Too Thrifty Chicks



Tidbit Tuesday:Thrift Inspiration and Sewing with Kametra

Guest Contributor: Kametra Matthews

When I was a little girl, I would go thrift shopping with my grandma every Saturday morning.  We would get the “Thrifty Nickle” (free weekly paper with classifieds) and search for which “garage sales” (what we called them down south) before heading out on Saturday mornings.  Sometimes during our trips we would see posters on utility poles with posters pointing to sales and we would just follow directions. My grandma would give me 5 bucks to buy what I wanted.  This is how I was introduced to thrift shopping.

KMM OutfitI still love, love, love thrift stores and yard sales.  I must admit, though, I have become a bit of a bougie thrifter.    When I worked in a lab for 10 years, common dress was jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, and a white lab coat. Now that I have to dress more professionally, I rely on Unique Thrift Store in Falls Church, VA.  I always walk out of this store with great labels such as Anne Taylor, Nine West and Kenneth Cole. Shopping here works out perfectly, because buying professional clothes for work is very expensive. I am able to buy shoes, clothes, and accessories, such as handbags, belts, and scarves without breaking the bank.  I’ve also bought pots, paintings, small appliances, and KMM Appliancesfurniture.  I’m a platinum member which means that on Mondays and Thursdays I get 25% off and Holidays 50%off.

Right Sized

Thrift store shopping has inspired me to learn how to sew. Many of the slacks I buy are often too long and the jeans need to be taken in at the waist.  When my seamstress broke her foot and was out for 2 months, I said, “I need to learn how to sew!”  My mother and fiancé (boyfriend at the time), took me seriously and gifted me a sewing KMM Curtainsmachine and gadgets. I took my 1st course in December and am currently doing a free online tutorial at Once I get the hang of it I think I’ll love it, but its like going back to school.  I am amazed at how many people sew.  I had no idea before I was interested.  There is a huge support system for people who sew and there are often free and inexpensive classes where they can learn or improve their skills.

Thrifty Nuptials

Last month, I got engaged! Planning a wedding on a small budget in the DC metro area is going to call on all of the thrifting expertise I have been acquiring since my $5 garage sale trips with my grandmother.  From waiting until the dress goes on sale, finding locations that are big enough and that will  allow my personal caterer to bring in food, to bargaining for services and finding décor for resale, I’ll have to arrange it all.  Being economical takes work in every sense of the word and I’m excited to do the work.


Tidbit Tuesday: Quick Headboard Solutions

I cannot tell you the last time I had a headboard for my bed. Actually I can…it was before I went to college! It’s not because I didn’t want a headboard. They can be quite useful. I just never saw any that I liked when I shopped for them. Last year I had the idea of making one, but never got around to it. This year I decided I’d stop procrastinating.

I went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Alexandria looking for old shutters. My original plan was to piece together different types of shutters to make a headboard, but when I got to the store and saw these, I knew my life would be so much easier because the set was already wide enough to fit my bed and tall enough to take up some wall space.

Shutters before they were cleaned and hung

Shutters before they were cleaned and hung

I bought two sets for $10. I cleaned them up (boy were they dusty!) and then hung them on the wall using these Interlocking Flush Mounts for $1.29 each (I needed two sets) from Amazon. After cleaning the shutters and about 30 minutes of measuring and marking, this is what I ended up with:




Like me, Ricks also had neglected hanging a proper headboard. Her room posed an additional challenge because her bed is anchored on a wall with a window right in the middle of it. Ricks’ vision was to use a screen that could double as a headboard and a filter for the light coming into her room. Guess what we found hidden in our basement? A screen! The previous tenants left it behind. You know what they say…another person’s junk is another person’s treasure. Ricks hit the jackpot!


She cut out some of the rectangles using an exacto knife and replaced them with sheets of fabric to give it the look she wanted.

old fabric replaced with new.

old fabric replaced with new.

Hanging her headboard was tricky because she had to work around the window frame. To solve the issue, she purchased a pre-cut strip of wood from Home Depot that was roughly the width of her window frame, sawed it in half, and mounted the headboard to the pieces of wood. She used the same flush mounts I did before adhering it to the wall.


The final result gives her exactly the look she wanted to achieve while allowing light to come in through the room’s only window.




Using low cost and free materials, both of us now have headboards that cost less than 15 bucks. If you’re interested in making a headboard and need inspiration, spend some time googling DIY headboards. You’ll find amazing options.

Until Next Time,



Tidbit Tuesday: A Bench Fit for Daydreaming

I don’t like dressers. I feel like they often take up a lot of space and aren’t useful for anything other than storing clothes. Though I hang up the majority of my clothes, I needed find a better storage solution for folded items than 1) piles of clothes on the top shelf of my closet and 2) plastic storage bins. What did I do? I set out to build a storage bench/seat for my room.

Now, I’ll start off saying I did not and possibly could not have done this on my own. Once again the most amazing partner ever stepped in to help me design the bench, pick out supplies, and taught me how to use a power saw (which is amazingly scary, btw). There was a lot of trial and error (mainly because I am not so good at cutting straight), but I ended up with something that I absolutely love!

