How to sustainably keep on trend!

Question on 2016 trendsHow do I reconcile that (hot new trends) with my ethos of reduce, reuse and recycle? What a great question – Thanks K.L Richardson for asking and here is how I do it.

  1. Fake it until you make it

  2. Thrift it, gift it, sell it

  3. don’t follow blindly, inject your own personality into your home

So, yes I enjoy watching [some] trends rush in and out and cycle around again with a twist, mostly with half interest and if at all. 2016 Trends got me excited enough to post about them because – I see them as a bit of me! Don’t be fooled as most people (*money bags jingle*) are into heading along to your nearest top line designer home wares boutique to purchase everything in the latest catalogue…. and don’t pay anyone huge money to do it for you.

I don’t understand people who can happily do this *money bags* dance over and over with the changing seasons, what a colossal waste.

I like to feel comfortable and at peace in my abode, not like a visitor to a bare echcoe-eee art museum, or a stark crisp sheets hotel, as nice as it is to visit these types of places I would not like to live in them.

I like [to a certain extent] a lived in quality about my home, and certainly functional, but number one I like beautiful well made things that have little stories to tell. Sometimes I think I would be happiest to be tucked away in a Victorian curiosity cabinet with great treasures from far away explorations. I know what you’re thinking – You’re thinking how is that different?? – You’re still excreting an exorbitant amount of cash, right??…….. To this I say – you need very, very little – to no money…. and if you’re clever this lifestyle may actually PAY YOU – read on you’ll see.

Also disclaimer, at this point I’ll add we rent the place we live in so we are limited as far as painting walls etc goes so we just make do.. If we lived in our own home it would be a different story, but house prices are crazy here and most first home buyers were priced out of the market years ago. Don’t get me started on that topic, the wounds are deep.

So, first tip I can give you is fake it until your make it.

One of the 2016 trends is FUR – so, I wanted a luxurious fur rug. Not just any old sheepskin (of which I have many, baby plays and rolls around them on all day, lovely soft and natural and most importantly odour and stain resistant). I needed something opulent, silky soft, not cream, yellow or white! As I prefer dark moody interiors – somewhere to shut out the winter have a roaring fireplace and beautiful dark warm colours hugging me close. So what to do – 1920’s speak easy as someone once describe it………

I checked on our second-hand auction pages and the cheapest second hand fur rug in a style that will suit will set back the average punter in excess of $500NZ and well beyond that and a quick check of my mothball money bag and I have two buttons and a piece of lint – Here is where you fake it.


I brought a 1980’s handmade crop fur jacket from a thrift store for $10. Someone had originally hacked up an original skin rug to create the abomination I now had in my possession. I got it home, un-stitched it and pinned it back together in a flat shape.

I have already started stitching it back together. It has taken me ‘no time’ at all to do, like one hour, maybe two to get this far. It’s an organic process and I only have another half hour left tops to finish. The top piece of the rug is made up of the sleeves, the base is the main body of the coat and the holes are where the arms were stitched in, I am filling them with a piece cut from the side. The tail was the collar. I call it Man-sheep-skin…

It is a lovely taupe mushroom tawny colour and it is so luxuriously soft that I don’t know if it is sheep at all, it is huge and softer than sheep I suspect it may be Llama/Alpaca. Whatever it was it was a big animal. What I do know is that it makes a much better throw rug than a hack-shit attempt at a jacket.


