What to collect – 14 ideas

dachsund planters collection This weekend’s invitation to readers to upload photos of their recent thrifty vintage finds was so much fun — so full of fabulous — that I decided to call out some of my favorites photos. I’ve kind of focused on photos of the unusual, the colorful and … well … photographed well! Keep practicing with those photos, readers — be sure to read Kate’s primer in how to take good photos — and I’ll be looking to feature yours next time! Meanwhile, first up, above: Jadie’s collection of vintage dachsund planters. “Not all at once of course, but we love our little dachshund finds,” Jadie says. Oh my word — this photo shows better than I could ever try to explain, the immense visual power of massing and repeating your collectibles. Just gorgeous, Jadie! Continue for 13 more great photos from inside readers’ collections –>

vintage sweatersThese vintage sweaters are six-times prettier when you photograph them all together. Uploaded by an anonymous reader who says, “Vintage sweaters!  Still love ’em, still wear ’em.”

vintage letterpress

I love vintage letterpress pieces. Another no-name reader says: “I rescued some very cool printers block and letterpress type from some long neglected storage at the family’s printing shop. Does anyone know what an Otis Vim-o-matic is?”

vintage pinch pleat drapesIn the comments on the upload post, everyone ooohed and aaaahed at Lynne’s $5.00 auction pinch pleat drapes. Yes!

dresser converted to master bathroom sinkWow, this reader took a vintage dresser and converted it to a double sink for the master bathroom. It looks great! Anonymous s/he said: “Craig’s List faux bamboo dresser :$60. Photo doesn’t show the lovely shade of celery green. Have not polished all the hardware yet…”

vintage red high chairCrikey, this one is cute overload. anony says: “Baby High Chair found in a local Thrift Store for 18 bucks!” Important to research, folks: Before you use a vintage high chair, be sure to research whether it’s safe.

vintage couch by flexsteelAnother anonymous reader uploaded this sofa beauty, saying: “Just got this totally cool Flex Steel couch at an Estate Sale for $15! I am still excited about it!” I love the needlecrafts on the walls — and that braided rug, too. Lovely palette emerging here — red, linen-yellow, brown and black.

his and hers shot glassesThese are very sezy. Another unidentified reader says, “Aww….His & Her’s shot glasses.  Can’t get much more romantic than that!”

ski party posterI bet they had those shot glasses at the Ski Party. This photo of a vintage Ski Party poster was uploaded by midcenturythriftygal

midcentury living roomHere’s another wonderful living room with great color coordination — and graphic appeal — goin’ on. The couch is from cragislist, the chair is from ebay and the table, Elpis & Wood, the reader said.

fireplaceAnother ski party accoutrement. To die for. “Condon-King Aztec fireplace in Inca Gold. Free. Owners were remodeling their house and were going to throw it in the dumpster!” – vitaminimodern

broyhill emphasis bedroom setThis is the first time I’ve seen Broyhill Emphasis on the blog. I like it.!”Broyhill ‘Emphasis’ bedroom set (also includes a large, tri-fold mirror) on Craigslist. That headboard fits a Queen!” – Becky from Iowa

vintage plate collectionMore from vitaminimodern. “Plate collection, Goodwill and Salvation Army.” Lovely photograph. Are the sweaters yours, too, vitamini? I’m guessin…

bitossi  lampsThis reader reports having two of these “blue table lamps.” Perhaps they are Bitossi Rimini Blu lamps? That would would be good luck indeed. But to heck with the lamps: That kid and his smile are just THE BEST.

Do you have a thrifty vintage find that you’d like to see featured on Retro Renovation? I’ll keep the uploader going for a few more days — upload photos of what you’ve collected recently and maybe I’ll feature another roundup later this week.


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  1. says

    I have the exact same needlework picture as one in Anonymous Reader’s picture of the yellow couch in the living room of the red, linen-yellow, brown and black color scheme. See that needlework pic on the left with a brown background? I have that exact picture! My mother made it back in 1968, and she recently gave it to me, knowing how much I love MCM things. That’s a blast to see that!

