Thrifted Kitchen: I ♥ vintage kitchen, bake and tablewareMarch 25, 2015
I'm no snob when it comes to kitchenware.
I lust with the best of them after the Crate and Barrel or John Lewis catalogues, but my ingrained sense of bargain hunting won't let me part with 80 quid for a plate.
Most of my kitchen, cook, table and bakeware is from a collection of high street stores like Walmart, Target, Wilkinson or Matalan; online outlets like Amazon or ebay; or, my favourite, from thrift and charity shops where ever i'm living.
Right now I have a huge culinary crush on Savers and the Salvation Army.
The thing that's hard about thrifting is imagining pieces outside of their current environment. Fishing a ramshackled collection of tea cups out of a dusty, musty box filled with crap does not the image of sipping tea in the garden on a sunny day make.
But washed and set on a tea tray with a jam jar of flowers, a mis-matched milk jug and some rough worn cotton napkins and you have yourself a Preserve worthy photo opportunity Blake Lively would approve of.
These are some of the things I love about thrifting:
We living in disposable times. The idea of mending something that's been chipped or cracked rather than chucking it out and just buying a brand new one is not of our time, but it is of many of the pervious owners of the items you'll find in charity and thrift stores.
Many items find their way into charity stores from house clearances and donations from families clearing out older family member's possessions. This might in the first instance seem incredibly sad, but it think its incredibly respectful. Much like many food activists are passionate about respecting and animal by using every part of it (like Hugh Fernly-Wittingstall), what better way to honor the care and attention so many older pieces have been given by their previous owners than by putting them to use again, rather than in the bin.
This change in attitude to the expected lifespan of an item, not just until it's colour is no longer desirable, means that the quality of the materials and manufacturing is often superior. The shelves of thrift store say it all. You'll see a vintage cast iron pan or piece of crockery from the fifties or sixties, sat next to some piece of yellowing plastic from the nineties- Which would you rather in your kitchen?
I've said it before and I'll say it again- I love a bargain. I'm not mean with money, but I'm loath to part with it if I can spend less somehow (this is NOT a sly admissions to shop lifting).
Shopping in charity and thrift stores make my purse incredibly happy in the immediate, and when you consider what i've said above about quality, more often than not it represents excellent value.
Charity shops are not about making profit for some city boy task master like commercial stores are. Of course they want to make a profit as this profit is, in the case of the charity run stores that I frequent, goes towards good causes. As so much is donated and many stores are staffed by volunteers, they don't have huge overheads to pass on to customers to make the profit they need.
That being said, I'm not so mercenary about prices that I would EVER haggle at a charity shop. At a garage sale, craigslist or cat boot sale: yes, charity shop: NO.
You're own moral compass can guide you on how you feel about haggling for your second hand wares, I would say it hugely depends on where you are purchasing from and whether you facing a good smiting by karma.
These places are stocking depending on fashion or trends, they are stocking depending on what's coming through their donation channels. Seasonality may affect the stock a little, people are more likely to be throwing out the ice cream maker in winter and slow cooker in summer, but there are no hard and fast rules.
Very rarely do I head to the thrift store needing something specific and walking away with it. I tend to have a list in the back of my head of things that i'd like, adding to it whenever I find myself wanting or needing something. When ever I'm in the store I'll keep and eye out for those particular things and tick them off as an when I find them.
The other approach is to just go along with not expectations and see what's there that you like. I'll pop in once a week for a little browse to see what gems might have come in.
Right now I fancy an enamel coffee pot, an ice cream maker and some different sized cast iron or heavy crock pots.
A couple of weeks ago I found (or rather my mum found) a gorgeous Swiss Pro orange stoneware mixing bowl with a pouring spout and handle. I didn't need it but for $5.99 I was having it!
You never know what's going to be there or not be there, it's not a one stop shop sort of thing, don't get too disappointed if you feel like you never find anything!
In a world where anti-fashion is now the actual fashion, and you walk into Anthropologie and wonder if you took a wrong turn into an old folks home for aging hippies, unique quirkiness is now being mass produced.
Mismatched furniture, crockery, pictures frames are all the rage and can be purchased in a 'set' all ready for you to inject some personality into your home and trick the world into pretending you scoured the globe for these individual treasures.
I'm not saying you should earn your eclectic collection of bits and bobs, but I'm too lazy to feign being anything other than a girl what likes nice stuff, on the cheap.
It's funny to me that it's a big deal to try so hard to look like you didn't try at all. If that's your bag then why not try a little less hard, spend a little less and have it go to an actual aging hippy (possibly) instead of some huge corporation masquerading as some artisan sourcing intermediary, and end up with a bunch of stuff you chose because you actually really, really like it.
I'm not preaching that everyone should shun big box stores and large chains, they do what they do and they do it well. When I need something specific immediately or need something functional and simple and don't want to spend the earth on basics I'll head out to Walmart or Target.
But if you want something a bit different, with a bit of character and some history, go for a thrift.