Decorating home, one element at a time.

Category Archives: Shopping

Mein Gott! How long has it been?

No, Rachel and I did not pass away. And no, we haven’t stopped decorating. What has happened, you ask?

Well: after 9 months as a SAHM, I, Jackie, needed to get back to the workforce. So I got a job and I’ve been work-forcin’ since mid September doing that other thing I love: writing.

And Rachel…well, I’ll let Rachel tell you for herself here what’s been consuming all of her energy. I’ve got to say that I understand completely, as just over a year ago I scribed this piece about my own experience.

But all that aside because now it’s time to freaking decorate something. Or at least talk about a means of decorating that is often overlooked by the novice (or even experienced) decorator: the thrift store.

I think my favorite thing about Goodwill and the Salvation Army is, if I ever see any knick-knacky thing that strikes my fancy, I snatch it up and buy it without more than half a second’s thought because it’s THAT CHEAP. So I’ll often buy random object I’m simply drawn to, even if I don’t have a particular plan in mind for them. This is half of the fun of being a thrift store shopper, and half the reward, too. While the ‘impulse buy’ certainly exists within the walls of the thrift store, it hardly carries half of the weight it does in other locations. So after completely avoiding Black Friday Madness (ew), I hit the thrift on Saturday to see if I could make my own marvelous retail adventure.

Here are the results!

Picked this baby up for $2.99. Initially I was thinking, oh man, sweet place for a plant. Or maybe a chic garbage can? Oh the possibilities.

And then…

Check this baby out! The moment I saw it, I was entranced. And for a cool $20, I decided this one was worth jumping on–I’m always on the lookout for distinctive pieces.

The specs: the shelf/cabinet is solid wood, and it has a label on the back that indicates it was made in Franklin, IN. As a resident of Indiana, I love me a made-in-Indiana piece. I figure the shelf is 50+ years old, making it awesome.

What next for this piece? Probably a coat of paint. When I asked my husband what color, he said, “Paint that s*@% gold!”

You got it, honey. I’m scouting some vintagey hued gold tones to freshen this baby up. Updates soon!

And while you wait for me, hit the thrift stores near you and tell us all about your cheap, unique finds. I can’t wait.


Jackie here with a second installment of The Thrifty-Stylish Nursery. Missed the first installment? Get up to speed here: The Thrifty-Stylish Nursery, Part One: Color.

(A little color commentary on my real life: I totally intended to finish these posts BEFORE the birth of my second child, known fondly around our place as the Newcomer, but I totally  didn’t. On June 12, our sweet little Margot (MAR-go) was born and is now inhabiting the nursery I had such fun putting together.)

Let me take you on a quick photo tour of the furniture I put in Margot’s room. Furniture choices were key, as the nursery is a mere 8′ x 6′. Here’s what I filled the space with:

In this corner is a changing table I bought second-hand from Oliver’s former speech therapist, with a shelf my family has been carting around for years placed above it. I wanted the changing table specifically because 1) I like to have somewhere I can stand up to change diapers and 2) a second-hand changing table was a thrifty purchase (I spent less than $50 bucks) and I know I’ll be able to sell it myself when baby Margot’s all done with it.

Opposite the changing table, on the other side of the window, is a five-drawer dresser I got from Midland Arts and Antiques. It’s a fantastic piece with a little Indiana history—it was made in Bloomington, Ind. in the ’20s—so not only is it good-looking and useful, it has a little historical panache.

A fantastic dresser can take many forms and can be found in all kinds of random places; I recommend hitting up garage sales, thrift stores, antique shops, and the ever-enthralling Craigslist. What should you be looking for? All-wood construction, no major structural damage, and the size/shape you’ve deemed appropriate for your space. What should you not care so much about? DON’T avoid a dresser just because it has urgly hardware/draw pulls/etc. Hardware is remarkably easy and inexpensive to replace, and if you’re willing to do a little looking or crafting, you can probably find something quirky and unique. I did a quick drawer pull search on Etsy and found these sweet robot drawer pulls that I might get for Oliver at a future date. If you’re a bit more adventurous, you can look past color/stain and redo the piece yourself (provided you’re not currently pregnant—fumes + baby=no es bueno) or with a kind friend/spouse/etc.

Annnnd lastly: a crib. A crib is, of course, a no-brainer (unless one is of the co-sleeping club, which I am not because I had too many panicked dreams post-Oliver’s birth of him being lost in the blankets of our bed, and I’d wake up in a sweat, clobber my husband to consciousness in my hysteria, only to discover that Oliver had been sleeping safely in his room all night….) My crib is from IKEA, and I can’t speak more highly of what they have to offer. For between $70-130, you can get a crib that is perfectly safe—because the law requires it to be—and has those great modern lines of Swedish design. (And, BTW, if you’re looking for a crib that converts to a toddler bed, IKEA’s cribs do that, too.) Mattresses range from $35-80—also incredibly reasonable.

Now, you’ve probably noticed that my furniture items don’t match. I’m not bothered by this (the only matchy-matchy that exists in my house is my husband and I have matching dressers and nightstands in our bedroom, and all of our dining room chairs are the same)—I tend to be more interested in the principle of “does it go?” rather than “does it match?” If you like everything matching, okay. Just know that there’s NO RULE that says everything has to match exactly in order to look good. I made all of my pieces make sense together by using color—you’ll notice all of the orange, green, and purple throughout the room—as well as the use of repeating shapes (circles, squares—but more on that when I discuss the room’s accessories). So, embrace the hodgepodge; choose meaningful pieces that you both need AND respond to; and don’t feel obligated to drop tons of money just to make thing match.

