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#029: Thrifting your way to a home you love + Redefining your Dream home with Charlotte Smith

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In this episode, Cara sits down with Charlotte Smith to talk all about finding happiness in your home and why that might mean redefining the way you think about your dream home. Charlotte shares her thrifting tips and some strategies for how to transform found pieces into something that fits the style and story of your home.

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#OBSESSED

what i'm loving this week

storage bowl drawers

I transformed some cheap ($3) white bowls into bright and colorful storage drawers by painting them and adding handles. 

They fit perfectly in the nooks of my new Miter Saw Dresser  and add extra storage that isn't boxy or boring.

 

WAIT, WHAT?!

stuff we just need to talk about

I used to hate thrifting...here's why I fell back in love

Let me give you some backstory

Overall, I grew up pretty affluent, I had a happy upper middle class childhood up until about 2008 — my dad was a realtor and home builder, so the housing market crash hit our family especially hard.

Through that, my perspective on thrift store shopping shifted from an activity I loved to hunt for fun finds to a way that you had to shop when you were coming from a place of lack. I wanted new things, not used, and I didn’t care about vintage vibes or finding something with a story.

Here are 3 things I’ve learned that changed my mind:

01. It’s good for the environment

  • Thrifting reduces waste and pollution 
  • Thrifting saves old items from the landfill

I02. Social impact

  • Thrifting better supports local businesses
  • To track the money you spent on that brand new chair from target, you’d have to trace it through the corporation, their suppliers, the assembly factories their suppliers use, their textile providers, and so on.
  • Thrifted items go to the store in front of you, many of which are non-profits that pour into the community. And at flea markets, the money often goes right to the person you’re handing it to

03. Where it really clicked for me: Thrifting might be the key to creating a unique space and honing your DIY skills

  • Thrifting is cheaper — this obviously helps if you’re on a budget, but its also amazing because it lets you experiment without spending tons of money. 
    • You can hone your skills: ex buy a dining chair for $5 and painting it and doing upholstery for the first time
    • You can experiment with your style: painting a dresser you bought for $45 bright yellow is a much lower risk than spending $400 on one you might not end up liking
  • It offers more room for uniqueness
    • Most of the items at a thrift store were one of many made at a certain time, but by buying used the item is more rare than buying one of 15 they have new at the store.
  • It stretches your creativity
    • You cant shop as literally at a thrift store, going in thinking I need X, you have to think of things in a new light and get creative about how they can be used

let's talk about it!

What do you think!?

Leave a comment below or use #MakeSpacePodcast to share your response on social media (@makespacepod)

CHATTING WITH...

Charlotte Smith shares colorful DIY and design on her blog, At Charlotte’s House. She writes about fixing up her rental home, her five small children, and bringing personality and style into a family home. Also, she loves Cheetos and Dawson’s Creek. She’s appeared on the TV Show Flea Market Flip as well as Rachel Ray and has been featured places like Better Homes & Gardens, Design Sponge, Houzz and more.

get in touch

Instagram: @atcharlotteshouse // atcharlotteshouse.com

 

 

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EP 29 TRANSCRIPT

...just in case you wanna read

Cara Newhart: 00:01 You're listening to the MakeSpace podcast, episode number 20

INTRO: 00:23 Welcome to Make Space a home design show made to inspire you to create spaces you truly feel at home in Cara Newhart sits down with amazingly brilliant guests for conversations that dive deeper than pin worthy rooms to tease out the essentials of creating spaces that feed your soul and inspire your creativity from home design strategies to decor, advice to interior design, tips and tricks. These conversations help you dream up a beautifully lived in home. Cara is the designer and Chief Creative Enthusiast behind Never Skip Brunch. Her work has been featured in print publications like people style watch and Denver style magazine as an influencer. Cara has collaborated with brands like Amazon, H &M, Twitter and Thrillist. Here's your host, Cara Newhart.

Cara Newhart: 01:20 Hello and welcome back to another episode. You guys, I love getting to bring you amazing DIY and design advice each week, but I don't want you to just listen. I want you to dive in and do it. Something that might help you with that is having some encouragement between episodes. So before we get started, I want you to take a second to follow the podcast on Twitter or Instagram. Just hop over to make space pod. So this will not only help you stay in the loop and know when new episodes and updates drop, but you can also get plugged into our community between episodes and you can send me DMS so we can connect a little deeper and continue the conversation. We've got a lot to cover in this episode and I'm so excited about it. So let's dive right in.

#OBSESSED: 02:16 Hashtag obsessed

Cara Newhart: 02:22 what I am obsessed with this week is storage bowl drawers. And if you haven't heard of these before, it's because they are entirely made up by me. So if you watched on Instagram, I have been converting this dresser into a miter saw stand, it's finally finished and you can watch the reveal. But basically I had these little cubby areas on the top where the tabletop for my miter saw had these supports and there was like these little nook areas and I needed something that would fit in there to give me a little extra storage. But you know me, I like my storage to be concealed and fun looking, not boxy and not out in the open because there's no way I'm keeping it organized. So I figured out that bowls fit into these little nooks well they are hard to get in and out. They fit, but I needed to add like a handle, so I ended up drilling a hole in each bowl and then adding a little hardware knob and then painting them.

Cara Newhart: 03:19 Super fun colors and it's a really cool storage idea. It's like super unique and the bowls are really cheap. I want to say they were like three bucks from target. I just bought like white ones and painted them all these crazy colors. I'm sharing these with you for a few reasons. Obviously I'm really obsessed because the project worked out, but it wasn't really that easy. I initially used the total wrong drill bit because I thought the bowls were ceramic. Turns out they were porcelain, which is a lot harder to drill through than ceramics, so I ended up having to get a diamond tip drill bit to get through them. So hot tip, if you have porcelain, whether it's porcelain tile or a bull you buy, you're going to need a diamond tip drill bit. But I also just want to encourage you to look at things from a different angle, like bowls, dining, bowls for cereal are not something you would ever be like, Oh yeah, I'm going to use that for workshop storage and paint them pink.

