Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Frugal Fun: Estate Sale Take

While I'm usually extra careful with my cash when it comes to estate sale shopping, sometimes I see items so good that I can't help myself. The damage? A whole $38!

Half of it went to a framed photograph, which I couldn't resist since all the dapper young men in the image were gathered underneath a sign that says, "Girls." Go figure!

Toss in two issues of TV Guide from the '60s, an unused box of playing cards, a tin full of pencils,(underneath the magazines), a pair of cuff links and a tie clip engraved with the letter "F" and a tiny needlepoint of a horse and buggy, and it all adds up.

Some of my treasures will become gifts; others are headed to my walls. Either way, this side-trip was one of the highlights of my trip to Los Angeles, leaving with me with warm souvenirs for many years to come.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Find: Booking Business

I shared this post in the past, but it's a story I can't resist repeating.

I've heard other authors talk about the horror stories of having to work with publishers to decide the cover of their books. But I cannot complain at all. In fact, Clarkson Potter decided on an image photographed by Jim Franco that tells the journey of The Find, The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details practically in one shot.

The regal antique chair sits in the home of dreamer extraordinaire Yasmine McGrane, who runs the fabulous, French-inspired shop Maison RĂªve in Mill Valley, just outside of San Francisco. Atop her French, flea-market find covered in vintage hemp linen lies one of her prized possessions: a golden letter "Y" that was given to her as a wedding gift. Next to this personality packed object rests a stack of vintage Belgian seed sacks, and a pillow covered in one of them. And then there's the lowly sewing machine table -- minus the machine -- that McGrane just painted white and added crystal knobs.

Why do I love this image so much? Because it shows that no matter what you choose to decorate with -- be it a worthless table or a priceless chair -- a bit of creative thinking can turn almost any vintage or thrift find into a true treasure.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, February 24, 2012

You Spin Me

If you've wondered why I've been so quiet this week, it's because I'm in Los Angeles getting ready to assist Jonathan Jacobs, The Vintage DJ, as he takes the stage to spin live during The Academy Awards' Governors Ball. Yes, I'm pinching myself. And no, I won't give your phone number to George Clooney! Below is a little post I did last year when I first heard Jonathan in action.

A couple of weekends when we met interior designer Jonathan Legate for brunch at Vbar in the East Village, I had no idea that we would also be in for vintage entertainment of the vinyl kind. But there he was, Jonathan Jacobs, The Vintage DJ , spinning a retro set on his two Audiotronics Classroom record players from the 1950s. And these low-tech electronics continue to emit a warm electronic aroma just like the one I remember from first grade.

Now I know whom I'll be booking for the next Elegant Thrifter gathering! You will, too, once you check out his video at

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Find: Double Give-Away Goodness

I love seeing old friends become successes. And that's exactly what has happened with my pal Mark Montano. You've probably seen him on TV giving tips on how to dress youthfully or showing how to transform everyday finds into out-of-this-world objects of beauty. I knew Mark when he ran a dress shop in the East Village; now he's a TV star and an author, with several D-I-Y and craft books under his belt.

I can't tell you how honored I was that he is offering a give-away of my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details on his blog, Mark Montano Blogs . To celebrate, I'm giving away a copy of Mark's packed-full-of-ideas The Big-Ass Book of Crafts 2. It's big all right, with more than 150 projects and tons of beautiful color photographs explaining in detail each project.

Photograph from The Big-Ass Book of Crafts 2

 Mark's talent spreads to every room of the house. Just take a peek at this fanciful back splash he created for his bathroom.

Photograph from The Big-Ass Book of Crafts 2

Who doesn't have a jar of old buttons sitting around the house? Why not sew them onto a pillow?

Photograph from The Big-Ass Book of Crafts 2

And when it comes to ribbons, I cannot help myself and am always on the hunt at estate and garage sales. The more the merrier, right? Especially when they're affixed to a color-bursting pillow.

So go visit Mark and enter to win my book, The Find, but before you do, enter to win a copy of The Big-Ass Book of Crafts 2 !

1. Follow my blog if you don't already. (For fun, follow me on Twitter, too, @elegantthrifter)

2.  Leave me a message here and tell me about your most unusual thrift find.

3. Go visit Mark, follow his, and tell him I sent you! (Mark's on twitter, too, @MarkMontano.) 

And that's that! 

