Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Seeing the potential in thrifted and second hand furniture

It is our preference to buy second hand rather than new in order to save things from the waste stream. Many things which are still very useful are tossed away -often because of some idea that they are no longer fashionable. This is an enormous waste -particularly when the things thrown away are made from trees which grew for a long time before being cut down. The wonderful Brenna Quinlan (@brenna_quinlan drew this diagram below: please follow her on Instagram! 

Capitalism depends on us deciding that we can no longer tolerate something which still has a lot of use, in order to buy something which the factory somewhere has just made -often in inferior quality. This demand keeps us all at work to raise the money to buy the new stuff to replace the stuff we already have! For example, a serviceable table in laminex is fashionable in one generation -the next things in laminex are execrable. The tables end up on the tip. Then 'someone' decides that, not that they are rare, they are somehow 'retro' and fashionable again!

This is a post about the things you can achieve with some thrifting and buying things second hand, if you are patient, if you are willing to think outside the fashionistas and if you are not too worried about everything being exactly the same. 

We have a project this year, to "tizzy up" our bedroom. There were some things we didn't think were working for us, like the baskets of clothes on open shelves -too dusty, to hard to keep tidy, took up too much space.  We want to paint the room and generally refresh the space. Anyway, rather than participate in all this consumerims we first gave away our shelves and baskets to some local people who had no storage in their new home, participating in the 'gift economy' as an act of generosity and community building. Let's face it, the gift economy is an act of rebellion as well as an act of grace!

We also decluttered our clothes, so we could manage with less storage. The useful items went to the Op Shop (charity shop).

After a lot of research, last year we bought two lovely old wooden chests of drawers from a second hand shop- beautifully made and brought back to life with a bit of a polish with a furniture restoring polish. I think we paid about $300 for both of them. They both have a slightly bowed front, and the same kind of hook handles -so even if they are different they kind of go together. I must say, they have been a great improvement, and we love the fact that we have 'saved' them. We took a bit of a risk in purchasing them -they were quite different from what we had ever had before, but we love them now.

The next challenge was to replace some bulky white IKEA chests of drawers we were using as bedside tables. I looked in op shops, in the tip shop, online in second hand market places, for about three months!

This week we had a couple of finds. The table lamps you see here are kind of glass or crystal -$25 for two from the tip shop, and the little Queen Anne style bedside tables were $50 each from a local who was selling their mother's stuff as she was now going into Care. They are similar in colour to the chests of drawers, and have the same bowed front and the same hook handles.

The old bedside lamps were too chunky for the cute dainty tables, so they came here in the dining room- we just have to inch the painting up a little bit so they are not obscured.

In the picture below you can also see our new-to-us trolley -bought from an online marketplace and in use every day as our breakfast trolley. Compared to how long it took to find the bedside tables, the trolley turned up just when we decided we needed it! At $140 it was a bit pricey, but we love the art deco feel of it. It sits in our bedroom too, but here you see it pressed into service for a Cream Tea with scones and cream and mulberry jam. 

The IKEA chest of drawers have been put to good use. Here is one in my sewing room as an ironing station. The drawers are holding my scrap fabric collection. This is just SO handy, I can't believe I have managed so far without it. The project I am seen working on is the valance for my sister-in-law's window. The other is in our walk in wardrobe. 

We continued this week to improve my husband's sister's place -finishing off the shower, and purchasing a disabled person's frame for the toilet so she has support to get up if needed. 

DH brought home her piano stool which was looking a bit worse for wear. He sanded down and re-stained the wood. Then we put on a new cover- the first time DH has tried a bit of upholstery. 

I think it looks fantastic!

DH has another project for our bedroom, now in the workshop. We paid $40 for a wrought iron and wood bed frame -from the tip shop!  He is now working on staining the wood darker, and refurbishing the whole thing. He thinks it will take about three weeks, so I hope to have some news next month that it is in place.

Thanks so much for dropping by and reading this blog. I do love your comments, and read every one!


selina said...

ohhh the furniture is beautiful! i do so love vintage & anything that is old & different!
gosh love your art deco trolley! what a find!

can't wait to see your new/old bed, iron & wood always looks great together!

fabulous post

thanx for sharing

Meg said...

You've found some wonderful items second-hand or at the tip shop. Love your tea trolley!

I think there are great bargains to be had second-hand and in-op shops. Towards the end of last year, we bought a second-hand outdoor lounge setting, in excellent condition, off Gumtree for a fraction of price of a new one. I had been looking for nearly six months before I found it so I think patience pays off.

We also recently bought a second-hand ute and while it's new-to-us, it most certainly isn't one of the trendy new ones. It is however a very reliable make and in excellent condition. It should last us many, many years. We sold on our old ute to someone who really wanted it. It would've been worth next to nothing at a dealership even though it was in good condition and running really well.

I often gift and receive veg or citrus from friends, there are free seeds at the little seed bank at one of our local libraries, books in the little street library outside our local cafe etc. So many ways to give or swap or find things.

Great post which I really enjoyed reading!

Nil @ The Little House by the Lake said...

I love everything you found for the bedroom.

Most things at my home are also second hand stuff. It does take time to find the things I want, but I love the hunt and find it really satisfying.

I look forward to seeing your new headboard.

sustainablemum said...

It is so true what you say about being patient, if we wait and look carefully we will find the things we want, the things that someone else no longer wants. Almost all of our furniture is built in here, if were to move we would not have much to take with us, we have built it in slowly and carefully over the 17 years we have lived here, often using wood that has been repurposed from other things.

How amazing that you have also found items that are similar even though you have bought them in different places at different times, they look like they were meant to go together. I am looking forward to seeing the bed when it is finished.

A great post, thank you for sharing.

TheAwakenedSoul said...

All of my furniture is either from my parent and grandparents, the Salvation Army, or another thrift store. I love it. My mother always said that antiques go together; they don't have to match. I love your dressers. Your trolley looks lovely with all of the pastries and china, too.