So, I'm planning a bit of a bedroom experiment. Historically, I've been an all-white bedding sort of girl. Into the whole hotel-chic thing. But things have been shifting a bit. So.

I'm planning on a bedding plan that will include a lot of mixed patterns. Initially, I was inspired by the Alvine textiles being carried by IKEA. The light toiles, the embroidery. According to the 2009 catalogue, Alvine textiles are inspired by french patterns that are more than 100 years old.

Shown is the cushion cover I just purchased from the Alvine line. Actually, I bought two. (Product name, Alvine Figur, $5.99 per cover). I know it's crazy to start a project with throw pillows, but I'm a crazy sort of girl. In order to complete my bedroom, I need all of the following:
  • curtains/drapes
  • a fitted sheet
  • four standard pillow cases
  • a duvet cover
  • a throw blanket or coverlet
The challenge is this: I don't want to spend more than $100 and I don't want to buy any additional items from IKEA. I very much want to avoid the matchy matchy. I've got the two throw pillows already and I'm going to use them, but everything else has to come from other sources. Think I can do it? I guess we'll see. $12 already spent.


I've been trying to finish decorating and organizing my apartment since July. JULY! The house STILL isn't done and I'm just feeling sort of worn out. Bleh.

Anyway, today's post will be short. It's about something that tends to cheer me up: leafy stuff.

Yep. Leafy stuff. I have a soft spot for tree and forest themed decor items. I don't know why. Something about growing up with Lord of the Rings, maybe? And while it may not seem likely, I find this sort of thing adapts well to winter interiors. Leafy goodness? It's not just for summer anymore. In fact, in the dark days of winter, it's nice to get a little lightness in.

Sooooo ... here's some interweb-found inspiration for ya.

Tree Bed by artist Shawn Lovell ($15,000, so obviously, not something I'm going to buy):
Fresh and unusual leafy-green wallpaper. House and Home photo taken by Virginia Macdonald:
And finally, check out this forest photo wall from Sweet Living Home blogger, Kim. Her whole room is fabulous and she MADE that sofa herself, FYI. Seriously:
This happens all the time, but each time it does, I'm surprised. It goes like this:

I see something and become obsessed with it. Black tapers, for example. Vintage linen from France, slag glass, whatever. I see something, become obsessed, and begin imagining how innovative I am, and how great it'll be when the world sees that the thing I am obsessed with is a wonderful thing and I'm credited with having "discovered" it. 

I'll be famous, lauded... RICH!

 I'm not sure how any of this will happen, but as long as I get credit for being first, I figure I'll be happy. Of course, the Internet tends to reveal just how mundane my interests really are. No matter how many things I "discover" it always turns out that I'm a bit late to the dance. And not only am I late, I'm pathetically late. And not only am I pathetically late, I'm wearing the wrong shoes. Actually, I'm probably at the wrong dance ...

Anyway. Enough with the bad analogy. Let's talk about Pyrex.

Oh how I love Pyrex. Growing up, I thought it hideous. Old fashioned. Yucky. Time was you could find it at any small town Goodwill for less than $5, but as seems all too common these days, what was once garbage has become collectible, and vintage Pyrex in good condition is becoming harder and harder to find (at those old thrifty rates, I mean).

Anyway. My favourite web resource for information about Pyrex is a site called Pyrex Love. Check it out. If you're collecting, scratches and discolouration can be a problem, but if you're just in it for fun, don't worry so much. I grab pieces even when they're scratched up because the vintage patterns are oh-so-very folksy and adorable. And when you group a bunch of it together, it always looks festive. Like fiestaware, only much better (in my opinion). Also, as with nearly everything I love, since I'm not too serious about it, if I break it, no biggie.

At the moment, the two pieces I love most from my personal collection are a blue bowl that I use for popcorn. (Look at old episodes of Sex and the City and you'll see a similar one in pink located in Carrie Bradshaw's disused kitchen.) I also love my small orange one -- Autumn Harvest is the official pattern -- with the wheat pattern on the side. (See above.)

I know, Pyrex isn't for everyone. But I like it. So there. That said, I've heard some rumours about it spontaneously exploding. Seriously. Glass everywhere. No reason whatsoever. Just, boom. Suddenly your Pyrex is gone.

A little daunting, nonetheless, I'm hooked.

If the gods of the decorating mags and blogosphere are to be believed, glass collecting is a big deal. Confession: I'm not really into it.


Because I hate dusting.

I like glass — things with sparkle and/or etching in particular —  but in my hands, too much of anything becomes clutter. (And did I mention I hate dusting?) Nonetheless, I have a few things that are worth posting about that have been passed down to me (or stolen from my poor mother's house, but that's another story). One such thing is this pair of Fenton Art Glass candlesticks.

