vintage

Finding and Styling Thrifted Home Decor

thrifted home decor items on a table: a teacup, pitcher, picture frames and vintage books

I was recently inspired by one of my favourite bloggers, Sarah from She Holds Dearly, to do my own version of her series “Styling Thrifted Finds”. Almost all of my decor is thrifted or secondhand, and it would actually be easier to find the pieces that were purchased new so this is just my “recent” thrifted home decor; otherwise I would have to post a picture of my entire bedroom!

I love thrift shopping, and we have an excellent thrift store in town. It’s housed in the ground floor of an old building from 1912, and is a rabbit warren of rooms full of treasures waiting to be unearthed. It always requires a lot of digging past junk to find those treasures, but the prices are so good that it’s worth it. And because it’s a charity shop, I am always more willing to buy than I am at a for-profit shop. (And to donate my old items to as well!)

a gold enameled vintage oval mirror

First up, here are some items that made their way into my recent gallery wall. I found this vintage gold mirror from that thrift store in town. It was originally priced at $25, which I thought was a bit steep for that shop, and when I brought it up to the till, the lady who organizes the shop knocked $5 off (without me saying anything), because she thought it was a bit steep too! It pays to have a good relationship with your local thrift shops.  There is some of the gold enamel worn off on the bottom edge, but it just adds to the patina. The oval shape of the mirror fit perfectly over top of my bookshelf, and it lines up perfectly with my dresser mirror opposite, so I can use it to see how the back of my hair looks.

three vintage frames leaning against the wall

Thrift stores are also excellent places to find picture frames. The wooden frame with the oval opening cost $0.50, and even though it doesn’t have glass, it was still a bargain. If I want glass for it someday, I could always buy another frame for the same price and steal the glass and it would still only cost $1.00. The oval opening in the frame was perfect for this antique styled photo of my friend and I. (Ps. the black frame with the fashion illustration, below, was originally white, but I painted it with black chalk paint and waxed it and it looks so much better. I also painted the mat with acrylic paint. If you find frames that are the perfect size, but not the colour you’re looking for, you can always transform them with a little bit of paint!)

vintage wooden oval frame; styling thrifted home decor in my gallery wall

Both the wooden frame and the large gold one were frames that I saw at two different second hand shops, decided to not buy, and then wished that I had. Amazingly when I returned to the shops weeks later, the frames were still there, so I brought them home, of course.

vintage gold frame with view from the elbe landscape painting

I wasn’t in love with the watercolour that was originally in the large gold frame (for $8.00 by the way), so I removed it and decided to print some new artwork. I found a couple high resolution downloads of vintage artwork online and got them printed as poster prints. Because they are in the public domain, they are free to use and some can actually be downloaded directly from museum collections. I also printed an artwork for this black frame, below, at the same time. The two pieces I chose are this gorgeous black botanical “Still Life with Roses” by Elias van den Broeck”, and for the gold frame, this landscape which is titled “View from the Elbe” by Johan Christian Clausen Dahl. If you are looking for a different landscape, there are some other really lovely ones available here. (I love the one of the cottage with the chickens in front, but it was the wrong aspect ratio for my frame).

dutch floral still life with roses

I found the vintage brass frame with the convex glass on Poshmark (that’s a dangerous place to browse) and I have put a Victorian calendar page in it for now, but if I ever find a Victorian portrait, I will replace it.

tiny hanging picture frames

I also picked up these little brass frames to add to my gallery wall. I put pictures of my mom and both grandmas in them, and they fit in perfectly.

stack of vintage books

Moving on to finds of a different sort, vintage books are always a great thing to look for. The bottom one, Mary Queen of Scots, was from a thrift shop for $1.00 and the top three were from a library sale; all three for just $1.50.  The library books had dust jackets- always make sure to look behind the dust jackets of vintage books to see if they are clothbound. The top one, unfortunately, had glue residue from the ancient library tape which had ruined the colour and finish of the spine, so I painted it over with gold paint. It originally had gold lettering, similar to the bottom book, so it was too bad that the spine wasn’t in good condition, but for $0.50, I don’t mind. I have gathered all of my vintage books onto the bookshelf in my bedroom, for now.

styling vintage books on a bookshelf

Vintage books also make a nice backdrop for other decor. In the past I have used my vintage books to create vignettes on my IKEA bookshelf. They can also be used as risers to give height to seasonal decor, and large ones can be used as a sort of tray to ground other items when placed on a table. And, of course, you can read them too!

silver spoons before and after polishing

Another thing to keep you eye out for at the thrift stores is silverware. It is getting harder to find, but I do still come across it sometimes. These pieces looked so terrible and tarnished they were mixed into the bin of loose stainless steel cutlery, and were only $0.25 each. After a polishing, they are ready to add to my mismatched silverware set! To polish silverware easily (I wouldn’t use this for anything too precious, since I’ve heard it can blur delicate detail work) this is the method I use.

