Posted in Nostalgia, Vintage Collecting, Vintage decor, Vintage Terms

My Love Affair with Kitch

Definately CUTE!
Kitschy Pixie Lamp


Kitsch (/ˈkɪtʃ/; loanword from German) is a low-brow style of mass-produced art or design using popular or cultural icons. Kitsch generally includes unsubstantial or gaudy works or decoration, or works that are calculated to have popular appeal.

I adore midcentury design for its sleek atomic lines and beautiful wood and structure.  I appreciate the craftsmanship put into so many of the midcentury designer pieces that are now timeless, highly sought and still functional after 50 or 60 years or more. I have been on the midcentury home tours  and ooohed and ahhed over the time capsule houses full of beautiful perfectly refinished, restored or never-touched-because-it-was-already-perfect mod Danish or Eames furniture and fixtures. But if I am honest, what really makes my heart sing-  is KITSCH. Call it gaudy, call it tacky, call it garish…I don’t care!  It’s nothing but complete fun; I adore it and will always seek it out in my vintage travels!

Not everyone sees the humor and fun in kitsch and many people toss it aside, lucky for me. These zany items are readily available at ReStores, just waiting to go home with you! Here are some favorite examples of the kitsch I personally adore:


Chalkware: fruit and veggies with faces, swimming mermaids, bathing fish, devil children (yes, you read that correctly).

Chalkware takes all forms:  fish, devil children, sexy fruit, redheaded mermaids, fawn

All things ELVIS (see Below):

Oh bust of E, are you ever begging to be a lamp!

Velvet paintings of any kind- BONUS if they are Elvis:

Can’t ever have too much Elvis…or mod velvet paintings.

Mod tourist souvenirs from theme parks or beaches-especially if I’ve been there-BONUS if it is a vacation spot from my childhood:

Wahoo, they are all from Myrtle Beach, South Cackalack, ya’ll!

Anything with a Poodle-and BONUS if it’s pink or some other not-found-in-nature dog color:

Poodles are irresistible to me- especially the pink ones!

Tretchikoff prints:

The Green Lady

Novelty barware with retro graphics and fonts. BONUS if they have faces or witty sayings.

These tipsy martinis make me smile

Anything with a saying on it that makes me laugh. Bonus if it’s somewhat sexist in nature- ’cause that just seems so Mad Men:

Just in case you cannot read it, the rolling pin on the top left says “Husband Tamer”…

I could go on, but you get general idea. I find it fun and uplifting to be surrounded by these sassy, clever and silly items!

Kitsch is just way too much fun to ignore. Let me encourage you to put aside the worry about choosing that ‘just right item’ and instead, go for that thing that makes you smile–it keeps giving back.  Embrace the kitsch! And fab style and tastemaker Diana Vreeland said it best:

“A little bad taste is like a splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste…I think we could all use more of it. No taste  is what I’m against.”

I’d really love to see and hear about your kitschy finds from the ReStore too…


Posted in Thrifting, Vintage Collecting

Managing Vintage Collections: My one rule

(Originally penned for the Metrolina Restore Blog…)

 In the short span of a few years I have gone from collecting nothing to collecting many things. Some of these collections were intentional, but a large number of them were accidental…as in, wow, I have 3 (or 5 or 15) of these…that’s a collection, right?! I have such a strong love for vintage but I realized in the last year especially that I have to be pickier about what I buy- because at some point you cross the line from collector to hoarder as my savvy and organized ReStore blogsister Jennifer Burnham from Pure and Simple Organizing often gently reminds me. How do you decide? It’s not easy, but  I think it’s much better to shop for vintage with intention, and this is a big part of it!

I am going to share the plan I instituted last year; it’s quite simple, really. My one main rule is this: if I cannot display it, I cannot buy it. This does two really good things for me. It forces me into some truly creative display and it also means I have to say no sometimes. As someone who adores all things vintage,  I’m sure you can guess which one is easier for me!

