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 Recycle, Repurpose, reupholster, Upcycle, Vintage 50s

My furniture guru teaches me to look and see vintage furniture in a NEW way…

Oh, I have been hanging out with the very creative and talented Dennis Calderon of Revived Furniture Gallery for the last several months and wow—the things I’ve learned! You may remember the fabulous Danish Mod chair blog post from last month where we upfitted a great ReStore find with new cushions. Well, now we’re taking the next step and redoing an entire chair–which at first seemed almost unsaveable! But Dennis showed me the way, and taught me some valuable vintage furniture upholstery lessons in the process!

It’s all revealed in my most recent post as a guest blogger for the Metrolina ReStores Blog!




Posted in Gifts, Mod Charlotte, Recycle, Repurpose, Vintage 50s

Swanky Vintage Gift Giving-Part 2: Getting Creative and Giving Vintage!

In part one of our vintage gifting series we told you the 3 secrets to making vintage gift giving more personal. But during the holidays we are often required to give gifts to people that we don’t know as well– this can sometimes make gift shopping stressful for many people. How do you give something that’s creative and unique while being both recycled and affordable? Giving vintage is your answer! And I am here to show you how to give vintage to everyone on your list this year. Giving vintage does require a little creativity on the part of the giver and so thinking ahead is key- but here are some of my very quick vintage gift ideas to help you check those items off your gift list.

Teacher’ Gift: Ceramic Apple or Jam Jar; copy of a vintage book or elementary reader (a’la Dick and Jane):

Hostess Gift: Vintage candy dish, vintage serving utensil or tray, vintage teacup & saucer, vintage thermos or insulated bottle (Some these may not be appropriate for actual use today, fyi, but still make a very creative gift!):

Travelsmith: vintage maps, vintage travel posters & brochures, vintage luggage:

Coffee or Tea Lover: vintage mugs, coffee cups and kitchen canisters:

Cook/ Chef /Baker: Vintage bakeware, vintage kitchen utensils, vintage cookbooks, vintage apron:

Fashionista: vintage bag, brooch, scarf, fashion mag, fashion poster, compact, sweater pin:

Cocktail/Party Lovers: vintage barware, trays, bar accessories:

Audiofile: vintage vinyl, vintage turntable or console, vintage speakers


Hipster: vintage ties, vintage watch, framed vintage album cover or retro ad from vintage magazine:

And, don’t forget the kids! What about a vintage board game, vintage toy or favorite vintage book from your own childhood to pass down the old-style family gaming/ bedtime story tradition? And teach them how to play it so you can win at something against them for a change-if you’re lucky:

So many of these items can be found for so much less than you’d ever pay for a current item at full retail, so I love the idea of adding in little extras to make the gift more fun and thematic. You can always personalize the gift by adding your favorite tea or coffee to the mugs or canisters, cookie or soup mix to any baking items or insulated jars, a coffee shop gift card to any vintage book and of course a bottle of liquor, wine or festive champagne to round out your barware gift if you are inclined to spend a little more!

So give MORE than just an average run-of-the-mill store bought ‘ole new gift this year…give a little piece of history by giving vintage! You’ll likely save money in the process, give a truly unique and memorable gift and have a great time shopping too–antique stores and vintage markets and are so much more fun for shopping outings and usually less crowded than the mall. So, have a fab fun shopping season giving vintage to everyone you know and share the ideas and pics if you are so inclined…I’d love to see!

Posted in carpet, Recycle, Repurpose, Thrifting, Upcycle

Carpet Remnant GOLD at the ReStore

OOOoooo how much fun is a reveal? Very!

In May I attended the ReStore Restyle event at the Habitat Restore in Mooresville with my Restore Blog sisters Cheryl Luckett from Dwell By Cheryl & Jennifer Burnham of Pure and Simple Organizing.

Restore Bloggers Jennifer Burnham, from left, Cheryl Luckett and Donna Scott.
Restore Bloggers Jennifer Burnham, from left, Cheryl Luckett and Donna Scott.

It was a such a fun opportunity to be inspired by great designers and their creative upcycling minds and of course, to shop with my genius Restore blog sisters in a fresh new-to-me Restore! This was our collective blogger buggy by the end of the night:

Loaded UP with Goodies from the Mooresville ReStore

We all racked up and I completely scored!!! I got a bakelite kitchen utensil, some fun black,  chrome, glass light fixtures and then in the way back side corner of the store, my headed started swimming when I opened up a roll of carpet (TIP: Open up the rolls of carpet-they all look the same if they’re rolled inward–Eeeeesh!) to discover this truly SWANK-OLA and unbelievably  Mod Carpet Remnant:

Down The Roll

This,  my friends, was a 4X5ish piece of funky cool carpet for ONLY $6!!!! GAH! So orange-y and artistic! and so inexpensive! Double GAH!

So I took my swankola carpet remnant to my buddy Bob at MHS Interior Carpet Design to have it bound and made into a rug for my outdoor living area, which, according to my interior design friends,  is a fun and fancy way for me to refer to my screened porch.  Bob took the $6 remnant to some designers he works with and this is the binding pic he sent to me….

According to Bob’s team-orange is ‘HOT’ in interior design right now…so how fun to be told my ReStore find is right on trend!

