The One Where I Stole a Credenza Off The Side of the Road: My Lifelong Journey with Thrifting
If you’ve been able to visit our shop in person, you will have noticed my obsession for vintage items and antiques. Our cash desk is an old apothecary display, our lights are repurposed from an old school house, half of our displays are on antique furniture - even the shop has an antique charm with the crown moldings and Victorian parlor doors. I have always been inspired by different architecture, art and design from other eras, when there appeared to have been more attention to detail and items were more often handmade than machine mass-produced. I think if I wasn't a florist (or a dancer/choreographer, my first love), I would have been an interior designer. I have always been more obsessed with interior design, architecture and home goods over clothes, makeup and shoes (well maybe not shoes…)
My childhood home was all warm tones (beiges, browns, reds) and I assumed that all homes were boring like this until one day, I went with my mom to her best friend's house. Esther's house was purple. Every room was a different shade of lilac. Even the carpets were a deep mauve. I couldn't believe that you could be an adult with a purple house. It was around that same time that my aunt started bringing her old design magazines to the cottage in the summer for all of us to enjoy. I would hang out on the beach, ripping out pictures and designing my dream home. I asked for grid paper for our summer cottage vacations one year so that I could meticulously draw out floor plans for my dream home. My poor parents probably thought I wanted to work on my math.
Being obsessed with design at a young age taught me to be thrifty - since I had no money! I babysat when I was young but that was really my only source of income until my first real job at Jacobs when I was 16 (aging myself again). I couldn't afford cool design magazines or furniture, what my parents picked for my bedroom at 6 years old is what I had to work with. When I was old enough to ask for a desk, I thought it was the perfect way to get to choose my very own cool piece of furniture. I cried when I came home from school and saw a brand new desk and chair was all set up in my room. My parents must have thought I was so ungrateful…but I only wanted a desk for decor, not to use!I started asking for decor items for my birthday and Christmas. At 13, I asked for an Ikea club chair and side table for Christmas and was so shocked (and thrilled) when my parents bought it for me! I still have the table to this day… I spent a whole summer using my nail polish collection to paint these $0.99 wooden Ikea picture frames and hang them in a perfect grid in my room. I think my childhood bedroom went through three full paint and style changes before high school when my parents told me I would have to pay for the next makeover myself. I did. Navy blue walls, red doors, magazine cuttings and nail polish frames everywhere. Paired with my cool Ikea tub chair and table, I had the coolest bedroom in all of grade nine.
As I got older my design style changed, but my knack for thriftiness did not. I knew I could furnish any apartment on a student budget with garage sale finds, and used furniture DIYs (to this day I still pull over at every garage sale sign). In my first Toronto apartment, my roommate and I wanted a big credenza for our TV. We were both still at UofT and had zero budget. One night, we saw a perfect 9 drawer 70s buffet on the curb and were determined to make it work. We carried each of the 9 drawers one by one to our stoop and then dragged the frame. Once everything was piled on our stoop, we realized we couldn't lift it up the flight of stairs ourselves. It sat there overnight until the boys downstairs could help us the next day. The best part of this story is that the buffet was outside the house of a boy I had just broken up with. So, the next day he saw it was gone and was on my porch 4 doors over… Worth the embarrassment, but it's an epic piece and I still have it!..My home is now filled with an eclectic mix of modern pieces, antiques and DIYs. I probably paint at least one room a year and there is always a room that ‘is not finished’. I've been told not once but twice that a window cannot open because I have painted it shut. While I absolutely love my home, I did not spend an outrageous amount of money decorating it. When I opened the shop in 2020, I used the same thrifty ethos to create a charming and unique space without spending a ton of money. Our shelving is pipe and flange from a hardware store, our processing room is Ikea with a stone countertop and vintage sink. The outside display is a mix of new and old tin buckets and an antique washing stand. In addition to selling new vases and decor items, we also have an ever changing collection of antique vases, candlesticks and most recently, framed wallpaper cuttings and paintings from the 20s-70s....So now you're wondering, WHERE did you get everything!? While I have always grabbed things from the side of the road on garbage day, there are definitely markets and shops I frequent, both in the GTA and online. Whether you're interested in a hunt for gems at a market or looking to add some vintage furniture to your home and don't know where to look, below are my fave spots to check out. Happy shopping!