The creative display piece is fantastic- it means I get to come up with personal and meaningful displays and then add to them when appropriate. It means my walls and shelves are full of memories and this is what I truly enjoy. It means I get to scour and source magazines and Pinterest for clever display ideas and interpret them for vintage items- all things I love. Here are some examples:

Vintage Bar Trays, hung on wall:



Midcentury Bathroom Items in clusters on shelves:

Childhood Vacation spots:

Vintage Swans:

Saying no is harder. I have to say no to myself when I find a perfect object but know I have no space for it. I am also now approached quite often by people with vintage items to sell or even to give me. Saying no to someone who is trying to sell to me is definitely easier…the hardest thing of all is saying no to someone, a close friend or family member, perhaps, that offers me an item, or a group of items “because they know I like the 50s”.  Many people, myself included, just want an item to end up going to a home where it will be truly appreciated- so the intention here is always good and I understand that. And, don’t get me wrong, I have found many great items this way. But I can’t and shouldn’t have it all– some other people should be able to enjoy these nostalgic items too, right? Once I instituted my ‘must display’ philosophy this made saying no in these situations much clearer and actually a bit less painful.

Auntie Mame Mags and Books:

So far this is the plan that has worked for me. I allow myself one closet and some small storage areas inside my house- and that’s it. It holds me accountable to be sure I collect only the things I truly love and leave the others for someone else who will enjoy them even more than I would. And, I often swap out the décor inside my house, as I find new things or decide I will switch things around a bit  I know I can always donate items back so they will have a chance at another life with a new vintage collector that will appreciate it’s history or -best of all-have an actual nostalgic connection with the item.

How do you manage your collections and vintage hunting?

Posted in Vintage Collecting

Accidental Vintage Collections- Sometimes the treasures find you!

(Originally penned for the Metrolina Restore Blog…)

Searching for vintage gold is fun and one of the things that seems to happen to most people that I know that love vintage is that they end up with ‘accidental collections’. To clarify, this is when you realize you have at least 3 of something that you didn’t really set out to find, but now it makes a fun display so why not collect it? Or at least display together….

My largest accidental vintage collection is milkglass mugs. Where most people favor sets or pairs, I’ve always liked the singletons. I realized I had a few and hung a rack two years ago with the idea that I’d add them to my “lookout list”. Now I have two full racks and am always contemplating if I need to add a third and fill it! They are colorful, inexpensive, kitschy and easy to find and I love having tons of different ones available to use. (Yes, I use them!)

I have an accidental collection of gold edged kitchen themed plates:

I also have an accidental collection of vintage beehive blenders. I found my first one at a ReStore and was elated….and then I kept running into them everywhere! They were so stylishly swanky and they all worked–still amazing to me when some of them are easily 60 years old.

I even ran into an extra coveted Pyrex cloverleaf glass blender jar… I snatched it up and made a light fixture for my kitchen:

Accidental collections are like a thrifting gift–the stuff finds you for a change, and that makes it extra fun to enjoy! What accidental vintage collections have popped up in your house?


Posted in Recylce, Repurpose, Vintage decor, vintage upcycle

Vintage Coolers: A Goldmine of Upcycle Uses

Vintage Ice Coolers seem to be showing up everywhere these days…and they are the perfect addition to your vintage collections especially this time of year. Many of the most popular ones are branded with soda trademarks and have fantastic color and retro graphics. Even when they are a bit shabby and well loved they have many uses and are can add a touch of fond nostalgia to your décor, evoking happy memories of spring picnics, summer ballgames and fall mountain getaways. Of course you can still use many of them for their intended purpose because many are found with their drain stoppers and lining intact!

