Thursday, April 30, 2009

Anthropologie find & get the look

Yesterday I visited Canada's first Anthropologie shop in the new Shops at Don Mills in Toronto.

Needless to say the store's boho beachy chic look is lovely, and very much meshes with my aesthetic.

I couldn't resist this orange (yes, it's now a trend colour in my living space) transparent lamp shade.


Let's just say this grunge-queen could have bought a whole bunch of second-hand lamp shades ... but none such as this I must admit.

But some of the Anthropologie wares are a bit dear for what they are ... for example over $3000 for an "antique" chair covered in patchwork?

You can get the Anthropologie look the grunge-queen way. Sure I bought my $88 lamp, but you also know, dear reader, that most of my apartment is from the thrift store or the trash.

Can't afford the lamp shade with cut out felt birdies on it?

I found this crafty chic lampshade on a pottery lamp base at a garage sale for $5.

Handcrafted dishes too dear?

This handcrafted and painted wood bowl by Baribocraft (1960s? Quebec company) was a $1.99 at my local thrift shop, Stretch Thrift.

It's not a patchwork pillow such as the kind Anthropologie sells, but it does have that bohemian look doesn't it?

$1.99 at Value Village.

Antique patchwork chair beyond your budget?

This chair was from the trash. The boho Baroque pillow was $5 and the silk fabric that's folded over the seat was maybe $40.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dining room switcheroo

So if I moved what was in the dining room back into the living room (see post below), natch I had to move the living room into where the former dining room turned living room is - was?

Yes, a $5 rug and $3.99 mirror (did I mention the mirror was 30 percent off?) inspired me to redo my digs on the warmest Saturday we've had so far this Spring but no matter: here's what I came up with for the dining room....

Where the other room utilized the contrast between the orange and the inky blue and had a def glam-Baroque look, this room is my colour room, a more casual space with a modern-contemporary look.

It's not as glam but it's more lived in.

What I love:

For a gal who loves her colour, I'm surprised I'm so taken with my white lamp bases, picked up at the same thrift store (Stretch Thrift, my local thrift shop) for $3.99 on different occasions - gee $3.99 is my magic thrift number these days!

I plop whatever lamp shade I feel like on them and play a little at lamp hardware switcheroo too ....

For some reason the lamps remind me of one of my fave Woody Allen flics, Interiors - funnily enough a film that also features beautiful interior spaces ....

I'm also totally digging that I've relocated my T.V. to a corner of the room rather than having it as the focal point in the "other" living room space.

It has a little nooky feel here, and I'm so pleased I was able to finally come up with an attractive tableau to put on top of the robin's egg blue 1950s table I've had for years!

The black T.V., Elle Decor mags and black sculpture picked up at Value Village contrast nicely with the green and add to the retro colourful look of the room.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New mirror, new room

An area rug for $5, then a gilt mirror picked up for $3.99 on the way home from work Friday - it was all just too much for the grunge queen.

Yup, I had to do another makeover this weekend. The carpet and the mirror - they were just too special. I had to go for a glam-y Baroque-y look.

What do you think? Don't you just looove the mirror? $3.99!

It's super heavy. I think it merited being a focal point above my couch, so I pared down a lot of the art on my walls and ended up with this look.

Here's a wider shot.

I thought the orange rug really needed the blue to balance it, and the lamps placed about the same height balanced the couch and the paintings on either side of it.

Here's a night shot - love the lighting.

I'm not normally this symmetrical, but I find the order and balance comforting.

I also never thought I'd end up accenting in orange, a colour I've never worn or decorated with. The pillows and rug just add that dash of brightness to the room. Even the new work or art that you see in the corner - which I will show you more of soon - has orange in it.

Guess it's never too late for a grungy decor gal to change her colours ....

By the way don't you love the way mirrors reflect other parts of the room, like the black and white photos seen here?

They literally add new dimensions to rooms.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Coffee table glam

This is the top of my coffee table, a family "heirloom" my folks picked up at a garage sale when I was a little girl. It's always been called Uncle Ugly.