    • Stacey says

      Stacey I just scored one too! identical to that at a Recycling Centre for $2. I ADORE IT!!! 🙂 🙂 so cool your mom made one!

  2. Ilana says

    That bathroom vanity is incredible! I would love to know how they converted in from a dresser, can you hire someone to help with that? All of these items are so beautiful, but it makes me sad to think of all the treasures not rescued from the dump.

  3. Stacy says

    Loved looking at everyone’s fun stuff! The dachshunds really got my attention. I found one at an estate sale a few weeks ago (so cute) and just put it in my booth. I had never seen one before, and now I see about 25 of them at once! Amazing vanity too. I’ve always wanted to do that.

  4. Lynne says

    Hey! Thanks for spotlighting my drapes! The room is only just now coming together, and is a little stark at the moment. The drapes were the catalyst for the PANELED football field sized room that had me completely perplexed. It’s funny how ONE thing can be the inspiration spark for an entire room. Oh, in reference to an earlier blog on MCM sectionals, there is a new Rowe “Dorset” sectional on the other side of the room if anyone wants to see what one looks like before they buy. (I’ll let you know how it holds up. Hopefully better than the Macys Corona.)

    I would also like to know how that incredible sink vanity was done! Wow.

    • nina462 says

      Love the drapes. Here’s a question that I haven’t seen posed yet regarding drapes. My living/dining room has the furnace vents along the baseboards – should my drapes be above the vents or to the floor? Above the vents they always look like “highwater pants” if you get my drift, however if they are to the floor it blocks the vents.

      What’s the correct way to hang them?

      • Lynne says

        My heat and a/c vents are in the floor, and so they blow right up the insides of the drapes/sheers. We got inexpensive clear plastic dome-y sort of deflector things that re-direct the air flow. Maybe they make the same sort of thing that would fit your baseboard vents.

  5. Jennifer says

    I don’t think those are planters, aren’t they men’s valets? A place for your wallet, money, watch and rings (on the head and tail).

    My stepdad owned the (rarer) grey kangaroo valet, and now my fiance has the brown/orange one. We always see the dachshund valets with the kangaroos and other valets at this one retro store here, but I have seen them at an antique mall listed as a planter, but we said they had it wrong. They’re usually too clean looking to have been a planter, also. 🙂

    • Jennifer says

      Maybe it was on here, or someone talking about it in person when we were talking about our kangaroo, but I know there is a guy out there who has a gigantic collection of the kangaroo valets. Wish I could remmeber, and tell them to take a photo. Someone said their dad has “an army of them” that he displays on dressers in the home. Rad!

    • eviljoeclark says

      Well, I’ve always used the dachsund that I have to hold my wallet, change and watch at night. I think they were, like the kangaroos, made for “Swank”, which was a company that made modestly priced mens accessories like cufflinks and such.

  6. Betsy says

    Hi…This is Betsy with the letterpress blocks. Sorry I forgot my name! There are many drawers of incredible vintage blocks in storage, and the very cool part is that we still run the letterpress. I’m excited to start creating some printed pieces from the collection.

    • says

      Was your question about Otis rhetorical? Of course, they are a well known elevator company, and, as you can imagine, manufacture(d) steel elevator “cars” and mechanical equipment. I can only imagine that this item was something else they manufactured.

  7. Nate says

    I LOVE the Broyhill Emphasis line! I really wish I could find a bedroom set like that. I only seem to run across rather expensive individual pieces. One day!

    • nina462 says

      me too. I’d love to trade my Broyhill Fontana set for a new-old set. Good to know they made queen size back then as well, as that’s usually my dilemma.

      • TappanTrailerTami says

        Hi Nina,

        Vintage beds are generally not a problem, even if you have a queen mattress set.

        Most MCM and earlier beds were full size (or twin), but don’t let finding a bedroom set with a full bed deter you.

        You can easily use queen converter rails with a full bed provided the bed does not have a wrap around head board or foot board (usually seen more in 1920’s bedroom sets), and it uses the standard slot / hooked side rails.

