Oh you guys I’m so nervous to share this version of our TTL blog hop. As you may remember from our last Thrift the Look challenge, Sarah, one of our admins from the Creative Vintage Darling’s Facebook group and blogger extraordinaire at Sadie’s Season Goods, challenged us to ‘thrift the look.’ In this blog tour we want to show you how a magazine worthy look can be achieved with items from the Thrift Shop! As Sarah says, it’s “thriftcheivable!”
This go round, we all decided to do our own version of ‘cottage.’ For me, my dream would be an English countryside cottage complete with garden. Having the freedom to TTL of our dream cottage sounds like it might be easy but in reality – I fell in to an old Heather trap where I try to cram something into a box that doesn’t fit. You see, this house is pretty modern and pulling off English country without wall paper or wood beams or paneled walls just wasn’t going to happen. Then I found this image from Cottages and Gardens.
Okay, maybe I could do this after all. This is not an English garden cottage, but rather a Tranquil East Hampton Cottage. Still, the vibe was right. As I began to take inventory of the items I might need I realized that the portrait would be the hardest part.
I searched and searched for a piece of artwork, even if it wasn’t a portrait, that would work and I found nothing in my travels through thrift shops here and there. In the midst of it all, we experienced a great sadness in our family – my Grandmother passed away of pancreatic cancer. I can’t really bring my thoughts around this into words, it’s still very new and it’s hard to even believe it happened. I put the challenge aside at this point and nearly gave up altogether.
After the funeral and my arrival back home, I started sketching a photo of her just to see if I could get anywhere close. It was very intimidating 1) because I wanted to do my beautiful Grandmother justice and 2) because this photo of her was taken by my Grandfather who was a pro photog for the RCAF in his day! It was taken shortly after (or perhaps before) they were married 65 years ago in England. I kept at the sketch and then began to go at it with watercolour and while there is much I’d love to change about the finished image, I’m happy with where it landed. Painting a portrait of her was such a therapeutic way to spend time with her memory.
I admit, the rest of the vignette falls a little short in my eyes. While over all, I think the vibe is there – I might have done a few things differently were I to do this one again. It’s plain to see that all my attention was focused on one thing. And rightly so, I suppose.
I found several decanters in my hunts through the thrift shops as well as this ice bucket that I really quite like! Instead of purchasing the sparkling water which we don’t really enjoy, I used this green bottle as a stand in. Instead of purchasing lemons, I used the fruit we had on hand, and instead of the roses (or are they peonies?) from the inspiration image, that would cost me likely $150, I chose a cheap and cheerful bunch of yellow carnations for $12. After all, the goal is to be thrifty and not to buy new exactly what’s in the photo. Right?
A few other items of note – the milk glass I’ve been collecting for ages -while I had purchased another pitcher to use for the flowers that was more like the urn in the inspiration pic, I didn’t like it in the end. It was just wrong and clunky and this vignette called for something a bit more elegant. The milk glass was better.
And while I couldn’t find a huge shell, I did find a similar small one that was actually a night light! I piled two of my kids’ shells in there for a grouping that I like a lot.
The rattan texture in the inspiration photo was not lost on me and that was another struggle! To find a piece that would go well with one of the two tables I had in mind for this project wasn’t easy. I started snagging them here and there on the chance that one might work. I really like the tray I ended up with on top and I was able to use my back up piece on the bottom tier. The table is one you might have seen before as it was a quick $10 DIY project from a few years ago.
One might think painting a portrait instead of finding one in the thrift shop is cheating, and you know? I’d sort of agree, but I wouldn’t change the outcome for anything. I did find the frame in the thrift shop and I’m so glad because even though it wouldn’t have been my first choice, the mats were what made me choose it. They were of such good quality and the perfect colours. While I had another thrift shop frame I loved more, the mats were in poor condition. I had taken it into Michaels to see if I could get the mat replaced and they quoted me $180! I could have been blown over by a puff of wind I was so flabbergasted! “Forget it,” I told the clerk, “I’m just going back to the thrift shop.” And that’s what I did. $20 later I had my image framed and hanging on the wall!
