Walkin’ in a Thrift Store Wonderland

Posted in Blogs, Community, Visual Art

December 10, 2014

I love design. Any kind of design—and when I heard about Langley’s “Deck the Doors” holiday contest, I thought it might be fun to challenge my design skills and maybe even win.

The contest is a brilliant way for the city of Langley to decorate its entire town for the holidays. Artists and store owners are matched and the artist is given the opportunity to create a holiday decor for a business storefront.

I was the artist matched with Langley Antiques, which is housed in an old bank building with exquisite woodwork, vintage windows and a beautiful glass inset front door. In order to preserve the surrounding moldings and trim, I was asked to use just two nails in the entire design—hidden in the outside molding above the front door.

Okay. There are always design constraints; this is common. But this one really made me think.

Langley Antiques, decorated by Meri McCormick for "Deck the Doors 2014"  (photo by Meri McCormick)

Langley Antiques, decorated by Meri McCormick for “Deck the Doors 2014” (photo by Lorinda Kay)

I managed to map out an overall look using just the two nails, with dowels to hang ornaments, and tiebacks to secure the rest. I received approval from owners Laurel and Jackie and I was on my way. The bank building had a lot of detail to consider—the front door, side panels, three windows, the planter, the old bench and the antique scale perched in front. The theme for my design was old fashioned holiday motif, but buying all the materials for the design seemed likely to cost a fortune. How could I pull this off?

I happened to be driving in Oak Harbor later that week and passed Island Thrift Store. Stopping in, I quickly located a wall of holiday possibilities—bin after bin of garland, bows, ribbons, wreaths, stockings and ornaments. I started filling my cart. After paying just $15 for all of my finds, I was hooked.

Suddenly Thrift stores on Whidbey Island became my passion. I visited Good Cheer in Clinton and found a huge handmade Santa stocking and a massive white beard, which I glued onto the Santa face.

Santa grins with a special beard from Good Cheer in Clinton!  (photo by Meri McCormick)

Santa grins with a special beard from Good Cheer in Clinton! (photo by Meri McCormick)

My search then brought me to Community Thrift in Freeland; I nearly passed out when I found a dozen 24-inch candy canes made out of PVC pipe for only 25 cents each. They were ideal for the planter and for the front door garland.

At the WAIF Thrift Store in Freeland I found a fantastic french horn for my garland focal point. But I wasn’t stopping there. At Good Cheer Thrift in Langley I bought $1 teddy bears to stuff my stockings and white, red and green beads for 50 cents that I strung together, plus more balls and ornaments.

As the days passed, I noticed that the thrift stores kept bringing out more amazing holiday decorations. So I returned, again, again and again. I combed the island from Clinton to Freeland, Coupeville and Oak Harbor. I wanted more, but I finally had to curb my festive frenzy as my living room quickly became a mass of glitter, ribbons, angels, balls, Santas and glue. I had turned into a thrift store addict and my only hope was to tie myself to my house and get to work.

A french horn from WAIF Thrift Store in Freeland gets the star treatment in Langley Antiques' holiday decorations.  (photo by Meri McCormick)

A french horn from WAIF Thrift Store in Freeland gets the star treatment in Langley Antiques’ holiday decorations. (photo by Meri McCormick)


Thanks to all my thrift store finds, my design is now finished and displayed at Langley Antiques along with all the other beautifully decorated doors in downtown Langley. Stop in and take a look. Then, get to your nearest Whidbey Island thrift store and go crazy. You can decorate your home—and even a whole town—for pennies.

For more photos of “Deck the Doors,” see this photo essay from Lorinda Kay.

Meri has remodeled and staged hundreds of homes and offices. A resident of Freeland, she is a lover of all things design.


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