        I’ve always had vintage full beds with converter queen rails and a queen mattress with great success. The mattress and bedding doesn’t really extend too much past the width of the head board and foot board, and all of us retro types are more likely going to be swooning over the bedroom set itself rather than noticing the mattress is a couple inches past the head board in width 🙂

        In short, quit passing up bedroom sets just because they have a full bed, especially if it is one you love!

        Just google “queen converter rails” or “queen converter bed frame”

      • Becky from Iowa says

        Some information about converting the set: we already had a Queen sized metal, stand alone bed frame–they’re never very expensive, I believe. Since the headboard on the Emphasis set was a good 60″ across (which is standard Queen sized dimensions), all we had to do to convert it to attach to our frame was to drill two holes farther toward the outside edge of the headboard (there is a wide, additional section of the headboard, down near the legs, intended for attaching to a full sized frame…but that section was easily wide enough to make two holes (one above the other) that lined up with our metal frame….

        We then used two “carriage bolts” (I believe that’s what they called them) to run through the slot in our metal frame (this is found in all frames) and through the NEW holes in the legs of the headboard, and then fastened them on the back with nuts.

        That’s all it took to convert the headboard to fit our Queen frame! I easily found instructions by Googling “convert full sized headboard to fit Queen frame.”

  8. Cynthia says

    I recently received a Broyhill Emphasis bedroom set (also with queen size headboard) as a gift from some generous friends who were clearing out their rental house. The set has the same pieces in your photo plus a chest of drawers and mirror but only one nightstand so it would be great to find another one. I saw one online in another state that’s too far away! I am in south Florida so if you hear of one down here let me know!

    • Nate says

      Cynthia, since you’re in Florida, you might want to check out furnishmevintage dot com. I’ve never purchased anything from them so I’m not officially ‘recommending them’ or anything but I do frequent their site for glamour shots of midmod items. I first learned about Emphasis from their site and they are located in FL.

  9. Jackie says

    Okay, so who makes those dachshund planters? The modeling and painting remind me very much of a little jewelry holder my grandfather used. It was shaped like a kangaroo–rings went in the “pouch” while his watch hung on the tail. Sure wish I had it!!

    • eviljoeclark says

      I’ve seen them attributed to McCoy, though never seen one marked as such. Search e-bay for ‘dresser valet’, and they’ll come up!

      • Jennifer says

        You are correct. I posted earlier that these are valets, or dresser caddies, for men. My fiance has the little kangaroo. It is marked 1956 C USA on the back, there is nothing on the bottom. All of the kangaroos are (if they are authentic, I heard there were reproductions), not sure what the others are marked with. I see the weiner dogs a lot, I hate to say it, but I don’t think they are currently as popular as other ones.

        If you remember, the kangaroo was a key point in the movie “Pulp Fiction,” with Bruce Willis as Butch. His father’s golden watch was left on the bedside table, on the little kangaroo, and he had to go back for it. 🙂 I think this is why they continue to grow in popularity.

        BTW, my fiance puts rings on the tail, and puts his watch around the head of the kangaroo, I think the pouch is for cufflinks, tie clips, or loose change.

    • says

      The kangaroo dresser set is made by McCoy pottery; they came in brown tones or grey tones. I buy them often for about $10 at ND auctions/flea markets. Our city, Minot, was the only level 5 disaster in 2011 with many treasures flooded out of homes but we are seeing things saved in storage over a year ago. Don’t mind paying top dollar to help out the elderly!

  10. says

    Casey (vitaminimodern) here, the owner of the Aztec fireplace and the plate collection. I’m glad you enjoyed my finds! I practically jumped up and down when my boyfriend brought the Aztec home and how he fit it in the back of his station wagon, I’ll never know! The plates are a cheap and easy thrifting obsession. I just brought ten more plates home from Goodwill yesterday (eek!). At least they’re functional, right? The ones that I don’t actually eat off of have been displayed on the wall in my kitchen. If you’d like to see how, here’s my blog post about it: http://vitaminihandmade.blogspot.com//search?q=plates&x=0&y=0

    I can’t claim the sweater collection, though I would definitely wear the blue one! 🙂

  11. says

    I just saw my Ski Party poster was shown on here 🙂 I must have missed a day checking out your site. Shame on me 🙁
    Thanks Pam for including it!

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