Monday, June 29, 2015

Thrift Shopping and Curbstopping to Repurpose and Upcycle


For those of you who follow me, you know I'm a recycler,
upcycler,
junker,
thrift shopper,
flea market hopper
and curb stopper.
Even if it means grabbing from a dumpster or a junkyard, it's all about working with what you've got, and for free or cheap, to make something.
What a thrill it brings in the end.

Sometimes I just happen to find things and other times I need to find something to make a project work. It can be anything from a lamp shade to a massive piece of furniture without being afraid of broken or missing parts. We fix that stuff, right? It's part of the fun.

Curbside "free for all" is truly the most exciting. It feels like stealing.
But it's not.
The stuff is put there to get rid of it in the first place.
And you just happened to be the happy snag 'er upper!

Especially when you see something on the road and nearly get a whiplash looking back at it.

"WHOA BABY!!! What is that? Is that what I think it is?
Pull over!
No, turn around!
No, back up... slowly!
Whatever! Just get back to it!"

Then you get your hands on it... toss it in the car or truck... ever so ninja like! (Just don't wear a ninja costume. Someone would call 911. It's ok to wear a baseball cap and sunglasses.)
Pretend you didn't get hurt even if you did; then pull your hat down lower so nobody can see you. (They can really but it makes you feel better.)
You feel like you're being watched...
just get back in the vehicle.
Now drive away.
Calmly.
Now, take that baby home!
HA!!! It's a home-run!!!
Scorrrrrre!!!
That was fun.

Last year while picking up a metal table, the owner happened to be outdoors and asked me if I was interested in a chair, vanity and a few others things. Talk about excitement! It was like I won the free roadside lottery!

I have had so much pleasure and success with road rescues.

Like "that 70's coffee table" that went southwest with pallet wood.


The scattered secretary desk. The woman who put it to the curb was so excited to learn I was repairing it.


The side table a friend brought to me from the side of the road because I'm now publicly known as the upcyling junkie.


A 1930's broken drum table. The one I almost gave up on.


My latest: Dresser mirror frame turned into a huge chalkboard.


There are some curbed items that aren't easy for the taking. Like this antique piano a few weeks ago. 
I tried. It was impossible alone. 
I begged for help. No takers.
Being so large, extremely heavy, etc., the only way to get it would be using heavy equipment. It wouldn't be worth the costs. This one will haunt me. 


But then I thought I would bring tools and ask the owner(s) if they didn't mind if I took it apart to load it as long as I didn't leave a mess.

I went back and found this.

The ivory was stripped from the keys and the front was gone.

Still determined, I worked on the bottom. It was like Fort Knox. It was too secure. Should've brought a chain saw.

What a great desk this would have made. Or storage cabinet. Bar. Workbench. Potting bench.
Sigh.


Anyway, lucky to live in an area to have several thrift shops within fair driving distance, there is quite a variety of stuff available. I usually score what I'm looking for; or I improvise; and/or find other things or simply end up with nothing at all.

Sometimes I go for leather... anything leather... coats, skirts, pants, belts (those belts... my favorite staple)... no, not to wear, but to use as upholstery and trim. It's the cheapest way to get expensive leather fabrics and trimming for the look I go for.

Like this upcycled foot stool with belts:


This junkyard chair, I upholstered with a skirt and trimmed with belts:


Beaded belts turned into boot straps:


Ruined rush chair seats replaced with belts:


And this old chair upholstered with a suede coat:


Sometimes I go shopping for certain fabrics for the same reason. I never shopped faux fur before, but after seeing all of the throws, rugs and pillows; I just can't pass by them without thinking twice anymore.

You know what else works? Drapes. Sheets. Long dresses. Sweaters. Really, shopping for clothing to repurpose them is fun and inexpensive! It can be about that certain print or style that you're looking for to make something. A table cloth, drape, shower curtain or a sheet can cover large cushions and poufs. So many fabric options are sitting at thrift shops and yard sales.

