Throwback to the Future: ​​Secondhand salvation and domestic resurrection in Elizabeth Daniel’s personal bazaar


Elizabeth Daniel. // Photo by Pilsen Photo Co-op

Tucked away in Tongonoxie, KS, lives Elizabeth Daniel in what appears to be a house of wonders. Complete with a ‘sherage’ (like a garage, but with a twist) and a giant Lorax, you can find just about anything you need for an anachronistic photo montage… and then some.

When The Pitch initially spoke to Daniel, her home was in the midst of transformation for our cover shoot. Need your backyard turned into a cookout ad straight from the ‘60s/’70s? Daniel is your best bet. While setting up for the shoot, it was as if she could read everyone’s mind.  Daniel would pop in with an “I have one of those in my garage” before ever being asked, and sure enough, it would meet the exact vision. 

That probably leaves you wondering what her garage looks like, and it is perhaps the perfect glance into Daniel’s brain. Brass animals, funky light fixtures, Persian rugs, and eclectic multi-textured couches displayed in ways that might look disorganized to some—to her, it’s an elaborate, intentional game of Tetris. 

“I was just volunteering and doing art classes at the library, but I didn’t officially have a job anymore,” says Daniel of her introduction to secondhand shopping. “So I spent a lot of time at thrift stores. I would just pile the kids into the van and we’d go.” 

Being an artist with a pre-existing following, Daniel started to discover that she could find and create pieces that other people would find value in. Using her Facebook group, Daniel started to create themed photoscapes to display the items she had collected and was selling. 

“I think that the magic of it all is, you know, what makes people want to shop at places like Target is that it’s staged, right?” says Daniel. “So it takes the guesswork out of it for people. That’s basically what I’m doing—but make it vintage.”

Along with curating vignettes using antiques and secondhand items, Daniel also creates original artwork to match a theme she wants to convey. 

“We went on a vacation to Graceland and saw Elvis’ house, so I did a jungle room theme. I usually have like 10 themes that I’m working on at any given time.” 

When asked about her art, Daniel spoke about a mural she did in a local bar and the different forms she dabbles in. 

“I obviously love painting and working with that medium, but I’d say I’m happiest when I can find a vintage piece that I can fix up,” she says. 

Daniel has one main goal: to get people to thrift more. A firm believer that you can find anything secondhand, she believes her work can inspire others to do their own vintage shopping, find the things that would otherwise end up on the curb, and turn them into home decor treasures.

Daniel explains that her Facebook  group feels like a circle of friends who she  just happens to shop for. If someone buys from her a few times, she’s able to gauge their style. Some of them even reach out for advice on how they should decorate parts of their home. 

“They feel like old friends, and they can always find me again,” says Daniel. 

As far as her favorite personal find, Daniel has the answer instantly. 

“I own a Peter Max,” she says—her excitement, as we sit in the ‘sherage,’ is palpable. “I grew up obsessed with Peter Max. When I found it, I couldn’t believe it.” 

Some people might feel less-than-confident about secondhand shopping: This person can find such great stuff at thrift stores, but when I go, I only find beat-up old couches, and if I’m lucky, a niche t-shirt. What am I doing wrong? 

Daniel has some advice for that. 

“If you like it, it’s worth it. Even if it was from Home Goods a year ago, you’re still doing the world a favor by taking it when someone else didn’t want it,” she says.

 It doesn’t necessarily have to be vintage in order to be cool, and that’s what sets Daniel apart. 

“I want them to be secondhand. The whole point is that something was maybe going to end up at the landfill. If someone doesn’t find it,  then I can give it a new life and decorate my own house in a really cute way,” Daniel says.  

Elizabeth Daniel – Decor (Facebook Group)


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Categories: Culture