Home Depot for Supplies...Check!

Home Depot for Supplies…Check!

I measured the space in my room where I wanted the bench to go. Afterwards, I used those measurements to make the frame.

Measuring the 2x3's to be cut. These were used to make the frame

Measuring the 2×3’s to be cut. These were used to make the frame

Gettin' it done with the power saw.

Gettin’ it done with the power saw.

Thank God we have a basement…I didn’t have to do this outside in the cold. Using a power saw is invigorating and scary. Luckily, it didn’t matter too much if the cuts were super straight and the ones I messed up terribly, Avery fixed them for me.

The frame

The frame

Here’s the frame made from 2×3’s. It’s 4ft long, 2ft tall and 2ft wide.

Screwing in the top, sides, and bottom

Screwing in the top, sides, and bottom

Next, I had to add a bottom, top, and sides.

Yay! The shell of it is done!

Yay! The shell of it is done!

At this point, all I needed to do was add a cushion and fabric. (btw–the baskets came from target)

Found a cushion at a thrift store for 2.50

Found a cushion at a thrift store for 2.50

All done! :)

All done! 🙂

Next, I stapled the cushion to the the top of the bench and then covered with fabric.

Rest, read, reflect. Love my day dream corner!

Rest, read, reflect. Love my day dream corner!

All in all, wood + fabric + cushion + baskets cost about $75. I’m sure there were cheaper options (I thought about buying a thrifted trunk and just adding a seat), but I really wanted to learn to cut wood and assemble this from scratch. Plus, I wanted to make sure I had enough room to store the items I wanted to.  I’m pleased with how it turned out!

Until next time,



DIY Project: Nightstand Makeovers

We’re settling into to the Thrifty Palace and having a great time with DIY projects to spruce up our home. Our first projects were geared toward organizing and decorating our bedrooms. Nightstands (or pieces you can use as nightstands) are relatively easy to find in thrift stores. The pieces we used in these projects were less than $13.00 each. None of the pieces were perfect. My night stand had some discoloration and the one Ricks revamped had this god awful laquer from the 1960s, 70s, or 80s. Yet, we saw potential in each piece, which ultimately led to beautiful outcomes.

Ricks' jolly green nightstands before the make over.

Ricks’ jolly green nightstands before the make over.

Selecting Furniture: Natasha offered great tips for selecting furniture in her guest post a few weeks ago. The only thing we’d add is make sure the piece you choose has the necessary amount of storage you’re looking for. The matching night stands Ricks chose have enough surface space to hold lamps and books. They also have very deep drawers that provide functional storage. It was also important to her to have matching nighstands so that they would be equal height. My nightstand only has one drawer, but it works well for the small items that I need to get to regularly. Additionally, it has a cut out on each side, so I added  baskets to hold more things. I don’t need two night stands, so the uniqueness of this piece worked for my needs.

A Note on Spray Paint: Ricks originally tried Krylon Spray Paint, and it was teeerrrrrriiiibbbbllle!  It sprayed on clumpy, and Ricks got more spray paint on her hands than on the nightstand! We initially thought it was a bad batch, but when she tried the spray paint in another color, we discovered that the spray paint just isn’t great quality. We then found Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover Spray Paint, and we both had great experiences with it. Since then, we’ve used the same brand in three additional colors for other projects. We highly recommend it, as we’ve seen it bond well to several different surfaces.


Nightstand after one coat of Krylon spray paint…yuck!

This wack spray paint gets the side eye

This wack spray paint gets the side eye


The top drawer after being painted with Rust-Oleum….the bottom drawer painted with Krylon…see the difference?

A Note on Time: Prepping the pieces + the spray paint debacle + the cold weather slowing down the drying time + spraying multiple coats caused this project to span a couple days. We’re fortunate to have some grass space in our backyard, so we were able to leave the pieces out for a long time. If you don’t have that luxury, you may want to make sure you take on spray paint projects on sunny, warm weekends when you’ve got plenty of time.

Works in Progress:


Furniture beware: she’s armed and dangerous!


Taking off the knobs before spray painting

after the first coat of spray paint

after the first coat of spray paint

Ta da! We’re done!

Ricks chose Satin Lemon Grass as the color for her nightstand
Ricks chose Satin Lemon Grass as the color for her nightstand

Reese chose Satin Eden for her nightstand.

We’re both quite fond of how our nightstands turned out. Looking forward to the next DIY projects for each of our rooms. Stay tuned. 🙂

Have you taken on any DIY projects lately? Have any spray paint tips? Share them with us and our thrifty readers. 

Until next time,


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Tidbit Tuesdays: Thrifted Gifted

With just eight days left, we’re in the home stretch of merry-making and gift-giving that culminates on Dec. 25.  If you’re still scurrying around trying to get gifts consider rescuing some fabulous finds from a thrift store. This year my cup runneth over with little people. And while I’m sure they’d prefer all manner of technology and gadgetry, I have decided to go for nostalgia. There’s no better place than the thrift store to look for nostalgia.


Toys in mint condition from the Goodwill!

