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).
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!
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…
(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!
(Originally written in September 2015 and posted on the Metrolina Restore Blog…)
Vintage items from the midcentury comfort me. I have always appreciated their clean simplistic lines and kitschy fun, but it is not lost on me that many of my collections started happening in full force when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer several years ago.
My father was born in 1938 and was a man of the midcentury. I grew up with rides in his prized 1956 Chevy, the 1st car he ever owned. My mom still has it. My parents kept everything so even in the 1980’s we lived in a house with my grandma’s 1950’s toaster. Why buy a new one if the old one still worked? I still have that toaster; it’s a chrome thing of beauty. It still works, of course, 60 plus years later.
Collection of 1956 plates and chrome items including my Grandma’s General Electric Toaster
My Dad always thought my obsession with vintage items was…interesting. He appreciated that I liked things from his generation but still didn’t quite understand why I wouldn’t just prefer to have everything new.
This room contains a mod wall clock, chair and carpet remnant from the ReStore and the coffee and end tables from my parent’s first apartment in 1964.
For me it was easy. It just made me feel like I understood him a little better. Thinking and learning about the items of the time in which he grew up helped me imagine more vividly the life he had: that one where he had to work very hard for everything he owned and so that’s why he kept it, or fixed it when it was broken. It was what you did back when the world wasn’t so disposable.
Working chrome beehive blenders from 1940-1960, dotted midcentury bowls from Federal, Hazel Atlas and Fire King.
Home décor and fashion items from the 1950’s and 1960’s
When my father was in the throes of his battle with cancer, getting lost in a resale store for a bit and marveling at the finds helped take me away from the reality of what my family was facing; it became my favorite brief escape. Now that some time has passed I realize that specifically seeking items that carried with them all of the optimism and hope of the midcentury probably subconsciously reminded me that things do progress and get better.
Couches were found for $50 at the Restore; chair was found on the side of the road. All have been reupholstered.
The bright color scheme in midcentury décor makes me happy!
My Dad has been gone a year and the midcentury items that I’ve collected continue to comfort me- especially my collection of items from 1956, one that started long ago with those rides in my Dad’s Chevy. To this day if I see a mark on an item from 1956, my heart skips a nostalgic beat and I innately want to add it to my collection.