I'll pick a winner next week, and drop Mark's gorgeous book in the mail for you! 

Now go get your crafty on!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reuse & Repurpose: Paper Pleasers

Sometimes the easiest and most dramatic impressions are made when they involve paper. Take, for instance these enchanting discs hovering in the windows of J. Crew on Fifth Avenue. They appear to be made from magazine pages or catalog circulars that were folded into circles and then suspended among mannequins showing off the latest styles. Throw in a spritz or two of this season's zesty orange, and you've got a recycled display prop that's 100 percent recyclable!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Find: Imperfectly Perfect

Photograph by Jim Franco for The Find

Sometimes when we resist the urge to over decorate we become more able to strike the perfect chord between welcoming and wonderment. In decoupage artist John Derian's Lower East Side walk-up, the eye is consistently treated to unusual objects gathered in an unfussy setting.

In this out-take from The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details, you can see how he paired favorite art pieces with flea market finds all in a variety of frames that just work together. They don't follow any set theme, and the somewhat random placement is appealing, yet balanced.  And the antique sofa is made even more cozy with a European feed sack pillow and a yellow throw that complement the spackle-splotched wall. When I asked John about the spots on the wall that hadn't been completely covered, he said he decided to leave them the way they are because he likes them that way.

And so do I!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reuse & Repurpose: A Big Blow Out

How many times have you had your hair dryer burn out on you? When I had hair a while back, it seemed like I was tossing one every few months. Yes, it's hard to believer that I owned a head of super-curly, thick hair that I used to try with all my might to straighten out with the help of products and lots of hot air -- and maybe a curling wand. By the time  I hit 30, my hair had had quite enough of that nonsense and started fighting falling out.

The other day I was reminded of all those hairdryers I choked when I looked in the window of the Revolver Salon in SoHo. Painted gold and transformed into a clever chandelier, these styling tools gained a whole new life as a glamorous piece of lighting.

Now can you imagine if you plugged all those devices in and turned them all on at once? You just might trip a fuse or get completely blown out the door!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Frugal Fun: It's in the Cards!

A few days ago I shared with you several vintage Valentines that I was using as inspiration for this year's card making. After pondering the friendly messages, the colorful flowers and the array of timeless hearts, I began photocopying the designs onto a creamy paper stock.

Next, I carefully cut them out and admired them for a while. I was reminded of a Valentine's Day while I was in third grade. Each student was to transform a shoebox into a one-of-a-kind creation  in which to receive his or her valentines. I cut out small squares of white tissue paper and glued each one for a fluffy puff-ball of a Valentine's Day mailbox.

Now back to my cards: I didn't want to over-embellish them since their original forms are quite charming, but I also didn't want to send my friends a photocopy of a card I found at a yard sale. So for the sweet design of the cupid, I added a few sparkles of glitter on her wings and the ribbons.

Then I remembered a treasure trove of doilies I found at a garage sale one year. Now what could I do with those?

Why not cut out individual shapes for  a three-dimensional border on one of my designs? (That's what I did during Super Bowl! )

Here's the finished assortment. As you can see, they retain much  the flavor of the originals, but with an individualized twist that I definitely put my own heart into.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Object of My Desire: Snack Time!

When I'm rummaging through boxes at an estate sale or gazing over tables heaped with merchandise in somebody's yard, my eye is always magnetized to items that remind me of my childhood or my home town.  That's why I had to have these relics of the past bundled bundled with a bunch of promotional pencils and labeled $1. Guy's potato chips  are made by a snack food company of the same name that has been in business since 1938. And while I don't remember it selling nuts or "Cheez Stix," its slogan is forever embedded in my memory: "Don't Forget the GUY'S." 

And I haven't!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reuse & Repurpose: Art of the Every-Day

When my friend Yukiko Koide brings her art from Tokyo to share with New York, I always know I'll discover works that inspire my own creativity, such as these wonders by Alison Foshee that transform every-day objects into fanciful pieces. After inspecting these cheerful, visual explosions, I realized that the floral display blossoms in a rainbow of pushpins and the orange wheels whirl with "thank you" labels.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous

The Elegant Thrifter


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