Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Little joys

I would like to share with you two recent gifts that have found a place of honor in my home.
 Above: one of the two matching salad bowls given to me by my husband. I love the apple pattern around the edge. Overall, even taking into consideration my love for hand-thrown pottery, sturdy glass is always a winner here. It displays the natural beauty of food in an attractive way, it's easy to clean, and in a setting even of mismatched glass pieces, everything kind of flows together. 
And this armchair, a really great find by someone from the family; it ended up finding a home with us because we happen to have an extra bit of space in the living room. It is temporarily placed next to our old armchair, but I plan to move it to a different corner. Its frame is lovely solid wood, and it reclines in a way just perfect for relaxing.

Sometime (perhaps when I'm a Granny) I might sit down and compile a little book titled "How to Get Good Furniture for Next to Nothing". Can you visualize this? Chapter 1: The Landfill. It seems to me this has the potential of a bestseller, doesn't it? :o)

Basically, whatever it is that you need, you can be pretty sure that it either lies abandoned somewhere and just needs a little dusting off, or someone somewhere is looking to give it away or to sell it for a fraction of its store price. It might take a little search and effort, but very often it's just a matter of looking about. Why bother, you are asking? Well, the money-saving element is obvious, but there are other advantages to not following the want, grab, pay routine. 

* You get satisfaction in giving new life to items that were discarded as "useless". And sometimes, surprisingly, the "old junk" is actually something of much better quality than what you can buy for a reasonable price today. I've seen old furniture that looks like it will endure for eternity, but today, I get the feeling manufacturers say, "let's make junk so it breaks down sooner and people will be forced to buy more from us!"

* Thus, if you use the old instead of buying new (when you can) you are withdrawing your financial support from a wasteful industry. 

* Since your "new" acquisition cost you nothing or next to nothing, you can get creative with it. Basic carpentry skills can often be applied to making shelves from discarded bits of wood, and you can experiment with paint, varnish, gluing a mosaic of glass or pottery onto an old coffee table (I've seen this done very artfully) or whatever your heart desires. Lovely slipcovers and seats can be sewn, knitted or crocheted for sofas and chairs. 

* You get the additional benefit of not having to fret as much if your children spill something on the sofa or vomit all over their bed. And as we all know, it will happen. I've been to many homes (with resident children) where people have bought their furniture new, and after a surprisingly short time it doesn't look any better than our "oldies". I remember Susan Schaeffer Macaulay in her book, "For the Family's Sake", told about an old table she had. "It was my luxury," she writes. Was it such a fancy expensive table? Oh no; it was an old giveaway, and its surface was all ruined, so the children could comfortably draw, paint, and get creative with playdough on that table. And when it's covered with a lovely tablecloth, it looks good as new. 

Of course, if money isn't a consideration at all, it's nice to just walk into a store and get yourself whatever new gorgeous set of table and chairs your heart desires. But many people who have very little, waste too much of the little they have on things they could have gotten for free or nearly for free, and that is a pity. 

OK, I'm on a roll here. If I don't stop now I'll press right on to Chapter 2: Give-away Websites, so I'd better wish you good night right now, and leave you with hopes to talking to you again soon. 


Lady Anne said...

Do you have "Freecycle" in Israel? If you have something to dispose of - outgrown clothing, an extra chair, children's toys, etc. - you can post an OFFER, or if you need some odd thing, you can post a WANTED notice. Keeps things out of the landfill, and you'd be amazed at what's available. Our dining room table, along with 6 chairs, was purchased for $100 from a co-worker of my husband's when we got married. The chairs are long gone, but the table soldiers on. Like your friend's table, it's no show piece, but I'm not afraid of spilling things, doing crafts, etc., and when I put on a table cloth and my nice dishes, nobody know I've made asilk purse from a sow's ear.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Lady Anne, yes, we have something like what you described. We have used this network both to give and to receive items.

Mrs. DishPanHands said...

Other than gifts, I don't think I have a sort of furniture that is brand new. All things that have been left in houses we've rented, thrift stores or garage sales. And we have some very nice things! :)
Nothing wrong with "new to you" things.
Have a lovely day.
- Kristin

Otter Mom said...

I just realized that the majority of our furniture is stuff that we either bought second hand or was given to us. I prefer furniture that lasts, seems like most of the new stuff is cheapy made anymore.