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All that was required was a little bit of bravery, needle & thread, and a get it done attitude. I was a little apprehensive at first if it could be achieved. But I pushed on anyway and was surprised at the size of the skin after deconstruction and re-re-construction. It was much bigger than I ever could have predicted as the crop jacket had 3/4 arms and sat on high waist and probably fit a small teenage girl. Luckily, the original owner had been economical with not hacking too much away and a lot of the fur had been folded generously over at the collar, cuffs and hem to create facing so it was much bigger when flattened out. One tip when working with real fur do not go near it with scissors!!!! use a craft knife and cut from the back and the fur will stay intact. 🙂

Another fakery tip is using old books – I love old books – I love the aesthetic of them. Most old books that I have are far too fragile to read. So I tie them up and use them in my displays. You can get a whole car load of old shabby chic books from your local book fair relatively cheaply. Usually ranging from 0.50cents to the more speciality and pricier items, or even bulk buys where they work out even cheaper… I brought most of mine from book fairs and thrift stores and was fortunate enough to stumble on some cracking little finds like a small cloth bound 1927 edition of Alice in Wonderland, and sometime later I picked up a 1915 edition of Alice through the looking glass both from the same print house. I also have very early dream interpretation books and beautiful gilded and tooled poetry books. They make for interesting objects and if you are careful enough they offer an interesting window into the past. The large brown leather-bound book on my desk is a favourite – it’s title is ‘The Worlds Library of Best Books, Vol.1’, just perfect.

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Remaining in the study for a minute longer, I just want to mention – great furniture doesn’t have to be expensive. Think about auction sites, thrift stores, look for good bones and nice lines, or in a unique style that you like. I don’t think it is a secret to anyone that I am a nut for Art Deco furniture and there is no other place better to get it than at charity shops. I also mix it in with other styles to achieve our eclectic look. I’ve also picked up mid-century modern sleek scandi gems for a mere fraction of the cost – some of you will be surprised what is out there in the world going cheap.

You can usually pick up good quality furniture inexpensively at auctions or junk stores, or even just discarded on the side of the street – that’s if you look hard enough – mostly it will appear in bad shape but we tend to find the damage is only surface deep and we’ve got the skills to upcycle or restore it. YOU DO TOO – it’s not that hard people!

Remember this post? – hard to believe but we found this on the side of the road – GOOD HEAVY BONES!! Although we did save up and get this chair professionally restored it was worth every penny!

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So a run down of the study, the desk was gifted and upcycled using fire sale materials totalling just under $200 – the biggest ticket item for sure.. The quirky little English made tin toy globe was gifted. The horse head green ceramic book ends were new @ $10 on a clearance sale from the Warehouse last year. The glass vintage style bottles to the left of the globe are modern hand blown glass from India, the set of three were purchased for $2 from a thrift store. Other thrifted purchases include the vintage bankers lamp $10, Coco Joes lava rock figurine 0.20cents, Books $2, Quatro  Seletti -as new wooden Designer Candle holder set $2, wooden seed tray $1, the grotty 80’s hack of a coat turned into a fur rug $10, and the gorgeous old Moroccan hand-knotted rug $10..

oh, and hubby made the side table….. so one cheap room

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The other side of the open plan room we have the sideboard on the wall that flows into the kitchen.

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The sideboard is nothing flash, but it is a necessity – thrifted of course, I can’t remember how much, but can’t have been much as it is crappy pine. It has nice lines and it’s a good solid wood piece. It serves a purpose keeping all our crockery and serving ware contained and does a good job at that.

The pieces on top of the sideboard get changed out often at the moment I have an oversized  Aluminium nickel plated air plane that I brought off an auction for $60, I am told they are selling for over three times that new, it’s a huge modern statement piece in the style of art deco. The wooden faced clock was a thrifted score and a gamble at $2 as it had no power cord so couldn’t be tested, it is maple veneer according to the manufactures website……. luckily we had a few spare power adaptors in our tangled disused cable collection I affectionately call our tech nest. The grey ceramic US place names bottle was $1 and the books varied in prices from $1 – $5.. The quirky green granite letter holder was 0.20cents. The biggest spend was on the vintage sewing drawers in the base. We are not wine drinkers so took out the original wine racks, all but one (to hold olive oils and vinaigrettes) and replaced them with vintage oak sewing cubby drawers that can lock – so our baby doesn’t get into them. The first nest of 3 drawers costed about $10 and purchased probably 10 years ago-ish…. the other two nests were brought about 3 years ago at $30 each…… I looked on trademe auctions yesterday and single drawer is going for $30 now…. ugh.