Cara Newhart: 04:10 And it's not like an idea that just came to me either. It's something that evolves. So like giving you a peek into that process. I had this random bowl and my workshop and as I was building stuff I was putting screws in it so they wouldn't roll away. Then I set the bowl down on the Microsoft stand. I saw that it fit and then I was like, Oh, what if I could use this for storage? And then like, Oh wait, it needs a handle. Like it's a process of evolving it. Good ideas like that don't just come to you. You should use a pink bowl and at a handle like it was just like a whole thought process. So sharing that because I want you to think of how that can help you in your DIY journey. What's something where you're like, I have no ideas, I don't even know where to start. Can you find something and then can that maybe snowball into what the final perfect solution is? But anyway, I will put pictures of these storage bowl drawers in the show notes and then if you want to see the full dresser reveal and smart pictures and some videos, you can hop over to my Instagram. I'm at never skipped brunch and I have a whole IgE TV video about the process of building this miter saw dresser.

WAIT, WHAT?: 05:21 wait, what?

Cara Newhart: 05:26 Okay. My wait, what for this week might come as a shock to some of you, but I used to hate thrifting. Like hate it. I, I thought it was gross. I didn't want to do it. Let me give you a little backstory though. So overall I grew up pretty affluent. I had a happy upper-middle-class childhood up until about 2008 so my dad was a real and home builder. So the housing market crash hit our family especially hard. So through that, my perspective of thrift store shopping of shifted, it shifted from an activity I love to do. Like just to hunt for fun fines to a way that you had to shop when you were coming from a place of lack. And I didn't like that feeling. I didn't want to feel like I didn't have enough or I didn't like the feeling of struggle. So in my brain I was like, I don't ever want to have to be here again.

Cara Newhart: 06:18 So like shopping at a thrift store is something that like when I get bigger and I get rich, I'm never going to do ever again. I wanted to be able to buy new things, not used and I didn't really care at that point about like vintage vibes or finding something with the story. I just wanted to be out of that kind of place of lack. So obviously that has totally shifted for me. Now that I'm in a place where I can more easily afford new things, I've kind of found myself going back to my roots and falling in love with thrifting all over again and I want to share just some of the things that changed my mind and some of these might be something you already know and like reasons why you thrift, but I'm hoping there's a couple in here that are going to be totally new to you and maybe can like reframe your perspective on thrifting and get you out there and get you doing it because I think it's actually like the key to your DIY journey, like getting kicked off and getting momentum and maybe a key to creating a home you love.

Cara Newhart: 07:19 And I'll talk about why I think that is in a second, but just like some things that changed my mind. Number one, I didn't really realize how good it is for the environment because thrifting absolutely reduces waste and pollution, which regardless of how involved you are in like caring about the environment and you know, doing whatever in your life to help it be better like waste and pollution, those are bad things. So even if you're not a dirty hippy like me and you really care, any little thing you can do to reduce that kind of stuff and make the environment better is a great thing. So the reason it does is because when you buy a used item, you're choosing that over a new item. So a new item doesn't have to be made. So it's like saving energy there. And then it also means that that item is not going in the trash into a landfill.

Cara Newhart: 08:08 So kind of two birds with one stone, you're amazing if you buy used things. Number two, um, was social impact. So I didn't really realize the effect that thrifting has on supporting local and supporting like local businesses. I mean I should have known because you think of like thrift stores, many of them are like charitable and have a whole charitable component. They're like nonprofits. They're pouring into the community with services for like unemployment and homelessness and all kinds of things. But basically to track the money that you spend on that brand new chair from target, which like I still buy, let's be clear, I'm not thrifting 100% of the time. Um, we have to go through the corporation, we have to look at their suppliers, we have to look at the assembly factories, they use their textile providers and so on. And so it's like a long chain to say like, where is our money going?

Cara Newhart: 08:58 What is it going to, who is it supporting? Um, but thrifted items really it just goes to the store right in front of you. Like if you shop at Goodwill, you're giving money to Goodwill and then they are supporting the community right there, um, with all these kinds of services. And then if you're like shopping at a flea market, which is really similar, um, the money is usually going right to the person you're handing it to. So you're like supporting a person, not even like a small business like a individual person, which is really, really cool. Okay, so those things are obviously good. Obviously a little bit more big picture and you may have heard of them before, but if you haven't, I just want to like dive into that with you. But where it really clicked for me, where I like really found a love of thrifting again was that it really kind of became the key for me to hone my DIY skills and create a unique space.

Cara Newhart: 09:48 The first reason is thrifting is cheaper, so this is obviously helpful if you are on a budget, but it's also amazing because it lets you experiment without spending tons of money so you can hone your skills. For example, by buying a dining chair for $5 painting it, I'm doing upholstery for the very first time. That's a very small investment. You can also experiment with your style. Like if you buy a dresser for 45 bucks and you paint it bright yellow and put it in your house, that's way lower risk than spending $400 on a yellow dresser that you might not end up liking. It's a little bit of like you can get decor on a budget, but for me it's more about like lower risk when it comes to being able to like DIY stuff and not be afraid that you've wasted all this money because it's your first time and it turned out terrible.

Cara Newhart: 10:38 Another really good perk is that it offers more room for uniqueness. So most of the items at a thrift store were one of many made at a certain time, but buying the used item there is way more rare than buying one of like hundreds that are available today at a new store. And that's always fun because it just lets your house have more of a story and be more unique than just like, Oh I just, my house, I'm going to copy this pottery barn styled room and just buy everything and it will look exactly like that. Like that's not fun. It doesn't look bad. Obviously I love pottery barn but it doesn't look like you. And so you like collecting these pieces and honing in your sense of like being able to look at something and see how it would fit in your house and see how it could be part of your story.