More on Uncle Ugly later. But I wouldn't say he's looking so ugly now.

I spray painted him silver a few years ago, after plucking him from mom and dad's cold storage room where he sat abandoned. The glass top had long since broken so I plopped an old mirror I found in the trash on top. On the other end I fitted in a collage covered in glass that I made in my 20s with cut-out dance images (after I learned I wasn't accepted in a big dance school - my creative tribute to failure).

Remember that cut glass cake plate I found at the Salvation Army for $3.99?

I thought it would look cute with a couple magazines and a book on top.

It's a pretty way to display books, and I like the way the plate shows against the glass.

Gee, come to think of it the plate will match with my new rug (below).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Magic Carpet

Ahem, notice anything different?

I'm groovin' on my HUGE wool reversible area rug I bought on Roncesvalles Ave. today for ... FIVE BUCKS!

This is a grunge queen moment to be savoured.

I bought it at the Eldorado Second Hand Store at 482 Roncesvalles Ave. in Toronto's west end, where you can buy stuff by the pound and for 1 or 2 bucks each - would have been way more if the owner was selling it by the pound but thankfully she wasn't.

I dig that it matches some of my other decorative elements - and it's perfectly fab for the Gemini in me as it's the same pattern and colour except in reverse on the other side! That means two carpets in one!

But the living room look isn't perfect - too much orange and green. Think a good 'ole grunge queen makeover could be in order. This rug will just pop with my deep indigo blue pieces ....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Some things in life are free ... sorta

You just have to stop after a certain point or they won't stay free ....

This is me before my makeover a few weeks at Sephora.

I swear to the makeup Gods, I'm wearing makeup here.

Pretty scary, I know. No flash doesn't help matters.

I decided to wear it to the store and asked Sephora Pro artist Adi Lando to critique my techniques.

Critique them he did.

Here's me, half way through, half my face done Adi's way, the other mine.

Kinda a wake-up call isn't it?

Is it just me or are the wrinkles more visible on the left side?

True, the light is shining there and illuminating my wrinkles. Still I swear the magical foundation Adi applied with a makeup brush on the other side made me look younger.

And the eye - hello! Don't I look more vixen-like?

Once he was done with me, Adi had done things to my face that no living creature had done before:

Pink lips, pink cheeks, foundation with a brush, eyebrow gel, you name it.

But don't I look fresh? And my eyes, don't they pop - in a good way??

As you can see I'm pleased as punch with my new look.

But I ended up behaving in not a very grunge-queen way after I saw the final result....

Just remember: it's free until you whip out your credit card to buy all the stuff that just went into making you look like a million bucks.

Read about my Sephora adventures in my shopping column below....

Click Here

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The dress that won

I'm flattered so many people responded in such short amount of time, and all I have to thank you with are these crappy photos of me in the dress that eventually won out - sorry, I took pics of everyone but myself so had to crop existing photos.

Thanks to every one who weighed in on the New vs Thrift dress decision! It was an agonizing process marked by flip-flop manic dressing in front of my mirror one hour before the event, but I ended up going with dress number one. At the time of my getting ready the two dresses were technically tied, though two offline votes put the black thrifted dress in the lead and made my decision all the more difficult.

The tie breaker? Simply put, the first dress was elegant chic and I felt more comfortable in it. The ruching and all the strategic folds around the tummy would hide dinner tummy, I figured. The back dress will be better for cocktail parties where people just stand, drink and look beautiful.

After checking my blog comments this morning two more comments were added in favour of this dress, dress number one, so it was the winner afterall!

I wore it with nude fishnets, Spanx (!), a necklace thrifted for a buck and wound twice around my throat, pewter BCBG pumps found for $20 in the clearance aisle, and my silver John Hort retro purse, shown in a previous post below.

Thanks again for helping me out. The black thrifted dress will have its day in the sun soon...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hanging out: fashion accessories & decor

There's no rule saying accessories that go on your body can't be used as decorating accessories.