Here is a curbed chair makeover that I upholstered in a velvet cheetah print from a blouse:


Rug from a faux fur coat:


Knock off pillows from a sweater, a suede coat and scraps from faux fur clothing.


And denim recycles are classic. Like this skirt turned into a bag, embellished with suede coat pieces, buttons and a belt.


You can also take those adorable kid's t-shirts and frame the imprints on them for decorating the kid's rooms. Or any t-shirt with a cool imprint for wall art. There are so many reuses from clothing.

And there is furniture and home decor thrift shopping.
Just gotta love it.
There is a diamond in the rough sitting there almost every trip. An outdated piece may look hideous but something about it makes you like it. That is when you stop and think about what you can do with it and turn it into something. Paint it, cut it, add to it, change it into something else... but when thrift shopping; buy it now is the key, or forever hold your peace and let it haunt you later because it may be gone after you change your mind.

This outdated brass chandelier was a thrift shop find. Updated with paint, printed paper and new bulbs it became a dining room focal point. I'm so glad that I bought it for $9.99 because this similar style purchased new is a bit costly.


I gave this thrift shop chest of drawers a coastal makeover.


This nine drawer dresser became our media center.


A little chest of drawers became a cute kitchen linen chest. It was my first brave red paint project.


And this is my favorite.
A $2 toy horse that I turned into a garden sculpture.



Now that you've seen some possibilities with these upcycles and repurposes. Now let's go shopping.

Today, I'm inviting you to come along on a cheap thrill trip. Take a look while I make decisions:

Hmm, right at the entrance are a pair of wooden cross-buck planters with iron topped obelisks.


This square vase caught my eye. But couldn't think of a thing to do with it. It won't haunt me later. Pass.


This pair of wall sconces with interesting corbels could be repainted. But being ceramic, I wasn't interested. If they were wood, I wouldn't hesitate grabbing them.


Well, look over here! Some leather belts!
Check out the silver buckle with buffalo nickels and turquoise. It's attached to a nice thick and wide leather belt. For... what???? A dollar and ninety nine cents???? Seriously? No brainer! Buy.
It didn't leave my hand all throughout the store.


Lamps have so many new uses and ideas. With some paint and glue they are candle sticks, cake stand bases, totem poles (?) and solar light holders just to name a few. Some even have shades, so it's like buy one get one project free.
I may regret not getting any of these later. These do have nice designs.


This chair caught my attention for $10. But it had a lot of molded plastic on it. It could be taken apart and pieces of it used for other things. The back rest could be a mirror frame. (yuck... that would be ugly) It's not worth the effort and with too many chairs in my stash, I passed.


Stacked up against a wall are lots of headboards. These babies make awesome benches, coat racks, signs, or parts of them can be used as trim on other projects. Having enough at home and none these were outstanding enough to get, I passed.


Now this lovely little cabinet is worth the $15 price tag. Again, I had to be very selective because of space at the workshop at home. I can only get larger items that knock our socks off right now.


I liked this baseball print, but not enough to buy it. My son already has a nice one and very little wall space to add this, so it stayed on display.


So I went back over to the obelisks and grabbed them both. I have room outdoors for stuff. These will fit. (smirk)


After getting them home and pulling them from their glued in planters, I removed the cheesy dusty artificial ivy.


Undecided whether to paint them or not, I kept the rusty look for now.


Then shoved them in the side garden until I weed and thin out some of the plants this week. That's when I'll decide to paint or not.


After cutting out the Styrofoam from the wood planters, I cleaned them up.


I think they are cute little buggers. They look fine as they are with the stained color sitting at the stone entrance. I might whitewash them.


So during this trip I scored two planters, two obelisks, and three leather belts; one having an awesome silver buckle!

Not an expensive trip. Not overly exciting either, but it wasn't a bad thrifting day at all!

You never know what you'll find and what ideas will go into play, but it's worth the price and the thrills.

Until my next thrift day post, I hope your shopping and curbing days are a ton of fun and you'll let me know what you find.