Welcome and thank you for visiting Tumbleweed Tidings! If you are a regular reader, you may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while. They are a couple of reasons for this. First, right after I posted my blog on All the World’s a Stage, https://tumbleweedtidings.com/2018/04/26/all-the-worlds-a-stage/, the company I did that work for hired me to decorate two condos in a new 16 unit building they are constructing.
Needless to say, this was pretty flattering, and of course I said yes. Gathering all of the furnishings for these one and two bedroom units became pretty all-consuming for several weeks. I didn’t think I could ever get tired of shopping for home décor items, but there were days when the long lists just didn’t seem to be shrinking. We are going on a long planned trip for much of July, so there was additional pressure to get everything done before we leave town.
Finally, all of the furniture, area rugs, bedding, art work, and accessories are purchased, and the installation will happen the first of August. Most of the items are going to be delivered by the furniture store, but if you could see my guest rooms right now…well, you would flip! I have a little work left to do over the next couple of weeks to get it all organized in bins, separated for each unit. It’s a job, but one I love. I will be posting all of the pictures from those two projects once they are complete, and if they turn out as well as they look in my head, I will be proud of the work.
The second reason I haven’t posted for a bit is that I’ve been having some technical difficulties in inserting media (photos) into my blog software. What has worked for the past year, has not been working. I seem to have a love/hate relationship with technology, and once I learn how to do something, I don’t like updates and other so-called improvements that take me out of my comfort zone. Does that ever happen to you? Finally, in desperation, I found a workaround that will have do for now and I’m back in business, thank goodness. I have been missing all of you.
Today, I’m talking about the thrill of the hunt. Not the hunting of prey, but rather my favorite kind of hunting; bargain hunting! For me, it is so much fun to hunt for bargains and interesting items at thrift stores, antique shops, and other venues that carry other people’s castoffs. Often, I am left in awe of the things people get rid of!
This newest decorating job has given me more reason to visit shops like these to find items that will give these brand-new units a “collected over time” look. Truly, there are bargains to be had in these shops. All it takes is a discerning eye, and some creativity.
To quote Julie Andrews, “these are a few of my favorite things” to purchase at charity shops and thrift stores:
• Old hardbound books. Don’t worry about the title, unless it’s offensive, but rather just go for the color of the book cover under the jacket. The older the better, and if you don’t like the cover at all, don’t worry. You can tear it off, stack a few of them, and tie them together with twine like I did in the photo below. The main goal here is to add some warmth to the room, and books can be used on bookshelves (obviously:)) and also as risers in other areas. Take a look at rooms you admire on television, decorating sites, or the printed page. Even though the eye doesn’t register books in the room, they are usually there, and thrift shops are a great place to buy old books for 25 cents to a dollar each!
• Old silver items. I’m pretty sure that many estates just get dumped at a donation site. Some of the younger families in charge of cleaning out grandma’s house don’t want to be bothered with silver or silver plate. This is wrong on so many levels! First, sterling silver used to be a real labor-intensive item to own. I remember as a little girl, occasionally helping my mother polish our best sterling silverware in preparation for a holiday meal. There was something so beautiful about how it glistened after the buffing. But in today’s home décor environment, silver is beautiful and typically left to form a lovely “patina,” which is a nice way of saying tarnish. I have found beautiful champagne buckets, large platters that can be used as trays, and tidbit bowls. I love them all, and they go especially well in kitchen décor with stainless appliances.
After following the Barefoot Contessa’s cooking show for many years, I started collecting her “go-to” tidbit vessel, the silver Revere bowls. They hold everything from salad dressing to nuts, and we use them often. Somehow, throwing some Costco cashews in a little silver bowl elevates the whole experience. So, don’t ignore silver items, even if they are almost black with tarnish….I mean patina. I think some people would rather donate them than clean them, and it is not uncommon to find sterling or silver plate items for as little as $2 at thrift stores. With a little elbow grease, you can take off the top layer of tarnish with silver polish and then let them go.
• Candlestick holders. I love old brass candlestick holders. I love wooden candlestick holders. I love pewter and crystal candlestick holders. See a trend here? Clusters of candlestick holders on a table or credenza can really have an impact. Most of the time, I tend to favor large tea lights in clear glass holders for dinner parties, so the taper candles are rarely lit. But they still give a nice look to any table or console, and often have them clustered together without candles in them at all. Sometimes less is more, but in candlestick holders, more can really make a statement.
Every time I go to a charity store or thrift shop, there are cool candlestick holders. Recently, we found a pair of pewter holders in a baggy for $1. They were a little bent on the bottom, but my husband banged them into shape and they are fantastic.
And lastly, the best candlestick find EVER. While shopping for some small brass holders for the last staging job, I picked several up. One was super heavy and much nicer than the others. I turned it over and to my surprise, it said Waterford Crystal Company. For $3.99, I got a beautiful, heavy Waterford candlestick holder. Needless to say, I snapped that up and it is living happily ever after on my dining room credenza.
• Unique items that you didn’t know you wanted or needed. One of the most fun aspects of the thrill of the hunt is being open to the possibilities of what you will find and then figuring out a way to incorporate it into your space. We were at an amazing store in Coeur d’Alene Idaho last weekend called JUNK. Don’t let the name fool you. This place totally has the cool factor with a combination of handcrafted items, consignment booths that are beautifully curated, and new retail items. If you live anywhere near this area, JUNK on 4th Avenue is worth a visit. (I don’t have any connection with them, but love to promote businesses that I think you might enjoy.)
There, in one of the areas, I spotted a set of crystal pineapple salt and pepper shakers held in a bronze container. After living in Hawaii all those years, anything with a pineapple motif usually catches my eye, even though I rarely purchase them. But as I picked up this set, the weight was amazing. These were old and very nice quality, and the price was only $12.00. SOLD! We brought them home, washed the crystal pineapples, and this morning I filled them with salt and pepper. They now live on my dining room table and they make me smile.
• Picture frames and framed art. There is typically a plethora of old frames and framed art at every vintage store. Even if the picture is hideous, the frame can often be where the real value lies. Once I was at a donation shop and there in the corner was a super large empty frame for ONE DOLLAR. We brought it home and my husband cut a piece of MDF to fit. The MDF was painted with chalkboard paint, but the frame didn’t require anything more than a good cleaning. This simple purchase has turned into a real workhorse that we have used over and over again. One year for our holiday open house, I wrote “Joy to the World” in chalk and propped it outside by the front door to greet guests. We have also used it as a welcome sign at various dinners, both at home and other venues. Frames and framed art can be real bargains that can be repainted and repurposed with amazing results!
So, there you have it; confessions of a thrift store shopper. I hope you’ve enjoyed my little journey on the thrill of the hunt. If you have never tried it, don’t be afraid. Often, these inexpensive purchases are the ones that will give your home real soul and character. Some people love to find bargains on clothing, shoes, or other items, but what I love is finding something that has been cast off, and then giving it a new life and purpose somewhere else. Now that is exciting!
Tell me. Do you like shopping the used and the unique? If so, what are some of your favorite finds? I would love to know!