Line a heat proof container, or your sink, with tin foil. Place silver on top of the foil, leaving space between the pieces. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. of salt and 2 tbsp. of baking soda over top. Boil a kettle full of water (mine is 1.7 L). Pour the boiling water over top of the silver until they are submerged and watch the tarnish magically disappear! Let soak for up to 2 minutes, remove and rinse the pieces and then buff dry with a soft cloth to remove any remaining colour. It works amazingly well!

brass pillar stand

Another find was this brass stand. It is approximately 6″ across and 3″ tall. I think it may have originally been for a pillar candle? Or perhaps it originally had a glass cloche?

plant on top of the brass stand

The top was very scratched, but it makes a perfect plant stand. It gives the purple shamrock at the back of the buffet just enough height from the plants in the front.

vintage transferware pieces

And the last thrifted finds for today are these two transferware pieces- one featuring a scene of an English estate and the other of an 18th century man riding a horse. The teacup didn’t have a saucer, but that was fine because I had another plan for it. Likewise, I didn’t know what I was going to use the little cream pitcher for, but I quickly had an idea. I think the teacup was $4 and the pitcher was $2, from two different shops.

transferware pieces in a drawer and on top of the dresser

I store all of my makeup and toiletry supplies in baskets and castoff teacups. They work perfectly to hold my brushes and lipsticks and makeup wipes, and look so much prettier than usual organizing bins. I added this teacup in with a few others I have in my makeup drawer.

And for the pitcher, I put a bit of stuffing and a piece of black felt inside to create a cushion to hold my hat pins. I wear these pins on my berets, and it’s nice having them easy to access on my dresser as I get ready.  

That’s how I have styled my recent thrifted home decor. I’m always on the lookout for unique home decor pieces, though I leave more pieces behind than I buy these days. I’m trying to be more of a minimalist…but that doesn’t always work out.

What sorts of things do you keep your eye out for at the thrift shops? What is your best thrifted find ever? Do you have any good charity shops where you live?

Straw Hats and Sunny Days

We’ve had our fair share of sun and heat this summer, which is too bad for me, since I’m not a fan of hot days! However, I’ve actually been spending a decent amount of time outside this summer despite the drought…which is kind of strange since I usually spend my summers indoors hiding from the sun.

I bought this giant straw hat back in May, though, and it is perfect for hot summer days. Since it has such a wide brim and a tall crown, it creates a nice bit of shade from the sun. If there isn’t any shade, bring your own! There is also a hat band inside, and I added a tie for slightly breezy days. There’s nothing worse than wearing a large brimmed hat and having it fly off your head with a gust of wind…not that that has ever happened before. Originally the hat also had a cream grosgrain ribbon hatband, but not a very nice one, so I replaced it with a silk scarf which is much prettier in my opinion.

woman wearing a straw hat with a scarf bow

I originally planned to get photos of this hat and outfit back in June, but then we had a huge heat wave…then smoke from the wildfires in BC…then more heat again…and here we are now already in August. (With another heat wave, but just tiny one this time…maybe a heat splash).

woman wearing a cream tshirt, polka dot skirt and straw hat

I’ve been wearing an iteration of this outfit, switching out with different tops or accessories quite a lot this summer too. It’s a very easy formula: wrap skirt + t-shirt + accessories. When you’ve got a variety of tops and skirts (or pants) in coordinating colours that can be mixed and matched, then it makes choosing what to wear very easy.

woman wearing a polka dot skirt, cream shirt, straw hat and mother of pearl necklace

woman wearing a straw hat with a silk bow on it

I’ve also realized over the past couple of years that I really like wearing t-shirts for everyday wear. They might not be as fancy and “vintage” but I find them to be the most comfortable for working etc. on an everyday basis. I do still like to wear dresses and blouses, but I now tend to save them for occasions.

tshirt cuff with lace detail

And it’s not as though t-shirts need to be sporty- this one with lace cuffs is a nice example of a dressier version and I also recently got a navy blue one with a v-neck. The neckline can make a huge difference in how a top looks, and how dressy it is, don’t you think?

woman wearing a large straw hat

Well, there is my summer “uniform” in a nutshell. I used to hate the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but I’ve kind of accidentally fallen into creating one for myself. And strangely enough, rather than feeling limited, I actually feel like I have more variety in what I wear through the different combinations.

