“Twenty-five years ago, shopping at the Goodwill wasn’t a cool thing,”
says Kate Keesee of Anaheim, California. At the time, she was a single mother who wanted to make a beautiful home for her three children, and buying secondhand made sense. After being diagnosed with lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease, Kate could no longer continue working as a wedding planner, and that budget got even smaller. Ever resourceful, she started a blog to share her thrifting and decorating adventures, and the rest is history.
Salvagedior.com went live in 2009, and Kate, like so many others, found reporting her endeavors to a wide and supportive audience to be an affirmation of her artistic eye and self-taught skills. Before long, Kate went from posting snapshots of shabby style to pulling out the power tools and carving out a boho niche for herself. The rise of other social media platforms led content-creators like Kate to redirect their time and energy, and she brought Salvage Dior to Facebook and then Instagram where she has amassed more than 93,000 admirers who follow along to be inspired by her trademark low-cost, high-end design schemes.
To Kate, “thrift” is an essential word in her style vocabulary, as she goes to the thrift store to thrift and is thrifty. She makes weekly visits to her local Goodwill of Orange County, where she has found all kinds of namebrand treasures for a song, including her coveted Room and Board sofa. “It’s all very hit or miss,” counsels Kate of shopping at thrift stores. “It’s good to have a game plan, and it’s helpful to know which days they restock so you’re not wasting energy.” An almost daily visitor, over time Kate has outfitted her entire home with thrift-shop scores. “I feel good supporting the OC Goodwill, plus with the money I save on furniture and other things for around the house, the easier I feel about the occasional splurge, like custom wallpaper!”
Spaces throughout Kate’s home have a very distinctive look. She is drawn to rich wood, and most rooms include a hand-wrought piece or two—whether it’s a barn door or coffee table—with stain applied using Kate’s go-to: old bath towel squares. The same russet hue appears in leather objects as well as woven baskets filled with leafy plants. Fauxfur throws, pale chenille, gilded finishes, and chandeliers all add elegance to the eclectic surroundings. Somehow in this cocktail of eco, glamour, rustic and contemporary styles, Kate has woven a soulful mix.
A common thread in Kate’s keen style is textiles, especially macramé, which is experiencing a chic resurgence. Long gone are the bulky and dark animal forms of the ’70s; today’s versions are generally loose knots of ivory cotton draped and tied along wooden dowels or sticks. Simple, intricate and oh-so-groovy, Kate has created pieces to display as wall art or drape over furniture.
Kate calls herself a “DIY Stylist Builder” and recently flipped her kitchen with a strict $300 budget. “I painted the cabinets dark, took off the doors, and removed the scalloped edges with a jigsaw to create the open shelving I’d always wanted,” she says. “Beautiful pottery, wood bowls, baskets and even a fabulous rug all came from the OC Goodwill! It has helped me beautify our entire home.”
Appreciation for Western culture is on display and includes a favorite print from @ccandmikecreative, which Kate framed using reclaimed wood from her stash. Baskets, lamp, and bench textiles are all from—you guessed it—thrift shops! A trio of graphic pillows is from @withlavenderandgrace. An acoustic guitar is quintessential boho, whether anyone in the household plays or not.
TOP LEFT: So often, people replace kitchen cabinets when remodeling, but Kate wanted to work with what she had. After removing the cabinet doors and scalloped wood edges, she now has the open shelving she always wanted for a fraction of the cost of buying new. TOP RIGHT: A macramé hanging is unexpected and flirty as a backdrop to workaday kitchen tools. BOTTOM LEFT: Kate used wood wall planks supplied from a local lumberyard to fabricate a backsplash. BOTTOM RIGHT: Wood shelves built from fourby-four fence posts found in an alley add storage and display space in the tiny 10- by 11-foot kitchen. OPPOSITE: The cabinet to the left of the sink was a school biology unit that Kate's neighbor had in his garage. Upcycled with paint and spraypainted hardware, it now holds pots and pans with style.
Flanking both sides of the kitchen are rich barn doors featuring a diagonal pattern custom-built by Cody Springer of @momsxgarage. “They are the newest upgrade to our home, and we don't know how we lived without them before,” Kate says. A simple thrifted desk was freshened with white paint; the Mexican Equipale barrel-style chair draped in macramé was discovered in a Dumpster.
“I love injecting strong colors, such as black, and using a mix of wood and metal in my decor.”
“My Anthropologie-inspired room was born once I laid eyes on the stunning rose wall mural from D. Marie Interiors. Then I was in a serious hunt for everything else,” says Kate, who spotted the brandnew tapestry area rug at the Orange County Goodwill.
ABOVE LEFT: A small ladder is at once useful and charming as a place to hang a quilt and hat while also serving as humble wall decor. Macramé fringe draped over a mirror echoes the various ecru elements around the room. FAR LEFT: The dream catcher was handmade by Kate's friend Mary (@thriftstoreaddict) and adds a sanctuary vibe. LEFT: Kate felt justified splurging on this wallpaper knowing that she'd saved money on all of the other things she had bought on the cheap at thrift shops. Blush, raspberry and gray are captivating in the small bedroom.
TOP LEFT: Macramé is a common thread throughout Kate's decor; inexpensive and relatively simple to make by knotting string in patterns, it fills walls with an organic, homespun quality. Find tutorials online, or buy finished accents at stores like Urban Outfitters. TOP RIGHT: Kate creates all of her wall artwork by assembling pieces of rescued wood and various hardware parts—resulting in artisanal assemblages. BOTTOM LEFT: A bit of greenery springs from a handmade mount on the neutral-painted walls. BOTTOM RIGHT: A set of shelf brackets on the headboard hold wrapped light kits. OPPOSITE: Kate built the headboard using leftover scrap fence wood and made it tall enough to accommodate standing pillows and a framed picture. Crisp white bedding topped with pale chenille blankets softens the look without being frilly. A small patterned table keeps inspiring books handy for bedtime reading.
“A little rustic touch never loses its magic. I love giving new life to old fence wood!”
Kate advises to splurge on t he unique items that you cannot thrift.