Cara Newhart: 11:27 That's a lot more interesting. Just overall. And then thrifting also stretches your creativity. So this is one of my very favorite parts of thrifting because you can't really shop as literally as you do at other stores going into a thrift store. You can't go in thinking I need X because they might not have that. Like you can say like, Oh I need a chair that hopefully is only 26 inches wide that will fit in this space. Like they want, not even have chairs at all that day. You just don't know what you're going to get. So you have to think of things in a new light and get creative about how they can be used. And that creativity level starts building that uniqueness and that like exercising that muscle in your brain of being creative which is going to help you be a better DIY or a better designer and so I really liked that.

Cara Newhart: 12:17 I liked that when I go into a thrift store, I don't know what I'm going to get. There's like some thrill of the hunt, but it's also like how can I approach this creatively and how can I think of things from a different angle? I think that's really healthy for us overall. That is my scoop on the thrift store, how it's evolved through my life and maybe some tips that can help you if you are diving into your thrifting journey or if you're already in love and you want to just get better at it and kind of understand maybe a little more strategy behind how you could use things. Okay, so let's dive into this interview with my friend Charlotte. She's amazing you guys. I'm so excited for you to listen and tune into this conversation, but Charlotte shares colorful, DIY and design on her blog at Charlotte's house. She writes about fixing up her rental home, her five small children who are the cutest and bringing personality and style into a family home. She's been on the TV show, flea market flip as well as Rachel Ray and has been featured places like better homes and gardens, design, sponge, hows and many more. So let's dive into this chat with Charlotte.

Cara Newhart: 13:32 Hey, um, so just to start out, can you dive into your story a little bit so the listeners can get to know you and your background?

Charlotte Smith: 13:41 Sure. Uh, my story is long and convoluted, which is probably the best part of it. I actually used to be an education. I was a first grade teacher for years and then I moved up to New York city and I got a degree in psychological counseling. So I was in an inner city public school as a school counselor for like five or six years and I loved it. Um, but we started having kids and so when our third child was born, it just, the universe sent us many a signal and we moved out to Connecticut full time. We had a house that we used in the summers and on the weekends that was like our fixer-upper and that fixer upper real fast became our home. And so when we, when we landed in Connecticut, I left behind like a master's degree and a job and I just, I was sort of floundering a little bit cause I was like, I can't, I can't be the stay at home mom.

Charlotte Smith: 14:36 I just know that I need to be doing something. And I had a friend that just on a whim was like, you should start blogging, you know, I'm sure other moms have gone through this. And at the time I was thinking it would be a way for me to write because I also had a, who was a freelance writer. And so I started, I sort of started thinking about blogging just as a way for me to kind of, I mean it's such a woo word, but like to process this shift. And I put a post on my Facebook page cause people like went to Facebook back then and I said, guys, do you know any blogs? And the only blogs that people were sharing, they were like young house love. And I, I checked it out. I was like, Oh, these, these kids seem like they really know what they're doing.

Charlotte Smith: 15:21 I should check out that blog. And I sort of stumbled into that realm because I've always been sort of creative and crafty and I have a fine arts degree from college. And so that seemed real appealing given this old house that we were in and it just naturally sort of fit my personality. And back then, this was like six or seven years ago. Back then blogging was just beginning to change into the industry that you and I know it to be today. So you could use your cell phone. Every picture wasn't edited, you could sort of, you would write a post about, Oh my gosh, we went to the Apple orchard, come along with us. Um, and so I, it sort of became a way for me to, I'm doing air quotes now, but work because it gave me a purpose. Even though, let's be honest, I was, I'm not someone that can start a business and know right away what I need to be doing.

Charlotte Smith: 16:12 I just have to, I mean it was, it was ugly. I mean it was so fun and validating for me, but I had no idea. Um, so that's sort of how I fell into blogging and then I've been kind of playing catch up and figuring it out ever since. And I've had, you know, I started out with this ridiculous name that was, you know, any Mark like a marketing high school senior would say, ma'am, not the way to go. So I learned a lot, which is I think probably what's made it most exciting for me. But that's, that's how it started. Not a short answer, but it's sort of a fun question.

Cara Newhart: 16:47 No, I like that. And it's funny because my story is similar in that like, I kind of use blogging as like my outlet when I was first becoming a mom. But what's funny about me is I was, I started a fashion blog as a way to like get used to my flabby mommy body. And it was just not a fit at all. So yeah, windy, mine's windy as well. Um, yeah and I love, I love your story cause it's like there's a lot of pieces that are unconventional and then like a lot of pivots you've had to make that I feel like probably taught you a lot. Um, so what I kind of want to dive into first is like, as many of us are pinning away these gorgeous inspo photos of our dream home, um, I think it's easy to feel maybe unsatisfied with the home we have and feel like happiness with our home is maybe out of reach and Oh God, don't you think we judge other people's finish our step, whatever that expression is. Yeah, no, absolutely. Um, it's like something about a highlight reel. Like we compare our life to like the highlight.

Charlotte Smith: 17:46 Yeah. I also think we have this perception that is a point like a line in the sand when people are like, Oh my gosh, I did it and I finish and that's not a thing. It's, you know, like I, I'm interrupting your question. So why don't you finish the question cause then I'll answer it with my answer. Um, you know, I'm feel like your journey through like selling your home and now being in a rental has probably totally reframed the way you think about this. But do you have any advice for finding happiness in the home you're in? Yes. Good. Yes. And it's, it is, it's a little bit of the answer I was going to give, but I guess I would give a couple different answers. Um, and I think the advantage that you and I have over someone that doesn't have a blog or do this for a living is that I just think we're a little, we give ourself an excuse to do it because we consider it work.

