modern thrifter

modern thrifter

Thrifter & designer. Blogging about life in our MCM home & living on a budget. I also design things with my husband. You can see our work at The Mahoney Studio

It’s almost fall and the shabby chic decorators are in their element. If you do a Pinterest or Google search for modern fall decor, there isn’t a lot of inspiration. I personally like to keep seasonal decorating somewhat understated, so you won’t see a mantle overflowing with leaves, garlands, pumpkins, and candles in my house. I do think it’s fun to add subtle touches of the season that still fit the overall style of my home.
I also don’t like to spend a lot of money (big surprise) on things that will only be around for a month or two. So the first thing I did was look around the house to see what I could transform. The goal of fall decor is to create a warm and cozy environment. I like the idea of adding textiles, so in addition to putting out a few wool blankets on chairs and couches, I decided to add some sweaters to some vases. 
I had an old pair of wool knee-high socks that I never wear because they are too tight at the top. I tested the fit on a couple of vases, hacked off the feet, and tucked the raw edge into the concave area under the vase. 

To one I added some flowers that a sweet friend brought me, and to the other a few twigs and a couple of snowberry branches that I found in a park (shh… I only took two, and no one ever goes to that park anyway). 
I’ve also been collecting the acorns that the oak trees at my kids’ school have been dropping. I will probably add those to a nice white bowl and if I’m feeling particularly festive, I’ll throw a few pinecones in, too. 

In addition to incorporating visual hints of fall, adding warm, spicy smells can really make a home feel cozy. In the past I’ve used mulling spices in a small crockpot or on the stove, but lately I’ve been diffusing cinnamon and citrus essential oils instead.
I’ll be pinning a few other clever and modern fall ideas as I come across them, here. I’d love to know how you decorate this time of year, too!

It’s almost fall and the shabby chic decorators are in their element. If you do a Pinterest or Google search for modern fall decor, there isn’t a lot of inspiration. I personally like to keep seasonal decorating somewhat understated, so you won’t see a mantle overflowing with leaves, garlands, pumpkins, and candles in my house. I do think it’s fun to add subtle touches of the season that still fit the overall style of my home.

I also don’t like to spend a lot of money (big surprise) on things that will only be around for a month or two. So the first thing I did was look around the house to see what I could transform. The goal of fall decor is to create a warm and cozy environment. I like the idea of adding textiles, so in addition to putting out a few wool blankets on chairs and couches, I decided to add some sweaters to some vases. 

I had an old pair of wool knee-high socks that I never wear because they are too tight at the top. I tested the fit on a couple of vases, hacked off the feet, and tucked the raw edge into the concave area under the vase. 

To one I added some flowers that a sweet friend brought me, and to the other a few twigs and a couple of snowberry branches that I found in a park (shh… I only took two, and no one ever goes to that park anyway). 

I’ve also been collecting the acorns that the oak trees at my kids’ school have been dropping. I will probably add those to a nice white bowl and if I’m feeling particularly festive, I’ll throw a few pinecones in, too. 

In addition to incorporating visual hints of fall, adding warm, spicy smells can really make a home feel cozy. In the past I’ve used mulling spices in a small crockpot or on the stove, but lately I’ve been diffusing cinnamon and citrus essential oils instead.

I’ll be pinning a few other clever and modern fall ideas as I come across them, here. I’d love to know how you decorate this time of year, too!

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TEN MINUTE WREATH PROJECT
Things have been unusually calm this Christmas season so far. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m setting the bar super low for holiday craft projects. In past years I would have started nearly a dozen random projects by now. 
Last year, for example, I carved a linoleum block to print my own wrapping paper, made three different types of ornaments, sewed A-frame tents for each of the kids, baked ten dozen cookies for a school fund-raiser, burned myself out and ended up with the flu two days before Christmas.
I didn’t intentionally limit myself this year, I simply haven’t felt as inspired or energetic. The only real project I’ve done so far has been this wreath that took all of ten minutes. I picked up the metal frame at the thrift store for $2, clipped some holly from a tree in front of our house, and tied on a simple bow from a spool of thrifted ribbon. Done. 

Fewer projects has meant more time to enjoy my family and I get to be a more pleasant person to be around this Christmas. 

