Seen on Saturday morning: April 26th

April 26, 2008 7:37:33 AM PDT

Searching for treasures at your local thrift store. Joining us this morning with some tips and a preview to a local event is the executive editor of Real Simple magazine, Jaimee Zanzinger.

1) Housing Works Thrift Shops will hold its 4th Annual Design on a Dime charity event Thursday, May 8 through Saturday, May 10 at the Metropolitan Pavilion, presented by Real Simple.

2) Design on a Dime is an interior-design extravaganza that commences with a VIP kickoff cocktail party at the Metropolitan Pavilion from 6 pm to 9 pm on Thursday, May 8. This year will introduce the first-ever silent auction of photographs. The event is followed by a two-day sale of brand new merchandise from the world's leading interior designers and brands at 60 to 80 percent off retail prices. Thirty participating designers-including Sills Huniford, Thom Filica, Charlotte Moss and Jamie Drake-will showcase the Design on a Dime merchandise through 30 vignettes. All proceeds go to Housing Works, New York City's largest grassroots AIDS service organization

3) The Thursday kick-off VIP event will include exclusive preview shopping, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and live entertainment. For tickets, go to or The Friday and Saturday sale is free and open to the public.

4) Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal will join designer James Huniford (Sills Huniford) and Real Simple managing editor, Kristin van Ogtrop as co-chairs.

Metropolitan Pavilion
125 West 18th Street, Manhattan
Thursday, May 8: 6 - 9 (tickets needed)
Friday, May 9 from 10am-6pm
Saturday, May 10 from 10am-5pm

When a lot of people think of a thrift store, they think of dingy old items that someone else is basically throwing away. Don't think of it like this! Thrift store shopping is more like opening up a treasure chest. When people donate items, they mostly do it to make room for a new look in their apt/home/etc. They can receive a tax form and you can write it off, and many people donate their items as a way to contribute to a good cause (sometimes better than money). Remember - one person's trash is another person's treasure.

Some basic rules:

1) Keep an open mind. If what you're looking for is an end table but what you fall in love with is a bongo drum, ask yourself this: can A become B? In the case of the bongo drum as end table, the answer is yes. Disappointment happens when you have expectations about finding something and it doesn't happen.

2) These two words should be like a tickertape looping through your mind as you're looking at vintage furniture: PAINT, FABRIC. PAINT, FABRIC. Two things that are very easy to change about an item, relatively inexpensive, and can instantly turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, as it were.

3) If you love something but don't know where it will go but are astounded by how cheap it is, buy it. You will find a place for it and even if you don't, giving it away to someone else won't cost you that much. And you'll be rewarded with good karma.

4) Alternatively, resist the siren song of the bargain. If you are tempted to buy something because it is so inexpensive-but not because you love it-back away from the item. Leave the store altogether if you have to. You need to surround yourself by things you love, whether they cost $2.00 or $2,000.00. Anything else is just junk.

5) Never leave the house without a tape measure, even if it makes your purse heavier. And if you can manage it, having someone at home who you can call from the store to do emergency measuring of a certain area of your house can really come in handy.

6) If you see something you really want to buy, don't hesitate: pick it up, sit on it, cover the item with your entire body if you have to.

7) Do your research! Whether it's consulting books, going on Ebay, or bringing someone with you that is knowledgeable, if you're looking for good steals and deals (and even a hidden gem!) then you should come armed with some knowledge. Most thrift stores offer large discounts on designers - everything at Housing Works is 70% off retail price.

What to look for:

1) Look for furniture, housewares, tabletop items, glass pieces that are signed, art - it may be perfect for you. The most popular items in Housing Works thrift stores are BOOKS (to fill a coffee table or bookcase) and sofas. Armoires are also very popular - and are much cheaper than most furniture stores.

2) You can even find great vintage clothing, shoes, or bags.

What NOT to look for:

1) NO POTS AND PANS, utensils, linens. Anything that has been used close to someone else's body/mouth you want to generally stay away from. A BIG no no is kid's toys - without a warranty, you don't want to trust your kid to play with something that has been used. This also goes for games - sometimes there can be missing pieces.

2) Anything made with pressed wood - it falls apart easily and is hard to move.

When you are shopping - what should you keep in mind?

1) No thrift store will take something that is DAMAGED. Pillows shouldn't be sagging in a sofa, it should have no stains, nor should it be smelly, dingy, etc. Make sure you thoroughly check your items no make sure there are no rips, stains, or tears - it's one thing to boost up the look of something, but some things (like smell) is hard to get out.

2) Alternatively, be careful not to jump to conclusions. Thrift store items are rarely NEW, so if the paint is worn it may be the style. Shabby chic is in, so the look of "vintage cool" might be perfect for you.

How do you spot a GEM?

1) Most thrift stores will have knowledgeable staff, so make sure to take advantage of that. Ask questions. Is this a designer piece? Is there a history behind it? Bring in books. Look for NAMES - whether it's a signed piece of glass or artwork. An original Keith Harding may be worth nothing to someone, but if he's your favorite artist then you've scored the gem of the century!

How to design incorporating thrift store items

1) It really depends on your look, but as a general rule of thumb, you should find amazing pieces and use them as conversation or accent pieces. If you're looking for a more cohesive look or if you are looking to get your apt/house decorated quickly, thrift store is not for you.

2) The cool thing about thrift store shopping? You're buying something with a story, with a little (or a lot) of history.


We've all heard it before. April showers bring May flowers, so that means it's time to get out there and tend to your garden.

Joining us this morning with tips for those living in the suburbs as well as an apartment is Chris Cipriano of Cipriano Landscape Design.

"Spring Gardening: New Trends and Tips":

Big Backyard

Layering is the key to a beautiful garden and these plants will do the trick:
1. There are certain trees that create a more ornate, layered look. Ex: Lion's Head Japanese Maple
2. Opt for flowering plants that add a splash of color. Ex: Roses
3. Blooming carpet creates a luxurious, textured look and is easy to plant. Ex: Vinca

New York Apartment

To create a "garden oasis" in tight quarters (i.e. a NYC balcony!), use the following tricks:
1. Use three different types of pots to achieve depth on a balcony.
2. Select flowering annuals for color.
3. Tropical seashore type plants withstand heat and are perfect for summertime in the City. Ex: Sago Palm Tree
4. Hanging Basket on Rail (Chris will provide visual)

Tips to Help Your Landscaping Thrive

1. Water, a good soaking every other day
2. For more blooms, dead head flowers on your summer flowering shrubs, perennials and annuals
3. Use organic mulch as a dressing in your pot or garden to retain more moisture and keep the weeds down

Cipriano Landscape Design (Serving the tri-state area)
Phone: 201-785-0800
Fax: 201-785-9181