Charlotte Smith: 18:39 And so I think that's the first thing I would say is that my house is no different than your house. I mean, I'm probably on a slightly more aggressive timeline because I'm sharing it and I know that I have people cheering me on. But everyone has people cheering you on and even if they don't, you are cheering your on you on because it's so important. So, um, my process, so when we had to sell our old house, obviously that was like unexpected and gut wrenching. And just for those of you, you're probably thinking, wait, why would you S so my husband's from shutdown and we were living off of savings for as long as we could. And then we reached that point where it was like, you know what? Adulting blows. Yeah. But we can't, like, you know, like my family had been helpful but they weren't going to pay for our mortgage.

Charlotte Smith: 19:24 You know, they were going to, they helped us, they helped us do it in a way that we didn't have to just pick up and leave like in the middle of the school year, which was a blessing. Um, but we did have to ultimately man up and sell the house that we really did. You know, we bought that house and it was a stretch, but we were like, that's totally cool. Like, we'll make over the bathrooms in 10 years when all the kids are at school and you know, we're not paying for priests. Anyway, that didn't happen. So we ended up in a rental and um, so I had to, I had to pivot. I love that word. And the one thing that I think I would say in hindsight is that I ran around like a mad woman for a few weeks just because I, I wanted to have content, but I also wanted my family to feel at ease because I knew that emotionally none of us were eddies.

Charlotte Smith: 20:12 And so we, it was a fast process and I didn't overthink it. I just made the rooms look as nice as they could given the stuff that we had. And I got to a point where I was like, okay, boxes are unpacked. This house feels okay. I knew from experience that getting a coat of paint in certain places was just freeing. We lived with a third yellow paint and our old house for far longer than I care to admit. And then it was three days of inconvenience. We actually had painters do that one. And I, I was like, sister, what was, what took you so long? I mean, that's something that I lived through and realized just do it. Um, but I just think that for us, having a place that felt settled and comfortable was step, like it was triaged and that was the most important.

Charlotte Smith: 21:01 And then I ran around and I was like, okay, how can I make, make each of these rooms feel somewhat pulled together and decorated? That was step two. And now I have to be honest, I have, I've put my hand on every room in the rental and we're obviously limited in what I can imagine because we're renting. Um, but now I'm sort of going back through all the spaces and this is something that maybe a typical homeowner wouldn't necessarily do, but my next wave for my content this year is okay. Like now what? And we all have a little bit of like, now what in us that I don't know that didn't really answer it, but it's, it's just a process and there's certain rooms that I never cared about. And then I look at it with one idea and you know there's this little weird hidey hole room off of one of my kids' faces that I was like, we don't need to worry about that.

Charlotte Smith: 21:52 It's hidden. And now I took a look at it and I was like, Oh my God, I'm so excited to do little space. So there's always this space that in my experience, whether it's under the sink or a closet or a linen laundry situation, there's always a little something that for me gets me excited. So it may not be a whole room, it may be a small space, but I don't know, walk around your home and look for that one area that would bring you joy just to change. Cause there's, there's something and if it's your whole house, then I've been there to start small. Yeah. But that's really good advice because I feel like people do think they are, you want that big before and after or the big room reveal and just like to have a whole space transformed. But like it can be small things and it still feels good and it's not as overwhelming.

Charlotte Smith: 22:42 So 100% and I have, you know, I think, I feel like the universe puts us in front of people for the right reasons. And a couple of years ago, she lives right around the corner from me. But my friend Brooke has a blog called nesting with grace. It's enormous. I mean, she has bajillion followers and she's incredible. But one of the things that I learned from Brooke when I first met her and you know, we got to be friends and I started following, is that she doesn't really do as many of the big Tada room makeovers. I mean she does, but her whole story is that she lives in this tiny house that has a, you know, 800 square feet. It's bigger than that, but it's very small. And so that's her whole, and she comes from a, um, like a, a retail design background. So she sort of used to coming into a space and like rearranging and fussing.

Charlotte Smith: 23:30 And you know, if you go into a store, it looks different every other day and so that's how she approaches her home and she gets just as much joy with a new pair of curtains and a new throw pillow and a candle as someone else might from completely redoing the space. And it was just such a nice reminder that these small little incremental changes can give the exact same degree of satisfaction as a complete gut renovation. I love that so much because first of all, like I've, I kind of feel that in a way where I'm never done. Like even if I totally redo a whole room at once, like I'm not going to just leave that for 10 years. I'm going to be tweaking it. Adding things, changing things like, and that's how your house should be. It should be constantly evolving as your life is evolving in that way.

Charlotte Smith: 24:16 It feels just like stuffy one and done the core. Right. Right. But I also recognize that, I think sometimes that sounds like that can be a really overwhelming thing to consider if you are, you know, in the car at seven o'clock bringing the kids to school and then you're going to work and then you come home at five o'clock and the last thing you want to do is anything in your house. You just want to watch the Housewives. And so you really have like Saturday and Sunday to do it, but then their kids are going to soccer and going to basketball. So I appreciate that. Like the two both of us are saying kind of contrary things. Like in one breath we're saying things that oppose each other. Um, so it's, it's a struggle. I mean, I think both of us are definitely blessed that this is what we do.

Charlotte Smith: 25:02 So our eyes have the luxury of sort of looking around and saying, Oh, I want to do something a little different even though I just fixed it up. But like I would say, give yourself grace if you don't have the luxury of time and doing this as a job because it, you know, you and I probably spend more time thinking about this then someone who's coming in at five 30 to make their kids dinner. Oh, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So then you know, so then it's, you know, you're looking at one wall and you're like, you know what, I'm going to hang that painting that's been on the ground forever. And that's like, it's just as might be a singular thing that you do. Um, and that again, I promise that little thing is going to make such a difference. And I, we were laughing, I think we were talking on Instagram before, my new motto in life is to just try it because I think, I think sometimes we let that we get, it's so easy to get overwhelmed by the big, by the finish line and you just have to take that first step.