They stood sentinel on the mantle in the formal living room of my parents' house for approximately eighteen years. No one paid them much attention. I believe they were a gift to my mother from her mother-in-law (my paternal grandmother). Though they're in great condition, they've never been well loved. In fact, the reason I have them now is because my mother despises them, but long felt obligated to keep them on display.  (I can tell the truth about that since my granny is pushing ninety and unlikely to read this blog. Even when she had a computer she referred to it as "that machine" as in, "that machine is doing things again" — ostensibly, with a mind of its own, but I digress. Sorry granny! Sorry mom!)

Fenton (the company) is more than a century old. It pioneered the creation of "carnival glass" and is still producing today. I suppose my mother's objection to the candlesticks was that she thought them cheap. While that may have been true at one time, it's not now. Similar sets sell online for a good $300. (In fact, I saw a pair for $900 just recently, similar to the blue ones shown here. Mine are actually yellowish.) Initially, I thought them to be products of The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, having seen a similarly acid-green pair (or are they canary? See pic here.) discussed in The Toronto Star. The shape and a little research has convinced me otherwise. The design is called "cut ovals" and is basically a take on the "florentine" designe produced by Fenton in 1921. (Only bumpy, which is to say, with cut ovals added in.) The colour, officially, is vaseline. Are these Fenton originals or mere reproductions? I don't know. (Do you?)

Ultimately, I don't keep the candlesticks because of their value, but because I find them strange and charming. The unusual colour (unusual colours being Fenton's signature) and classic shape come together in a sophisticated way. They are both modern, and classic. And they look pretty in the sunshine.

Coloured glass, while not exactly common at Goodwill or the like, can always be found for cheap if you keep your eyes peeled. When hunting it down, don't worry about projected value so much as about your personal space and personal style. If there's a colour you love, hunt for items in that hue. You can even find it at the dollar store (though sometimes, such finds aren't really coloured glass but glass with a coloured plastic veneer applied on the surface, which will eventually peel ... yuck). 

Small, blown vases that seem useless look pretty on a bedside table with a short bloom inside, and even cheap glass looks charming when the light comes in. (As long as it's dusted, that is.)

I have a thing for 20th century modern design. I don't like it when the look extends to an entire space (a bit too matchy-matchy retro) but I love it when mod items are mixed in with everything from antiques to contemporary pieces from IKEA. People call this style "eclectic" which always feels vaguely insulting, but I won't get into that.

Last summer, Canadian House and Home featured an entryway with a Wassily chair juxtaposed with a traditional solid wood dresser against a smokey blue wall. Loved it. (Hunt through the House & Home galleries for lots of eclectic design inspiration.)

Chairs are a particular weakness of mine. (In fact, in addition to the ones in my apartment that I use regularly (about ten) there are ten more stored in my basement, simply because I'm loathe to get rid of anything I love, even though those basement dwellers neither suit my current decor nor fit in my space.
I admit, I have a problem.

The aforementioned Wassily is one of my absolute favourite chairs. According toKnoll (a company that still makes the chair) "Marcel Breuer was an apprentice at the Bauhaus in 1925 when he conceived the first tubular steel chair. Named for his contemporary, Wassily Kandinsky, the tubular frame was inspired by a bicycle."  Alas, at $300-ish for a knockoff and upwards of $2000 for the real thing, both online and off, for me, the Wassily isn't feasible. And the truth is, even if I had the means, I don't think I'd use them on a chair.

What is both feasible and practical for me is commonly called the Delta chair. Designed by Mart Stam in around 1926, this piece is smaller than the Wassily, and the profile is different, but the effect is very similar. Copies of the original design are available at a variety of retailers, like John Lewis in the UK and are often found on craigslist. I got my pair at a second hand furniture shop (with no signage) in Toronto, (St. Clair Ave. at Arlington). The two pieces cost less than $100. That was years ago, and I still love them. Like the Wassily, the chair has a chromium plated tubular frame and a leather seat.

Ultimately, yes, the chairs are different. But what I'm advocating for isn't about getting a specific thing so much as it is about capturing a specific feeling. These two chairs, different as they technically are, create a similar impression.

If you find yourself a second hand Delta, be sure to look it over carefully. The frame is modular, so can fall apart if not well constructed, and leather does wear and tear, so look for a seat in good condition. If the chrome looks yucky, or the leather seems dirty, don't be scared off. Hardware and automotive stores carry chrome cleaners that work well. (Often, they're used on car rims.)  Personally, I used Nevr-dull and had a positive result. For cleaning the seat, try a little lemon Pledge. Seriously.

