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 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 Collecting

Seeking and Finding Comfort in Vintage

(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.

Dad w 1956 chevy
My Dad with his 1956 Chevy



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.

 chrome toaster
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.

 Beehive blenders + dots bowls
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.
 Living room
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.

 1956 items.jpg
1956 Nambe sliver platter,  1956 Baum Wizard of Oz, 1956 Napco Flower girl.

It reminds me of my Dad back then, buying his 1st car with all the hope in the world for what was to come…

Dad BW chevy
My Dad with his 1956 Chevy
Dad Mom 1956 Chevy bw
My Mom, original Mod Bettie, as a newlywed with my Dad and the Chevy in the mid 1960’s.