Vintage Accessories in Your Modern-day Home
Aug 14, 2009
Kelly from The Best Things
I love mixing vintage and modern in my home. So does Kelly Nogoski, owner of The Best Things, an Etsy shop with a wide array of kitschy and classy vintage finds for the home. Kelly has honed her ability to handpick vintage items with personality and satisfying functional qualities. She has a distinct vision for every piece she finds and has admitted to wanting to keep them all inside the diminutive abode she shares with her husband and business partner, Ron Olrich.
But she knows what she's doing, and filling a small home with all manner of flotsam and jetsam does not create a pleasing space. So she's created a venue by which she can scratch her kitsch itch and still maintain a well designed home. The Best Things features 100+ special finds, all beautifully photographed. I asked Kelly some questions about finding vintage accessories (and keeping your home from looking like Aunt Trudy's after that road trip to Caifornia).
Your shop has all kinds of wild finds, but somehow everything feels like it belongs there. Are there common elements you look for when you shop?
I'd love to say there's a rhyme or reason, but there's not. I think things, like people, have inherent qualities that can make them inexplicably beautiful, charming and endearing. Maybe a silly expression on a figurine's face, a folk art quality, a beautiful shape or finish, or even just a basic utility. They're things that, were they people, I'd wanna hug.
What are your three favorite items currently for sale in your shop?
Tiny fawn. I have a deep love for deer, and this little guy was actually hard for me to list. Vintage figurines made in Japan have an elusive look and charm that's almost impossible to describe. He's perfectly imperfect ... kind of scraggly, with slightly googly eyes that make him look both lost and wise. I just love him.
The coffee house. It's an adorable little wood rack for two mugs. Ron works odd hours and because there's always work in the house that needs to be done, we have few quiet moments together. We like to imagine the coffee house hanging in a little cabin far far away from our responsibilities. We'd pluck our mugs from the rack, pour our coffee, and just enjoy each others' company.
The cocktail shaker. It's made of sturdy glass, has a good strainer, and is all at once casual, elegant and classic. And it's completely transparent! I love a good gin martini, and the thought of getting to see one getting shaken around in that beauty gets me pretty revved.
I bought a white dove figurine from you a few months ago. (My husband swears it's an albino pigeon, but whatever.) It's on my entry table with a pair of egg-shaped teak bowls and a vase holding a fern from my garden. Do you ever wonder what becomes of the things you sell? Do customers ever send you photos?
I love that pigeon (I mean dove)! And I love seeing it in your lovely home! Coo coo. I do wonder what becomes of the things I sell. I've only had one customer send me a photo, but I've had other customers tell me where they've displayed their things, who they've given them to, why they bought them, and it makes me infinitely happy. I love playing matchmaker to these little sweet things and their owners, and I really get the feeling that my customers are as charmed by my inventory as I am.
It's hard to imagine displaying some of these things. I mean, an egg diorama? Do you have any tips for making kitsch look intentional?
You had to bring up the egg diorama! There are so many tips for displaying your beloved objects without making them look like Aunt Trudy's (though I have to say, I'd like to get to know this Aunt Trudy… she sounds fun). My simple rules for our wee house are as follows:
- Don't be afraid to display the unexpected.
- Group things by color, theme or style, and pay attention to arrangement. Variations in height, color, shape and/or pattern will take you a long, cohesive way.
- Think about where you're putting your kitsch. A vintage sign stating the price of eggs does not belong in the loo, nor does a vintage ad of a woman bathing belong in the kitchen.
- Isolate things you really love. The (ahem) egg diorama can be elevated to high art if on a display shelf all its own in a little nook or prominent spot.
- If you really love something, just put it out and love it. People are more attractive when they exude an air of confidence. Things are the same way. There's a carved tiki on the mantle ... so what?
- Don't go overboard. The above exception can only be used a few times until you've got yourself Aunt Trudy's.
In your own home, how do you know when enough is enough?
When we can't walk around without bumping into something ... help?
Really, when things start to annoy us. When I look around and feel suffocated. When things have gone beyond the realm of artful display and into the realm of "Where are we gonna put this?" We edit often, and I've parted with a lot of beautiful things because they just didn't jive with what we have (though my seashell creature collection isn't going anywhere, thankyouverymuch).
There's power in multiples. In your treasure-hunting, do you run across certain things over and over that might make a dramatic collection covering a wall?
Sure! The first thing that comes to mind is paint-by-number paintings. I've seen them displayed in multiple with quite a beautiful, graphic effect. I'm also weak in the knees for groupings of amateur portrait paintings. They're harder to come by, but oh-so-romantic.
Other things that come to mind: album covers, vintage ads from a common era, seashell pictures (again with the seashells!), 70s screen prints (Marushka is something to search for), vintage photos. Oh, and plates! Vintage plates can be bought and hung for a song in whatever arrangement you like and the overall effect can be quite stunning.
What's a vintage doodad in your home that you'll never part with?
That's an easy one: The deer painting. My mom bought it for us for $6 at an auction in southwest Michigan. The auctioneer actually laughed when he brought it out, but he's a fool as far as I'm concerned. I think it's fantastic. Just gaze at its majesty and tell me you're not mesmerized! It's at once graphic and painterly, and the handmade frame is kinda crooked. I like to just lie on the sofa and look at it. I honestly wonder who made it. What was their motivation? Where was it supposed to hang? How long did it take? These are questions that can keep me dreaming for hours.
The Best Things is updated often, and because prices are reasonable, inventory sells quickly. Keep an eye on the shop and when you see something you like, grab it! —Diane
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