This isn't the best display I've ever done so let's just call it a work-in-progress. I hate hiding away all my pretty purses, so I simply hang 'em on my bedroom wall to provide easy access and jazz up an otherwise blank space.

I also hang all my thrifty chains from wee hooks. Keeps them neat and they don't get tangled.

Again, the pretty yet functional items in your life needn't be hidden away.

Incorporating accessories into decor can be as easy as plopping a retro hat into a tableau or using clutch purses as bookends.

I'm an easy-peasy decorator, so I just like hanging things.

Retro belts (that I use as necklaces) hanging from doorknobs.

Thrift store baubles from a second-hand mirror.

New dress vs thrift dress

Fashion alert, fashion alert - I need your help!

I was all ready to wear this sassy A.X.L (new) dress, found at ENDS in Toronto for $39 (regular $200), to a journalism awards event tomorrow night.

It's got sweet ruching in the front, slits up the inside of the sleeve, and a plunging neckline that I will fasten closed with a safety pin.

It looked totally sexy with my silver pointy shoes, silver retro purse (below) and thrift store chains wound around my neck.

Enter Goodwill today and a $6.99 TeenFlo Little Black Dress.


It's short. (Shows off long legs).

It's sassy. (Goes with new raison-hued hair and short cut).

It's flattering. (Especially with new thong Spanx underneath).

AND it goes with my vintage red three-strand beads (Goodwill-ed today for $3.99) and REAL patent leather belt (99 cents at my thrift shop).

I could wear my red clutch with it too. (Below).

Reader, dear reader, I'm being swayed by my thrift outfit! Which would YOU recommend I wear?? Reply as soon as you can 'cos the event is Friday p.m.!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Clutch Crutch

I don't know if I've shared one of my latest thrift obsessions: retro purses.

They're just so darn easy to buy - normally less than a fiver - and the 1950s and 60s ones are so dandy design-wise.

This silver lace one was only $3.99 at Sally Ann.

This pretty quilted silvery one, made in England, was about the same price at another thrift store (short metal strap not shown here).

Sadly I don't lead a glam enough life to warrant the purchase of all these purses, though you can bet I try to get as much mileage out of them as possible when invited to press events and cocktail parties.

I've had particular luck finding clutches with tags that read "Handmade in Canada by John Hort."

This spanky little red number, again with short strap hidden, was $14 at a shop in Kensington Market in Toronto - it's in mint condition too.

You can tell this one is handmade - love how it's not symmetrical - and the circle detail clasp is just darling.

Once I decided I loved these bags I was able to pick them out of a dusty thrift store case three feet away. This is another John Hort (slightly out of focus, sorry), found at Goodwill for $3.99. It has a long chain link strap, and you can see it has the same clasp detail.

By the way if anyone has information on John Hort I'd love to hear it - all I know is he was based in Vancouver in the 1950s and 60s and won something called the Judy Award for design. His bags aren't too hard to find in thrift stores or the Internet so he must have been pretty prolific.

Later this week I'll show you how I display all these purses.

TIPS: I always open the bag and smell it to make sure it's not to offensive, and I always look for tags inside. If the tag indicates it's handmade I always pick it up. I also look for purses made in Canada and England - have one gorgeous one from Belgium I'll share soon ....

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Amazing Sister

Happy Easter! I spent a lovely day with family, then friends and new friends - and am so happy to be reminded of such fab people in my life. I'm dedicating this post to my amazing twin sis (fraternal, not identical), who not only designed the "grunge queen" logo exactly as I wanted, but who also, over the years, has given me many wonderful works of art by her own very talented hand.

To the left, "Red Cup, Green Tea" (with yours truly as the model), and to the right and slightly cut off, a man on the beach - can't remember exact name as she sold the original - ... and like any twin sis made me a another one as I loved it so ....

The vases are made of newspaper and I will post their information once I find it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nostalgic, emotional decorating

When I was a little girl I used to root through my older sister's drawers (sorry sis) just because I loved all her baubles and what not.