Charlotte Smith: 25:57 So you just have to try it. And maybe that first step will be hanging the painting. Maybe it'll be, you know, hanging the curtain, whatever it is. Just one little thing at a time, you'll get there. It's incremental pain. Absolutely. So let's dive in a little more about your design strategy because I'm seeing a theme in some of the advice from guests on the show that is like break the design rules and do what you love in your home, which I absolutely agree with. But one of the struggles that I'm seeing listeners having when taking this advice is like they don't know what they love and they don't know what they like the look of. So they get stuck in this limbo of doing nothing cause they feel like they haven't defined their style. So how does your motto guys, that was totally me. So this is my story for that.

Charlotte Smith: 26:44 Um, when we first, so when we moved out to Connecticut, we had always had rental apartments in New York city and I was that person who was working full time. So I gave it some attention, but I certainly wasn't, you know, they didn't have removable wallpaper back then. I'm old. So there was only so much that you could do in a rental. Um, and so when we moved out here, it was the first time that I really had this sense of, Oh my gosh, it's a canvas. I can do whatever I want. And so I think, I think Pinterest was a thing. Um, but I hadn't, I wasn't one of these people that had been flipping through design magazine. So I really, I knew what I liked when I saw it, but I didn't have this like mental Rolodex of what and kids Rolodex is like a way of filing things.

Charlotte Smith: 27:25 Um, um, so I, I think I did go to Pinterest and what I saw everywhere was like distressed, chippy, you know, sort of vintage-y antique paint. And I was like, hell yeah, I can do this. And so I went on Craigslist and I bought this sideboard and I was like, milk paint. They're all talking about this milk paint. I'm going to do the milk paint. And I bought the milk paint and I bought it in bright blue cause I loved blue and I took it back and I painted the base coat and I distressed it. Long story longer. I nailed it. That sideboard has never looked chip or it has never, it was like appropriately distressed and I was down with it and I put it in my foyer and I posted, you can find it on my blog, guys, go look. And I was like, I did it, I nailed it.

Charlotte Smith: 28:10 Um, and then I sort of lived with it and I was like, I don't really think that's my style. Like I mailed it and I appreciate it and I love like, um, you know, I'm drawing a total blank. Oh ms mustard seed was like the thing and I was like, her house looks so amazing. But I finally, I had this epiphany because I was also pinning like all these like neutral neutrals and I dunno, every time I went to do a space, I was like, I can't pull the trigger on the neutrals. I was always so drawn to the color and the pattern and sort of stepping outside. And so for me, I just had to try it for awhile and then I was like, I love those neutrals and I love ms mustard seed, but for whatever reason it doesn't feel like me, but I just had to do, I just had to do it. So I do think that there's this thing that happens where you can completely appreciate and like love what someone is doing but not wanted in your own home even a little bit. Yeah, that sounds, that sounds mean. But I can, I'm not going to, but I could rattle off a dozen friends of mine who I adore and they post things. I'm like, I am obsessed. That space looks amazing. It will never be in my eyes. Exactly.

Charlotte Smith: 29:25 So I think, I think for me that came from a just trying things in my house and being like, that's not, and I finally repainted that table and I loved it. I painted it just a simple gray and it worked in my foyer in the next house and it was perfect. Um, I do think that's where Pinterest comes in really, really handy. So just sit on Pinterest and pin your brains out and pin, you know, look at living rooms that you love, look at bathrooms that you love, look at fashion that you love and then go back through it and like metaphorically blur your eyes a little bit to see what is kind of clustering as one central theme. And maybe it'll still be all over the place and then, you know, just try it and live with it. And if you have a neutral house and you're like, I love it.

Charlotte Smith: 30:10 I feel so at peace there's nothing that makes me more joy, brings me more joy than you know, my white pillow with my off white dresser with my, you know? Yeah. But if you walk in and you're like, it's fine, but I feel like this is sort of all I see online and I want something more unique, you know? Then you tweak it. Yeah, exactly. Oh my gosh, that's, that's exactly how I feel with all my friends that do farmhouse decor. I, it is not my style at all. I don't like chimney, I hate it. But like when I see it in their house, I'm like, that is so hurt. And it's like I'm respecting the art of it where it's like not my style at all. But you did great and I can see that it's cohesive in your home and like love that.

Charlotte Smith: 30:47 But yeah, I like the, that Pinterest can be kind of like our place to experiment because you don't have to spend money to do that to like hoard all the inspo and like think through different scenarios before you put it in your house. But yeah. Right. Well and I also think, um, Oh I was, I was bad to say like someone like Liz Marie is like Liz Marie Galvin, I think she is amazing and she has such a great sense of style, but it's, we are complete polar opposites. And then I was going to say, Oh, I was going to say like, if design is too overwhelming, look at other aspects of your life. Like, look at, um, how you dress. What sort of, you know, what sort of clothing you like on other people. Are you someone that always has a set of pearls in or do you always have like big bounty, bonkers, you know, cluster earrings.

Charlotte Smith: 31:40 Um, because you know you will, the more you think about it, you will find sort of things that you know you love for you, for you. Um, so it's, you'll get there. Yeah, no I love that. Letting other areas of your life and form your style. When I had like Leanne Ford on, she was saying something about I think like rock music like that is, has inspired her in some way. And I was like, that is so interesting. I never would have guessed but also like, yeah, it totally does. And, and that's where creativity comes in is like not looking at it. So literally like I like this room, let's put this room in my room. Like, you know, it's like more fluid and

Cara Newhart: 32:23 we're not quite to the part of the episode where Charlotte shares all of her thrift tips, which I can't wait to dive into. But I am sharing a thrift tip with you today along with our amazing brain partner. Crazy glue, bass dry with glue. So I've shared with you many times about, hi, love this glue for my DIY wood decor projects, but did you know it also comes in handy for things like furniture fixes. If you find a piece that's a little beat up at the flea market and it needs some small repairs, this stuff might be your best friend. I used it recently to reattach some decorative trim on a dresser I was making over and found it worked super well. It gave me a strong bond quickly curing in just six minutes and I found it was easier and less messy to apply than regular wood glue.

