Monday, November 18, 2013

Thrift Report: My Most Embarrassing Thrift Store Purchase Ever!

Hello friends!  Despite my good intentions, I didn't do much vintage shopping this weekend. The central U.S. experienced a "severe weather event" on Sunday....which translated into doing all my crucial errands for the week (oil change, car wash, groceries, etc.) on Saturday and then hunkering down at home on Sunday, preparing to run for the basement if the tornado sirens sounded. (Ah, the joys of the Midwest!)  Luckily, we escaped major damage where I live, but my heart goes out to all the people in neighboring towns and states who are dealing with the destruction today.

Since I don't have any new finds to share, I thought I'd back up a little. Lots of people have asked me about the painting above the sofa in my living room. It's a bit of a story. Yes, it was a thrifted find....sort of.



When I was planning the room, I knew I wanted a large, colorful piece of art for the wall over the sofa. I love art and have lots of framed pieces in storage, but I couldn't find exactly what I wanted for that space. I looked and looked, but came up short.

One day, in a local Goodwill, I spotted (from the back) a huge canvas with a big, chunky, patinated brass frame. When I approached it and saw the front, though, I was appalled. The frame and scale were perfect, but it was ugly. U-G-L-Y. I mean really, really bad.  It was also $49.99!!!  (What's up with the crazy pricing, Goodwill?!)

(My favorite part is the oversized, doomsday sun.)

I walked away that first day, but over the next week a plan to started to hatch. What if I primed over the hideous painting and painted something myself? Could I pull it off?

A week later, I went back to the GW. Unbeknownst to me, it was 50% off day! On the bright side, that made my painting a much more affordable $25; on the dark side, the store was packed to the gills, with checkout lines snaking down the aisles.

After a moment of hesitation, I snatched up the painting and got in line. There were at least 30 people ahead of me (sigh), but I was committed at that point. That's when the humiliation began.

First, let me be sure you understand the sheer size of this painting. I actually haven't measured it, but I know (from standing in line with it for over an hour) that it comes up to my armpits. And I'm tall! Here it is next to a door, for a scale reference:


You can probably guess that I was a bit "obtrusive" as I stood in line for 60 minutes with this thing. Countless people asked to see the painting. Many of them complimented it (???) and a few gave me inquisitive looks. One lady asked the price. When I told her, she scoffed and said, "Chiiiiild, get OUT!"

I finally made it to the register, only to have the cashier ooh and ahhh over this hideous painting, HOLD IT UP IN THE AIR to get a better look, and call one of her colleagues over to admire it. Yep.

Finally, I was free. I rushed the door as fast as humanly possible with an armpit-height painting in tow, when suddenly a woman yelled, "WAIT, painting lady, WAIT!"  This customer ran over, exclamed that she was in love with my painting because she is "from Chicago" and misses it, and asked me if she could make me an offer. (Her offer: $10. Also? That is totally not Chicago.) Honestly, by the time I extracted myself from the store, wrestled this huge thing into my car and drove away, I was questioning my judgment.

Once home, I pretty quickly primed the canvas so I didn't have to look at the creepy cityscape any longer, then set it aside. It wasn't until two nights before my living room reveal photo session that I decided to tackle it any further.

Feeling inspired, I grabbed every last tube of acrylic craft paint I could find (I have quite a collection from previous DIY projects and such) and taped off the frame with a little frog tape. Lacking an easel, I set the monster frame on a kitchen chair, and basically went to town. I knew the general look I was going for, and had two key concepts in mind: abstract and colorful. Here's an in-process glimpse:



When I was finally done, I added a clear glaze, which gave it a nice sheen and texture.

I'm no de Kooning - I have no artistic technique whatsoever - but I think it turned out well, just in terms of decorative impact. And the great part is that the whole thing cost $25!

So there you have it: The story of my all-time most embarrassing thrift store purchase, now front and center in my living room!!!



How about you? Any embarrassing purchases you'd care to share?  What do you think of my little painting makeover project?

Wishing everyone a wonderful week!
xoxo


Sharing with:

A Living Space
The Dedicated House

modvintagelife.blogspot.com
The Shabby Nest

47 comments:

  1. That's hilarious! The "Chiiiiild, get OUT!" comment and the woman with the $10 offer totally cracked me up. And that is one weird cityscape painting! I kindof like the sails, but the rest of it... "doomsday" is definitely accurate. You did a great job with it, though! It looks perfect in your living room.

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    1. I know, right? It was like a depiction of parasailing in hell! It was actually worse in person. ;)

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  2. How excruciating for you! I'm sure I'd be talking to everyone who walked by, explaining that I really didn't like the painting--thank you very much--but that I had big plans for it.
    And you did have big plans. It looks really good.

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    1. I did that for a while! Then I gave up and just tried to hide my face from the passersby ... ha!

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  3. Love the story of the painting! It looks great in your space!

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  4. That's a great story Heather! And that's what makes decorating with thrift store finds so awesome - stories to go along with the pieces. And you did a wonderful job on the painting! :)

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    1. Thanks Joann! And yes, the storied of some of our thrifted things are really fun, aren't they?

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  5. That is a great story! Way to take matters into your own hands.

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  6. Amazing story...and WOW...you did a fantastic job Heather. As for my most embarrassing purchases my husband says I'm just one big embarrassment ....the way I line up at a shop door first, rush the shelves with my eagle eyes on any prize piece and shove anyone out of the way :-). He now waits in the car for me!

