Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Goodwill

If you are lucky enough to live in a big city like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Chicago (or even in a little city like Sacramento) you probably have a bunch of fun, cool second hand stores to go to.  If you come from a small, country town like I do second hand stores, if you have them at all, are creepy, smell of old lady and probably have a stuffed cat hanging up in the back corner.

So, what I had growing up was the Goodwill and the Salvation Army.  I have nothing against fancy or trendy second hand boutiques, but for those of you who don't have the luxury of living in someplace that hip, I want you to know that you can still find awesome treasures for relatively cheap.  Some of the things I have that I love more than anything else in the world have come from the Salvation Army and the Goodwill.  Often, all it takes are a few small repairs and a fresh coat of paint.  And, you can get really cool drawer pulls almost anywhere these days.

So, go to your local Goodwill store.  If you see something even remotely cool, chances are it will be between 15 and 40 Dollars.  If it costs that much, you just have to have it.  Then, get creative.  I like to paint the frame one color and the drawers a slightly different color (try a paler yellow with a mustard yellow) and add cool knobs.  You can often get a big set of six at antique malls or flea markets.  Or, try using an unexpected piece of furniture in a otherwise plain room.  I have seen many salvaging blogs talk about reupholstering this or that, but I urge you to pause before doing so.  I LOVE old, interesting fabrics.  What may look cheap or shabby (without the chic) in a used clothing store may look lovely, interesting and soft when paired with more modern furniture.

Before painting your furniture be sure to sand it well.  You can use primer or you don't have to.  I think it is vest if the wood has some stains or damage that you want to hide.  Then choose your paint of choice and have at it.  I have always done this using regular house paint.  I think it works really well.  True Value hardware has small tubs of paint about the size of a large face cream jar that you can buy as a sample.  I have used these many times.  Truthfully, the paint isn't of great quality and has usually chipped after a short period of time, but I find that sometimes I really just don't want to buy a whole quart of paint, especially if my furniture is small.

Be sure that you paint with the grain of the wood.  For most pieces that is usually lengthwise.  If you are a distresser (I used to be, now I am not), then after the paint dries (for a few days) run over the edges lightly with some sandpaper.  You can seal it if you want, but usually I am too lazy and don't mind when my pieces get a bit beat up.

At this point you should have a wonderfully beautiful new piece of furniture, which should have cost you no more than $40.  I don't even know why we need an Ikea with these possibilities.  You can get something just as cheap with far more character and individuality*.  So, please, next time you are in need of a dresser or a side table or a book case, go to your local Goodwill.  You may be surprised what you find.

My favorite Goodwill finds:
The dresser I definitely got at the Goodwill.  I painted it a cornflower blue first and then painted it this green and blue.  I don't have it in Germany (and I miss it!) but my mom is kindly saving it for me for when I come home.  (The boyfriend's got to crack and want the California sun sometime, doesn't he?)

This chair I got at the Salvation Army, I think.  For some reason, I left my sandals in the chair in this picture.  I guess I was just so excited to take a picture of it and send it to my mom that I couldn't even take the time to put them away. This is an example of why I am a fan of leaving thing upholstered in their original fabric.  This looked a little cheesy in the store, but when I paired it with all my whimsical furnishings it looked right at home.  Another treasure my mom is saving for me.  :-)



*Note: I have NOTHING against Ikea.  In fact, due to the lack of Goodwills and Salvation Armies in Germany (see post #1), most of my furniture comes from Ikea.  And I love to go there.  In Germany, people go there JUST for the food...and the coffee. Who woulda thunk?

1 comment:

Jessica said...

ok so i definitly have done this. however most of my stuff is from yard sales. i love it. we have two dressers that we found and have painted white (only because we have moved so many times in the past year). whe we find a house that we will actually be in for a while, more color will come. keep up the posts, i love it!!!