Friday, May 22, 2015

Living with Vintage: Dresser: 3 Ways

Some people see a dresser and see storage.  When I see a dresser, I see valuable horizontal real estate. When I start to style a space, whether it's a shelf, dresser or a table, I use the same "formula". Height + Color + Texture = Winning!! Well, hopefully. It might take a few trys but eventually it comes together in the end. I usually start with color, grouping like ones together, then add in texture and height.  Plants and flowers are the cherries on top; add them in at the end to complete the story.  Below are three different vignettes.  Let us know if you have a favorite.  

Nod to the 70's

Interior design has been majorly influenced by the 50's and 60's in the last few years so you know the 70's are up next. Though I can't say brown is my favorite color I am grooving (yeah, I just did that) on this palate. I also love that this vignette is a mix of cultures - Israeli art, West German pottery, Scandinavian brass.  

Color - Browns and oranges
Height - The art is a great focal point but the vignette needs the pottery and the lamp to keep things interesting.
Texture - The pottery just oozes awesome textures.  


Desert Modern

This was fun to pull together as it's not generally a combination of items I would reach for first. I was looking for earthy, deserty, and modern.

Color - earth tones, browns.
Height - the lamp and the bears are the key heights in this vignette.
Texture - is everywhere!  The lamp, art, concrete cactus, saguaro boot, even the smooth finish on the bears add dimension.  

Concrete Cactus (from Shop Boxhill)

Modern Traditional

This vignette does not scream VINTAGE but it most certainly is.   All the pieces have some history, some more than others, but it reads as very modern and clean.  

Color - white
Height - the lamp and the vase are anchors but the house is what makes it interesting.
Texture - lamp, vase and cloth


Some items are not listed as of this posting but are for sale.  You can check my Etsy shop or contact me directly at with inquiries.  

Any favorites?  Which one would you want in your home?  Any guess as to which vignette is still on my dresser?  Leave a comment below.  

See more Living with Vintage  posts here.

You can also find this post over at 3 Story Magazine.  Take a peak over there for a special offer.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

Living with Vintage - Trays

Let’s talk about trays.  Me? I love them. Big or little, metal or plastic. I can always find a spot that instantly looks better once I find the right tray.  Trays highlight, contain and most importantly elevate your items.  Have a collection?  Need to organize?  Want to make something look just a little bit better?  Grab a tray.

Sushi or not

These vintage sushi trays are just so incredibly versatile.  They can be used in any room… office, bedroom, bathroom, or a kid’s room.  They can be grouped together or used individually. Use a couple and keep the rest on reserve.  These are in a bright lemon which adds a nice pop of color.  I have a set of these in my bathroom and seriously considered hoarding this set too.  They can be used as snack trays (perfect for kids) but also look great on a nightstand, a desk or on a counter.  Vintage jewelry can be found in my Charish shop.


This is a classic mid century Danish modern teak tray by Dansk.  I have used this tray on my dining room table, on my coffee table and even in my bedroom to hold jewelry.  Very handy.   I grouped my teak pepper mill collection but I’ve also used it to serve hors d’oeuvres and as a table centerpiece with some flowers.  I’ve had as many as three of these in use at the same time.  Teak pepper mill available here.


In a previous life this was an ashtray.  Technically it still is but it hasn’t seen a cigarette in years.  Accented with 22 carat gold, this tray is just too pretty and cool to sit idly by.  Air plants are a great way of turning this overlooked and seldom used ashtray into something that’s functional and a distinctive piece of vintage home decor. Use this link for the pair of fab Hollywood Regency Geisha figurines.

Keep in mind

  • Large serving trays are great for liquor bottles, making a coffee station, TV remotes, or to hold a personal collection.
  • Smaller trays can be useful next to a bed, in the bathroom, in the office or on a counter.
  • Keep some extra trays on hand.  Great for serving or if a guest stays the night.  Also, they’re fun to have on hand if you like to change up your decor often.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Living with Vintage - Mixing Metals

Another Vintage Friday post from 3 Story Magazine.

One of my favorite ways to add a bit of vintage style to my home decor is by layering in metals. In all honesty, brass is my favorite, but I have a fair amount of silver and some copper sprinkled in as well. There is a lot of vintage brass out there and a lot of it is not very good. Just because it’s vintage does not mean it’s not cheaply made or mass produced. Be patient and be picky, good vintage brass is worth the wait.