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  7. Heather, Your re-do is fantastic! Love your living room and your painting. I looked on my phone earlier, but had to come see it in larger than life size to comment, LOL! I bought one of those sad creepy paintings once, don't know what possessed me, but I couldn't even sell it at our yard sale it so was bad. You gave yours a wonderful makeover, so colorful & artsy! :)

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    1. Pam, that's so funny. Actually, I think I've bought a few creepy ("vintage") paintings in the past, too, and had to donate them back to Goodwill. Ha.

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  8. I love the frame, so it was well worth it. The part about the lady offering to pay you $10 for it because of how much she misses Chicago cracked me up. Way to see potential in such an ugly picture!

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    1. I agree, Emily...the frame was the main attraction!

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  9. I love your story, Heather! My eye went right to the painting when I saw the reveal and I remember thinking then that it was amazing that you had found such a perfect painting for that space. Instantly my eye pulled the blue paint toward the blue chair and I was impressed. It never occurred to me that YOU painted it!!! You never cease to amaze me!!!

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  10. It came out beautiful and looks lovely in your living room. Love the whole classy design of the living room too, btw. Would totally buy that you bought this piece from an artist. I did actually like the original too for it's hilarious kitschy ugliness. I'm weird like that ;)

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    1. You crack me up, Van. And your brand of "hilarious kitschy ugliness" is pretty awesome. I am still in awe of your MJ album cover collection!

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  11. This story just makes me laugh!!! The Goodwill shopping experience to the ugly picture becoming such a beautiful feature in your gorgeous room is all part of what makes your room makeover so great.
    Love it!!!




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    1. Why thank you! You're just lucky you weren't there to share in the humiliation!

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  12. I really loved how you made it your own! You couldn't buy an abstract at that price and what a story to go with it!

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  13. Oh man this cracks me up! I was laughing that they came back out after you!!! HA! I can only imagine how bad you just wanted to get in your car!!!! Ok and what you did with the acrylics was brilliant! I mean color and scale and form...you nailed it! I just love it!!!! So glad you all didn't get hit...Sunday was for sure scary...have a great week lady!!!!

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    1. Aww, thanks Nicole! Let's hope Sunday was the last of the scary weather for this year!

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  14. Your GW painting turned out beautiful in your room....and I had to laugh at your embarrassing moments! Maybe you have started a monthly stint on "What's your most embarrassing thrifting/junking moment?" I "stalked" a lady back in the Spring for an "old metal thing-a-ma-jig wirey piece" she had in her cart at a thrift store for an hour. She never would put it back....so I struck up a conversation with her hoping to buy it.......she wasn't about to let go of it, then I regretted it even more pursuing it because it was marked 9 cents.......that made me sick. I didn't need to know that. Blessings~~~Roxie

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    1. Roxie that is hilarious! 9 cents...I think I would have cried!

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  15. Lady, you killed it on that painting, I'm impressed! I am planning on doing the same thing to a big ol canvas as but had to wait till I had a car I could fit it in to :)

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! I actually had a moment of panic when I finally got it to my car, thinking it wouldn't fit, but I ended up being able to wedge it in at an angle. Where there's a will, there's a way!

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  16. So glad you made it out of that crazy weather ok! I have a friend whose family lives in Washington Illinois and they are fine but the house didn't fair so well. Crazy mid west weather!
    Love your redo of that painting! SO MUCH BETTER!

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    1. Oh yikes...I heard that Washington was very hard hit! Thinking positive thoughts for your friends!

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  17. Woah, it looks so awesome! It was pretty hideous before! I'm glad you had the vision to transform it. It fits in perfectly and looks really expensive. I adore your living room by the way. Your style is so cool!

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    1. So sweet...thank you! It was an adventure! ;)

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  18. Fantastic! Not only is it perfect (and I would totally buy it if I spotted it in a store) but such a great story. Very inspiring!

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    1. So nice of you to say that, Francine! To me it looks completely amateurish, but I still love the look of the colors in the room.

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  19. LOL! I think the painting was my favorite part of your room when I first saw it! Now I love it even more knowing the story!

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  20. LOL. I love it. I've had people standing behind me in Goodwill say "You really gonna by that?!" :) If only you could send them all a picture of it now!

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  21. Glad to hear the weather missed you. The painting story Is funny nice to see you found a way to repurpose it and make it your own sometimes those can be the best finds.
    Denise

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  22. Love it! You did a great job with the painting, love beautiful above the sofa. Cracked me up when I read about the woman offering $10 for the original painting!

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  23. What a funny story!! You are so talented, and your artwork is AMAZING!! And I love that room... you did an such incredible job with your ORC!!!

    XOXO,
    The Glam Pad

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  24. I have the same problem when I'm buying pictures from charity shops just for the frames, some of the prints in them are awful! Nice makeover :)

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  25. I just discovered your blog and love it! I live in DC, but I'm originally from Indiana so I understand your Midwest stories so well! :) I love finding thrifted treasures here, and your finds are inspiring!

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  26. I love this! I am also in love with your coffee table. It's exactly the kind I have been looking for. Where did you get it? I have been searching forever.

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    1. Thanks Seret! It was originally from Three Chairs Company, several years ago. I painted it matte gold. I think CB2 sells a similar table, but in chrome. Hope that helps! xoxo

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  27. So funny! I absolutely love the painting as it is now, and it looks like it is absolutely at home in your living room. Great job!

    Cheers,
    Dani
    ItchforKitsch.com

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