TEN MINUTE WREATH PROJECT

Things have been unusually calm this Christmas season so far. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m setting the bar super low for holiday craft projects. In past years I would have started nearly a dozen random projects by now. 

Last year, for example, I carved a linoleum block to print my own wrapping paper, made three different types of ornaments, sewed A-frame tents for each of the kids, baked ten dozen cookies for a school fund-raiser, burned myself out and ended up with the flu two days before Christmas.

I didn’t intentionally limit myself this year, I simply haven’t felt as inspired or energetic. The only real project I’ve done so far has been this wreath that took all of ten minutes. I picked up the metal frame at the thrift store for $2, clipped some holly from a tree in front of our house, and tied on a simple bow from a spool of thrifted ribbon. Done. 

Fewer projects has meant more time to enjoy my family and I get to be a more pleasant person to be around this Christmas. 

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VINTAGE CHRISTMAS
Last week I thrifted this very fun macrame Christmas tree. I’ve already picked the perfect spot to hang it, but I’m making myself wait until after Thanksgiving to put it up.
I’m an early up, early down kind of decorator when it comes to Christmas. We like to get our tree Thanksgiving weekend, and I love to deck the halls right after the leftover turkey is in the refrigerator. But I can’t wait to pack it all up by about December 27th.
Is anyone else getting excited to pull out their Christmas stuff? 

VINTAGE CHRISTMAS

Last week I thrifted this very fun macrame Christmas tree. I’ve already picked the perfect spot to hang it, but I’m making myself wait until after Thanksgiving to put it up.

I’m an early up, early down kind of decorator when it comes to Christmas. We like to get our tree Thanksgiving weekend, and I love to deck the halls right after the leftover turkey is in the refrigerator. But I can’t wait to pack it all up by about December 27th.

Is anyone else getting excited to pull out their Christmas stuff? 

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[ SCRAP FABRIC PILLOWS ]
I have a lot of odds and ends fabric scraps stashed away, so when the sudden urge to swap out my pillow covers hit, I was prepared. I always use the envelope method for sewing pillow covers because it’s quick and pretty much fool-proof. This time I added a little more patchwork to the front to make them a little fancier, but the total sewing time for both pillows was still under an hour. 

Patrick bought me a wool blanket from MacAusland Woolen Mill as a birthday gift back in June. I’ve been trying to score a Hudson Bay blanket from thrifts or estate sale for years, but I haven’t had any luck, so I’m thrilled to finally have this one instead. I wanted to add a little more color, so I made a new pillow cover for the bedroom, too. 

Now, time to switch gears from sewing pillows to Halloween costumes!

[ SCRAP FABRIC PILLOWS ]

I have a lot of odds and ends fabric scraps stashed away, so when the sudden urge to swap out my pillow covers hit, I was prepared. I always use the envelope method for sewing pillow covers because it’s quick and pretty much fool-proof. This time I added a little more patchwork to the front to make them a little fancier, but the total sewing time for both pillows was still under an hour. 

Patrick bought me a wool blanket from MacAusland Woolen Mill as a birthday gift back in June. I’ve been trying to score a Hudson Bay blanket from thrifts or estate sale for years, but I haven’t had any luck, so I’m thrilled to finally have this one instead. I wanted to add a little more color, so I made a new pillow cover for the bedroom, too. 

Now, time to switch gears from sewing pillows to Halloween costumes!

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[ HAPPY EASTER ]
The kids have been sick all week, but yesterday they were finally well enough to return to school, giving me the chance to run some errands. I picked up some wheatgrass and a some of my favorite easter candy from the bulk section at the grocery store. These candies are as delicious as they are beautiful—chewy caramel and rich chocolate coated in a pretty turquoise candy shell. They only sell them at my local store during the Easter season, so I always treat myself to a tiny bag of them.

One of Tula’s preschool teachers taught us how to make little paper bag nests by trimming the top half off of a paper lunch sack and rolling it down. I cut the corners off of the wheatgrass and stuffed it into a milk glass vase, then tucked the nest and candy down in the middle—easy, cheap, and colorful. I can’t guarantee that there will be any eggs left in the nest on Easter, though.

