My 'thrill of the hunt' helps me decorate while helping others

Updated: Feb. 19, 2014 at 6:05 PM EST
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I have always been a yard sale, flea market, consignment shop, thrift store junkie.  I can thank my mom for this addiction.  It is born out of fabulous childhood memories!  As the eighth kid in a family of ten, those Saturday morning rituals of rushing out of the house before anyone woke up and hitting sales in our neighborhood got me started on this lifelong 'thrill of the hunt'!

When I moved to Charlotte, returning to the same neighborhood where I learned to ride a bike, I needed new furniture.  It was while shooting a story on finding a working wardrobe for little money that I discovered the Assistance League Thrift store on South Tryon.  It's now in a new building, but it's just as fabulous as the day I fell in love with the store, the organization, but more importantly their mission.  Full Disclosure:  I'm now on the Advisory Board of the Assistance League of Charlotte.  They know how much I believe in them!

On that first shopping trip many years ago I discovered a pink 1950's lamp.  I know PINK!?  It became the centerpiece of my quest for color.  But I wasn't going to shop at expensive interior design shops if I could help it. I was looking for period pieces, mid-century modern, regency styles, the kinds of pieces kids get rid of when Mom or Dad downsizes.  I loved the idea that shopping at charity thrift stores meant my money was going to great causes improving people's lives right here where I live.

It didn't take long before I was at the Habitat ReStore every Saturday.  I found one of my favorite pieces there, a 1960's bookshelf that I lacquered and LOVE!  I also found sconces, and mirrors and decanters and pottery and tables and more lamps.  I've never paid more than 150 dollars for any piece of furniture. 

I looked for months for a matching pair of wingback chairs and finally found them at Assistance League, they were under 80 dollars.  Some new fabric for 10 dollars a yard, and they're now a centerpiece in my home.

I was shooting a story with Cheryl Luckett, a local interior designer who also has a knack for deals, when someone from the Habitat ReStore heard me talking about my home and how I'd decorated it with items from charity stores. 

There the idea for a story in SouthPark magazine was born.  It was so much fun!  Before the photographer came,  my niece who is an interior designer and owns Designs by Colleen, came in and within 45 minutes moved a lamp, stacked my books, and made everything JUST RIGHT!!

I had a ball shooting with Dustin Peck.  He's a big burley guy with an impeccable eye for detail, and a great talent with the camera.  His assistant Madison was a joy.  She was another set of eyes for both of us and had the stamina needed for the four hour shoot.

Writer Blake Miller was able to share my mission in a short, story that ended as my shopping trips do, 'with goose bumps'. It is a joy to share a glimpse into my private world if it means it will help fund valuable programs at the Assistance League like afternoon snacks, Operation school Bell and so much more!  Or that a family deserving of a home, will have a chance to help build one with Habitat for Humanity.

I look at second hand items like this cycle of gifting.  When people donate beautiful things to area charities, I can love them, and they come to life again, while those in need get a helping hand.

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