Cara Newhart: 33:11 Since it has a small tip that lets you be precise and just a little bit goes a long way. This means you're not left with a slimy gooey mess. And if you do get the glue on your piece where it's not supposed to be, this stuff is paintable and sandal. So your thrift makeover can still turn out crisp and clean. If you want to check it out, hop over to bit dot L Y dash crazy glue, wood glue. That's crazy with a K. and then each of those words capitalized and snack, some to help with your next thrift store transformation. This episode is sponsored by the number skip brunch blog. This is home base for me when it comes to sharing my DIY tutorials, design projects and space makeovers. This is a great place for you to find inspo learn how to do different projects and find freebies like downloadable templates and guides for how tos. It's obviously super free and you can check it out. I'd never skipped brunch.com

Charlotte Smith: 34:15 or you know, and honestly, cause you had asked like it can be sort of overwhelming just to say, you know, like figure it out. So my design, um, you know, I think at the beginning you aren't going to be copying people or taking inspiration from, and I think there's nothing wrong with that. I mean, I think there's a lot of people that like, it's like a pottery barn catalog has just arrived in their home to hurt and that's fine. So I think if you are, if this feels all overwhelming, um, then again just start with one single thing that you love and maybe it's like, I saw this vase on Emily Henderson's blog and I loved it. So I got something similar and you know, maybe that doesn't, isn't a springboard for anything. Cause then you're like, I have ideas what next? So just keep looking around. And I would say there isn't, you know, find painters have been doing this for centuries. Um, you know, obviously if you're a designer and you're copying someone else's design and then publishing it as your own, like there is a point when you have to consider copyright, but there's no copyright for your own home. You know, like PO, if you like a dresser that you know, someone did copy it, put it in your kid's room and then so, and eventually copying becomes, you get your own ideas. It like helps you learn the process.

Cara Newhart: 35:35 Yes. Once you know the process, you're like, Oh, I'm going to change this way or do this and then yeah, it gives you a springboard.

Charlotte Smith: 35:40 So, I mean there's a reason that these fine, you know, apprentices in the Renaissance would copy verbatim works of art is because they were learning that person's technique. And

Cara Newhart: 35:50 I remember having to do that in art class growing up. Like we had, I don't know if you have this, it was like a weird grid where you like drew a grid on a photo and then you copied each square. You felt so professional, you finished. So yeah. What has your journey of finding your style looked like and are there any takeaways listeners can use to define? There's like, for you it was just slow process. Adding things here about like color specifically cause you, you have a really bold style when it comes to [inaudible].

Charlotte Smith: 36:21 I love color. I think I fumbled a lot, but it is interesting to look back. I do think there was a thread throughout it all. Um, you know, for me I think I've always, I've always wanted to be sort of unique in whatever I did, whether it was, you know, wearing legwarmers in fourth grade or you know, like, and I think that is my personality. I'm the oldest child and you know, I grew up in the seventies and eighties where I think there was a lot of like, here's how it is. And I was like, I don't, maybe not. So I think I've always been someone to kind of push the, the, you know, the limit just a little bit. So, um, and I think that's why things like color and pattern are so exciting to me is because I just, I always want more. And that's been something that I've really had to learn is how to pump the brakes. Cause sometimes, um, you know, I can't make up my mind, so I'll go on Pinterest to get ideas for a space and I'll have like 10 things that I want to do and I'll go and do them all. And it's like sister, ,

Charlotte Smith: 37:27 I feel it in reel it in. So I think that's, you know, that's something that I've just learned and I'm probably not there yet. There's a lot to learn, but, um, no, I think I've made a lot of mistakes. I think, um, you know, I think when I started blogging it became more of a focal point for me. So I would, you know, I had friends in the industry, so I just have been looking at design more as a result. So I think that certainly helps as if you surround yourself with inspiration and people that are doing inspirational things, then you, you can't help but pick up on that. So, you know, I think, I think Instagram is an amazing tool for that. And following certain hashtags is an amazing way to really drill down on styles that you might like or might not like.

Charlotte Smith: 38:14 Um, you know, and I like nowadays there's ways to do it digitally, but essentially create a vision board or a cork board of all these different things that you love. Um, and then, you know, I, I always have a couple of things that I'm really excited about for a space and then I sort of, I can, I think I go down my, what is it a quarterback does, they go down their list of, you know, the first person is, is Mark, I'll go to the next. Yeah. All that. So I think I've gotten a little bit better just over time looking at a space and sort of kind of going through all the different options faster than someone else might. But I don't know. I think at first I definitely, the common thread for me was sort of color and taking chances here and there.

Charlotte Smith: 39:01 Um, and I don't know, some of those chances probably I would look back and kind of think they were less successful. Um, but I think there's always an element of risk that I think is important for me. So there's always something that I want people to see and kind of go, Whoa. Like, I wouldn't ever have thought of that. And that means that some people are going to go that thing that you just did. I, I hate it. I hate it. Um, thankfully most people don't tell me that to my face, but, um, I don't know. I think I'm really drawn to designers that do like the Nova grads or you know, Grace Mitchell from a storied style. Like I remember a hundred years ago when she did, um, bunk beds for the one room challenge and she painted them this like high gloss blue and there was wallpaper on the ceiling before that was a thing.

Charlotte Smith: 39:50 And I'm always so excited by people that swing for the fences because you know, you're gonna, you're gonna miss that shot a lot of the time, but when you get it, it's going to be good. Like real good. It's gonna be good. But that's, that's my personality. Um, so you know, that's not everyone's personality. So if your personality is a little more cautious, then there's nothing wrong with that either. But also don't be afraid, like, like don't let that hold you back. Just like recognize about that, about yourself and help that kind of inform your design process and what that looks looks like, but don't. Yeah. Don't let it hold you back either. Yeah. And it's also, it's funny, you know, we talk about all of this sometimes and I think, you know, you and I love it and we do it for a living and there's naturally an affinity for it.