Do you find yourself gravitating towards a certain “uniform”, whether with colours or styles, or do you have a seasonal capsule wardrobe? What have you been enjoying wearing this summer?

Oufit details: 

Hat from Love and Lore Indigo

Necklace pendant from Grandmother’s Buttons

T-shirt and sandals, secondhand

Skirt, homesewn

woman wearing a wrap skirt large straw hat

A Fashion Moment With McCall’s Treasury Of Needlecraft: Accessories

vintage lady wearing a homemade hostess apron

Today is the last post in this McCall’s Treasury of Needlecraft series, because we’ve, sadly, reached the end of the book. For this post, I’ve got some lovely vintage 1950’s accessories to share with you.

Above, is a smocked hostess apron. I love wearing aprons while cooking, because if I don’t, I will inevitably splash all over my clothes. I don’t have any hostess aprons, but I think they are so of-the-era, don’t you think? Do you wear an apron while working?

vintage knitted scarf

This is a really cute scarf. I think it would keep you warm, without being too bulky, and I love that it provides the perfect spot to show off a vintage brooch.

gloves patterns

Ahh some lovely hand made gloves. I like the look of the lacy ones on the right. (Though why do pictures of gloves always look like a murderer preparing for their evil deed?)

vintage belt

trim details illustrations

These home made trims would add such a nice detail.

dress accessories illustrations

And finally, I love these beautiful vintage illustrations, as well as the ideas on how to use sequins for effect. Those stars scattered across a plain dress would be so pretty! The best part about home made clothing, really is the endless options for customization, isn’t it?

That’s all the photos for today; a bit of a shorter post. While I don’t have any more 1950’s images to share from this book, I do have other vintage catalogues and books, so I will still keep sharing from those in the future to keep this series going. And, as always, if you are interested in making any of these vintage crochet/ knitted accessories, feel free to contact me, as I am glad to share the patterns!

An Ode to the Twenties

portrait of nicole dressed up in the 1920's style

The 1920’s seem like they are eighty years ago to me; I always count years from the year 2000 and then, to my surprise, I remember that I have to add twenty years to that total….do you ever have that problem? Of course, if it really was 2000 I would only be nine years old, so I’m not sure why that catches me off guard every time.

The 1920’s is an era that has always intrigued me, as a season of transition in the Western world, though it’s not an era that I’ve ever worn myself, apart from a few cloche hats. The twenties boyish silhouette doesn’t work for me, but I love the streamlined, yet detail oriented clothes from this time period- especially the evening wear and hair accessories! While it’s not an era that I would want to live in, or incorporate into my wardrobe today, one hundred years later it is fun to immerse myself in it every once in a while. I wanted to do this photoshoot last year, for the debut of 2020, but it didn’t end up working out. It’s still the “twenties” for the next nine years, though, so I am posting it now!

Are you drawn to the styles of the 1920’s? Do you want to see a comeback of the designs from that era? 

Thoughts on “Investing” in Clothing, Featuring the Purse of My Dreams

a lady wearing a black vintage style trench coat, satchel and beret

Dare I suggest that the Long Winter is nearing it’s end? With the warming of temperatures in the past week, it feels like it! Of course, we’ve still got a ways to go before Spring, and while that cold snap wasn’t really that long, it sure felt like it! We’ve gone from -38C to + 8C within a couple of weeks, and it has been so incredibly lovely to be able to go for a walk and open the windows for some fresh air and be able to leave the house to take some outfit photos without having to bundle up like a marshmallow. Even though I know that the temperatures will drop again before Spring, it is still worth it to have this small respite!

So, in other news, I’ve been searching for a new “everyday” purse for quite a while. I have been looking for a new one since my other purse started wearing out. (The leather strap was beginning to crack, the metal buckle had broken, and there was a hole forming in the top fold…) I bought that purse five years ago in England and carried it almost every day, though, so that wasn’t too bad, considering that it wasn’t full grain leather.

holding a vintage style satchel purse in copper coloured leather

In looking for a new purse, I didn’t have a definite idea of what I wanted, but I did have a list of requirements.

