Copy Catalog Shelf Styling with Thrifted Items


When I painted the ceramic turkeys and transformed an orange pumpkin into mercury glass, one of my goals was to use them to decorate for fall – on tables, shelves and our mantel, like I had seen in catalogs and magazines. Table and shelf styling doesn’t always come naturally for me and I like to use these sources as inspiration for new ideas.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am a copier and not a visionary. There are two kinds of creative, I’ve learned – the one I think of as capital ‘C’ creative, where the artist is able to see things in their head and then bring them to life in whatever medium they prefer – be it paint, pottery, sewing, or decorating.

And then there’s little ‘c’ creative for folks like me who are the do-it-yourselfers (not that capitals don’t DIY, I’m only trying to separate the thinkers from the doers, though of course they each do the other at times). I can do lots of little things adequately – a little sewing, a little painting, a little woodworking. Which is usually enough for me to figure out how to replicate something.

Of course I put my own spin on it most of the time, but the ideas don’t (or I should say, rarely) pop into my head. And that’s okay – you need all types to make the world go ’round.

PB shelves

So if you’re like me, you did not get on the list to stop receiving “junk mail” because then you wouldn’t get catalogs anymore. And you wouldn’t have seen this photo, above, from Pottery Barn – which was my inspiration for the turkey makeover.

When I see something like this, it inspires me to think about what I have or what I can easily find that will enable me to get this same look.

For a lot less.


So as our Thrift Store Transformation series continues, I thought it would be fun to style a shelf (and add to our fall mantel) with things I’ve made and collected (many which made my top 10 list).

Here are the three steps to take to go from inspiration to reality:

1. When you first look at a photo you’d like to replicate, be sure to get the “feel” of the photo as a whole – the PB example here is calm, rustic and classic. No bright colors or trendy items.

2. Then pick out some specific elements (in this case, PB tells you exactly what those elements are):

  • white dishes and pitchers
  • tarnished silver
  • aged wood

3. Once you have those elements in mind, shop the house and the thrift stores to gather your items. This is where your own interpretation comes in, though, based on what you like and what you’ve found.


Here’s how my shelves came together:

1. I chose to add pewter to the mix as well as some tarnished silver pieces I had (the salt & pepper shakers are from our wedding)- I think they coordinate nicely. I found this lovely handled and etched pewter tray at a thrift store for $3.99 (the white plate is from our everyday set – vintage from ebay).

2. I thought I’d be able to find a tiered wooden stand because I’ve seen them in the past at thrift stores, but I didn’t have any luck. This dark brown glass bowl brings the color of the wood into the mix. It was a clear class footed bowl ($1.99) that I planned to make mercury glass like the pumpkin, but I tried a different technique and it didn’t turn out. I sprayed it with oil-rubbed bronze and now I love the rich darkness of it. Sometimes you just go with the flow.

3. & 4. I buy white pitchers whenever I see them for a good price. I never pay more than $10 – most of the time closer to $5. They aren’t fine, probably aren’t antiques or true ironstone, but they give me the look I like.

5. You CAN still find ironstone at thrift stores for a good price – oftentimes it’s restaurant ware. This oval server was $3.99. I filled it with green apples to bring in the main color in our house which also coordinates with the pee-gee hydrangeas from our backyard.

6. & 7. The white platters all came from thrift stores for $2.99 to $4.99 each.

8. I find a lot of pewter at thrift stores and flea markets – it’s really not appreciated much yet. I think this plate was .99 and I got it months ago to use as a food prop for recipe photos.

9. This beautiful vase, sadly, did not come from a thrift store. I found it at an antique store and I honestly can’t remember what I paid, but I’m thinking it was $20-25. The adorable little scrolly pitcher next to it was a gift from my sister-in-law.

In the first picture, but not seen in the collage above (darn Picmonkey…): the white turkey next to the brown bowl, of course, which probably started it all, and a silver pitcher we use for water that brought in the one shiny element in the inspiration photo (it’s a stainless pitcher I found at Target years ago).

What are your favorite sources for inspiration?

*For details about styling mantels with thrifted items (part two of these thrift-store styling posts) visit Thrifted Mantel Styling.

31-days of Thrift Store TransformationsThis is day 13 in our series (you can click on the button to see all the posts in the category). If you’re wondering what’s up, you can read the introduction to 31 Days of Thrift Store Transformations here. I’m taking a little liberty and using the term “thrift store” to stand for anything you buy used (and cheap!), be it from a store, garage/estate sale, flea market…whatever.

P.S. – Oh, and PB doesn’t have a clue who I am or that I’m writing about their stuff – I just like them (like a lot of you guys, I’m sure!).

I’m sharing this at: Funky Junk Interiors and Home Stories A to Z.


  1. says

    WOW!!!! Great job!!!!! I love your topic for this series and you are really pulling it off spectacularly! I have to admit I’m envious, I keep looking at your results and thinking, “Good grief, why haven’t I done that???”

  2. says

    Your styling is beautiful, and I love how you interpreted the PB style. I’m enjoying following your 31 days series, and I’m taking note of all your creative ideas. :)

  3. says

    This turned out gorgeous! And such a good idea! I always dont know what to get when I go thrifting and then I see things later and smack myself for not getting it while I had the chance! Layering like a magazine or inspiration image will definitely help me shop more effectively!

    • Michelle says

      I like how you mixed the pewter with the white… really pops! You have a great eye for putting it all together. I love the restaurant ware/ironstone dish. I just recently started collecting ironstone and have found some great pieces at thrift stores. Great layering!

      • Jami says

        That’s fantastic that you’ve been able to find some pieces at thrift stores, Michelle! Just makes it that much more fun to go looking, huh?


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