Saturday, February 20, 2010

thrifts and gifts

The excitement of finding something beautiful where you least expect it.
The smug happiness of paying a few dollars when you know the alternative is an exponentially greater sum.
The creative euphoria of seeing the potential in an object others might see as useless or ugly... and re-vamping the object with your own personal touch.
The satisfaction of knowing your lifestyle is not filling landfills.

Thrifting. What's not to love?

I must admit I fell in love with an anti-consumer lifestyle rather by necessity. When I moved into my own apartment a few years ago, I was on a school-teacher's salary. Outfitting an entire house with brand-new, designer furnishings was out of the question. Stopping by the local Goodwill and perusing yard sales yielded delightful results. Here are a few of my favorites:

Why pay big bucks for a bed headboard? Metal bed frames are easily procured, and you can design your own alternative. Thirty-six inch-wide candelabra: $5 at Goodwill. Six yards of embroidered tulle: $6... from Walmart. Yup, I cheated. ;)

Bookcases and mirrors are ferociously expensive if bought new. I found this solid wood cabinet at Goodwill for $10, removed the hideous veneer doors, and, viola! A mini bookcase. The wood finish is rather dark. I still want to refinish it. Maybe a distressed ivory? Maybe I'll wait until I have a space I know the color won't collide violently with the rest of the room and paint it at distressed green, similar to this. The mirror was $2-$3 at Goodwill. Its frame was a ghastly black, pink, gilt, green, and purple floral. At the time, I settled for brown paint, but if I ever re-do it, I'll most likely choose off-white or ivory... or maybe a mustard yellow for a spot that needs a little color.

I absolutely adore trunks, but paying $50 or more for cute storage space seemed a little idiotic. When I saw this one for $12 at Goodwill (I think I was on first-name basis with the employees by then), I did a happy dance. It used to be black, but a previous owner painted it white and stuck brown-marbled drawer-liner on the lid. I rather like its character. 

The green-glass bottle is another Goodwill find: $0.75 Yes, the P. Graham Dunn plaque was new. No, I did not get it at Goodwill.

The fridge was a project I did for my land-lord. He bought it at a sale, and rust spots polka-dotted the doors. I bought a partial can of spray paint at Walmart for a few pennies and quarters. Spraying the paint directly onto the enamel gave it a flat, graffiti look... so I sprayed it onto loosely crumpled paper towels and sponged it on. I liked the slightly marbled effect, and my landlord was more than a little pleased. 

Oh, here's another fun project I did:

My friend David nailed two 2x4s together to make this cross for a Good Friday gathering I hosted. Later, I varnished it, sanded the edges a little, and this was the result:

Because I've been living with a family in the city, I haven't had occasion to do much scrounging for furniture lately, but I have been wanting a desk. It couldn't be too big; I wouldn't have room for it. It should have a few drawers, though; storing art supplies and paperwork somewhere other than the shelf in my closet would be a luxury. I've been scouring Craigslist, but hadn't yet found anything that fit the bill. My dad called me this morning, saying he saw this baby on a "free" pile beside the road:

He didn't know I had been looking for a desk. He just knows I am one of the many trash-scavengers and thought I might like it. Would I?? He loaded it on his truck and delivered it to my door. I have a good dad. :) A little research identified it as part of the "Country Oak" series by Young-Hinkle. Made in the '60's, it's solid oak and worth around $50. It's too perfect. I'm madly in love. :) The top could use a coat of varnish, so I'm immersed in a quandary. Do I restore it to its original look or paint it a fun color? Design*Sponge offers lots of painting inspiration... Any advice?

I've never done a re-upholstering project, but I've read so many how-to's that I've been wanting to get my hands on a piece that begs for new threads. The desk chair practically screams for it. The nasty black, shiny vinyl is split open. Despite its being sturdy as a mule, the varnish is bubbled and worn. I'll probably sand it down and paint it. Not sure what color, but perhaps something similar to this weathered goldenrod look:

See the before and after of the sunny beauty here on Design*Sponge.

Last, but not least... the third piece my dad brought me from the free pile:

A vintage hurricane lamp! On first appraisal, I thought I'd enamel the metal a shade of ecru and paint the glass a light turquoise or spring green... or yellow... I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to floral paintings on dishes and furnishings. A little research made me re-think the whole painting idea, though. A hand-painted "Gone With the Wind" hurricane, it's worth $200-$500. I love the way hurricane lamps can illume just the base for soft light, or both base and top... Considering its mint condition and worth, I might just learn to appreciate the flowers as well. :) 

I'm also on a Craigslist/ Goodwill/ trash pile hunt for a bedside table... but I just might steal the extraordinarily-talented Michelle's idea. Check it out on her blog

Who says living wisely and living beautifully are mutually exclusive? It's quite possible I'm hyper-moralizing things, but using the unwanted rather than buying new seems an extremely practical way to allow living restoratively to affect every area of life. Besides, it's great fun.

Hope your weekend is refreshing! Mine has been immensely so... and it's not even over yet!


Barbara said...

that is super super cool! i love doing stuff like that :) and i couldnt help but droll over your eiffel tower... :)

Becca said...

I should have known better. I should not have posted that picture without "no drooling" instructions. Really, Barbara, drooling doesn't look attractive... on either you or my darling eiffel. ;) oh, idea! when we're big and have been in uganda for a few years, let's go to paris for a vacation!

Barbara said...

ooooo yes yes! *picture me smiling big and rubbing my hands together with excitement* where'd you get the eiffel tower? wouldnt it be cool to have a lifesized one? lol
and about the drolling, i cant help it, and i dont really care how it looks, so there! :)

Becca said...

it WOULD be cool to have a life-sized one! thy dreams exceed my imagination, madame. however, possessing one might require several city permits... i got mine a few years ago at target, but they don't carry them any more. search "eiffel tower decor" on amazon; i saw some there...

Sam and Mattie Kauffman Family said...

Hey! You should move to Uganda soon!! :) then you'd be less than an hour away from us! and uh, where, pray tell, would you put a life-sized eiffel tower?? ;)Btw- I love that little twirly plant! Aunt Mim gave one to me on my bday last year and it's really neat! I love your thriftiness Becca!! Miss you! :(-tina

Becca said...

Now THAT'S a fair prospect, Tina! I miss you, tooooo!

Becca said...

Oh, and about the life-sized Eiffel... don't ask such practical questions. ;) lol. I love my twirly bamboo, too! I heard the effect is achieved by growing the stalks horizontally (so they bend upward toward the light source), then turning as they grow around a tube. Pretty sweet. :)