I’ve realized over the years that, while I do love a good statement bag to coordinate with an outfit, most days I walk or ride my bicycle and a large handbag is just not practical to carry for long distances. I also like having my hands free for when I am running errands or going shopping, so I wanted a crossbody bag.

I also didn’t want the purse to be too big, because while I do want to be able to put everything in my purse, I didn’t want it to become to heavy to carry, or too big to fit in my bike basket. However, I didn’t want it too small, otherwise I would end up carrying a purse and a tote bag.

It also had to be brown or cognac leather and I wanted something in a vintage satchel style, but not too bookish. I wanted something timeless and classic, but not too vintage either, considering what I talked about in my recent personal style post.

I searched for quite a long time, and while I came across a lot of purses, none of them quite ticked all of the boxes until I found this one on Etsy, made by Sunray Family Workshop from Ukraine. It was a bit more than I had originally planned on spending, but I used the money I earned on Poshmark so, as my mom said, it was like I traded a bunch of clothes and accessories that I didn’t want for something that I did! I was also able to get it on sale, so that was nice too.

a lady wearing a vintage plaid skirt and green sweater with a vintage styled purse and beret in the snow

I was nervous about purchasing online, because I’ve been disappointed in the past with online purchases, but my fears were unfounded, as the bag was even better than I hoped it would be. I asked the seller to make it in a darker colour of leather for me, and I love the shape and style of it. It’s so nice to be able to purchase a piece directly from the person who makes it, and it really is a piece of craftsmanship.  I think that this purse was a good investment, and is definitely going to be a good addition to my wardrobe since it fits in with my style description, “unconventional classic with a dash of history” pretty well.

I recently read somewhere (and I can’t for the life of me remember where) that we should stop saying that we are “investing” in clothing purchases, because the value of clothing depreciates immediately after purchasing. You only have to scroll through Facebook Marketplace, or Poshmark or Thred Up to see how much clothing has devalued once it has been worn. Even designer pieces aren’t worth as much as when they are new. Until an item has survived long enough to become “vintage”, it really can’t be called an investment.

lady wearing a vintage styled outfit on a snowy lane

However, I do think that even if we aren’t “investing” in clothing in a monetary way, there is another definition for “invest” that can apply to our wardrobes:

“Devote (one’s time, effort, or energy) to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”
We should carefully choose which items we buy and add to our closets, even though that may add a bit of extra bit of time, thought and effort. I think that many of the clothing pieces that find their way to secondhand selling sites or thrift shops were not thoughtful purchases, which is why they are for sale again. (I often even see items with the tags still on!) Perhaps we should coin the phrase “purposeful” or “thoughtful” shopping. I think that it is a principle that most of us could use a bit more of- at least I know that I do!

While purchasing a higher quality item might not be an investment we will have a monetary return on, it may still be one that still has a worthwhile result. Having one higher quality item is always going to be more sustainable than ten cheaply made items because it will last longer, thus reducing the need for so much production. Fast fashion in and of itself is not sustainable because of the model of consumption that it is built upon. For example, vintage clothing is a testament to the longevity of a well made item- garments from the 1960’s will outlast a newly purchased item from Forever21 because of the craftsmanship of the items.

closeup of a vintage styled leather satchel purse with a buckle

Another worthwhile result of investing in clothing purchases, may be in having less items in your closet because the one item you truly love is better than having multiple items that you don’t love as much. I am not advocating for coveting fashion pieces, but if there is one particular piece that you want, then it’s not worth buying something else and being unsatisfied with it. Saving up to buy this one specific purse that ticked off all of the boxes was a better choice for me, than settling for a purse that I would end up decluttering down the road in favour of another because I wasn’t truly happy with it. As I’ve been going through my own wardrobe, I have tried to be careful to not turn around and immediately replace everything I’ve gotten rid of. Instead, I have been taking my time to see which are the items I should be concentrating on, and “investing” in, rather than continuing to have a closet full of clothing (or purses) that I don’t wear.

I have a few more posts coming up related to the topic of personal style and creating a purposeful wardrobe, so I think I will end this post here for today, but what do you think about “investing” in clothing? Have you ever saved up for a long time to be able to finally buy something your really wanted for your wardrobe?

a lady wearing a vintage styled outfit with a plaid skirt, cardigan and beret on a winter day

wearing a vintage styled brown leather purse

a lady wearing a black vintage styled trenchcoat and beret on a sunny winter day

a lady wearing a black trenchcoat and beret walking down a snowy lane