Today's post is about the bedroom I slept in between 2004 and 2007. It was a simple room, located in a half basement, and when I took possession of it, there were a lot of things about it that gave me pause. It was dark. It was clean, but had a grey-ish carpeting and builder's beige walls (which my landlord was largely unwilling to let me change.) It was also pretty small, without space for anything like an occasional chair. Nonetheless, I made it into a relaxing haven. Here's some of the how and the to.
The bed is a simple, IKEA frame, now discontinued, but not unlike much of their current stock. It was basically a box, with a slatted-base and four legs. For many years, I left the birch veneer untouched, but in this room, having painted the wall behind the bed in a pale, smoky blue (in lieu of a headboard) I decided to paint out the frame as well. It worked well. I didn't prime, just slapped the paint on with a brush one afternoon. The effect was to make the bed seem part of the wall, and to make the feature wall seem more like a headboard.

The side tables were a vintage find from Sellution in Vancouver. It took me a long time to get my hands on what I wanted, and frankly, at $75 each, they were more than I'd usually spend, but I loved them. I changed out the drawer pulls with glass ones from Restoration Hardware to add sparkle.

The bedding was also from IKEA. At the time, grey wasn't available, so I purchased a green set, and dyed it in my washing machine with RIT. They turned out the dove grey I envisioned. That said, if dying bedding, be careful. If your fabric is cotton it will take the dye well, but even when sheets are cotton, they often have polyester thread. Mine did, and the thread remained green. Luckily, the contrast was subtle and no one seemed to notice but me.

Above the bed, I hung three white frames I found in the trash, and rather than putting pictures inside, mounted three pieces of cream-coloured raw silk inside. (It took only about a yard of fabric, so nearly any type is affordable.) The texture of the fabric added enough interest, and was basic enough to keep the whole display calming, which is what I like to wake up to.
At the foot of the bed, I placed a second hand dresser, topped with a big mirror from IKEA, though even now I wish I'd found a vintage one instead. (By the way, I'm sorry the pictures are so bad. This was a few years ago and I had a terrible camera at the time.)

Anyway, though it was made largely of plywood, the dresser had a warm, raw quality I loved, and boxy, modern lines. It also came with square, chrome pull. Totally worth the $40 it cost me at Value Village, plus a $25 van-cab ride to get the piece home - which includes a $10 tip to the driver for helping me haul it. (I admit, I have sometimes played damsel in distress in order to get help with a heavy item. Sad, but true.)

Anyway, there you have it: my old, very simple, very cheap (and chic?) bedroom.
Confession: I love sneakers. Even though I rarely wear them (not appropriate at my office, alas) I love them. And I love vintage sneaks the most.

I nabbed this pair of North Star sneakers at my local Salvation Army  for a mere $3 in 2009.  North Star was and is a Bata company, and these particular kicks were popular in the late '70s and into the '80s. I know they have a hipsterish vibe, but I love them. If you want to rock vintage sneaks like these, without looking like a twenty-something street rat, you can. If the rest of your outfit is simple and grown up (basic jeans, simple tee or blouse) they work. And they're comfortable! Good for long shopping missions, chasing small children, walking dogs. Think about it.

Anyone who knows me knows I buy more than 80% of my stuff second hand. I do this for a lot of different reasons, not the least of which being that I love when an item has a little history to it. I also love owning things that are relatively unique. (Nobody likes a muffin/sheep, do they?) Finally, shopping vintage allows me to afford an abundance of things, but also allows me to feel less guilty for participating in a culture of consumption and capitalism. Often, second hand shops have charitable affiliations, and in not buying new, I'm keeping stuff out of landfills, essentially recycling. Right? (RIGHT?)

But enough of all that high horse stuff. The truth is that I just love vintage.

That said, it's one thing to buy a shirt that you can throw in the washing machine and another to stuff your tender tootsies into a pair of old (potentially sweat soaked, and athlete's-foot-infected shoes. Don't be squeamish! Fixing up old footwear is actually easy.

Step 1: if the exteriors are a bit soiled, use a foam furniture cleanser, just on the surfaces, to tidy them up. DO NOT put shoes in the washer. You'll most likely wreck them.

Step 2: Spray the insides with bowling shoe disinfectant! It works. Alternately, I quick, light swipe of the inside, or a light misting with a solution of rubbing alcohol and water should also do the trick. Even a quick shot of Lysol should work. That said, I really wouldn't worry about it. Most things aren't really as toxic as you might imagine. Chill about it. Your feet will be fine.

