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MINE: Vintage Clothing, Trim & a Million Digital Photographs

by Caitlin Kelch

While I’m only about one third of the way through my basement re-organization project, I can safely say it’s been one heck of a creative endeavor! This isn’t just your ordinary basement clean-up, and this is beyond purge. It’s more like an excavation process, using tools and tiny brushes to dust off memories and then placing them in the most appropriate exhibit. I’m finding myself writing up an archive summary in my mind about the who, when and where’s of each piece taking up space. Ambitious, I know.

If you have been following the project, you’ll know I let go of my hundreds of color chips and they now reside at the local art studio for kids. And you also know that I’ve kept my aluminum molds, which allow me to daydream about my grandparents’ fancy nights out like I did when I was seven. My latest dive took me to my vast collection of vintage clothing which I rocked back in the day, but sadly, have spent a decade or more trapped in mismatched plastic bins and discarded comforter bags. This collection has many sub-sections, like too-cutesy 1960s nighties and Gidget-style bikinis.

Since it’s summer, I tried to keep it seasonal and tackle the summer sets. Who wants to handle wool and faux fur in the heat of August? As I was laying each piece out, I realized I was (and had been back at the time of purchase) creating characters with personalities different than my own. As an introverted only child, these were my wild and social imaginary friends with whom any social awkwardness was completely unnecessary.

My re-org project was put on the back burner for a bit while I played dress-up and crafted with my long-lost girl gang. It was like the slumber party scene in Grease.

I decided to invite my BFFs upstairs and be my roommates once again, where my daughter could experience her mother’s wackiness and love of pink and polyester. And, believe it or not, she actually loved what we made for her room.

Here’s to girl power!

Click through the slideshow to see how we transformed long-lost pieces into décor we now enjoy every day. —Caitlin

Thanks so much to for inspiring creative ways to capture memories and create pieces that can move into our everyday lives and literally turn home décor into autobiography! Who knew I could rest my head on a pillow of happy memories?

This post is sponsored by . Awaken your space with your vision.  for personalized home accents that are uniquely you.

I love that my nightie-wearing, snorkeling alter ego now sits on my pink forever couch! It's such a great reminder of so many images that have been floating in my head for years, and having it excavated from the basement to now stay in my living room is so liberating. Bonus: This is a great conversation piece!
From a basement box to an impromptu creative session, meet the Midnight Snorkler - a playful pillow that now graces our reaaally formal couch!
My daughter put together this bikini still-life for her new . She says it reminds her of how we snuggle and watch the Gidget TV series. She's already laid out as many characters as I have for our "pillow personalities!"
My nine-year-old daughter, Viola, is a lover of Gidget and old beach movies, so her Beach Party pillow ensemble put a big smile on both of our faces!
Say hello to our Glamazon! Pillow or a life-size print coming soon.
As a single mom, I tend to go a bit overboard on the "important things to know in life" talks and I think I've read my daughter this series of what I call "self-help books for kids" way too often. I've actually sent them to the basement and created this of the titles in an attempt to subliminally cement the ideas in Viola's brain as she works at her desk. On the upside, V says she loves the colors and thinks it makes a "cool poster." Score one for Mom!
In addition to our funny "dress-up" people, we've also taken to mi and matching some of our favorite fabrics and ribbons and trying to capture them in a way that we're reminded of them each day. These are a great way for Viola and I to jot down our thoughts and creative ideas. We've themed each one with the Shutterfly custom features beyond just adding a photo on the cover. This journal is entitled "Windy Porch 1948."
I love that you can print on the spine of the! It inspired us to create a story behind each fabric collection photograph.
Our description on the back of our reads "We drank mint tea on the porch. It was sweltering in the summer heat but the wind picked up as the storm came closer. The sky turned dark grey, purple and a melancholy white. We were fearless." Seeing our words in print on an actual book has had a profound effect on both of us. We've both begun to write our great novel!
Viola's attempting to write her book in manuscript form with a calligraphy pen. I, however, am not so ambitious.
This photo of Viola and her friends at her ninth birthday party became so much more magical that literally glows from the light streaming through the window.
Finding remnants of these newsprint paintings I did decades ago in the basement reminded me that I had taken photos of them and they were somewhere in the abyss of my computer's hard drive. I accepted the mission to unearth them, located them fairly quickly and decided they'd be perfectly preserved as on my coffee table.
The basement held my massive collection of Nancy Drew books which I will NEVER get rid of. I am, however, way out of bookshelf space so I decided that the inside cover illustrations that I stared at for hours as a kid should make their way upstairs in the form of a . Now I have lunch with Nancy every day. Reunions are so sweet! Copyright Note: I researched the copyright of the interior cover art on pre-1978 Nancy Drew books at copyright.gov . If you are using images that you do not own, please make sure you check the copyright and image rights! There are thousands of royalty-free images available for non-commercial use. You can find some at Victoria and Albert Museum collection and at the Rijksmuseum .
I decided it was high time my chief creative influence (and Avon lady Grandmother), Margie Kelch, had a major presence in my office. Welcome to the pink palace where Margie's favorite gum wrapper, Teaberry, hangs on the entry wall as I created at Shutterfly. I also added some Teaberry stripes to the entry, in case you hadn't noticed!
I always start my work day with the same ritual each morning- a cold glass of water in my power glass with my initial on it, a few notes in my old school composition book and the lighting of my "Dream On" . Then the laptop comes out. I created the and at Shutterfly and the Grapefruit scent of the candle really wakes you right up. Seize the day!
I was pretty excited to outfit a space in my dining room hutch as my after-work bar. I don't drink, but the idea of using the I created at Shutterfly to hold my highball glasses and simple syrups totally made me feel like the perfect hostess. I used the same theme for my tray that I used for the journal I made so it has a sort of 1940s feel with ribbons and fabric peeking out from underneath the glasses.
A close-up of complete with some of my favorite vintage fabric from my collection.
And we're back at my forever couch with the Midnight Snorkeler where, after a long day at work, I rest my head on my crazy fantasy of jumping in the ocean at midnight with my neon pink mask on top of my head. I love this because it's so perfect for daydreaming on!