I suppose the lessen is – buy early when you can, and buy well.

Here’s a few of our past projects and they have all become staples in our home – you can find all of these projects with how to’s and tips in my past articles. Just use the menu above under Design book/Furniture design, or use the search box at the end of this page. 🙂

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Another 2016 trend is the use of metals, woods and ‘honest’ materials.

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This is the ‘business hub’ of my kitchen. I have an array of mixed modern and  vintage bits in my kitchen…. ‘metals’ in the copper pots, pans, bowls etc, steel, aluminium, cast iron. Pops of colour with my enamelled skillets, steamers….. all with an injection of pottery of vintage linens and old leather. I still love the pseudo vintage kitchen vibe… I’m sticking with it. EVERYTHING is usable and was thrifted or gifted to get this look. With the exception of the copper pots (actually they were a birthday gift but new) and the chopping board – see below.

We have all sorts of odds and ends with all the furniture, object upcycling and restorations projects. I had a signed art cast aluminium handle in one of the odds and ends boxes… So, I upcycled a standard (KMART $12) chopping board to give it some luxury factor…. It doubles as a beautiful serving board now.

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I also mix and match my art collection to fit in with the honest material, simple but effective look.

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All the pictures [except my own art work] are thrift scores usually $2 or cheaper. There are simple rules I follow when purchasing thrift art….. I look at the quality, is it a print? Or an original? a limited edition? Or one off? Does it ‘fit’ with my other pieces?

If it is a print or a mass manufactured piece – I WONT TOUCH IT, there is the odd exception to this rule if it is AMAZING!!! The latter is very rare…. Although examples can be seen in the above photos Ie.the Henri Mattise, The Copenhagen 1960’s tourism poster and the small silver framed print on the left of the portal clock. haha, tut tut – rule breaker…

All the other thrift art works are either original and signed, and most are limited edition works. Don’t be afraid to play around with composition or what is displayed. You’ll see I have a bit of a theme in each of the display, there is a mix of similar content with metals wood and a limited palate of colours. Don’t go berserk, you don’t want it to look like you live in a thrift store, so you have to exercise a certain amount of restraint unless you intend to store stuff away for later changes. Which I admit I do have lots of wondrous little bits stored in a number of places silently slumbering until it’s time to shine.

If you don’t have metal – use mirrors – better yet be inspired and make your own mirrors! You’ll be surprised at ‘what’ you can make into a mirror and how cheap it is to do so. Your local glazier is your go to guy for sourcing the mirror and cutting it to size.

Remember this post? use it for inspiration!!

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I’d be lying to you if I said it didn’t cost some money to do this… But you can make it pay for itself – what I do/did was I went through everything I already owned and used my ruthless but effective techniques of culling mixed with a bit of Marie Kondo’s Konmari – ‘thank it for it’s service and set it free’ rules. For those things that I ‘set free’ if they were still good and hard to part with – I sold them, at the very least if I am hesitating on keeping it – it can at least pay it’s way out of my home, then I will feel better about it – that’s my motto – and with all the sale proceeds it turned out to be more than enough to pay for all the projects 10 times over. The objects that weren’t turned into money were put back into circulation through the opshops and the like…. So, not only have I got the decor look I want, but it is totally paid for (and then some) by the outgoing objects. 🙂 easy peasey do up on very little dimes, in fact a quick check and I still have my two buttons and a bit of lint in my mothball wallet….. I also employ this technique to revamp and rotate my wardrobe – it’s revolving and paying for itself all the time.

Hope this was inspirational because it is totally do-able.




  1. I am so happy I could be a source for a new blog post. And a great post it is, too! I have often used the phrase “Fake it til you make it” and I have always been a crafter, hobbyist, maker. Posted this on FaceBook and look forward to many more great reads from you!


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