Take a cue from a Pacific Northwest “picker” who knows how to transform thrift-store finds into affordable and attractive home decor.
Serendipity led Mary Brunton to her forever home in Puyallup, Washington, just 20 minutes after the “for sale” sign was put in the yard. Attracted to its low-slung 1950s rambler style, Mary called her husband, Dave, and they viewed the house that night and purchased it on the spot.
“It was in excellent condition,” says Mary, who enlisted Dave, a talented carpenter, to give it a few extra flourishes that would make it feel like the home she’d been dreaming of since childhood vacations at her aunt Lydia’s cozy house in a Yakima apple orchard. For a warmer look, Dave lined the home’s entry with pine boards and finished rooms by crafting crown molding from the same boards. In the kitchen, the couple installed wood flooring, brightened up the birch cabinets with white paint, and created the look of an oldfashioned cupboard by removing the top doors on several cabinets and adding a chunky wood counter below. Mary opted for neutral beige-painted walls in most rooms to ensure her vintage and antique furnishings stand out.
Adopt penny-wise ideas from
a Washington-state “picker”
whose ingenuity and keen
eye for bargains help her
transform amazing thrift-store
treasures and roadside finds
into decorating delights.
Mary, who calls her home her “cabin in town,” enjoys decorating with an assemblage of unique items that fit her early attic style rather than relying on a few singular collections. She comes by many of her finds rather inexpensively, preferring to shop secondhand stores and even the curb on trash collection day. “When we first got married, we didn’t have two nickels to rub together,” Mary recalls, “so thrift stores were an easy way to decorate our home and fulfill my heart’s desire.”
In addition to making the most of thrift-store finds, Mary also has a knack for revamping other people’s discards into attractive vignettes. In her kitchen, a vintage cupboard torn out of a neighbor’s home fits space formerly occupied by a dishwasher. Boxes become showcases for old schoolbooks, primers, or a child’s shoe filled with flowers. And a collection of weathered doors, found at almost no cost, transform into texture-rich backdrops for distinctive items.
Her adventurous spirit inspires Mary to think creatively if she spots something appealing languishing in a junk pile or, as was the case with an early-1900s pine settle, sitting on a flatbed parked along the highway. “I couldn’t afford to buy it,” she says of her initial inquiry about the piece, “but these fellows dressed in overalls agreed to barter. So, I tore home and got a couple of braided rugs, crocks and a kid’s chair, and it was mine.”
Though Mary’s vision and passion for repurposing imbue her home with personalized style, she is quick to credit Dave for helping make her dream home a reality. “He’s a man of many talents, who is always agreeable,” Mary says. “Luckily, we march to the beat of the same drum.” With their decorating skills happily in tune, their home is sure to be harmonious for years to come.
Bill Mathews/gloria Gale