Jo’s story & fabulous stuff.

Today, enjoy this guest post from my faraway friend, Josephine!

Jo

Jo: I have always been a thrifty person. It may be because my parents grew up in Sweden and England during the second World War (not baby boomers), so frugality was highly praised in my family. My father worked in the hospitality industry and often purchased secondhand furniture from his place of work when they remodelled the lounges or dining rooms. My mom was a self-taught seamstress, upholsterer and furniture refinisher. Our house was always well-decorated with her unique touch. Cushions, curtains, valances, armchairs, sofas, plush headboards, Halloween costumes, prom dresses–my mom could do it all and on a thrifty budget. Of course, my dad also did his share of DIY projects: finished basement, living room extension and an epic two-floor tree house with crows nest lookout and fire escape.

When I look around my condo, which was itself a thrifty find, nestled inside a 1913 character bldg in need of some TLC but in a fantastic neighbourhood, I realize that 90% of my furniture is used or secondhand. Antique markets, Craigslist, Kijiji, Sally Ann, Value Village, MCC thrift, the IKEA As-Is dept and the Old House Revival Co. are my favourite shops in Winnipeg, Canada’s most Cheap and Cheerful bigger city. It’s slightly isolated but with an unparalleled vibrant cultural scene and affordable cost of living (if you can embrace the winters.) Many of my pieces also come from my life abroad in Sweden, France, Morocco, Turkey and Afghanistan.

When I lived in Paris, I was fortunate to get a contract teaching English at Vitra, “manufacturer of the works of many internationally renowned furniture designers” such as Eames, Panton, Saarinen, Citterio, Morrison etc. I had absolutely no knowledge of design at the time and this was a fabulous entry into that world. You can imagine my excitement when I acquired this Saarinen tulip coffee table knock-off at Sally Anne for $10 CDN.

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It looks fabulous with my knock-off Acapulco chairs in my mom’s backyard.

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Since returning to Canada in 2010, I’ve fallen in love with vintage Pyrex bakeware and Norwegian Lotte Figgjo dishes. Here is just a smidgen of my collection.

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Finding the elusive red Primary Colours mixing bowl thus completing my set, has been the highlight of my collecting career so far….and for $8 CDN at the Mulvey Flee Market. The dish rack, a splurge and similar to one I had seen in the Conran Shop, comes from India, ordered from this UK website. http://www.theplaterack.co.uk.  

Pretty nice finds, eh? 🙂

My first eBay purchase.

Recently, I discovered the exciting world of bidding on eBay. As mentioned in a previous post, I have been on the hunt for a mid-century ottoman. It turned out that there were quite a few mid-century ottomans for sale on eBay–most of which seemed overpriced, especially including shipping. However, I eventually found an affordable one that I liked.

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Photo from eBay.

I sat on it for a couple of days. Then, as if reading my mind, eBay sent me a little surprise…

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Well, folks, I just couldn’t turn down this deal. The ottoman was originally priced at $49. I bid $44, and the seller accepted. Shipping was set at approx. $10, but with my $10 coupon, it cancelled out. So, I spent a total of $44 on both the item and shipping!

The ottoman arrived the other day. I’m pleased with it for the most part–it’s the right size, structurally sound, no damage.

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However, it seems to me that the ottoman’s actual color differs from the color pictured on eBay. It’s got kind of a mustard/tan vibe going on, while the seller’s photos made it seem more of a creamy ivory (likely due to using a flash rather than natural light). I was a bit disappointed about this at first, but I’ve come to accept it. I think it looks good in the space.

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Well, that’s all for today. Next time, I’ll post some photos of cheap school supplies I collected over the summer, as I’m in the process of setting up my classroom! 🙂

Can’t say no to retro.

Guys, this may be my biggest win yet. Seriously.

This morning, at a yard sale, I purchased this mid-century industrial style chair for TEN BUCKS!

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How awesome is this find!? I am over the moon. 

There is a small tear in the red vinyl seat, which I’m hoping can be repaired.

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Does anyone know if/how/where I could repair this tear? Will I need to replace the entire upholstery? Please comment if you have any ideas.

For the love of flora.

Well, I once again scored a small mid-century modern table for $5 via Craigslist, and once again decided to use it as a plant stand! 


I know, I know–it looks quite similar to my other set-up. But how can you not love this? Especially with the colorful Turkish kilim underneath.

It’s got a laminate top, which I’m not crazy about, but for five bucks I really can’t complain. I’d guess it’s about a 16″ square x 15″ height. Cute and functional.

What do we think? 😬🌱

Big weekend win.