I recently came across two different ones on our Restore Field Trips and have really been enjoying using them on my screened porch. Here this red, white and blue cooler works perfectly as an easy and colorful table that can then be opened to hold drinks for a spring or summer party:

I’ve been using this chrome one for retro-stylish and utilitarian storage:

Some fantastically creative pinners on Pinterest have turned them into displays for a garden or as stand-alone planters –just open the existing stoppers for drainage:

Photo via Pinterest/ Flickr

This one is holding beautiful succulents and check out the cute wagon planter too- so fun:

Photo via Pinterst/ Susan Bauer/ Two Women and a Hoe

You can also turn vintage coolers into ceiling lights, cabin bedside side tables, and a makeshift air conditioner…check out this pinboard I’ve pulled together for more unique DIY Vintage Ice Cooler Ideas and then hit the Restore to hunt for your very own vintage ice cooler!

Posted in Vintage 50s, Vintage Collecting, vintage upcycle

Accidental Vintage Collections: Milkglass Novelty Mugs

(Originally penned for the Metrolina Restore Blog…)

As we have discussed before, sometimes you don’t always set out to collect a certain something…but maybe you find a few similar items and they look cool together and boom! All of a sudden you find yourself hunting around for said item everywhere you go ‘just to add a few more’ to the group. (I like to call this an accidental collection.) My own favorite example of this are vintage milk glass mugs. I picked one or two up initially because they were fun and cheap, then I started researching them online and would hunt them down when out and about!

These are so easy to find and typically so affordable- on a really great day they can be as low as a .50 each at the ReStore! And some of them are considered highly collectible and valuable, like the Snoopy series pictured here:

The styles are so varied: you can find footed, d-handle, c-handle with every type of design imaginable. And the advertising versions of these mugs are their own collecting group in and of themselves.

Vintage milk glass mugs were typically made by all the vintage kitchenalia manufacturers that your know and love like Pyrex, Fireking, Glasbake, Federal, Hazel Atlas- even Avon and others- so these can easily become an extension of any of those collections you may already have. Beyond that, they are just so durn useful! We’ve complied a list of ways we’ve seen them used to add color and fun to home decor spaces below; what else have you seen?

They can add great fun to any office desk by collecting an array of pens & pencils.

A group of them can organize remotes in the den or living room.

On the vanity or in the bathroom they can be used as a vintage holder to collect travel sizes for guests or cotton swabs/cotton pads.

In the bar or kitchen they can hold mixing or serving  utensils- or double as a spoon rest for use while cooking.

And of course you can use them for their intended purpose!

My dog doesn’t understand that this pic isn’t about her.

In addition I also think they make fantastic unique & thoughtful vintage gifts in pairs or singletons, filled with your favorite tea, coffee, candies, or possibly a great book to encourage the perfect slow break!

The ReStores are full of possible treasures and the myriad of uses for these fun vintage mugs  are endless- what interesting ways have you found for them?

Posted in Nostalgia, Vintage Party Ideas

Swanky Vintage Barbeque

(Originally written for the Metrolina Restore Blog…)

Ahhhh it’s almost Memorial Day, which means official BBQ season has begun! Why not do it up with vintage style using great MOD BBQ items found at the ReStores? Remember that the style is all in the details…so even a few of these items added into the mix will add a zippy vintage flair to your day!

Cowboys and stew on the grill make for a fun BBQ!

Vintage trays for drinks, food and décor are fun to use and collect…check out these two that have quintessential midcentury grill and BBQ graphics:

I actually have these two hanging on my screened porch because the graphics are so much fun!

This would also be the perfect time to pull out that mod vintage cooler that we blogged about earlier this month here and use it for it’s intended purpose- add bottles of soda or beer in retro packaging, easily found these days-especially since all the hipsters have a rediscovered love of vintage packaging!

I also found this fab BBQ serving plate at the Gaston County ReStore:

Don’t forget beer mugs, pilsner glasses and vintage barware- especially if you are grilling out in your own backyard- don’t forget the checkerboard tablecloth!

Headed to the park for a Memorial Day picnic? Grab the checkerboard tablecloth and pack a picnic midcentury style with a great vintage basket and melamine (plastic) dishes:

And if you really want to amp up the midcentury fun factor…try one of these *yummy* midcentury recipes taken from a June 1957 Better Homes and Gardens Issue:

Nothing says BBQ like soup in a mug!
Cling Peaches with catsup…YUM!

