Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Furnishing Your Home by Recycling

Interest in shopping vintage shops, flea markets, auctions, consignment shops, thrift shops and yard sales is possibly more popular now than ever. Whether it is in the effort to save money, acquire more interesting furnishings than can be found in new furniture stores or to help our planet by "recycling", there's a real craze for this kind of exploration into home furnishing. If you haven't tried it, you may find it an enlightening adventure. I've made some very interesting discoveries and acquired some cherished pieces since I began by stumbling on a "yard sale" in my San Francisco Pacific Heights neighborhood in 1980. The photos below show some of my "finds" along the way. Above: The iron bed was purchased from Johnson & Johnson Antiques in Seattle, the dresser, mirror and wicker chest were found at Salt Lake City's Second Hand Chic, the chandelier came from Salt Lake City's consignment shop Emilie-Jayne (I repainted it black). The bedside lamp was an early Seattle yard sale purchase and the table it sits on (not visible in the photo) came from Second Hand Hubie's in Seattle (a long-time consignment "institution" in Phinney Ridge, now closed since the owner passed away).

Above: The black arm chair was purchased at Home Again (used and loved home items) in Salt Lake City. I recovered the chair cushion with a Designers Guild fabric sample. Chandelier is from Emilie-Jayne.Above: Close-up view of Chandelier from bedroom above was my first purchase from Emilie-Jayne upon moving back to Salt Lake from Seattle and buying my circa 1912 house.

Above: The Eastlake-style dresser came from 9th Avenue Chic (loved used home items) in the Avenues neighborhood in Salt Lake. The side chair peaking out from the closet was found at Second Hand Chic and I recovered the seat cushion to suit my scheme.
Above: I purchased two of these sturdy workhorse chairs for my studio/office space from Home Again.
Above: Crystal chandelier is a local craigslist find. I could write an entire separate post on craigslist shopping. Browsing craigslist is not for everyone, as the task of looking through written ads and often poor photos is not nearly as fun and gratifying as walking through a beautifully arranged furniture consignment store or yard sale. However, I purchased the chandelier above for $10. One arm was broken and I drove the chandelier directly to my lamp shop to have it repaired. The cost of repair was around $40 (inclusive of the new arm and labor). The lamp repair person told me that three of the tiny crystals on the chandelier are worth $10! I haven't counted all the little crystals to estimate the value based on Gabriel's method, but I've seen prices on similar chandeliers and I'll just say that even with a repair expense, this was a very good investment. :o)

Above: I purchased this diminutive lamp at the silent auction to benefit greyhound adoption at the Greyhound Gathering in Kanab, Utah. The donor's description of the condition on the piece said "a bit tumbled", and that referred mainly to the rumpled appearance of the shade. I loved the piece and knew that the shade could be recovered. On closer examination, I came to realize it was a pretty nice piece and I wanted it. I decided not to bother with going back and forth on bidding and figured perhaps I'd be the only person willing to pay $50 for the lamp, and wrote in my bid. $50 toward the cause of placing greyhounds in loving homes really didn't seem much. My strategy worked, as far as winning the piece with my bid. When I returned home to Salt Lake, I took the lamp to my trusty lamp shop for a shade repair. As the shop owner removed the finial, he exclaimed, "Oh, oh, oh." I thought perhaps the shade was hopeless. He then said, "This is a Chapman lamp. If you were to purchase it new, you would pay at least $850!" He recovered the shade for around $40. I had mixed feelings, I did very well with my purchase, but the greyhounds could have benefited so much more if someone had known more about the lamp!

Note: When purchasing second-hand lighting, you may feel better about its operation and safety if you take it to a lamp shop for testing. In my experience, most times the wiring is in good working condition. When it needs repair, the cost is generally not prohibitive, especially when it will be a piece that you love! I recommend two shops who can help evaluate, and if necessary repair your light fixtures in Salt Lake City: The Lamp Company and Felt Lighting. I usually do my own lamp wiring repairs; they are pretty simple.
Above: This ensemble of two rattan chairs and side table started it all. After graduating from art school and moving into "the city" (San Francisco) in 1980, I purchased this set at a yard sale in Pacific Heights. I have recovered the chair cushions three times since then. The $300 purchase price stretched my budget at the time, however, the set has increased in value seven fold since then, as this furniture is of interest to collectors. The chairs, which have the original seat cushion springs are still among the most comfortable on which I've sat. The last time I had the cushions recovered, the upholsterer suggested replacing the inner cushions with foam to have a more square edge look to them. I refused the suggestion, as the original spring seat cushions are still very strong after seventy years and foam cushions break down and disintegrate after not too long a time!

I've found more than shown in the photos and enjoyed the search. Furniture and accessory consignment shops are also a great place to let go of some of your own things, as your needs and taste change. If you loved it, chances are someone else will, too. Give it another life, whether you purchase second hand or consign your former furnishings. Happy shopping---happy budgeting---happy home---healthy planet Earth.

This post is linked to A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words blog feature 2nd Time Around Tuesday. You can find readers' other second-time-around treasures by clicking on the link above or on the button here...


  1. Hi Toni,
    Great post and thanks for the plug! Hope you have a fantatic New Year's!

    Second Hand Chicks

  2. Kelly,
    I love the things I've purchased from your shop and am so happy to have found just what I was looking for! Happy New Year to you!

  3. wow those stuffs are really pretty. thanks for sharing. happy 2nd time around Tuesday.

    Mine is here

  4. This is a great post! Thank you for sharing.

  5. There are lots of places where you can find furniture that will suit your interests. In my case, some of my hand forged iron furniture are custom made which made it unique. But some of them were brought from various yard sale around our neighborhood or given to me as gifts.

    On other note, those hand forged iron chandeliers piqued my interest, I think I should get one when I get my paycheck next week.




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