Now that I have been dressing with less, giving things away, and choosing quality over quantity, I have had a realization: aesthetics are powerful. Since paring down my wardrobe, I feel more confident in my clothes. As I thoughtfully add, subtract, and rearrange things in my house and my closet, I find I feel more at home. A thoughtfully designed space can create a sense of peace and welcome.
Recently I had the opportunity to collaborate with View Along the Way and E G Allis Photography . These two talented women have designed a room for a safe house with Out of Darkness, a non-profit committed to fighting sex trafficking in Atlanta, and I created some hand-lettered art for the project. Kelly’s thoughtful design decisions have transformed a room into a place of peace and welcome for women on a healing journey.
Here are the pieces I created:
It was an honor to be a part of this project and contribute to a space where redemption stories are unfolding.
Designed as a diptych, these two pieces are offered as limited edition archival prints.
They are available for preorder now through November 30th and will ship following completion of the presale. (Edited to add: prints are now in stock and available in my Etsy store.) For each print ordered, 20% of the purchase price will be donated to Out of Darkness.
My love of vintage started early. When I was six or seven, my dad gave me his old transistor radio. He showed me the dials, and we tuned in to hear The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”. That was the only music I ever heard through that little radio; every time I’ve flipped it on since, I’ve only gotten squeaks and squeals and static.
This object became a treasure for its nostalgia and its aesthetics. With its candy apple red plastic and shiny silver speaker, the transistor looked so different from the functional 1980s clock radio we had in our house. Hearing that one song over the airways became a magical memory. I also remember my dad telling me about hiding this radio under his pillow and secretly listening to rock ‘n’ roll when he was a child. When I see this radio, I see a story.
When I was nine or ten, I went with my mom to a large antique market and made my first vintage purchase. I found these tiny leather books that captured my imagination. They were small and beautiful. The embossed leather covers and the smooth printed pages felt important. With my mom’s money, I bought them and began my vintage collection and discovered my interest in thrifting.
As I work toward simplifying my home and my life, I am considering the form, function, and significance of my possessions. The more I clean out and donate, the more I can appreciate the things that remain.
These pieces obviously hold meaning for me. They will stay in my home, not tucked away in a closet but displayed where I will see and enjoy them. I will continue to clean out and donate to make space for these things that are important to me.
Vintage items, even those not as sentimental as my radio or books, intrigue me because they have a built-in history. The unknown story behind these things piques my interest. Often the forms of vintage items bring back memories. I feel an attachment to history and humanity when I buy vintage.
Buying secondhand also carries an element of redemption. I appreciate discovering forsaken or forgotten things and giving them a new life.
Some of my favorite pieces are four oil paintings, all made by the same artist in the 1950s. This man was not famous and was likely a hobbyist, but his work spoke to me when I found it at a thrift store. I wish I could express to the artist that his work is being enjoyed more than half a century later.
This is how buying vintage and simplifying coexist for me. As I bring in new (old) things, I let go of things that are less beautiful, less interesting, or less important to me. Some of these things (the transistor radio, the books) will stay with me forever. Others will remain in my house for a season and then travel on to someone else. This refining ebb and flow allows me to collect without becoming overwhelmed. Rather than dulling my space or my life, simplifying spotlights what’s important and makes space for the interesting and the beautiful.
P.S. I love helping other people incorporate interesting and beautiful vintage treasures into their homes and lives. If you live in the Atlanta area, come shop at Salvage tomorrow. It’s a one day event, and I’ll have a booth there (Hark at Home) along with another forty or so vendors selling vintage and handmade.
I like to regularly update my home decor, and since I’m on a tight budget, I rearrange. My linen closet is half full of throw pillows new and old, and I change them out seasonally or move them around the house to freshen up different rooms. Instead of replacing my sofa, I buy throw pillows.
I’ve long admired Jonathan Adler’s fantastic needlepoint pillows and hope to own one someday. In the meantime, I’ve kept an eye out for thrift store finds that evoke a similar feeling of playful beauty.
I chanced upon this piece on my third pass around the Panama City Beach Goodwill, and I’m a little obsessed with it. This handmade needlepoint sampler pillow measures 12×15 inches and cost me a whopping $3.25. The colorful, quirky mix of organic and geometric designs really spoke to me, and whether or not I ever add a Jonathan Adler pillow to my collection, I’m happy I found this one.
How do you update your home without spending much money? What was the last thing you bought at a thrift store?