Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not TOTALLY cheap. I’ve just learned how to be selectively thrifty, and I’ve found that it doesn’t have to come at a style cost.
It never used to be this way. 16 years ago I was single and an editor in the fashion and beauty world so I dressed the part. $600 shoes: no problem. $400 pants: an investment. $1200 statement bag: a must. There were late-night parties, photo shoots with models, afternoon cocktails, and a fab press gift or two. Fast-forward to the death of my dad and surviving a few questionable bosses, and that buzz had fizzled. I was craving something more meaningful and eventually, I quit my job. Today I’m a freelance writer, married with kids, and (sadly) own fewer designer bags, but this is how I roll.
“There were late-night parties, photo shoots with models, afternoon cocktails, and a fab press gift or two.”
I don’t know how it happened but I live by the rule of: if you find a great deal and you love it, buy it and find a place for it later—especially if it’s a great score. This happened when I spotted a mid-century modern couch in the window of an antique store. It was a great price, could convert into a lounger (for realz), and was already reupholstered. I bought it and we lived with two sofas in a teeny-tiny apartment before moving into our new house. It was three months of climbing over the sofa and chairs just to get out the door. But, in the new house it was stunning. And, since the couch is such a unique piece, if it hadn’t fit we could have sold it at the same cost—or more—than what we paid. A win-win in my opinion.
Now it’s nothing mind-blowing, but I thought I’d share some of my shopping tips that I’ve picked up along the way, and stand by.
MY SHOPPING RULES:
Rule #2:Work with what you have. When I decided to quit my 9-to-5, I was leaving a consistently paying job for the unknown, so I needed to outfit my office for next to nothing. My original IKEA brown-black Billy bookcases were too dark for the small space, so I spray-painted them white. For my desk, I scored an extra large, glass table-top in the ‘as-is’ section at Ikea for $75! It now sits on two filing cabinets from my university days. I also needed a good chair (I knew I’d be sitting on it for long stretches of the day) so I trolled Kijiji for an ergonomic classic by iconic designer, Herman Miller. Finally, I found one within my budget for $250 (versus $750 and up) from a TV station that was getting rid of their extras. Another lucky find: Cabinets (we forgot to return them after our kitchen reno) found in our basement, which turned out to be perfect for extra storage.
An extra Ikea bookcase even made it into my youngest daughter’s bedroom.
Herman Miller chair and my make-shift desk that holds a ton of paperwork, thanks to the double-drawer filing cabinets.
Rule #3: Go ahead and go big, but make sure it has longevity Splurging is still possible while on a budget. I justify a high-cost item by presenting it as one gift for multiple occasions: birthday/anniversary/Christmas. This way I get my big-ticket item, plus the husband doesn’t have to worry about figuring out what to buy me for each event. My most recent splurge-gift is a framed photograph from Toronto photographer, Maureen O’Connor. Featuring Canadian wildlife in dilapidated houses, my husband and I spotted the reindeer pic at The Riverdale Art Walk and immediately fell for it. After a few months of ‘should we’ or ‘shouldn’t we’, we put in our order. Now it lives on a wall in the living room where it makes me smile every day. And that’s worth every penny.
The reindeer print cozies up to my two-seater chair, another flea-market find.
“Splurging is still possible while on a budget. I justify a high-cost item by presenting it as one gift for multiple occasions: birthday/anniversary/Christmas.”
Lamp found at Aberfoyle Antique Market, a Zoë craft and framed artwork by Will Kennedy
3 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ME
My favourite vacay (with kids): While camping has never been my thing (I consider the ‘outdoors’ my backyard), our trip to Chilliwack, B.C. to visit Dave’s (the husband) brother and family, turned out to be a highlight. It was our first visit out West. We indulged at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa, took in some camping on Galliano Island and enjoyed the company. And, with three older cousins, there was instant baby-sitting—the best gift of all.
Zoê’s first real hike in beautiful B.C.
My go-to recipe: While I’m a sucker for anything by food-guru Donna Hay, when I received Béatrice Peltre‘s La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes For An Inspired Life, at a press preview, I was hooked. It had that perfectly French feel I was looking for (I had just come back from Paris). Every time I bake or cook anything from this book my husband praises the food (and let’s be clear, this doesn’t happen often). Pretty good for someone whose repertoire of meals used to consist of cereal and sandwiches. A family favourite is the Lemon and honey-flavored chicken. I usually ignore the brining instructions (not necessary) and add a bit of thyme, but follow everything else. It has the subtlest of flavours and the meat just falls off the bone. Delish.
My beauty must-have: Over the years as a beauty editor I’ve sampled and amassed a collection of tinted moisturizers and BB creams (they’re my favourite kind of cover-up: natural-looking with a combo of extra skin benefits such as brightening AND balancing the complexion). So far, my all-time faves are EstéeLauder Daywear BB Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme, and Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20. Both offer light coverage, quench dehydrated skin and have sun protection.
Estée’s version (my shade is medium) was an early adapter of the BB trend, but in my opinion still gives the best glowy-skin effect. For a, ‘healthy-flush’ look, Caudalie’s tinted moisturizer (also in medium), followed my NARS blush in Final Cut* (a peachy-pink), is the perfect, complexion-brightening combo. *NOTE: NARS Final Cut was a Spring 2014 exclusive so instead, check out Liberté, which is almost the exact shade.