Stan, please tell us a little bit about your background...where did you work where are you from, where have you lived?
I grew up in Independence, MO, a suburb of Kansas City where the garage sales were fine! I think that's where the thrift bug bit. We always did crafts at home, and to stretch a dollar we loved going to garage sales and auctions to discover treasures in others cast-offs. My favorite thing was when my grandmother would buy a big box of junk at a country auction and you'd get to dig through it and be surprised by what it contained. I received a journalism degree from University of Missouri-Columbia, studied in Bordeaux, France for a year, and then moved to New York, where I've been a fashion journalist and editor for the past 20 years. My last job-job was as editorial fashion director for Maxim magazine, which I left in May 2007 in pursuit of The Find.
What was your inspiration behind the book and why did you chose to the topic of vintage design?
Even when I was a fashion director and flying all over the place for shoots, I never gave up on my love for thrift. When I was shooting in LA, I always made time to go garage-saling with my pal Ruth Handel, even if it was 7 am on a Saturday. I have always been a fan of Housing Works, and am a frequent shopper, so when I decided that I wanted to take my passion and turn it into a book. I approached Housing Works about the idea, and they signed on. And then when I presented the idea to Clarkson Potter, they bit -- even more quickly than I expected them to. I guess, ultimately, I decided to practice what I had preached to so many people who were looking for a career change, and decided to follow what I absolutely love. I love to entertain and an enjoy decorating -- even if it's just documenting those who are exceptional. I am fueled by learning new things and by creating gifts and environments that make other people, and me, happy.
What message would you like the readers of your book to take home with them?
Don't be afraid to try it yourself. If you paint a wall a color that doesn't work, well, paint it again. And if you buy a thrift piece -- especially at a cause-related thrift shop -- that doesn't work for you, then just donate it back and take the tax deduction. When shopping, only buy what you love, and you'll hardly ever go wrong. Don't be sidetracked by the provenance of a piece, but be attuned to the story it tells you. If you love it, and it's a quality piece, then go for it. A home is personal, so don't worry about what others say. If you're happy with the environment you've created, then your mission is complete.
How did you find/scout all these talented people and how cooperative were most people in shooting their spaces?
I identified creative people who were decorating and entertaining with vintage and thrift, and just called on them. Like you, Vanessa, I saw your work on your website and just called David Jimenez. I saw his house featured in House Beautiful when I was visiting family in Kansas City and found his email in the back of the book. My pal Ruth Handel looped me into Jonamor Decor and I featured two of their interiors in the book. I emailed, and he called immediately. I knew there were people I wanted, like John Derian. But again, I called him cold, and he agreed. I also called on my old friends from the fashion world whom I knew decorated with thrift and vintage: men's designer John Bartlett, GQ's creative director Jim Moore, and Mark Ciolli, principal of Carl and Co., who when I first met him was working at a shirt company, and is now a successful decorator. I also think the affiliation with Housing Works, especially for New Yorkers, opened doors for me.
What makes your book different from other décor books out there?
I didn't want it to be preachy, and I didn't want it to be a book of rules. I wanted it to be filled with personal stories about how each subject used vintage and thrift, so that the reader would feel like they are actually in the home they're looking at. I think sometimes you learn more by experiencing than by being told how to.
What did you learn and what surprised you from this process of writing this book?
When people decorate their homes with care and personality, the results, more often than not, are successful. Now I may not share someone else's personal taste, but I can appreciate their efforts when it's done with care. I was surprised at how willing people were to allow me into their homes.
If you do write another book, what do you think the topic might be?
I am definitely percolating ideas for a second book. Anything I do will be around The Elegant Thrifter concept: "Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!"
"Trending" is a weekly report from Vanessa De Vargas, owner of Turquoise, a Los Angeles furniture and interior decor business.