Step 3 (If necessary): If you found a pair of vintage shoes you absolutely love, but find they have some major defect like a broken heel or sole, consider buying them anyway. Look for a local cobbler to fix them up. New soles or heels can be had for $10 if you've got a good shoe guy. When I was in Vancouver, I swore by Jimmy's Shoe Renu. In Toronto, I haven't yet found a perfect place, but I'll let you know when I do.

The truth is, I'm not a huge collector. I'm more of a one-off kind of girl. At the same time, there are things  I can't resist, mostly related to my childhood. Things that we remember from our childhood home (or grandparents' home) have a special kind of pull for everyone, don't they?

I have several small bowls and little pitchers in this collection of green slag glass from Avon, all stemming from one that used to sit in my grandmother's powder room at her winter home in Florida. (Classic!) Their place was done up in true decorator style, circa 1980. Rooms were colour coordinated and bathed largely in easter-esque or baby tones (mauve, peach, celery green). I thought it was beautiful. (Very "House Beautiful" despite seeming dated now.)

 I love this series because I also love Fire King Jadite. (How Martha.) These products certainly have that look and are often mislabeled as Jadite by tricky or uninformed sellers. Don't be fooled. Don't be put off either. Slag (or marbled) glass is quite cool in it's own right. There's lots of information on it out there, and Eddie Ross wrote a very good description of what it is on his blog some time back, so I won't reiterate.

This series (which is also in blue) is fairly available because it's not very old. I believe it was made for Avon by Fostoria Glass around 1986. If you want a Jadite look, without the price tag, consider starting a collection of your own. The pitchers originally held something like bubble bath  - I found a full one once - and smell strongly of perfume. With a good wash, they can be used for anything. I often serve gravy out of mine. The bowls I use for nuts, small snacks, or as soap dishes. (When I'm having a  "popcorn supper" - not recommended, but we all get tired, sometimes - I often fill a little bowl with Frank's Red Hot sauce for dipping. Fact.)  Every now and again, I move one into my entry hall and use it to capture loose change. A little bowl is a versatile thing.

I've seen similar sets at flea markets and online for $60 (for pitcher, stopper and small bowl). Personally, I wouldn't pay that much. An incomplete set (just the pitcher, say) can be easily had for $10. Keep your eyes peeled for these little beauties at places like Goodwill, or check out Etsy and Ebay and you'll be sure to find something in your price range.

I want to have a beautiful home and I love beautiful things, but I want stuff I can use and not worry about. If I smash one of these, it's not the end of the world.  It's nice to be able to live casually, while having the pleasure of pretty things at the same time, don't you think? Got any cheapo collections of your own?(And no, you don't have to answer that. I'm no comment whore.)

Welcome to Jen Selk Chic, the obnoxiously-titled home of my brand new style, design and vintage shopping blog. Expects posts on Wednesday and Fridays.

It's difficult to come up with a name for a site like this. You want to keep things consistent with what you've done before ... and my name has been attached to much of what I've done before. But this isn't like anything I've done before. It's a brand new thing. So ... what to call it?

I settled on Jen Selk Chic. Forgive me.

So, now that that's out of the way, what's this all about? I should explain. Well ... it's a blog (duh). Initially, I tried putting it up on Blogspot (Blogger, whatever) but I decided I preferred to have everything here on the Jen Selk hub. All the things I love in one place, if you will.

So, as I said, this is a blog (duh). A blog about style (duh squared). More than that, it's a blog about style, vintage value finds, and beautiful, fun, wonderful things that (for the most part) don't cost a lot of money.

See, I have a problem. I love a lot of different stuff. I love furniture. I love ... lamps. I love ... rugs. Accessories. Mirrors. Dishes. I love it all. Only, I don't need any of that stuff. (Who does, really? It's nice to have stuff you love, but we can't go hog wild all the time, can we?) I know I can't. My apartment is too small and too crowded already. But ... still. I love to shop. I love bargain hunting and Goodwill and Value Village. I love picking finds out of the neighbours' trash and fixing them up in my basement. Once in awhile, if I find something exceptional, I make room, but more often than not I have to leave my finds behind. I hate it! So what's a girl to do?


This blog is about sharing the wealth (for the unwealthy). I'm going to tell you about the things I see but can't buy or take (including where to get them if you hurry). I'm also going to tell you a bit about my own collections and finds, and finally, I'm going to make some of those finds available to you via my Etsy store. You'll see how it all works as we go along.

What's the point? I guess I'm hoping that sharing what I find with you (the lovely interwebs) will ease some of the pain of not being able to keep all my discoveries for myself and my nearest and dearest. I like the idea of the things I love finding good homes out in the wide world. And ultimately, I hope some of what I post here will inspire you to be ... well, more chic. (Not that you aren't already.)

That's it. Thanks for visiting. I'm glad you're here.