To be honest, I’ve been kinda frustrated lately in terms of bargain-hunting. Craigslist seems to have dried out for some reason, and I keep leaving  yard sales empty-handed. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered, via the Nextdoor app, that a neighbor was selling a like-new IKEA chair for $25!

While I loved the chair (and its secondhand price tag), I knew that I would never be able to fit it in my car. I skeptically asked the seller if she could deliver it to me, and, as it turns out, she was happy to! The crazy part: As we got to chatting, I realized that she was the sister of one of my former students! Small world, indeed. I paid her extra for delivery (and for being the sister of an awesome gal), so the total came out to $40. Huge savings here, as IKEA sells it for $109.

Anyways, here’s the chair in its new home!

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Nestled in the corner by the window, it will make the perfect reading chair. Now all I need is an ottoman to go with it! While I did recently score a free ottoman from Craigslist, I decided to give it to a close friend, so I’m still on the lookout.  🙂

Karly’s fixer-upper.

Today’s awesome post is a guest contribution from my friend Karly, who’s always on the hunt for an affordable DIY project!

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Karly: I scored this dresser for $20 at a garage sale! You may have guessed correctly that it wasn’t blue when I acquired it. This dresser is wood and actually had a gouge out of the top from, I’m guessing, a burn. I knew a little bit of wood putty and some paint would take care of that, so we loaded it in the back of our small SUV and headed home.

I had the wood putty and some primer on hand and bought a quart of paint from my local hardware store for about $15. I mentioned to the salesman that the paint was for this purpose, and he suggested a more durable finish that would withstand water spills (or gin and tonic, which was the hardware store guy’s specific example). We puttied, sanded, primed, and painted the dresser over a couple of days, and I am so happy with the result.

One thing I love about starting with a $20 dresser and knowing that my total investment would be $50 or less is that I could make this a statement piece without any downside. Sometimes it’s hard to shell out $500+ for a new piece of statement furniture when you’re not sure how long a trend will last or how long you’ll love that color. I like having the option to be fickle and repaint it on a whim. (For the record, this color still continues to make me happy every day so far.)

I left the original handles – I love them! I also have to mention that the top of the dresser showcases a trio of $1 buys: the tiered plate for my jewelry; the gold tray; and the lamp. I found the plate and lamp at separate garage sales and the tray at an antique shop. The two small books were a gift, and the mustard yellow candles came from IKEA.

Nice work, Karly! 🙂

Plants are pretty much always the answer.

We’ve all experienced it: you find a piece of furniture that you absolutely love, except it’s got a flaw. Maybe it’s chipped, or scuffed, or discolored. Yet, because of this defect, the item is on sale. We are tempted to buy, yet ask ourselves: Is it worth it? Do I really want to spend my money on a flawed item?

I did.

While browsing Craigslist one day, I came across an adorable (second-hand) mid-century modern square coffee table listed for $5! What a steal, I thought. But then, I took a closer look at the photos and noticed a huge water stain on the center of the table. “Ah,” I mused. “Now I get it.”

At this point, however, I had become emotionally invested in the table. “I’ll find a way to make it work,” I insisted to myself. “I’ll cover the water mark with something.” And then it hit me: a plant. A nice big plant. I would re-purpose this coffee table by using it as an accent table/plant stand.

And, voila!

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There’s more to me than meets the eye.
A lovely pothos plant, with its graceful trailing vines, was the perfect centerpiece for this table. Additionally, the teacup and saucer are strategically perched on the table’s corner in order to conceal a smaller water stain, this time my fault. :-/

I’m still totally smitten with this little guy, flaws and all.

Are you as plant-obsessed as I am? I’d love to hear about a time when a plant solved one of your decorating problems. Comment below!

Because everyone needs a purple vanity chair.

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When I saw it on Craigslist, I knew it had to be mine. This tufted vanity chair, originally from World Market, was definitely a steal; I think I ended up paying around $150 for it secondhand. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into my apartment, and is flanked by a taller side table showcasing this very cool typewriter, a hand-me-down from my grandmother.

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Don’t we all need these things in our lives? If worshipping them is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

You know you want it.

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Tell me you love me.

This adorable mid-century ottoman came into my possession through one of my many Craigslist adventures. I showed up at this guy’s door with the intention of picking up a free table. After he brought out the table, we chatted for a bit. He revealed that he was in the process of moving, and thus attempting to purge as much as he could. Did I want to see what else he was getting rid of? Hell yes! And he whips out the ottoman.

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Without hesitation, I accepted this stranger’s gift with metaphorical tears in my eyes. I loaded up my car, queued my favorite jam, and drove away into the sunset. Okay, not really, but you get what I’m saying.

A trio of bargain goodies.

Major wins from yesterday:

And, of course, plants just make everything better. ♥