Dumpster Diving-Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse

When renovating a home on a budget it is always smart to keep an eye on building material you are discarding. I’m also obsessed with garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, and even “junk” people put out for trash that can be transformed into your next great design element.

There was a time, before kids, that my husband and I would head out early every Saturday morning and hit the garage and estate sales at our weekend house on the North Fork of Long Island. It was like a competitive sport. Each weekend you would see the same people – running, pushing, shoving trying to get their hands on that perfect mid-century bedroom set or farm chic item that would perfectly accent a room before the next person grabbed it.

It is the creative process of reimagining these finds that keeps me addicted to “junk” as my husband Daniel has called many of my best finds. There is also the thrill of bargaining and negotiating prices. My motto is LIMBO – I literally ask, “How low can you go?” Then when they give their lowest price I ask for an additional 10% off. Never accept full price!

While shopping you have to be creative and think outside the box. How can you take an item and repurpose it to make it add just the right amount of shabby chic to a new and modern space? You would be surprised how old pitchforks, colorful toolboxes, even a wooden palette can be reused and become instant conversation starters. In the world of repurposing and reusing for decorating, think about alternate purposes for items and how adding something new-like pin legs or hardware can instantly change the look of a found piece. Simple hardware store finds like sandpaper, spray paint, chrome cleaner, leather cleaner, can breathe new life into a repurposed or refurbished item.

When collecting unique pieces, remember, clustering a group of similar sized items makes an interesting statement. Sometimes more is more and remember to group odd numbers of items (preferably 3 or 5) to create a statement. For example, one antique chrome martini Shaker is nice, but when you have a cluster of five – all in different sizes and shapes – it blossoms into a piece of art.

Check out some of the thrift stores, garage sales, and even free junk finds that Coastal has repurposed and reused to save money while staging homes.

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