Charlotte Smith: 40:41 So it's exciting to me. And I could talk about it. A, you may not care even a little bit. That's fine too. I assume if you're listening to us talk, you care. So, hi. Welcome. Um, but I also would say like, it's just paint. Like sometimes we talk about this, like we're, you know, like doing brain surgery or something that is permanent. You know, we're not telling you to go tattoo a tear drop on your cheek, like it's paint. So you want to know what if three hours later you look at it and you're like, that I don't like it. So I'm sorry that's three hours that you wasted. But my dad told me years ago sometimes knowing what you don't like is just as valuable as knowing what you do. Like. So, you know, you paint that wall like the perfect moody, like it's the color.

Charlotte Smith: 41:26 Everyone's like, it's an in color of like, is it blue, is it green? Is it teal? I don't know. But it's everywhere. I love it. So you paint it and you're like, I feel like I'm in a cave. I want to poke my eyes out. Like so now you know that those moody colors that look amazing when you see like Angela Rose do it. And like I think sometimes you just have to do it. And so yeah, I'm sorry you just wasted three hours, but it's not a waste because now you know that that dark, moody color that you see everywhere, like doesn't work for you. Um, [inaudible] it's uh, there aren't many things that we do in life as a DIY blogger that can't be undone in a short amount of time. Yeah. Like maybe your first project isn't to pull up tile and redo tile, cause like, that's a lot.

Charlotte Smith: 42:11 But you know, we're talking paint, we're talking probably fabric curtains, hanging things on the walls. Like, so like patching a wall. Like there's a, there's an app for that. Like it's all fixable. Yeah. So true. So the last thing we have to dive into, because you are kind of a pro is thrifting. You were like low fee for your thrift skills. Sure. Was. Sure. It was some of the most common thrifting tips you hear are like visit often ask for discounts, consider the neighborhood. But do you have any like good, really good tips, um, for like thrift stores? Um, yeah. So we're, yeah, we're up in Connecticut so there's no flea market for the, during the winter for us. Um, I think I laugh that, I think thrifting really is a muscle. It's like you just, you train your brain to kind of go through, you see something and you're like, do I like it as it is or can I repaint it and make it something different? So I think I, at some point you just get used to kind of noodling through the possibilities of an object like this, like the blank ball of clay. Like what can it be? I'm like, isn't that what he said? That he would look at the marble and yeah, it would like tell him what it needed to be.

Charlotte Smith: 43:26 Um, so that's what are some unique things. I often have just a running list on my phone of notes and they are literally things that I have seen on Pinterest or online that I liked. Like, um, ages ago I saw a woman who, her name is Lucy farmer and she makes jewelry. I think she had a blog for awhile but she um, by Lucy. Yeah, I did a collab with her way back when I was doing fashion stuff is awesome. It's like, yeah, like found items so she has to come to Haven and she was friends with my friend Carianne from fissile farm and just literally on, what was that Periscope? Was that the thing? A hundred years. Yeah. It's like live video. Forgot about that. Arianne was at Lucy's doing a Periscope and Lucy had the guts of a piano hanging on her wall like this inside keys.

Charlotte Smith: 44:21 And I was looking, I was like, this is so cool. Like, who would ever think of that cut to, you know, me walking through some salvage place. I saw a piano. I just totally plagiarize Lucy's idea. So I don't know that at the time I had like Penang piano guts as a note in my phone, but, but I remembered it. So, um, so I have a running list of things on my phone that I can do stuff with. So it, you know, it started out being a little more specific like spoons because I saw so many different things people did with old spoons or um, I dunno, frames because you can do anything with the frame now. Um, I'm a little bit less like now I just go in and I sort of let my mind wander a little bit. Um, it's hard, but if you can picture a lot of things with a coat of glossy white or black spray paint will look a hundred percent different.

Charlotte Smith: 45:16 So usually containers are a home run, so any sort of a vase, if you picture it white or black, if you like the shape, it can be sort of cool. Um, but yeah, I mean you have to give yourself grace. So like, let's call it the 30% rule, 30% of the stuff that I bring home I will set up and I love and it's amazing and it's probably like 70% that I still love and it's amazing, but it's less amazing when I get at home, but I've spent $2, so do I care? Right. Yeah. So true. Maybe more, maybe I'm 70, 30. I need to give myself more credit. Um, but yeah, thrifting I think, I think the key to being a good thrifter is just to pay attention to what other people are thrifting and just let their sort of vision trickle into your brain.

Charlotte Smith: 46:05 Um, because the more you see other people doing it, the more you kind of think about like, Oh, I remember someone did something cool with this and they made it into the hook. So now your brain is like, Oh, things could be different things. Or what could I look for though? It could be that, but different. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So true. I dunno, that's not a tip, but I think that is, it is, it's like how you're not even just taking inspo and saying like, okay, I need this to make a hook. You're saying like, okay, here's a concept that I can now go in with. And then I'm looking at objects and seeing like, you know, you have like a frame of reference instead of just like anything can be anything. Like that's right. Really hard. Right. I think that's right. And sometimes I need it to be a little more specific.

Charlotte Smith: 46:50 So like, I don't know, I'm doing, I do this thrift store, flea market challenge with some friends and you know, I saw these, um, shoot, I'm drawing a blank. Those, the bentwood chairs, there were a couple of bent wood chairs at our thrift store and they were $5 each and the seats are trash, their cane seats that are trashed. So I, um, you know, I don't want to ruin them because I think they're nice chairs. They're certainly not like, you know, they're not fine antiques, but they're not, they're not Ikea. Um, so, you know, I have some ideas that won't ruin the chairs, but we'll bring them, you know, you can't use them now cause there's no seats. So sometimes I'm just taking one thing and making it kind of my style. So that's, that's less about finding the vision and the piece, it's more about just making it more fun for me. Um, if the thrift store you walk in and you're like, I just see shelves of junk, like maybe find something that you kind of like already and just tweak it.