Last year, two tiny humans entered my life and I wanted to get them something special that toddlers could enjoy. They’re still too small to really know what they want for Christmas so I get the joy of giving them what I want them to have and this Radio Flyer car and wooden rocking horse caught my eye during my adventure with Reese at the Goodwill on Bustleton Ave. in Philly.

Shining like new!

Shining like new!

Best of all the toys were in great condition and super inexpensive at $6.99 and $5.99, respectively. All they needed was a little TLC in the form of some cleaning and a coat of polyurethane. All in all, the toys and spiffing up, cost about $20.

Not going to lie, I took this thing for a test drive. The craftsmanship is so great that it should be passed down from generations to come!

Not going to lie, I took this thing for a test drive. The craftsmanship is so great that it should be passed down from generations to come!

Don’t sleep on your local thrift store for gifts for all occasions. Look for items that are in excellent condition or that only need a little elbow grease to make them like new.

Until next time…Keep it thrifty.

Ever given or received a cool vintage or thrifted item as a gift? Tell us about it and we might feature you here.


Food for Thought Friday: The Joy of Creating

“I discovered bit by bit not the pleasure of eating good meals (I am seldom drawn to solitary delights), but that of manipulating raw material, of organizing, combining, modifying, and inventing. I learned the tranquil joy of anticipated hospitality, when one prepares a meal to share with friends in the same way in which one composes a party tune or draws: with moving hands, careful fingers, the whole body inhabited with the rhythm of working” (The Practice of Everyday Life, vol. 2,  p. 153)

In my real life, I’m a PhD student studying anthropology. I spend most of my time reading about food justice, health disparities, and black social and political thought. When I’m not reading about these things, I’m reflecting on them, trying to figure out reasons why so many disparities exists; why so many people don’t have what they need.

During one of those reflections, my good friend and colleague Naya made a great observation: we’re getting further and further away from the production of food, which has done a great disservice to most people in this country, but particularly those who suffer most from health disparities. After the conversation, I thought about how we’ve moved away from the production of many other things as well, because we often want things quickly….and sometimes creating things with our hands isn’t a quick process.

Preping a DIY coming soon :)

Prepping a DIY project that took a couple days to complete.

Last year I realized that some days would come and go and I wouldn’t remember hardly anything that happened. I decided I didn’t want to live like that. I thought about things I wanted to experience and I envisioned how I wanted to feel on a daily basis. That helped me see that I needed to stop moving so fast and spend more time creating. When I deliberately slowed down my life, I began to pay more attention to what’s happening around me. My creativity expanded. Now, I get a great deal of joy from making things with my hands for myself and others. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way I planned, I try not to be too disappointed, because most times, the process was enjoyable despite the outcome. When it does come out right, I feel like I love it ten times more than anything I could have purchased “as is” in the store.

I spend a lot of time creating, because there is something beautiful about knowing the process that something went through to become what it is. Whether it be an outfit, a DIY project,  a meal you’ve prepared or a story you’ve written, the process of creating it makes you an active participant in your present day. And hopefully, taking the time to make things with your own hands will deepen your appreciation for others who do so as well.

Make something this weekend. Doesn’t matter if you make it for yourself or someone else. Just do it with your whole self present.



Natasha’s Revamped Night Stand

Natasha McClendon, Guest Contributor

As a struggling grad student, spending money on furniture is not the business. But creating a unique, vintage feel to the decor in my new apartment without breaking the bank is a must for me.

Now, I could have rolled down to Ikea, but I decided that heading to my favorite local thrift store, Value Village, would be a more cost efficient option.

Value Villages are among my favorite thrift store haunts, but the Hyattsville Value Village is my go-to for furniture.  On a visit a couple of weeks ago,  I lucked up and found this great hardwood nightstand with campaign drawer pulls and gold corners.  And the price was more than right at $6.99!

It was just the type of vintage piece I was looking for and I knew that a fresh coat of paint would give it new life and make it a perfect addition to my bedroom.

I popped into my local Home Depot for paint and bought a quart of the  Behr Premium paint + primer combo in teal  for about $15. I already had a paint brush, so I was ready to go to work.

I spent the Frankenstorm (a.k.a. Superstorm Sandy) giving the nightstand an easy and fresh makeover. I only applied one coat of paint plus a few touch ups. The process took about two hours from start to finish.

I am very happy with the outcome and even happier that the cost of the nightstand and supplies was less than $25!

Thrifting is a great way to look for timeless furniture pieces that can be  personalized with just a few easily obtainable supplies like paint. The key is focusing on quality and seeing the potential in a piece. Here are a few more tips to get you started on your own DIY furniture projects:

  • Don’t buy anything that you don’t have a plan for. Before you buy it, envision how you will use it and where it would go.
  • Don’t buy something if you don’t know how to repair it yourself (or don’t know someone who can repair it for you on the free or cheap). It will do you no good to spend your money, no matter how little money it is, if the item needs repairs that you don’t have the skills to make.
  • Have an idea of what type of piece you are looking for before you shop. If you’ve already got a vision in your head, it will stop you from buying things you are less likely to use.
  • When you’re shopping for furniture, be on the look out for solid wood pieces. Real wood lasts longer and is  usually the best quality.