I don't think I've ever told her this (probably 'cos then I'd have to admit to the rooting), but I was intrigued by the way she arranged all her jewellery boxes and trinkets in her top drawer. They were just thrown together like you see here, but I found the contained clutter charming.

Now I always dedicate one top drawer to my precious baubles - an old faux pearl choker I bought for my grade 12 grad party; a black bead bracelet I bought at the Bancroft Gem Festival in the same year, on a lovely family trip; antique pins given to me by my mom and aunt; an old cameo dug up at a garage sale in my teens.

Another treasured decor-related tradition I took from family, this time from my mom: lining my drawers with whimsical wrapping paper.

I've saved this wrapping paper from the 1970s that my mom folded into one of my drawers when I was a little girl. It's crumbling in parts but I simply can't let it go.

Now whenever I find wrapping paper I love I pick up a sheet and line my drawers with it. I do the same with old roles of pretty wall paper I'm pretty sure have lost their stick.


You can incorporate the things and ideas you love from your past into your decor, even if they're hidden. There's no reason why your home has to be sanitized of emotional references.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Curbside chic

I feel like Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street: I love Trash!

Now that's Spring's here it's time to start trolling the streets for nifty furniture finds. Students are out of school any day so there could be even more stuff on the street this time of year.

I found this white leather chair on my street. The springs are wonky and the seat has sort of collapsed - something that could be fixed if I had the cash and the inclination - but I picked it up anyway as the rest of the bones were good.

I simply built up the seat by piling a couple old blankets. In the winter I had a white faux fur rug over the seat concealing the blankets but now that it's warmer a swath of silk material is less wintery weighty - it also pops nicer against the white.

The orange silk cushion picks up the orange in the material and adds an exotic look.

Tossing material over trash finds is an easy peasy, non-handy way to deal with a slightly ramshackle piece of furniture.

This teak veneer coffee table was a bit worn on top when I found it years ago, and now it's even more worn.
The objects I had on its surface looked rather hodge-podgey until I threw a black velvet handmade scarf (found at the thrift shop for a couple bucks) over the table top.

Now the items pop against the black, and the black balances the lacquer mirror and lamp base.

Voila: instant curbside chic.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Beddie By

I've thought twice about showing my bedroom, but heck, the magazines do it and you've most of my place already, so why not?

In truth I'm never really happy with how the bedroom comes together. Whatever I do, it just looks BLAH, never cohesive.

I love my brass bed, picked up at a junk store in Ottawa, Canada for $125 in 1998. I decided to leave the off-white duvet on (I have a bunch of duvet covers so I can change things up when need be) and jazz up the rest of the room.

You'll notice my blue antique Persian rug has been moved into the bedroom - that wasn't by choice. Dag, cat no. 2, has had a joyous time getting his scratching ya yas out on it. So before he destroys it and I freak out, the carpet will reside in my bedroom, which has a door that will be CLOSED when I'm out.

The carpet provides some contrast and actually inspired me to put together a shabby, slightly boho-Orient look, what with my silky fuchsia Kimono and small green silk carpet.

The rest, quite frankly, is just a comfy hodge-podge of stuff (where else but in the bedroom should comfort and clutter collide?). The floral pillow is from an old design company in Toronto - I found it at Value Village for $1.99. Velvet IKEA pillows also a la thrift shop around the corner for $1.99 each, and the German crystal lamp to the left was a big ticket item: $30 at my local thrift shop, Stretch Thrift in Toronto.

The dresser to the left I've had for years and the one to the right was a garbage find, given to me by fellow picker and pal, Matthew (I put new drawer pulls on it).

Oh and the Hermes scarf poster, tiny landscape above bed and self-portrait of a child were church sale and thrift store finds, all under $5 each!

A definite work in progress, this, but then again everything in my place is - joyfully so.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trash Finds

Reader, I couldn't just leave it there. It was lying by the side of the road flopped on its back, its legs practically flailing in the cool spring wind - it would be just too heartless to leave it there to perish a slow death in the landfill.

