawn to the windows of Anthropologie on Fifth Avenue for the way they demonstrate how to take discarded objects and turn them into visual delights.

These frames filled with chunks of wooden molding and pieces of colored boards have been reunited to create textural wall screens that could be used as room dividers, light diffusers or even hanging pieces of art.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Frugal Fun: A Real Sucker


Spotted in the street in SoHo. They say there's one born every minute!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Find: Thrifty Treasures

When thrift shopping, you always have to keep your eyes trained to note the unexpected. I posted this story a while back about how I witnessed a highly skilled eye at work a few years back when I walked into a thrift shop with decorator Mark Ciolli, principal of Carl & Co.

At the back of the store was an unremarkable, table -- at least to me -- that for some reason Mark had set his sight on. It was only $45, but the glass was of poor quality, and I knew he didn't have room in his own apartment for another large glass table. He then started rattling off instructions to his moving guys about coming ASAP to pick up this piece, and to leave the glass top.

I was thoroughly confused. Why in the world would he buy a table and leave the top in the store? What I hadn't realized was that underneath that hideous surface sat two Maison Jansen gueridon's, each worth more than $1,000 apiece. Once Mark got the pieces home, he cut marble rounds and turned them into end tables. The photo of the table (left) by Jim Franco, is from The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.

As you know, my philosophy is to buy only what you love, regardless of its brand or provenance. But a keen eye and an open mind can most often result in all kinds of rewards.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Gift of Thrift: Tiki Treasure

Even though I've been at it for many years, I'm always amazed at how the perfect gifts just seem to pop up magically at garage sales. Take for instance this funny-faced candle holder.

Last Saturday, photographer Bob Greenspan and his wife Amy invited me over to their mid-century home in Overland Park, Kansas, for a tiki-themed gathering. (I featured his dining room here earlier this week.) That morning, I hit a garage sale or two or 20 in Independence, Missouri, where I met this little man staring up at me from the bottom of a box filled with hunting knives and Dungeon & Dragons paraphernalia. And he was 25 cents -- the right price for an absolutely appropriate Gift of Thrift.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Find: A Photo Finish


Kansas City photographer Bob Greenspan photographed at least one-third of The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details . And since I'm in Kansas City this week, it seemed appropriate to re-post a piece I ran a while back featuring the dining room of Bob and his wife Amy's mid-century home in Overland Park, Kansas.

Bob and I shared a magical trip to California to document in the pages of The Find amazing homes that incorporate vintage and thrift. While there, Bob shot Go-Go Jane Wiedlin's downtown LA loft, GQ creative director Jim Moore's Palm Springs retreat and interiors maven Vanessa DeVargas's Venice Beach cottage.

Toward the end of our work in California, Bob started describing his home to me. He shared the story of how he lived in a 1957 A. Quincy Jones home, and then reached into his bag to produce a small book of photos filled with images of his Overland Park treasure. Not only did I want to work with Bob even more, but I had to have his home showcased in The Find.

Here's a shot of Bob and Amy's dining room. In the center is an R-Way table they found in a local vintage shop that they placed underneath a cheery set of lighting fixtures re-fashioned from their original purpose: illuminating the drive of an old drive-in movie theater.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Object of My Desire: In a Day's Work

Here's a version of a favorite posts from a couple of years ago:

If you've followed me for a while, you know Dolly Parton ranks at the top of my list of favorite celebrities. So a few years back while thrift shopping in Waxhaw, North Carolina, I can't believe I had my peripheral vision turned off and didn't spy this behind-the-scenes print from the movie classic, 9 to 5. All youthful and starry eyed, Dolly is surrounded by her co-stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. What's more, it's signed!

Thanks to Veli's eagle eye, he bought it for a couple of bucks, sneaked it back to New York and offered it as a Christmas gift. It now hangs in a place of honor on the steps leading into my living room.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Gift of Thrift: Piggy Power

To finish out my week celebrating the yard sales of the Jersey shore, here is a pattern for a pretty porcine Christmas stocking that Michael Quinn found at a yard sale for a friend who is a Miss Piggy fan. Among the supplies needed to complete this project are panty hose, a strand of pearls and a pair of false eyelashes!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reuse & Purpose: A Stellar Mantle

I've been on a Jersey Shore kick this week by sharing photos from my recent visit to the Quinn residence in Port Pleasant. Here's a wonderful mantle created from an array of sea creatures and a variety of glass vessels. The carefully placed mirror behind accentuates the unique textures of the starfish and the glisten of the seashells, making this display a dynamic treat for the eyes.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Frugal Fun: A Yard Sale Extravaganza


Come along as we hop into my friend Kristen's Suburban and fill it up with yard sale treasures from the Jersey Shore!

video

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Find: In the Mail

As you may know, I like to send personalized book plates to folks who have bought a copy of The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. And now that I have a treasure trove of unused stamps from the 1960s and 1970s, I'm all stocked and ready to dash one off to you as well! Just email me your information and how you would like the bookplate to be inscribed, and I'll dash one off in the mail just as easy as that.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Object of My Desire: Memory Blocks

When I was small, we rarely watched TV. It wasn't because we didn't want to; it was mostly because our old black and white unit only got about three channels, and the picture was often so fuzzy that you couldn't tell Lucy from Captain Kangaroo! I remember in first grade when other kids talked about having color television at home, I announced that we did, too. Only our range of hue was limited to black, white and gray.

Instead, my sister and I played both inside the house and outside, and building blocks were part of our fun. We supplemented our building materials with what are now considered retro play things -- Lincoln Logs and Tinkertoys. I'm sure to the dismay of my mother, we'd spread everything out on the floor of what to a five-year-old seemed like a massive living room. Along with the wooden gears, plastic wheels and building blocks you would most certainly find a pair of feet from a Mister Potato Head, a Tonka Toy or Matchbox car.

This collection of nursery rhyme blocks were lovingly gathered in a wooden basket in Alice Quinn's Jersey Shore home. In them you can see a time-honored patina, most certainly the result of many hours of being stacked, toppled, dropped and maybe even thrown, resulting in a sweet reminder of the simpler days of childhood.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Gift of Thrift: Take the Cake!

As you may know by now, almost any time I'm invited to a party my favorite hostess gift is bringing a home-baked cake on a thrifted platter. When I got the call from a friend in Brooklyn to come to her Easter brunch, the challenge was on to find an appropriate serving dish for the coconut cake I had in mind. I headed off to one of my favorite locales -- the Vintage Thrift shop in New York, one that is always bursting with gorgeous home goods, all at fair prices.

I literally looked through about 30 platters until I pulled out this little number. It may not be the chicest plate I've ever seen, but for $2, its springtime motif was perfect for the occasion, and the cake would cover up the pastel tulips anyway.

You should have seen me carting this cake on the subway to Brooklyn. And yes, everything made it there in one piece -- including me!

Have a super-sweet weekend!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reuse & Repurpose: A Fork Bouquet

Even the poor fork missing a tine or two still has hope of being transformed into a work of admiration. Recently at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition in Red Hook, I marveled over "Forked Tales" by Gerard Barbot with Mauricio Morillas, a textural piece that serves up oxidized and abused flatware for a completely new artistic use.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Find: With Dad's Help

Next week, I'll be heading off to Independence, Missouri, to spend Father's Day with my family. It's also the same place where one of my very first thrift-store finds resides. I discovered this old, wooden desk in the photo (left) in 1984 at a thrift store in Independence.

Kansas City photographer Bob Greenspan took this image of me for The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. I think I paid $10 for the piece of furniture at Goodwill and then went home to ask my dad to help me haul it home.

When I got there, he couldn't imagine why I bought the desk, being that he was an elementary, wasn't very happy about my buying a piece of furniture that was so plentiful and easily accessible in his work place. "If I'd known you wanted a teacher's desk, I could have probably found one for free," I think he said.

Either way, he helped me re-finish it and I took it off to the University of Missouri where it was the sturdy surface for typing many a college paper or for laying out magazine design projects. When I moved to New York, space prohibited me from taking it along, so now it resides with my sister where it is completely happy in her home office.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Object of My Desire: Stuck in Time

When I was a kid, my sister and I always anticipated the mail carrier's arrival, hopefully bringing us a letter from a pen pal from across the country or possibly a note from our grandmother who seemed to have written us at least every week. Back then, a long-distance phone call was a special occasion reserved for holidays, birthdays or emergencies, and for everything else, a stamped letter would do.

My mom would carve out time every week to take her pad and jot notes to siblings, friends and grandparents who lived out of town. And I sent fan mail to everyone from Donny & Marie and Dolly Parton to Captain & Tennille and The Village People. I always tried to use the prettiest stamps to get the attention of the people I was writing, and sometimes, I even got a handwritten response.

These relics, mostly the 1960s and 1970s, caught my eye last weekend while on a magical tour of a community-wide garage yard sale around Point Pleasant, New Jersey. The $10 price tag on the box almost caused me to pass them by, but then I started to flip through these little memory makers, reminiscing about a time when my most important mode of communication with the outside world was hinged mostly on an ink pen, a sheet of paper and a postage stamp.

After leafing through images celebrating the states of Alabama and Colorado, the first man on the moon, a variety of Christmases,the women's suffrage movement and more, I realized that none of these stamps had been cancelled. I had at least $10 of usable postage on my hand, making this find worth even more than its asking price.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter


Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy Friday! Relics from the '80s

Having grown up in the Midwest, there was a time in the 1980s when every single band toured through Kansas City, Missouri, and even hit the college town of Columbiawhere I went to Journalism School. And yes, I saw my share of Go-Gos concerts back in the day and bought t-shirts and pins to remember them.

You can imagine how excited I was when we photographed Go-Go Jane Wiedlin's LA pad for The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.

Aside from the records and the music, here's what remains of my Go-Go's memorabilia: two pins I bought in a record shop -- you know, a real store where they sell music on vinyl discs -- and a 1984 "Prime Time" tour T-shirt.

Oh yeah, I was there! Happy Friday!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Frugal Fun: Shell-o!

Sometimes the path between objects and memories makes its way via a series of summersaults and backbends before reaching what may often be seen as an unexpected connection. Take for instance this lovely dish of seashells spotted at a friend's house on the Jersey Shore:

Did you ever watch the short-lived, 1970s Saturday-morning TV series Sigmund and the Sea Monsters?

It ran for only two seasons, but I think my sister and I watched every one of its 29 episodes. I don't remember much about the story line other it centered around a red-headed boy who had befriended a bunch of people dressed up like sea monsters. But the one thing I do recall from the show was a "Shell-ephone. " And whenever it rang, the sea monster answered it with a "Shell-o!"

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

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