I will admit that this round of Thrift the Look was very difficult for me, but it just proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you can use an image out of a magazine as inspiration, and then find everything you need to create the same feel at your local thrift shops! Had I had more time, I’m sure I would have come across a portrait or other piece of suitable artwork. I’m also sure I would have come across a better wicker tray to fit my oval table – or perhaps even a better oval table than the one I was going to use. As it turned out, I just couldn’t get my shapes right in the time frame. I had to go with the rectangular table. But that’s the beauty of thrifting – over time, things evolve and you eventually end up finding just the right thing.
Now, please go and visit the other TTL participants! They have more hunting stories to regale you with and I’m sure a few tips and tricks up their sleeves! Thanks so much for visiting me and thank you again to Sarah for putting this hop together – it’s absolutely my favourite one to participate in!
Sadie Seasongoods | Little Vintage Cottage
Home to Heather | Itsy Bits and Pieces | Audrey Would Vintage Home
Holy cow, you painted that?!?! That’s amazing! You did a great job and I’m sure it was very therapeutic for you as well. I love how your vignette came together.
I did! I can’t really believe it myself. I’ve never attempted something like this.
Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces says
Oh Heather, I am so touched by your lovely portrait of your grandmother…it is perfect.
I know you miss her and this was a beautiful tribute. Your whole vignette captured the look!
Thanks so much. You know, sometimes putting out a piece like that is so scary. I procrastinated starting it and was so glad to have this group behind me in getting it done.
Sarah Ramberg says
I’m literally dabbing my eyes right now. Your portrait is spectacular, honest to Pete – it’s an heirloom piece now. I’m just…blown away and kind of humbled that her portrait will forever be a part of our TTL challenge. Of course this isn’t a contest at all…but you win. Nuff said.
Thanks for being part of the process that helped it come to fruition. It wouldn’t have happened without TTL <3
Sheila Zeller says
Awwww Heather, you made me cry. I am so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. I think you did an amazing job on her portrait. It’s perfect. I really like the things you had to say about pulling the look together. You are so right about honouring that this challenge is about thrifting, not about buying perfection. And what’s up with Michael’s? Honestly. I was struggling to find greenery in the thrifts and happened to be in Michael’s for something else… I decided to check it out. $24.99 for no more than what you see in my project, which I paid $2.50 in total for! Crazy!! Hugs to you. Your project is awesome!!
thank you! I know Michaels is here to make a buck but it does feel like a stretch sometimes for what you’re actually buying.
You are so talented! I love the portrait that you painted of your grandmother. What a treasure and something that you’ll enjoy for the rest of your life. The rest of your vignette looks just as pretty as your inspiration photo.
I wonder how many other people might be inspired to try their hand at painting a loved one because of your posting. What a lovely tribute and thanks for sharing.
oh my goodness I hope they try it! It was such a good way to express my feelings about her.
Laurie @ Vinyet Etc says
You my friend inspire me SO much! Not only with your incredible watercolour skills, but your realness always makes me nod in agreement! This gorgeous portrait of someone you so clearly love and admire is for me the only thing I can see – it’s pure heart! Thrift the Look is an awesome exercise of using an inspiration photo as a guide, to create a look or feel in a style that is your very own. That’s what I love about this challenge, anyone can go out and buy all the props, finessing what you already have or have thrifted is the art in this challenge and you my love have nailed it! xooxoxoxxoxo
you’re the sweetest. Thanks so much for your kind words and support <3
Lora Bloomquist says
You are such an amazing artist, Heather! I love how you incorporated your special Grandma into your grouping; so fitting as you grieve her memory. I love how you incorporated all the thrifted textures and made it your own. I’m sure you’re going to smile every time you walk by this special vignette;)
Your vignette is lovely and the portrait of your Grandmother is worth way more than any thrift score treasure!. I have found painting picture frame mattes that are discolored or the wrong color with dollar store acrylic craft paint very successful. They often end up having a slight linen texture finish and look very professional.