Sunday, August 19, 2007
Trash to treasure
A while back, I posted about some ways to improve the look of found items. The top picture is of a pair of bookshelves that I bought at a garage sale for $2 each. If you click and enlarge the pictures, you can see where the edging had pulled off. There were also nail/screw holes in the top of one, bottom of the other where it seems the two had been joined to make a taller unit. The second picture is the same bookshelves after 3 coats of white paint. I had purchased the paint to use on the baseboards and door of the bathrooms but I needed the bookshelves sooner than I would be painting the bathrooms (It still hasn't happened.). I used about half a gallon for the two, so about $12 for the paint. I probably could have gotten away with 2 coats of paint but bugs kept landing on them and messing up the finish (and sometimes I can be a bit of a perfectionist and obsess if it doesn't look quite right). With cleaning, lightly sanding and painting, I maybe spent 1 -2 hours (with kid help) on the project. In return, I got two nice looking bookshelves that fit our growing library quite well and a couple of hours of sunshine and fresh air all for about $16. The cheapest I found new bookshelves for of similar dimensions was about $20 each, for a savings of $24 not including tax (and the environmental costs of buying new and the old ones going to the landfill).
The second picture is of the loveseat we got free from dh's aunt when she moved. We also got a matching sofa. The loveseat now has one of the bookshelves (filled with homeschooling and a revolving selection of public library books) and a floor lamp next to it to create a nice reading nook in front of the wood stove. The rug on the floor was a housewarming gift from a friend. The only costs for furnishing this space were the $8 for the shelf, $7 for the lamp and $2 for a garage sale purchased basket that holds the library books.
The sofa and other bookshelf are on the other side of the basement where we have the kids' computer, crafts stuff, board games and the tv. We also have an armchair that the previous owners left behind which I draped an unbleached canvas dropcloth over. It's not necessarily beautiful but it is durable and extremely practical with a houseful of active kids. To round out the room, we have a dresser to hold building blocks, "school" supplies and comfy fleece throws that we got free from dh's uncle (another landfill save), an inexpensive computer desk and chair from Ikea (I think they were $20 each), a tv cabinette that was on clearance from Ikea, an Ikea floor lamp that was $7, a throw rug that we brought from Iran and 3 big denim floor pillows that I picked up on sale for $5 each. So, for this room, not including the cost of the computer, we've spent less than $200 furnishing the room.
I know not everyone has options for freebies, especially for expensive items like sofas, but if you open yourself up to think creatively and not confine yourself to a specific time frame (i.e. instant gratification/"must have it now") you're likely to be pleased with what you can come up with.