Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Frugal Finds in Refuse

When Deus Ex Machina and I first purchased our house, we didn't have a lot.  We had moved from an 800 square-foot apartment to a 1500 square-foot house.  In the beginning, I wasn't as careful about decorating.  Indeed, I didn't really give it much thought.

I joked that our style was "shabby-shabby."  It was - not necessarily by choice, but because WE didn't always make the decisions about what came into our home.  For many years our home seemed to be the dumping ground for any family or friend who had an extra sumpin'-sumpin' that they didn't know how to dispose of.  We had three couches at one point. 

My shabby-shabby designation was a joke, and I thought it was funny, because, ultimately, I told myself that I didn't care. 

But, I kind of did. I had friends who had very lovely homes with what seemed to be thought-out decor choices.  I started watching all of those home improvement shows.  I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of "tiny homes". 

And I started making choices. 

The primary choice was to practice patience when it came to my decor.  Instead of just trying to fit in things that I purchase on a whim, I make very conscious choices, and I spend a lot of time thinking about and researching what will fit best and look best in a particular area. 

I spend a lot of time looking at pictures on the internet and in those fancy design magazines (which I borrow for free from the library). 

So, after we finished the backroom and got things moved around, I started looking at and thinking about my living room.  It's a long and narrow room.  The entire room, which also includes the dining room, is roughly, 9' x 34'.  The wood stove divides the two rooms.  There is a door on either end of the room.  There are three windows in each "room." 

I've used every bit of the space that I can for storing things.  We have two floor to ceiling bookshelves (each about 4' wide and 7' tall).  There's a new buffet unit in the dining area.  We have a bench seat instead of chairs, because the low bench doesn't block the line of sight, which makes the room feel larger ... if we don't pile stuff on the bench.  I have shelves above all of the windows for extra storage. 

Our couch is pretty big and bulky, but it only seats three people.  We needed more seating, but because the room is so long and narrow, I had to be careful about the choice, or we'd end up making the room look cluttered ... or as it was for too many years, the room looked less like a living room and more like a wide hallway with a couch against one wall.

I spent months thinking about and looking at chair styles, and finally decided I wanted a winged back chair.  I found one second-hand on a FB yard sale site.  I, actually, found three (not all at the same time), and then, after I found the first one, my daughters each decided she wanted one in her room.  And so, I found a few more. 

Then, because we occasionally have more than four people in our living room at one time, I decided I wanted a square, leather ottoman, like this one,  to serve as a coffee table, but also to provide additional seating. 

After several weeks of looking, Deus Ex Machina found a used one on Craig's List.  As it turns out and quite by accident, it perfectly matches our couch ... AND it has storage.  Score!

It's one of those things that define serendipity. 

The next challenge was to find an "ottoman tray" so that it could actually serve as a coffee table, when we didn't need the extra seating.  There are some beautiful (read: pricey) choices out there for that sort of thing. 

It went on my list of things to look for at the thrift store.  I don't go to the thrift store very often.  In fact, I don't really go shopping very much.  So, that particular search took awhile, and what I found was not exactly what I was looking for. 

What I found was a cute, little wooden box that had originated as the storage box for a Melissa and Doug toy.  The label was still on the bottom of the box, although the toy was long gone.  Goodwill didn't have a problem selling just the tray.  I didn't have a problem picking it up for a dollar.

Anyway, the color is all wrong.  It's plain wood, and my plan is to paint it black.  Plus, it doesn't look like a tray.  It just looks like a box.  So, my plan was to also add some handles. 

Going to the hardware store was on the To Do list, but closer to the bottom of the list than the top.

Today, I was gifted handles, when I wasn't even looking.

My daughter is teaching a dance class in a rented space.  I gave her a ride to class today, and while she was teaching, I was hanging out in the car with my grand-dog.  Just before her class ended, the Grand-dog and I decided to go for a short walk, and I just kind of moseyed around the parking lot.  Then, I spied this awesome metal bucket near the dumpster, and I went to investigate. 

Lo and behold!  Behind the dumpster was the remains of a cabinet that had been broken to pieces.  The drawer pulls were still attached to the drawer fronts. 

Today was my first official dumpster dive since college. 

I grabbed the drawer front, popped my trunk, and walked to my car with it ... just as a lady exited the building.  I said hi and put the thing in my trunk.  She said hi, and ignored what I was holding - both the drawer front and the dog ;).

My plan is to repurpose the drawer pulls.  There was also some other hardware on the drawer - specifically, screws, which I'll keep.  We're always needing fasteners.  The drawer front will probably end up in the fire pit, but in the end, none of it will go to waste.

I was inspired a few weeks ago by an article I read about a dumpster diver who makes a nice side income from picking trash, cleaning up and/or repairing his finds, and then, reselling them on eBay or Craig's List.  It's not something I could ever do - not because I'm adverse to picking "trash", as, clearly, I'm not, but because we have no where to store our treasure while we're waiting for a buyer. 

But for saving money on my homestead, trash picking is turning out to be pretty lucrative, and sometimes saving money is better than earning money.


  1. Very clever! I think surroundings are worthwhile to craft to your liking,making the space work for you and please you as well. We love used stuff--much of our place is furnished with things that had a prior life. When furnishings no longer work, we sometimes put them out with a free sign and wait to see how long before adopted Not long, usually!