Re-inventing: Spinning Straw Into Gold (And Other Such Colors)

As a lifelong shopper of flea markets, thrift stores and on occasions- dumpsters, you could say reusing and reinventing is in my blood. “One man’s trash is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure” has always been a favorite mantra.

Many moons before the internet (and EBAY/Craig’s List) was a way of life me and my VA clan of friends (LIFC’s April included) would compete to see who could “score” the best loot at our town’s secondhand shops.

We wore re-styled vintage gowns to prom and dressed our first apartments in reupholstered and repainted furniture.  Whenever we would tire of an object or article of clothing we would never throw it away, instead we would:

1.) use it for barter

2.) give it to a friend or

3.) donate it back to the thrift store from which it came. (This particular act we believed would “appease the Thrift Store Gods”- as a sort of sacrifice. This act of selfish generosity to our fellow ‘thrifters’, we hoped would be charm us with good luck in future hunts. I still believe this works.)

Who knew back then, that our love of re-using and re-inventing this “other man’s trash” was in fact promoting a pretty sustainable lifestyle.

Now fast forward to the here and now.  Older and even wiser about what an impact our society’s collective trash has on the world-but self admittedly much lazier about “doing my part” in as much of a creative way as I used to.

So recently when I stumbled upon 3 incredibly talented peeps– using the internet for “good” and penning sites that left me so very, very inspired to put my re-inventing cap back on– I knew I had to share!

Tiffany Bird is the mommy genius behind the site Simply Modern Mom.  Let’s just say when I read her quote on her About page that “Modern moms don’t have time to read elaborate articles. Modern moms want quick, simple, easy to do ideas that are feasible for any mom’s lifestyle.”–she had me at “Hello”.

Once I got an eye full of her colorful, smart projects and easy-to-follow DIY guides- I knew I had to attempt a few myself.  First up for me is the Knot-Me Tie Skirt, fashioned out of an outgrown long sleeve tee (pictured above). Love the name, Love the finished project!

More fab projects to inspire to:

Retro Ruffle Pillow Case Dress (made from thrift store finds)

Fabric tape (made from scraps of fabric)

Ballet Ruffle Skirt (made from an adult shirt and sheer curtains)

Tiffany’s Color Inspiration Advice:

“My sense for color is often influenced by nature. I am more of a classy person rather than trendy and I find natural colors never go out of style. I am also a believer that colors are more than a visual stimulation. It affects all aspects of our life – our goals, personality, moods, aspirations, style. So my color tip would be to choose colors with the type of mood you want to create rather than the mood you are feeling at that moment. It’s a move forward rather than dwelling in the past. It will motivate you.”


“Rosie can rivet, Chris can craft, and all demographics can DIY!” is the hilariously fresh philosophy behind Chris Gardner’s ManMade.com.  The site’s tag line “Creativity and The Handmade Life for the Post Modern Man” pretty much sums up what his clever content is all about.  The fact that some of the most creative DIYers I have ever known in my life have been men (this is a shout out to you most of all Kaan!), I instantly feel in love with his site.

Just to give you a taste- to honor everyone’s favorite eco-friendly transportation, Chris has dedicated June as “Bicycle Month”.  And if you thought that a bike could be used only to get you from point A to point B- Chris may just have you rethinking that…this spinning Bicycle Wheel Pot Rack (as seen above) idea is just one of the many fun and easy to aspire to project ideas he features.

Other 2 wheeled inspirations:

How To Make A Mini Bike Lamp

How To Make Removable Bike Panniers From 2 Backpacks

Even How To Make Your Own Bicycle Cap (pattern and all!)

Of course no ‘dude’ site would be complete without loads of recipes for ‘man made’ concoctions, among them a recipe for Gummy Bears Soaked In Alcohol (ladies I’m thinking this one has “way to his heart” written all over it).

Chris’s Colorful Words Of Wisdom:

“I certainly believe in the power of spray paint, for sure. A three dollar can of primer and a single coat of a bold color can really transform a crummy secondhand item into a whole new focal piece. I like using solid colors on top of traditional textures for some tongue-in-cheekiness. For example, painting a really ornamental brass lamp a bright turquoise, or transforming harvest gold and avocado kitchen items from the 70s with a bright pink. Keeping the expected shape and spicing up the finish with a bold color is always a showstopper.”

Stan Williams author of  The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details and the addictive blog The Elegant Thrifter will have even the most overindulgent amongst us- jazzed about becoming ‘fabulous and frugal’.  How can you not love a unique hostess gift fashioned out of yard sale finds (and coming in at a mere $5.25) or one of a kind party themed party invites made using easy to find bottles and a lot of ingenuity!

Stan uses his master of the thrift experience to point out all kinds of amazing re-using going on around the world.  In fact every Thursday Williams post about some fun reuse and re-purpose idea that he himself has come up with or one he has tagged as a treasure.

A Few That Made Me Say “Why Didn’t I Think Of That”:

Paint Chips Turned Note Cards

Divine Decor (love the bust head on the table!)

Two Legs Up

Stan’s Elegant Color Cues:

“When shopping for vintage and thrift, color can be a  great unifier or make a standout out of something that looks dull or drab. I like to use the example of some once ho-hum chairs that I featured in The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. They didn’t look like they belonged together before the home owner on the Fire Island community of Saltaire  by painting them in a color story based on one of her original art pieces. The same can be said for lack of color. The image of the two wing chairs shows how pure white can also create harmony among dissimilar pieces of furniture. Hallmark’s David Jimenez found these two wing chairs at a thrift store in fabrics that clashed like mad. He was attracted to their scale and shapes, and decided to cover them in white vinyl and place them underneath his portico, where they stay all year round.


Color is also great when creating a mix-and-match set of china. Pick a main color and then an accent hue and let your imagination run wild. If you notice in the photograph of the blue china, nothing goes together, but the color scheme  make them look like they were created as a set.”

Thank you all so much Tiffany, Chris and Stan for taking the time to give me these fantastic tips and quotes!

I urge all LIFC readers to visit these sites and get your creative re-inventing juices flowing, too!  Also if you have a favorite site or blog that inspires you to re-purpose or re-invent to add to this list, please leave a comment and let us all know about it!

(blue china photo from The Find by Jim Franco/ wing chair photo from The Find by Bob Greenspan)

3 Responses to “Re-inventing: Spinning Straw Into Gold (And Other Such Colors)”

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  1. Patricia says:

    Very inspiring and fun! Really does make you look at “things” in a whole new way.

  2. What a great post. You put a lot of effort into this one, for sure. I am so excited by all 3 of the new blogs, thanks for sharing.
    Carol
    .-= carol@thedesignpages´s last blog ..Pink Love =-.

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  1. [...] Me Live In Full Color In Featured on June 11, 2010 at 8:00 amJulie from Live In Full Color featured me yesterday on her site that is color-licious. It’s a post featuring 3 thrifty DIY-ers who upcycles [...]



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