(I sure would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when these recipes were pitched as something great for a hot summer day.)

You can find these fun picnic and BBQ items year round at the ReStores- don’t forget to look for them and save them for the perfect BBQing opportunity and have a retro-tastic Memorial Day!

Sears advertisement 1957

Posted in Thrifting

Quick Check Ins=Treasures

(Originally penned for the Habitat Metrolina Restore…)

People are always asking me how I am able to find such good deals at the Restore. One of the best ways to ensure that you are getting the best deals possible is to shop often. It makes sense; it’s statistical- the more you go, the more chances you have to find something special. But everyone’s really busy and it’s hard to make the time, right? I have the solution!

My shopping style typically is slow; I like to circle the store a few times and then really get in there, move things around and dig through for the treasure. But like most people I don’t always have time for that so sometimes I just stop as I am driving by and do a what I call a ‘quick check’. I allow myself  fifteen minutes to see what I can find, and that’s it! I walk in the store, set the timer and go. At the end of the fifteen minutes I head to the register with whatever I have gathered.

Here are some items from one such quick stop last week at the Charlotte Restore on Wilkinson Blvd.

These midcentury curved back club chairs and tufted sofa-all just waiting

for new fun upholstery:

The maple low side table, perfect for the chairs and couches of the time (like above):

That’s almost a whole living room for well under $200!

I gasped when I saw this fab-tastic Thomasville dining room set complete with 6 chairs and a leaf for the table- all in great condition:

Add this kitschy wooden carved fork and spoon wall art- perfect for every mid mod dining area:

There’s your dining room, also under $200.

There was a big exotic Asian influence during the midcentury as well. Check out this great planter which could easily be repurposed as a table centerpiece, perhaps on the above dining table  or could also double as a stylish catch all for TV remotes:

This beautiful ceramic tea set that could be used for either tea or home décor- or both:

That was a lot of value for a quick stop! Try the 15 minute quick check yourself and let me know what you find!

Posted in Gifts

Vintage Gifting tips and ideas for Mother’s Day

(Originally penned for the Habitat Metrolina Restore Blog…)

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching- mark your calendars for Sunday, May 7th! Why not get a little creative and clever this year? Giving vintage is a great way to give a unique gift that shows you put real thought into the person and the item! What does your Mom like to do or how does she like to spend her time? Think about that and start shopping early- looking for something specific is always a bit more challenging when you are shopping vintage. Here are some great vintage gifting ideas to get you started.

1. Does your Mom like to entertain?

ModB Gift Idea: Vintage Linens: tablecloths, placemats, and napkins.

2. Does your Mom enjoy fashion?

ModB Gift Idea : Vintage Jewelry and purses have been making a huge comeback for some time now and can often be found at the ReStores as well as this fab midcentury dish- perfect for storing and display of vintage pins and earrings.

3. Was your Mom’s sweet tea or lemonade the VERY BEST you can remember?

ModB Gift Idea: Spring Pitchers and glasses with a note that hers was always the best….

4.Does your Mom pride herself on baking?

Mod B Gift Idea: Vintage cake stand or pie plate to display her perfect dessert!

5.Does your Mom love to travel or have a favorite vacation spot?

Mod B Gift Idea: Vintage framed postcard or map of favorite travel destinations. (Check inside vintage books for great pics and maps of destinations as well!)

Hopefully this is enough to get your creative juices flowing…what are some of your creative ideas for vintage Mother’s Day Gifts?

Posted in vintage holiday

Vintage Halloween- something to search for year round!

(Originally written for the Metrolina Restore Blog…10/15)

Traditional blow mold trick-or-treat buckets.

Are you ready for the upcoming spooky Halloween holidays? It’s October and I happen to know some people that have had their decorations up since last month! It’s no joke- Halloween is now the second most popular holiday for holiday home décor after Christmas! But why buy new when you can use vintage items to decorate and get them at a discount? Vintage holiday items are always a bit harder to find but it always helps to know what too look for, so here are some things to seek and find to help you get ready for your Halloween with a vintage flair!

