One Man’s Trash Is Indeed Another Man’s Treasure
Miscellanea 13 years ago No Comments


contributed by Nyota P. Brooks [eclectic bargain huntress / color enthusiast / proud new design graduate]

I lived in New York City for many years, and it was there that I discovered thrift store shopping. Hunting and exploring for new Let’s Make A Deal locations became blood-pumpingly exciting. Like anything else, sometrashtreasuretitle.gif were better than others, but there was no better rush than snagging a precious piece for around five bucks. I still remember the day that my sister came home to tell me that she discovered a vintage Louis Vuitton purse for ten dollars. Ten dollars, people! Though I will forever envy her four-leaf couture clover, the inner bargain shopper in me has transcended fashion finds to focus on interior pursuits.

Swan Make

I love to yard sale, garage sale and scour clearance sections for good deals. You can snag the best “junk” when you have the imagination to see beyond the peeling, hideously chipped paint and envision the potential a neglected object has. Case in point: Recently a friend of mine gave me a small, antique wooden dresser that was left in a house that she had purchased. I meticulously prepped it, primed it, and painted it glossy black. After changing the drawer pull hardwarevoila! – this ugly duckling transformed into the beautiful swan that is now my foyer focal point extraordinaire. And for next to nothing.

Thanks to our less-than-stellar economy, not only do people have less money to spend on furniture, but more of us are staying at home because we cannot afford to take that annual vacation. So what better time to make your house a little cozier, turning it into a place where you will enjoy spending more time” If you are willing to channel your inner artist, you will be amazed how many diamonds in the rough are sitting around just waiting to be polished into sparkling gems.

Nuggets Of Inspiration

Inspiration can come from anywhere or anyone. Nature, landscapes, seascapes, the Internet, children’s artwork, and design magazines like Domino, Interior Design and Real Simple are all great sources for inspiration. Take the time to peruse and identify your own design style and favorite color palettes.

A yard sale or garage sale is a great place to start, but you can even scour the clearance sections of your favorite home stores for bargains. If you go to a yard sale, there are certain things to look for. trash_treasure1.jpgFor the Novice DIYer try something less intimidating like small home accessories – i.e., vases, lamps or pottery. For the Professional DIYer, however, larger furniture items are there for the picking. You would be amazed by the amount of good stuff that people throw away or consider junk. In some instances, people are downsizing their homes or relocating, and you can really luck out by finding items that do not need any fixing or touching up. Their loss is definitely your gain.

From Drab To Fab

Is your home in desperate need of spicing up” Do you need to add a little pizzazz or glamour” In these financially challenging times, it is all about how to get the most for your money, so instead of buying that brand new whatever, try taking long look around your space and see what can be repurposed.

Repurposed, you say” What exactly is repurposing” Taking a tired old object and breathing new life into it. For example: Your grandma’s side table that you lovingly inherited. Just because it was your grandmother’s does not mean that you are stuck with its as-is status. Repurpose it into your style and function by at minimum changing the finish, color and/or the hardware. Go further by adding on it, taking away from it, or using it in an unconventional way or place. It will still be your grandmother’s table, reminding you daily of her heart-melting hugs, but it will be that much better because you’ll be associating those fond memories in such a way that integrates into your current lifestyle.

The following are two examples of how to take two everyday household pieces from drab to fab. Warning: These projects are not for the timid and should only be taken on by the brave at heart. If you have not an ounce of Martha Stewart in you, please step aside. Or at least find a friend to help.

Lesson 1
During my cruising for nuggets of inspiration, I found a chair that was redone by artist Thom Law Britten. What a great example of how to make a plain chair anything but.

To take on a similar project, find an inexpensive “naked” chair and identify your inspiration – Georges Seurat, Diane von Furstenberg, Dalmatian puppies, the Hawaiian sunset when you enjoyed your first Mai Tai… whatever – and imagine how you can project that concept onto the chair. Then consult this handy guide, procure your materials (a quart of paint – possibly two, depending on how messy you are), secure a place to channel your inner Martha without destroying anyone else’s possessions, and bam! Welcome to the world of fabulosity.

Lesson 2
For instant glamour with that kapow! factor, trying injecting a little energy into your old sofa or hand-me-down chairs with accent pillows. Throw pillows are the perfect way to add instant visual and tactiletrash_treasure2.jpg texture to any room, as well as to introduce color into an otherwise drab environment.

Many retail home stores like West Elm and Z Gallerie carry pillows adorned with intricate patterns that can cost a pretty penny, but with a little imagination and know-how (plus a good dose of patience) you can adorn your own pillows at home for a relatively modest cost. And when you get bored or want to shake things up for the upcoming season, just stash the old ones and start over.

Basic accent pillows come a dime a dozen, and you can get them in just about any size and color. It helps to be handy with a sewing machine or a needle & thread, but an even easier method entails using Aleene’s No-Sew Fabric Glue to adhere beads, sequins, ribbon, etc. to your intended mark. FYI for your DYI: If you do choose to glue the ribbons on, good for you (because who has time to thread a sewing machine”!”), but be aware that the edges will not be as clean as with the sewed on version. A small price to pay for a small price to pay.

Go Forth And Reclaim

Well, now that you have some projects at hand to make your space a little more memorable, there is no reason not to live life to your most fabulous. But why be selfish” If you are running low on cash for gifts, spread the wealth by repurposing for others. Make this holiday season magic by following my mantra: There is never an excuse for Blah.