So I commandeered a passing gent (kinda cute) and had him carry it with me to my apartment floor (I offered him cash but the gent refused - see my post on men, trash and romance from January).

It's a 1960s vinyl couch in pretty good condition. I love the lines though I'm not too hot on the brown, bit it's a break from all my blues and greens.

I like the way the retro painting looks over it, but I'm not fully satisfied with the arrangement. I'm considering it temporary.

It may end up on the balcony soon enough as I discovered as I was washing it that it reeks of ciggy smoke - washing it must have released whatever junk was trapped inside the vinyl. Here's hoping it'll come out.

By the way, the baskets you see under the sofa were just sitting on a mattress left curbside on my street one night. Serendipity as far as I'm concerned as I saw similar beat up baskets in country decorating magazines and I liked their look. These will do for paper recycling and files for now.

My street is a veritable haven for good trash finds. Sure there's lots of junk but in two years I've found this sofa, a white leather (ette?) chair, a brass table from Florence, Italy, three modern chrome chairs from a dining room set, and a big dresser I'm using as a sideboard!

And that's not counting the rest of Toronto!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thrift Shopping Faves, West Toronto

I've been promising to share some of my thrift shopping faves for a while now and will make an effort to post thrift shop reviews once weekly.

As I've said in a previous post, integrating thrift shopping into your daily life is a good strategy is it helps you keep on top of constantly rotating stock in the thrift stores AND has the added bonus of honing your thrift shopping eye!

I have a fave suite of shops I try my best to check out regularly on my way home from work, all on Bloor St. West in Toronto in between the Dufferin and Landsdowne subway stations.


Needless to say, the Salvation Army Thrift Store (1219 Bloor St. West, 416 533-9553 is a regular stop and a hidden gem in Toronto - pretty much anything you see on this website that's tagged Salvation Army is from this location. Dresses for $3.99, rings for the same price, capris for $5.99 and tees for a few bucks - you can find it all here. There's a housewares and furniture section as well, and some electronics and more valued items under glass (though I only look at the jewellery under glass). For some reason there's hardly been any jewellery of late but I always keep my eyes peeled. The goods at this location aren't as junky as other locations.

BLACK COTTON 'MARILYN MONROE' DRESS DESIGNED IN FRANCE, $3.99 AT SALVATION ARMY (worn with 99 cent thrift store belt by Simon Chang and chunky gold choker for $1.99 found at same Sally Ann).


I try to do my best to regularly visit 69 Vintage by-the-Pound across the street, though it closes at 6 p.m. and I'm often still at work (1234 Bloor St. West, 416-516-1234 and ). This is the sister store of 69 Vintage on Queen St. West place and it sells its (mostly ladieswear) castoffs by the pound, mainly 1960s-80s polyester ensembles more suitable for hip 20-somethings than 'lil 'ole 30-something me. Still I've found a few great purses, and this fab polyester maxi dress with collar ruffle for $7.50 that fits me like a glove and garners compliments wherever I go. Shoes, boots and jewellery have set prices instead of by the pound. If you're a DIYer you'll love this place, and if you want to become one the shop has recently started sewing classes.

Further west on Bloor St. there's Vintage Depot (1271 Bloor. St. West), sister store to the Kensington Ave. shop that's chock-a-bloc full of men's and ladies' fashions and accessories. Everything here is sorted by type and there appears to be some new stuff like shoes and hats. I don't go here as often but the deal breakers on a quick glance appear to be the sweaters (current and fab fluffy 1980s ones), leather jackets and (seasonal) fur coats. I picked up a classic retro mink coat here for under $60, part of its 30 percent off fur sale in February.

Further west still there's a humungous Value Village (1319 Bloor St. West, (416) 539-0585

MOOD RING BRACELET, $5.99 AT VALUE VILLAGE I haven't fully infiltrated, it's so big. More to come on this, but I did fine a wholly original mood ring bracelet there for $5.99 (a bit over-priced, I thought, but it was different enough to warrant paying more).