[ HAPPY EASTER ]

The kids have been sick all week, but yesterday they were finally well enough to return to school, giving me the chance to run some errands. I picked up some wheatgrass and a some of my favorite easter candy from the bulk section at the grocery store. These candies are as delicious as they are beautiful—chewy caramel and rich chocolate coated in a pretty turquoise candy shell. They only sell them at my local store during the Easter season, so I always treat myself to a tiny bag of them.

One of Tula’s preschool teachers taught us how to make little paper bag nests by trimming the top half off of a paper lunch sack and rolling it down. I cut the corners off of the wheatgrass and stuffed it into a milk glass vase, then tucked the nest and candy down in the middle—easy, cheap, and colorful. I can’t guarantee that there will be any eggs left in the nest on Easter, though.

Comments

[ GARLAND ALTERNATIVE ]
I have been wanting to trim my tree with wool felt garland (like this) for at least the last three Christmases. I’ve looked into buying it and making it, but neither option is very affordable, and I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on trim. 

An idea occurred to me while I was at the fabric store picking up some halloween costume supplies— red pom pom yarn! While it’s not an exact replacement for the wool felt, it still has a similar feel. I paid $6 for 50 yards of "Pomp-a-Doodle" yarn (enough for two trees!). Compare that to $15 for 8 feet of felt ball garland at west elm, or $38 for 15 feet on Etsy, and I think I found a pretty good deal.

[ GARLAND ALTERNATIVE ]

I have been wanting to trim my tree with wool felt garland (like this) for at least the last three Christmases. I’ve looked into buying it and making it, but neither option is very affordable, and I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on trim. 

An idea occurred to me while I was at the fabric store picking up some halloween costume supplies— red pom pom yarn! While it’s not an exact replacement for the wool felt, it still has a similar feel. I paid $6 for 50 yards of "Pomp-a-Doodle" yarn (enough for two trees!). Compare that to $15 for 8 feet of felt ball garland at west elm, or $38 for 15 feet on Etsy, and I think I found a pretty good deal.

Comments
[ WEEKEND REARRANGE ]
It usually happens a few times a year—Patrick and I take a weekend and rearrange at least one or two rooms in the house. Last weekend was our late spring session, spurred on by a couple of garage sale chairs (not pictured) that turned out to be a regrettable purchase. The chairs now find themselves in the “soon to be listed on Craigslist” category, and we ended up finding a great new layout for the living room (hooray for silver linings).

The new living room arrangement feels much more cozy, and the lounge chair looks infinitely better tucked into the corner of the room instead of floating in the middle. In case you’re new here, or you’ve forgotten, here and here is what the room used to look like. The other big change is that the big window now seems like to focal point in the room, instead of the wood panels on the wall.
Again, I’m sorry for the less than ideal photos. The lighting was bad, and I was using my iPhone because it has a wider angle lens. Hopefully, after we paint the floors, I’ll spend some time taking some decent pictures of the whole main floor. Until then, well, you get the gist.

[ WEEKEND REARRANGE ]

It usually happens a few times a year—Patrick and I take a weekend and rearrange at least one or two rooms in the house. Last weekend was our late spring session, spurred on by a couple of garage sale chairs (not pictured) that turned out to be a regrettable purchase. The chairs now find themselves in the “soon to be listed on Craigslist” category, and we ended up finding a great new layout for the living room (hooray for silver linings).

The new living room arrangement feels much more cozy, and the lounge chair looks infinitely better tucked into the corner of the room instead of floating in the middle. In case you’re new here, or you’ve forgotten, here and here is what the room used to look like. The other big change is that the big window now seems like to focal point in the room, instead of the wood panels on the wall.

Again, I’m sorry for the less than ideal photos. The lighting was bad, and I was using my iPhone because it has a wider angle lens. Hopefully, after we paint the floors, I’ll spend some time taking some decent pictures of the whole main floor. Until then, well, you get the gist.

Comments
[ EARLY CHRISTMAS DECORATING ]
I don’t know about everyone else, but I am chomping at the bit to start decorating for Christmas. We get a real tree every year so I don’t have the option of putting it up before Thanksgiving. Instead, I’m adding little touches of Christmas around the house with few easy and inexpensive projects, and I’ll slowly add to the decorations as December draws nearer.
The first thing I did was to buy a bundle of winterberries at the farmers’ market last Saturday. A few clipped branches in a little thrifted white vase seems so wintery. I also snagged my little deer from the spot on our nightstand where she resides the rest of the year, and voila, an easy holiday vignette. 
The summer leaves that I cut for my blown-glass thrifted vase lasted for months. They were just starting to yellow around the edges this month, so it seemed appropriate to switch them out for more winterberries.

