Tuesday, July 30, 2013

They Reduce. I Reuse, Recycle &/or Repurpose

I’m on a fairly strict budget right now, because my savings cushion is less than I’d like and we’re remodeling our house. So the general rule is “I’m only allowed to buy things for the house that will improve the long-term value of the home.” That’s the practical money side.

On the not-so-practical emotional side, I want to decorate my new house and make it a home. Our new-to-us home is 500 square feet larger than our last home, we don’t have many things to begin with, and I hate my current color scheme (in my defense, it has been a decade of black, white, red and browns).

So, what’s a girl to do?

FIRST, I let my friends and family know that I’m interested in their unwanted goods and I have Uhaul on speed dial if needed.

The chairs and foot stools were from a previous ask.
I’m always amazed at how much stuff people get rid of or are willing to part with because they don't really need it anymore. In just a few months, we found ourselves with two washing machines (one top loader and one front loader), one clothes dryer, full size gas BBQ, 5’ x 7’ area rug that looks amazing in the dining room, heavy punching bag, vintage butterfly chairs, 50’s metal outdoor dining set, vintage metal rolling table, vintage desk fan, and a heavy duty metal work table.

This isn’t about hoarding or flipping for me, so I turned down a couch, loveseat, and three sets of fluffy fancy towels (from three different households…) because they didn’t go with my new color scheme. And the extra washing machine went to my mother.  

SECOND, Keep an eye out on the free piles.

We live very close to a nice neighborhood and people are always throwing things away or putting free piles in their driveways. So while walking the dog, we’ve acquired two practically brand new cordless home phones with answering machine, road bike handle bars and bar ends, road bike race bars, cashmere sweater, stack of 2’ x 4’ wood sticks, great old books on sailing, and some holiday string lights.

This works best outside of garage sale season. And the best finds are the things that people leave on the sidewalk because they don’t fit in the moving truck.

THIRD, Repurpose. Repurpose. Repurpose.

When I’m not on a budget, it’s so easy for me to buy something, use it, get bored of it and store it in the back of the closet, never to be seen again. There are three main events that get me hunting in the back of my closets: moving, spring cleaning and when I’m on a budget.  

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I go digging in the back of my closet because these are things that I once loved, which means there’s a good chance that I will love them again, as long as I can find a new use for them.

Bonus: the prints are more fun than traditional 
curtains and the sewing is already done.
The first repurpose of this house was out of necessity; our house has 18 windows and not a single usable curtain when we moved in. And no, this is not about using sheets in place of proper window coverings…although we did do, just until we got our curtains. Curtains are a necessity, so that expense was justified, but I was able to save money on the smaller windows, by using the printed cloth napkins and dishtowels that I already had.

My next project was to reupholster a living room chair that I’ve had since I was 16 and has been a redone more times than I can count. Since I couldn’t go out and buy new fabric, I had to “find” some. Turns out there was a perfect piece in the closet that was once a tablecloth and was just waiting for a new purpose.

Being restricted on some purchases can be a bit of a bummer, but it gives me an opportunity to be resourceful. Plus, I just think of the next trip that I’m saving up for and in the grand scheme of things, traveling is more important to me than a perfectly decorated house.   

- Leah Schonlank

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