I (Jackie) can’t believe I’m about to write this, but, sometimes older isn’t better.

(Let me cry a minute.)

Okay. *wipes eyes* It’s true. But let me explain.

On Saturday, my friend Kayla and I went to White River Salvage (on 30th, on Indy’s westside) in search of, well, a number of things, but the item I’ll mention here is the one to which I’m applying the S.O.I.B. I uttered above: doors.

I’ve been kicking around this idea of forging a guest space in my rather ridiculously long living room (it’s about 13′ wide by 22′ long, cut in half visually and spatially by the front door–check out the top photo for the sense of the room, and the photo below it for a gander at the corner under consideration for ‘guest space’). Why? Ours is a two-bedroom house, and since nearly all of our family/friends do NOT live in Indy, we have guests frequently. However, though I DO want this guest space to be significant and include some privacy feature, I DON’T want it to be permanent. So I have tasked myself with devising an entirely portable yet AWESOME guest space that includes some privacy-creating element. Sure, we could just do the air mattress in the middle of the living room (we’ve done this), but I wanted to see if I could manage something a bit more.

And for that—for privacy without permanence—I thought, how about some room dividers?

For those of you who know me and how I like to decorate, you will not be surprised to hear that my reflex-action after deciding I wanted room dividers was NOT to jump in my car and head to the nearest store to see what I could purchase from the mass market. Instead, I went online to see how I might MAKE said item, or where/how I could acquire room dividers vintage or in some other state of old or interesting. I find the easiest way to avoid cookie cutter decorating is to avoid starting every decorating quest at the Big Box store nearest you.

(And this makes me think of a scenario where older WAS better: Recently my husband and I purchased a new-to-us desk at Domistyle—a fabulous Indy resale store on the near southeast side—for $50. It’s solid wood and doesn’t resemble any desk I’ve seen around. What will $50 at a Big Box store get you? Actually…$50 might not be enough to get you anything. But if it does, it’s going to be pressed particleboard, and it’s not going to be particularly unique. So if you’ve never thought well-made/special furniture was possible on a budget, it is. Check out our find, paired with the sewing chair I reupholstered.)

But back to the Case of the S.O.I.B. Based on my online research, I’d gotten it into my head that it might be cool to use old doors to make these room dividers. I imagined them looking so awesome I’d be able to, when the guest room was not needed, fold them up and secure them to the two short walls on the south side of my living room, thus adding a touch of panache to the decor at that end of the room (as well as storing my dividers till the next guest arrived)

So there Kayla and I were, at White River Salvage. And we found doors. Many, MANY doors. The problem? All of the doors we found were priced, on the cheap end, at around $200 (and the worst of them were closer to $2000).

So here comes the S.O.I.B: Though these doors had all of the uniqueness I wanted in my space, I sure wasn’t willing to drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars to make some room dividers. Heck, I COULDN’T: I don’t have that kind of money. Kayla and I left White River Salvage without doors, and I departed with a mind working frantically on a new idea.

Now what? I had found a few old doors for not-a-billion-dollars on Craigslist, but I decided it would 1) take too long and 2) be too much of a hassle to stalk/contact/physically procure enough doors for my project. Next step, then? Hit the internet one more time, find a new idea.

And that’s where I am today. I have my new idea. A post on DIY Furniture at, uh, Women’s Day (first time for everything–proof that all sources can have kicky fun ideas), has set me right again. The folks of Women’s Day suggest snagging some hollow-core doors and transforming them into a divider. And at ~$20 apiece, hollow-core doors are an inexpensive way to immediately have the structural component one needs for this type of project. Where you go from there (will your doors remain looking like doors, but with some kind of paint treatment? or will you transform them with another manner of embellishment, like fabric? or something else entirely?) is completely up to you/your brain.

But wait, Jackie, aren’t hollow-core doors basically on the same level as  particle board furniture? Well: yes and no. They certainly aren’t the most remarkable product on the planet, but I’m not suggesting you install them in your doorways. Instead, I’m suggesting that a prudently-priced item can be used as a building block for something entirely unique. In this, you’re elevating a modest item into something more than it ever could have been on its own. You can facilitate a transformation.

So that’s that: That’s the end of my S.O.I.B. admission moment. But here’s the take home message: regardless of old, new, expensive, or thrifty, the best decorating makes everything you bring into your house YOURS.

How-to and pictures to come as I move forward with my room divider project!

Jackie here. I find that few things inspire my decorating like a couple hours trolling around Etsy for vintage finds. I’m not necessarily looking for something to buy—that’s not the point. I’m just looking because…because I know I can’t imagine, on my own, every neat thing that’s ever been made (really, I am quite boring). And, I can’t call to mind on my own all of the color.

So, I present to you here, as a touch of inspiration, a bit of a color wheel composed of (mostly) vintage delights (save for the Big-Eyed Owl at the end, who is a lovely, recently-made piece of art). If you find yourself particularly drawn to a color, don’t take that lightly: you might have found the perfect accent color for one or more of your rooms.