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    • Ah, I so glad to hear that Jenny! That was one of my favorites too because it reminded of the informative ‘art’ placards that they had at my local library when I was a kid. It made Jefferson and Monticello seem SO cool to me and I loved the utilitarian feel of them. I’ll happily pass the photo to you at your email address. Please feel free to use and enjoy it for non-commercial purposes. And you should definitely find some things you love but don’t want to lug around anymore for your own project! It was a fun adventure :)

  • Caitlin, I love how you’ve kept the essence of the things you love in a way that you actually see them everyday. Memories, not clutter. (My favs are the Nancy Drew plates and crazy fun pillows.)

    I am so stealing some of these ideas!

    • Do it! I’m totally a ‘steal this book’ kinda girl :) This was so FUN and liberating. I feel like I saved the objects for a reason and now I know why. And it makes me feel creative using technology which I sometime struggle with mentally… Thanks for the kind words Cynthia!

  • Did you just scan the Nancy Drew file to upload it? Additionally, I too would love the PDF for the kid’s book printable, if possible.

    • Hi Elizabeth!

      Yep, I just scanned the image and then uploaded it to the Shutterfly site using their custom plate tool here: You can just copy and paste that long URL into your browser when you’re ready to make your own! I’ll post where you can download the Kid’s Book Set image in this comments section shortly!


  • This is so so smart and so so beautiful!!! I am obsessed. As someone who is highly sentimental, it’s so hard to get rid of things. I love how this honors all the things you hold dear – no matter how goofy!

    • Hey Kelsey!

      Wow!! Thanks very, very much :) I found when I finally let myself go in to the ‘abyss’ so to speak, not only was it not as scary as I thought but it inspired me in ways I didn’t think possible. For me, marrying creativity + technology + sentimental memories was always a bit frightening but this was so intuitive. Having a tactile object that’s functional AND embodies sweet memories only seems to inspire more not only for me, but my daughter also :)


    • Thanks so much! It was a great relief to actually have fun and be creative while tackling a project I avoided for years!


  • This is the best thing I’ve seen in ages! All of it!
    The neon snorkeler pillow is perfect on your couch, your daughter’s wallpaper is dreamy, I LOVE the Nancy Drew plates, the notebook is so inspiring and what a perfect use for old paintings that would otherwise not be seen.
    I’m going to my parent’s house on the other side of the country next week and should probably try to tackle my piles of sentimental stuff too. Thanks for sharing! I’d love to see more of your home.

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