This is by far the most incredible market I have ever been to. Everything is so organized and sold by individual vendors. I spent 4 hours there and still felt like I hadn't seen it all. The staff walk around taking items out of your hands to hold at the cash for ease of shopping. Well worth the drive for a day trip.
- A pair of large art decor solid jadeite candlesticks
- Pair of 50s paint by numbers of ballerinas
- Large 80s pink vase with red rose screen print
This is the largest outdoor market I have been to and is again worth the drive and day trip (doubt you'll get through it all in a day though!) There is everything here. One stall is purely rewired antique lighting, another all antique hardware, another only crates! With a food court in the middle (with really good poutine I might add) this spot is a full day adventure.
- A pair of 1930s embroidered pillow cases with black and pink threads
- Our antique schoolhouse lights hanging in the shop
- A jack in the pulpit antique fenton vase I am still sad I sold in the shop
Fiona has curated an unbelievable collection of vintage decor pieces for years in this Queen East shop. With an epic eye for detail, she sources from all over and every piece she features is in meticulously perfect condition. She sells reupholstered vintage furniture all the way to fun brass ash trays. Follow her on IG and Tik tok too for endless entertainment.
- Ceramic white Poodle statue that looks like TinTins dog
A Roncesvalles staple with an ever changing collection of furniture, clothes, textiles, art, dishware etc. Less high end antiques but always well priced.
- A bunch of antique sap buckets we use in our dried flower bar
- Antique desk for display in the shop
3. Era Antiques
Even just peeking in the window of this amazing Queen West spot you’ll find treasures. The space is now shared with another shop ‘A Room in Paris’ and between the two you will find high end pieces ranging from the Victorian era and onwards.
- A 1940s antique painted metal floral chandelier with metal daisies for our shop office
If you are looking for high end mid century furniture, you must check out this St Clair West Shop. Perfectly refinished, their collection of mid century pieces from the 50s-70s is unmatched in the city and is definitely worth the investment.
- None yet, but I have my eye on an expandable teak kitchen table…!
This Ossington shop has stood the test of time as a high end designer vintage fashion shop. Their collection of clothing, shoes and bags is surprisingly well priced! I am so glad I happened upon this spot almost a decade ago…
- I still am obsessed with my space age inspired Nicholas Kirkwood Gold platforms ;)
Clover has a curated collection of vintage furniture including marble tables and chair collections. Spanning multiple decades, it's best to watch their instagram to see new what new pieces they have available.
I met this mother daughter duo at the Parkdale Flea and was amazed at their collection! Always posting on IG, this team finds the sweetest pieces and offers their eclectic mix both online and at various markets throughout the city.
Also a sweet mother daughter duo with an ever evolving collection of dishwear, bakeware, and other home accessories. Follow them on instagram and find out what market they will be at next!
4. Facebook Marketplace
Worth having a facebook account JUST for the marketplace! I have bought second hand appliances, furniture and art from various vendors in the city. Before buying ANYTHING, always search facebook marketplace to see if you can get it second hand and way cheaper from someone first!
NOT LOCAL BUT WORTH A VISIT
My bestie and I have long been obsessed with this antique jewlery shop, visiting it twice while in NYC and picking up some goodies. While they do sell a lot of high end antique pieces, they also have vintage gold chains, charms and my fave ID bracelets from the 60s.
I bought from this Etsy shop and had the best experience! Prices are fair and they have an incredible collection! Shipping was fast too!
The biggest, most magical flea market in all the land. Next time I will prepare a shipping crate to bring all the treasures home!