Bob was just as excited about my ReStore find as I was and he has already given me so many other great tips about this particular piece of carpet, on the binding of carpet into rugs and home décor items in general–tips I cannot wait to share with all of you! This  new rug will revealed in it’s full Mod glory this WEDNESDAY, JULY 24  at 11:00am on Charlotte Today, when I also talk about some other cool vintage/ midcentury and mod collectibles that I have found at the ReStore over the last year.

Tune in… and then we’ll have it all here, of course too, with tons of fun details to help you out with your own home projects and personal treasure hunting!

Posted in Recycle, Repurpose, Thrifting

Theatre Taught Me to Thrift

(This post originally written for the Metrolina Habitat Restore Blog)

I do love vintage items and that has been my primary focus when thrift shopping. However, my introduction to the Metrolina Restore, specifically the one on Wendover in Charlotte where I most often shop, is the fact that I am an independent theatre producer perennially with very little budget for sets. We have to borrow, reuse and recycle and repurpose everything we can–many times from our own houses and friend’s houses- to keep the costs low. But whenever I need building materials for sets and such that I cannot borrow but must purchase-I head to the Restore, cause that’s where the real deals are, people!


Sets for theatre, like shows, are many differing styles and time periods defending on the production. The Restore has been a consistent resource for me for all of them. In a show I produced in 2010, The Dixie Swim Club, the set designer thought it would be great to have a sliding glass door on the set of our 1980s beach cottage to allow the characters to have scenes on their patio. This a very sexy set design element that typically I would never have been able to afford, but I put on my positive attitude hat and headed off to the Restore. Positive attitude counts when shopping because luck shined on me that day–all doors, including sliding glass ones, were 50% off–yahoooo! I think I paid $12.50  for my authentic beach house sliding glass door and my crackerjack set team installed it perfectly:

Chandler McIntryre, Tonya Bludsworth and Stephanie DiPaolo in Dixie Swim Club.

 Note the beautiful sliding glass door in the background! Photo taken by Weldon Weaver


Well, I have learned a lot in the last two years– the primary thing being that the Restore is NOT just for building materials: furniture, pictures, accessories–they have it all! The upcoming play I am currently producing, Least Likely Friends calls for a very modern New York City apartment set that we are building. Some choice furniture items from the Restore will be getting there moment on the stage yet again.


We got 3 of these fantastic lamps silver stick lamps with white shades- they were actually marked down from the listed price when we picked them up:



Also this snazzola glass and chrome side table that is perfect fits modern NYC apartment life:




And, books. We needed lots o’ books for the built in book shelves on the set. This picture of friendly helpful Restore employee Ashley from Julia’s says it all:



And we also got a great rug…but more on shopping the Restore’s rugs and carpet remnants (TEASER!) in a not-too-much later post. But, hey, now you’re curious about this theatre show with the cool set and want to know more about THAT, right?! That’s the playwright/ director Tonya Bludsworth in the pic above with Ashley and you can check it all out here: Least Likely Friends Website. We open on June 12, so once it’s all up on stage and set is finalized I’ll do a pictorial update so you can see the Restore items in action!





Posted in Recycle, Repurpose, Thrifting, Upcycle

The Art and Science of Thrifting

(This post originally appeared as a guest post on the Metrolina Habitat Restore Website)

Thrift hunting for vintage is a real combination of science and art to me. The science part of it is purely statistical….you have to go often to get the good stuff, especially if you are thrifting in a city like Charlotte where there are a lot of people looking for goods.

In addition, it is helpful to think strategically about where the goods you are seeking might be: i.e. “Hey, I like old stuff, maybe I should head to the thrift store closest to houses built in that time period!” and you have to spend a little time on the fabulous interwebs making yourself familiar with the items you are hunting so you can identify (and grab) quickly!

The art of thrifting it much more esoteric but equally as fun and creative a muscle to develop. We all know that it’s no fun just to keep all your fabby thrift finds in a closet–then you’ve possibly just become a hoarder and whoa, Nellie—that’s a whole other blog site! So, when you find a thrifty gem that you know you cannot live without, you should be thinking: how can I use this item in my house? How and where will I display it? Can I upcycle it into something truly unique and cool? Many modern houses have no need for some of the wacky or ubiquitous devices of yesteryear; so can you creatively repurpose it in some clever way for it to be fun and useful to you again? This is where the art of it all comes into play and the possibilities are just thrillingly endless.

Here are some quick personal examples of repurposing some common vintage goods for current use, from my current house project— closet transformed into a dressing room:

1. Vintage frame upcycled to necklace display & organizer–all you need is a frame, paint of your choice and the hook screws!

2. This one’s a twofer repurposing: Vintage Planter (I adore vintage planters and have them everywhere!)  and mug tree into scarf, purse and accessory holder:

3. Vintage Divided Candy Dish and Tall Milk Glass Vases (Both easy to thrift and find ) upcycled into ring, pin and bangle holders:

And here’s one more that took a little more ingenuity – I had an extra Pyrex cloverleaf  blendor (yeah, that’s actually how they spelled it in retro times) jar for my Osterizer beehive blender; doesn’t it make an adorable upcycled light fixture for my breakfast nook? After we removed the blade assembly with a wrench and then took the existing pendant light off, threaded the wires through and voila!  No additional glass cutting needed, only took about an hour and easy-peasy!

These vintage items can all be easily found most any day of the week at the ReStore! Want more fun ideas or in the mood for some advanced DIY? I have compiled some of the vintage fantastic-ness here:  ModBettie’s Cool Vintage Upcycle Ideas on Pinterest!

What cool upcycling or repurposing have you done? I’d love to hear…