The bulk of the berries are outside in this galvanized bucket that I’m pretty sure is from Ikea, but I picked it up at Goodwill last spring. I love the rustic container with the shiny glass door. Seeing the berries and branches through the window from the inside is an added bonus.


Is anyone else getting the urge to transform your home early for the holidays?

[ EARLY CHRISTMAS DECORATING ]

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am chomping at the bit to start decorating for Christmas. We get a real tree every year so I don’t have the option of putting it up before Thanksgiving. Instead, I’m adding little touches of Christmas around the house with few easy and inexpensive projects, and I’ll slowly add to the decorations as December draws nearer.

The first thing I did was to buy a bundle of winterberries at the farmers’ market last Saturday. A few clipped branches in a little thrifted white vase seems so wintery. I also snagged my little deer from the spot on our nightstand where she resides the rest of the year, and voila, an easy holiday vignette. 

The summer leaves that I cut for my blown-glass thrifted vase lasted for months. They were just starting to yellow around the edges this month, so it seemed appropriate to switch them out for more winterberries.

The bulk of the berries are outside in this galvanized bucket that I’m pretty sure is from Ikea, but I picked it up at Goodwill last spring. I love the rustic container with the shiny glass door. Seeing the berries and branches through the window from the inside is an added bonus.

Is anyone else getting the urge to transform your home early for the holidays?

Comments
[ DECORATING ADVICE FROM 1960 ] 
I’ve been sifting through the vintage decorating books that we picked up a few weeks ago, and there are so many great pages, I’m a little overwhelmed in choosing what to share! These images are from the Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book (1961). By making a few modifications, like updating the flower arrangements or changing out the throw pillows, any one of these could look like a picture taken today.




If you’re curious, here is what the book says (in the top photo) about using color:
Neutrals for large areas - You’ll probably be more comfortable and “at home” with your color scheme if you select soft neutrals or grayed tones for the largest color areas in your room—the walls and the floor. The more subtle shades give a restful feeling. It’s a good idea to hang a swatch of the color you’ve chosen on the wall, live with it a week to see if you like it.
Medium tones on furniture - Next to the six sides of the room—floor, walls, ceiling—your biggest color areas in the living room are the upholstered pieces, such as chairs and sofas. In the kitchen, it’s counter tops, in the bedroom, it’s the spread. You can make your room more inviting by using a medium tone in such places. Repeat shade in room for balance.
Use strong color sparingly - Reserve the really bold and bright tones for accessories and accent notes that will pep the room up, give you a spark of interest without too much excitement for day-to-day comfort. Pillows, ashtrays, bright mats for your pictures… the sharp colors of highly glazed cera,ic accessories—these are the places for the strong, bright tones.

[ DECORATING ADVICE FROM 1960 ]

I’ve been sifting through the vintage decorating books that we picked up a few weeks ago, and there are so many great pages, I’m a little overwhelmed in choosing what to share! These images are from the Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book (1961). By making a few modifications, like updating the flower arrangements or changing out the throw pillows, any one of these could look like a picture taken today.

If you’re curious, here is what the book says (in the top photo) about using color:

  • Neutrals for large areas - You’ll probably be more comfortable and “at home” with your color scheme if you select soft neutrals or grayed tones for the largest color areas in your room—the walls and the floor. The more subtle shades give a restful feeling. It’s a good idea to hang a swatch of the color you’ve chosen on the wall, live with it a week to see if you like it.
  • Medium tones on furniture - Next to the six sides of the room—floor, walls, ceiling—your biggest color areas in the living room are the upholstered pieces, such as chairs and sofas. In the kitchen, it’s counter tops, in the bedroom, it’s the spread. You can make your room more inviting by using a medium tone in such places. Repeat shade in room for balance.
  • Use strong color sparingly - Reserve the really bold and bright tones for accessories and accent notes that will pep the room up, give you a spark of interest without too much excitement for day-to-day comfort. Pillows, ashtrays, bright mats for your pictures… the sharp colors of highly glazed cera,ic accessories—these are the places for the strong, bright tones.
Comments