Silver and Brass

Candle holders are a great way to add some interest to a table. Brass adds a bit of the warmth silver adds the sparkle. It’s also handy when the candle holder doubles as a flower vase. These holders are different in metals and form but I think the general Scandinavian design aesthetic is what makes these two work well together. Ystad Metall Brass candle holders here. Carl Christensen silver plate here. Royal Copenhagen bowl listed here.

Bronze and Brass

Snakes and saguaros just go together. A part of me thinks this shouldn’t work - brass/glass, high/low - but I like it. This grouping of a bronze Baccarat snake and a pair of vintage Saguaro sculptures reminds me of our local flora and fauna but not in the typical southwest fashion.  The snake is a bit glam but the brass keeps it real. Saguaro sculptures listed here. Baccarat snake is not listed yet. Feel free to contact me at hotcoolvintage @ if you would like pricing.

Copper and Brass

It’s kind of ridiculous how excited I get when I find small vintage items that I can repurpose for air plants. The vintage enamel and copper salt cellars fall into that category. These can also be used as a ring/jewelry holder as well.  The oh-so-happy jumping-for-joy elephant adds a nice touch of drama and movement to a space.  The lamp (one of a pair) is a favorite find and will have to be pried from my cold dead hands. Elephant is listed here. Copper and enamel salt cellars, here.

What About upkeep?

Polishing metals can be a chore. Each piece is different and some brass has a varnish on it which makes cleaning it even more difficult.  My go to cleaner is Bar Keepers Friend.  I prefer the liquid over the powder but both work well.  Also, when polishing be careful not to take away all of the patina. In my opinion some pieces should not be cleaned too deeply.  The patina gives the piece age and dimension and once it’s stripped it can change the look of the piece.  When cleaning go light and proceed only as much as needed.  Polishing (and re-polishing) is not fun but the results are well worth the effort.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Living with Vintage - Collections

Repost from my Vintage Friday Newsletter over at 3 Story Magazine.


Something Vintage

There's a (very) fine line between collecting and hoarding, says Francine Smith of Hot Cool Vintage. She shares some of her collections, and tips on how she does it. Photos courtesy of Francine Smith.
Usually it starts with one. One item that creates the desire for another, then another….. Collecting is a pastime that has no bounds. It can be high, record-setting millions for a piece of art or very, very low (think hoarders). Most of us may not have the financial ability to purchase rare and expensive art and hopefully we have the presence of mind not to keep every mail flyer we ever receive, but we can all collect something, if we so desire.
Collecting vintage decor is a way to add your own distinct style to your home and can be the beginning of a life-long learning journey. Collecting often inspires the collector to learn more about the object, the designer, or the period. No matter what calls you - pottery, ephemera or glass - whatever you gather will always be unique to you.
Pottery Collection
This collection started when I found a vase like the one my mother had in our living room when I was growing up. After my parents divorced and moved houses a few times, that vase was lost. Though originally part of my past, I’ve found other shapes, colors and sizes and have made it part of my unique home decor. On the practical side, this collection also helps to hide some of the unsightly mess of TV cords.  See, collecting can be useful!
Black and white (and orange)
Collections can be based on anything: patterns, textures, colors, designers, etc. This collection of vintage bisque porcelain and vintage enamelware is usually in flux. I add a piece every now and then and sell others. This grouping is another handy collection to have since the bowls can be used for serving and the vases are often put into use as well.
Blue glass
francinecollectionpic2 Another collection that is in flux, this one includes a mistake and a re-purposed piece of cased glass. The first bottle is a knock-off, although unfortunately I didn’t buy it as a knock-off (all part of the learning process). The tall vase is for sale. The short cased glass “planter” should have a top. It was too pretty to be discarded and too easy to re-purpose for another use.

Francine's four tips on collecting

1. This is probably obvious but ... collect what you love. Collections take time to build - that's part of the fun of collecting. Getting dirty in a dusty antique store or finding a hidden gem online can be time-consuming, so be sure whatever it is that you are searching for excites you.
2. Collections take up space in your home, so if it is not something you enjoy looking at then it will most definitely not be something you enjoy dusting. Which you will have to do - often.
3. There is a (very) fine line between collecting and hoarding. Every collection needs to be re-evaluated and thinned out every now and then. It should never become a burden.
4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you love it and can afford it, buy it. The regret of not buying often stings more than the regret of buying. Re-gift or donate the mistakes and chalk it up to the learning process.
* You can find more of Francine's collected items for sale on the Hot Cool Vintage Etsy store. 
* Find lots more stories about vintage, mid-century and mid-century modern here. Sign up for our Vintage Friday newsletter. It's free!