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…
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!
(Post Originally written for Metrolina Restore Blog: 1/ 5/16…)
At the beginning of a new year I typically do what many people do: I hold a household-wide clean out. I typically have no problem getting rid of clothes and shoes I don’t want or wear but it is much harder to decide to part with a vintage item that I found and for which I now don’t have the space. Here are some of my tips for letting go of those vintage items that no longer have a prominent place in your home.
1. Can you repurpose it?
Think about useful alternative for items in your house.
Examples: A decorative planter + coffee cup holder = accessory storage:
A vintage cooler makes a funky outdoor table for your porch or patio, and provides storage too!
Other quick ideas: pitchers can become vases or utensil holders, ashtrays and crudité dishes can hold and organize remotes, jewelry or even makeup on a vanity:
2. Does the item no longer fit your décor/color scheme/ general vibe?
If it’s a furniture piece or décor item that you genuinely like, can you bring it back into use with a reupholster or coat of paint? Make the plans to do that asap- don’t let it sit and be a project in waiting!
3. Do you know someone that may want or need it?
Then gift it to them! How fun to give a unique vintage gift to someone that will appreciate it as much as you did.
4. Are you possibly just tired of it?
This one’s the kicker! I am always in a state of figuring out how to trade items out in my house, and because it’s mid century modest, I don’t have a ton of storage space. For example, I found a chair (or 2, or 3) 3 years ago and recently I’ve found one I like even more. Time to swap that chair (or other item) out and take it back to the ReStore so it can live another life with someone else!
This time of year I work my way around to all areas of my house, making trips to the Restore as I clear out those items that I cannot repurpose, fit in to my current décor, or regift. Remember that the ReStores will happily take donations of wall art, kitchenware, furniture, linens, books, lighting, jewelry, appliances and more- just ask! And you can feel good that your donation is going to help build homes for families in need so it’s a win- win for everyone.
(Originally written as a post for the Metrolina Restore Blog…)
I’m a gamer. Oh nooooo, not the newfangled and fancy video kind–unless you happen to have a 1980s Ms. PacMan arcade console around. I mean old-school games of the board and card variety. My affinity for games naturally extends to a love and collection of vintage games too and I own many from the 1950s and 1960s. I adore the graphics and retro-speak in the instructions, I love the swanky box pictures and 1950’s images; many of the boards from vintage games are true things of both fun and beauty- my favorites! I think they add a sense of fun and frivolity to home décor- and are not just for children’s rooms or ubiquitous “man caves” either.
In our world of screens, electronic and online gaming, board games are emblematic of the midcentury time when people gathered together and played games in the same room with each other after dinner or on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon…imagine that! I love the nostalgia of it and I’m sure that’s why we still invite friends over for game night in my house on the regular and why I enjoy using a games as part of my mod décor.
1951 Edition Monopoly by Parker Brothers
The Hotels and houses are made of wood, not plastic and the retired iron is present.
I have found games and game boards at ReStores tucked in places all over the store – sometimes with boxes, and sometimes without. These are one of those items for which you just have to be on the lookout- so keep your eyes open in all areas of the store. Check out a few of my favorite ways to use games and boards in mod décor below.
I love the actual of board portion of many vintage games so I use them often as wall art. This one perfectly matched many of the colors I used in my basement bedroom suite redo from last summer and BONUS- it contains the marbles in the metal portions on the sides- so we could take it down and play if we wanted! Vintage Chinese Checkers games have been very popular in décor for the past several seasons for use in wall art across the board (see what I did there):
Vintage Chinese Checkers Board with vintage poker chips in Bakelite case
This dusty game board that was one of my first vintage board finds was on the bottom of a shelf at a ReStore in sporting goods/camping area, under a ton of other stuff. It must have been part of a bigger set of gambling type board games. I immediately knew I would hang it- because: Vegas! I kept it’s year-worn patina and did not clean the board itself, although I did spruce up the wood frame a bit:
Red or Black? This one is dingy and I just love it!
Why not use vintage games in place of books on a book shelf? Many are in smaller boxes, fit perfectly and are typically more colorful and certainly more unexpected:
My hubs received 1956 Li’l Stinker one year as a Christmas gift.
The covers on this group of 3M bookcase board games-1960s games that were actually meant to stored together on a shelf like books -were too mid mod perfect to leave behind! But I have to store them facing out so I can see the swankola fronts of the boxes!
3M Book Case Games -ooooh the images!
Want to DIY those vintage game pieces and boards into something else? People waaaaay more clever than I have upcycled game boards and the pieces into stools, side tables, shelves, shadowboxes and more- get the details on a pinterest board with tons of ideas that I pulled together for you here: