Kitchen Thrifting

Sometimes the best things in life are free. I’m one of those people that loves to pick up furniture items discarded by the side of the road. For years, I have been coveting other people’s trash and occasionally picking it up and refinishing it. My kids will see me looking at junk as we drive somewhere and say “OH Mom, No!” My husband humours me, but will accelerate if he thinks I might be tempted by something as we drive by. For my family, this may be an embarrassing habit of mine, but they get over it when they see my refinished items. (That’s what I tell myself).

Our new area has occasional pickup of large items – these are festive days for me. Now that our county has entered “Phase 2” of pandemic re-opening, our full garbage collection schedule is getting back to normal. Who knew garbage day could be exciting?

My latest “treasure”

I had previously posted about renovating our kitchen in our 1890s home. It’s a big open kitchen, and now we have a long row of counter, with fresh new white cupboards below and open shelving along one wall.

Another wall is home to an antique cabinet. (It came with my first old house and was refinished by my Mom! – That must be where I get my good thrifting genes from.) I keep extra pantry items in it and the microwave on top. I still haven’t quite reorganized this area. The third wall has the dining room and basement doors breaking it up and so not too much wall space to worry about. The fourth wall has an odd window, and our refrigerator area – with a little space that needed to be filled with something.

New cabinets, counter and open shelves

We found that lots of renos involved giant refrigerators, that then required cabinet built-ins around them to cover them up. I am more interested in open space and function person than more storage. We settled on a retro style refrigerator in Buttercup Yellow from Elmira Stoveworks There is no need to hide it with cabinets, it’s so pretty. Next to it we keep our spices in mason jars.

On the other side of the refrigerator, I thought it would be nice to have a small table to sit at and poke around on my computer while I am cooking (or whatever I do in the kitchen – it’s really my husband doing the best cooking, while I enjoy), or just looking out the window at my garden having a coffee.

A round table would be nice, maybe with drop-leaves – so I looked on Wayfair, Canadian Tire and Amazon. There wasn’t quite enough room for a full round table, with about 45 inches from the refrigerator to the window, and about 29 inches in depth. I want to give the appearance when we sell our house of an “eat-in kitchen”, without cluttering the space.

Online, I found thin topped tables with drop leaves – or I a full table, with a nicer shape to it. My browser ads are full of the same 2 round tables from different sources.

I hemmed and hawed, and just couldn’t commit. I really wanted something that looked old – so I didn’t want the thinner drop leaf – but the dimensions on the bigger tables weren’t right. An antique drop-leaf table would be a good thing – but flea markets and antique stores aren’t yet open in these pandemic times. Around the corner an old house had a funky drop leaf “antique” table by the curb – waiting for garbage pickup.

I hesitated, but drove by it several times. Large item pickup had not yet resumed, so it remained curbside for a few days. My daughter was with me in those few days before she headed off to British Columbia. I thought, I’ll grab it after I take her to the airport – she wouldn’t be able to discourage me then! On the way back from the airport, we went by the old house where the discarded table had been, (strategically ready to go in the pickup truck) and I thought – now’s the time to pounce…… It was gone! A few days later, I saw one of my neighbour ladies happily refinishing it in her garage. The phrase “you snooze, you lose” – fit in this case…….

Then a few days ago, another neighbour, a few doors down, who had been a bit standoffish – put that darn Wayfair centre pedestal table out by the curb for garbage pickup. It was hard for me to hold back, but I know the rules of thrifting:

Don’t thrift on your own street.

Don’t pick up junk from the neighbour’s garbage.

Don’t pickup junk in near the kid’s friends houses or their schools.

(There were so many days when the kids were small and I was tempted to thrift while driving them to school in the morning. Right after I dropped them off – was PRIME time.)

Don’t let the husband know you are about to thrift.

Act quickly and apologize to the family later.

It was just too much. I coveted that table all day and waited anxiously for one of my boys to get home to help me, but I couldn’t stand it any longer. Dangerous and nefarious business like thrifting from the neighbours makes me crave approval or a partner in crime – even if my family is only pretending to approve.

Finally, I asked my husband to take a walk with me to see the table. He had a moment of weakness…….I took advantage. I grabbed the centre pedestal, he grabbed the table-top. We looked around to see if any neighbours were looking. We sprinted the four houses down……….I choose to believe that no one saw us. My husband had doubts……….

We skulked quickly to the backyard. For me the thrifter, the adrenaline was rushing. For my husband, I know he was pleased to have made me happy, but a little concerned about what to do with the junk. The next day – we worked together to make the perfect table! Tomorrow I will post about refinishing the table. The table is now in place, and I am working out which chairs it goes with and what to hang above it.

I LOVE IT! If we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic, I’d invite my neighbour in to see my new table and not tell her where it came from.

The “new” table in my kitchen – like it’s always been there next to the retro refrigerator

Our youngest walked into the kitchen today and asked us if we’d always had that table, because he’d never noticed it before. Another son said “nice table”. The third put his Starbucks garbage on it. I know our daughter in the west will be reading and roll her eyes, but she’ll like my table.

The Starbucks discard on my refinished table

I love to thrift, and restore and re-purpose things and make them better than before. Does this make me environmentally friendly and hip? Thrifting allows me to customize items as I like them without the guilt of potentially ruining something by cutting it the wrong way. If it doesn’t work out, the item can go back to the curb – but then the neighbours will see it!

6 thoughts on “Kitchen Thrifting

  1. I’m with you. I’m a thrift store junkie although mostly for clothes and the occasional must-have glass or dish or “thing.” Your table looks beautiful, like it was tailor-made for that location. Don’t let your family discourage you from your thrifty ways.

    1. Thank you Margaret. I can’t say they REALLY discourage me – maybe it’s a good thing to give me a little self-control – I need it sometimes!

    1. I’m glad you like it Lisa, thank you. I have to keep myself from gathering too much stuff though – just what I have a plan and space for!

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