Decorating From Already-Used Things

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by David Glenn

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Making your home more attractive can be accomplished in many ways. You could hire a professional decorator and spend many thousands of dollars. On the other hand, it’s also possible to give your space a whole new look on a shoestring budget. One secret for doing this is to rely as much as possible on used and found items. You can get a surprising amount of mileage out of formerly owned and repurposed things. Let’s look at some of the most interesting and creative ways to do this.

Where to Find Good Used Items

There are many sources for finding used items. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Yard Sales or Garage Sales -These are especially fruitful in the warmer months. Holiday weekends are often the best time to find a good selection, but many areas are full of yard sales every weekend in the summer. People are often willing to sell things for extremely low prices at yard and garage sales. You can find anything from furniture to artwork to kitchenware.
  • Flea Markets -This is another good source for finding almost any type of used item. Flea markets are not usually quite as cheap as yard sales, but you can often find a wider selection of things.
  • Antique Auctions -Auctions are popular almost everywhere. If you’re looking for a bargain, seek out smaller auctions and country auctions rather than high end ones. Be especially alert at the very beginning and very end of the auction, when some of the cheapest items are sold and not everyone is paying close attention. Arrive at the auction early so you can inspect everything.
  • Online Auctions -If you’re looking for a particular item, eBay or other online auctions can be a good source. If you’re focusing on finding something used, you can check that box when doing a search. You can also set parameters for how much you’re willing to pay or seek out “buy now” auctions.
  • Thrift Stores -Stores such as Salvation Army, Goodwill, thrift shops and pawn shops stock all kinds of used items. You should visit these stores regularly, as they are always getting in new merchandise.
  • Online and Offline Classifieds -Check Craigslist to see what’s being sold in your area. There’s even a section for free stuff, which is also worth checking. Don’t forget to look up the classifieds section of your local print newspapers as well.

Ideas For Decorating With Used Items

While part of the fun of decorating with pre-owned things is spontaneously finding unexpected treasures, there are certain items worth seeking for specific purposes.

  • Old Farm Equipment -Barn doors and barndoor hardware can provide you with decorative and authentically antique doors. Old farm tools and machinery can be repurposed as sculptures or items to hang on your walls.
  • Milk Crates -These are easy to find and many stores will give them to you for free. These are great for storing books, CDs, DVDs or almost anything else you can think of. They can be painted to make them more decorative.
  • Trunks -Old steamer trunks and other types of trunks are not only useful for storing things, they can also serve as tables.
  • Spools -The kind of wooden spools used for wire can be repurposed as a table or stool. This is another thing you can often get for free from a building supply store or warehouse.
  • Lumber -You don’t have to be a carpenter or cabinetmaker to find uses for lumber. For example, a couple of sawhorses and a wood pallet will give you a table of just about any size you need. You can sand, paint and finish it to give it the look you want.
  • Old Dressers -A dresser you are ready to discard, or perhaps a cheap one you found at a yard sale or thrift shop can be repurposed in several ways. Drawers can be used as shelves. A drawer from a dresser can also be used as a pet bed, file organizer or storage bin for just about anything. This way you can salvage a dresser that might still have one or two good drawers.