Cara Newhart: 47:48 Okay. That's a really good cause I feel like that's, I dunno, I probably am going to the wrong thrift stores, but I do just walk in and I'm like, this is all crap. I don't see any potential. Right. So along those lines, do you have any make-over tips for transforming pieces? Obviously paint is your best friend, but anything else less?

Charlotte Smith: 48:13 Um, I've done a couple. Um, I love getting fabric involved. Um, and it's, couldn't be simpler. I will put fabric like on the top of a table. Um, if you use polycrylic, um, and it's just like de couponing, the fabric on, but I've done it with polyacrylic and it lasts really long. Um, it's amazing. So it's not, yeah, I mean eventually I'm sure it'll peel off, but like I did a changing table and I wanted to bring in, I didn't want the whole thing to be this crazy fabric I had, but I love the idea of having just the top being sort of fun. Um, yeah. So I love fabric. Um, I dunno. Stenciling I'm cut, you know, go back to that part where I said I'm not great with like details and prep work. Sensing is not worth stenciling is not

Cara Newhart: 49:02 me neither. I found that out recently when doing my floor. It was kind of bleeding.

Charlotte Smith: 49:06 It's like you have Oh yeah. And then you see people that are like, yeah, I just have to go back and fix all this. And you're like, yeah,

Cara Newhart: 49:16 that was totally me. I'm looking at it and I'm like, I'm going to have to do this on the whole floor. No, I don't. No, no. That is a hard path.

Charlotte Smith: 49:24 Um, yeah. I don't know. Fabric paint. I think paint is really, it sounds so obvious, but there's so many ways to use paint and like crazy all our ways. Like you know, I thought when I did some Andre file cabinet back when Andre was everything, I still love it. It's not like a super unique idea, but you know, there's so many different ways to ombre you could do it with a, so it's sort of more of a watercolory on Bray. But even watching like some of the pattern that Rachel brings into our murals of my companion bridges. Yes. Putting that on the front of a piece of furniture. Like there's just, there's so much you can do with paint. So yeah.

Cara Newhart: 50:04 Yeah. Don't think in one color is probably the tip I'm hearing from that is like you're not just looking at something like, okay, I could paint it blue and it would be better. It's like, what can we do that's like a pattern or a, yeah, a mural geometric like, yeah, that's good.

Charlotte Smith: 50:19 Yes. Or like hardware. I mean, that's, I'm sure everyone said that, but like, you can kind of make anything into really cool knobs because right now there's proxy that'll hold your car together. So, you know, I just asked something on HGTV, um, their beauty channel, H handmade, whatever the home is, and they were using alphabet blocks like wooden alphabet blocks and making them into, um, cabinet knobs. And like for a kid's room, you get a dresser painted a single color and make some knobs. Like how adorable is that making knobs might be my dream career. Maybe I should get into that. You could just see what I could make a knob [inaudible] give me equity. I feel like I did. Just give me the idea. Yeah. If it happens, we're going to be red that we just need a punny name. We'll get to that.

Charlotte Smith: 51:11 Be continuous. So just to kinda wrap this up, where can everyone connect with you online? My blog is at Charlotte's house. Uh, Instagram. I'm on there a lot. I'm at Charlotte's house on Instagram. Um, I need to be better with Pinterest. So I'm at C's house on Pinterest because character limit, um, through, and you're going to find me on Facebook and Twitter, but my heart's not in us. Say, Oh, I'm so bad. I forget YouTube guys, go follow me on YouTube because I, um, I, I love YouTube and I love making these videos, but it's sort of hard to find. Um, my style, my, it's, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the things I post about are a little bit all over the place. Like one day I'm going to be building furniture and the next day I'm going to be like decorating a room and the next day I'm going to be crafting, you know, like a poxy jewelry to me, which makes me super happy.

Charlotte Smith: 52:09 And like my, my goal for my blog is for me to get sort of the therapy and meditation from it all. Um, and I'm trying to put it out there in a way that makes sense, but I think YouTube is a little curmudgeonly about that. So YouTube, I'm at Charlotte's house. Um, you're going to find videos of all this stuff, which is, you know, it's not necessarily well-branded because it's all over the place, but I love it. So it's all there and it's more fun. I love, I love video. I feel like it's just so much more personal and I need to see stuff. I hope so. That's a good spot. Yeah. Oh well perfect. That's where I am and yeah, this so many good tips. I didn't want to go like thrifts and stuff now cause I feel re-energized about that. I know. Well the problem whenever I talk to friends versus just like messaging or texting is I hang up the phone and it's like well dag on it and she doesn't live anywhere near me. This woman lives in Texas. That's not fair. Well thank you so much for sitting down with me today. This is amazing. It's a super fun. Thank you for having me. Of course,

Charlotte Smith: 53:18 if you're not following me on social media, you should be because that's where all the fun happens between episodes. You can find me, Kara, and to

Cara Newhart: 53:25 my blog at Never Skip Brunch. And then if you want to connect with a podcast to get new episode notifications and podcasts specific news in your feeds, you can find the podcast at space pod. Thank you so much for listening and tuning in. If you are a long time listener or a new listener with a couple episodes under your belt, I would love if you left a review. Just scroll down in your podcast app and give us some stars or take a second and just read a couple lines about what you love about the podcast. This helps other listeners find us and get in all this goodness and I would super, super appreciate it. Okay, have a good week!

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NEVER SKIP BRUNCH by Cara Newhart

I'm Cara, the designer & Chief Creative Enthusiast behind Never Skip Brunch. I'm a color & prints obsessed DIY queen who's here to help you create a beautifully lived-in life through home design advice and chic DIY tutorials

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