ModBettieProTip: Some Restores put these vintage holiday items out when they receive them and others wait until the season. These are definitely items you should put on your “grab-em when you see-em” list whenever you come across them in the stores because they are getting a bit harder to find. And they are just so much fun to pull out and use when the season hits!

Keep in mind that since you are gathering items for Halloween, the shabbier and older something looks is typically better, so this is one of those times when seeking something “mint” or in very good condition just isn’t necessary.

Blow molds, jack-o-lanterns, ceramic or glass pumpkins– these are always popular and of course I love the older ones much more than anything that is being currently produced today; the pumpkins can easily transition into Thanksgiving displays!

Cat and Jack-o-lantern blow mold from 1960s
Vintage popcorn style wall décor.
This clear glass pumpkin jar could be filled with candy for Halloween and then decorative fall items for the rest of the season.

Scary Clowns-Okay, ever since the movie Poltergeist, I have always been afraid of clowns and I know I’m not alone! These are definitely one of those items that you can collect all year long and then group them together for a spooky display at Halloween, and they are especially scary if they show some shabby wear- EEEK!

That smile is.absouletly.meanacing.
The googley eyes and red eyebrowns on these plastic cups still give me nightmares.

Halloween Themed Glassware: there have been several companies (Cera, Fred Press) that made “Name your Poison” type barware- these are highly collectible and typically hard to find but I did a touchdown happy dance once when I did snag one for $1.00! So keep your eyes peeled….

Name Your  Poison midcentury double old fashioned glasses from Cera.

Chalkware is a whole fun category of wall art items that I find so strangely fun – like fruits and veggies with faces -or eerie, like these Halloween appropriate devil children:

One part cute, one part creepy!

Halloween colored kitchenware and serve ware– Now is the time to pull out all the orange, red-orange (and black) vintage kitchenware, both glass and enamel that you have to make a fun Halloween display-

Pyrex new dots and Catherineholm enamelware in Halloween Orange

And here’s my favorite fall and Halloween upcycle trick:

Use planters as a pumpkin display– use your mod bullet or chrome planter for pumpkins! Sometimes I add mums around just to make it extra colorful.

There are so many other fun midcentury and vintage Halloween items to collect and display- what are your favorites?

Pyrex barbed wire divided dish- perfect to hold candy for the trick or treaters this time of year!

Posted in Vintage Books

The many uses for vintage cookbooks…even if you don’t cook!

Do you remember your grandmother’s cookbook? It held all the secrets of her special meals and the extra love she put into them. Cookbooks are often passed down in families with secret recipes and birthday meals included in the margins. Cookbooks are a huge part of vintage nostalgia and our history and you can often find these gems in many differing iterations at the ReStores.

Why do I love midcentury cookbooks? A number of reasons- and absolutely  NONE of them are because I like to cook!

1. Fun for decorating in the kitchen and for giving as gifts.

These large editions that were part of a series from Better Homes and Gardens and Betty Crocker have beautiful pictures; this one would make a perfect wedding present for newlyweds:

2. The graphics are typically A-dorable!

I just love ’em: cute cartoon housewives cooking in full dress; they make me smile every time. And the tips are also fun…

3.Many times the pictures use items from my vintage cookware collections.

This is fun to see this  Pyrex Pink Scroll casserole in action, for example in this 1960’s casserole book.

4. Wacky dishes and food combos.

We all know this is huge fun to read these recipes and wonder how and why people really ate this stuff! Any gelatin recipe book will be chock full of hours of entertaining dishes:

5. Hints of the past.

I happen to love it when the previous owner of the cookbook has made notes, inscribed the book or kept additional recipes in the books; they are often found this way with fun items hiding inside, just waiting to be discovered! I like to think of them as bonus insight into the story of the previous owner and their cooking past.

Make sure to check the ReStores in the vintage book section for all versions of these fun vintage cookbook finds. And the holidays are coming…so remember they make great gifts for any of the cooks or bakers too!