Why repurposing and refinishing is awesome
I’m a self-confessed thrifting addict. I spend a lot of time cruising online ads looking for “vintage” “retro” and “antique” stuff. I go to every thrift store I see. The ones I like, I go to often. So often the furniture people know my voice before they see me. Well, I’ve always wanted recognition….
I’ve been feeling wistful lately. I’ve written a lot on how to refinish things, here and on my home blog, and I don’t ever really go into the “why’s” of thrifting. Why it’s fun and why it’s economical. And why it’s “green”.
I’m pretty passionate about these things!
Thrifting in itself is a lot of fun. I’ve always loved going through piles of stuff. My grandparents were antiquers, they always had crazy weird relics from the past and as a kid I would spend days taking each piece of china out of the cupboards to inspect them. It was fascinating. Where did this stuff come from? What was its story? Who loved this vase before I did? Well sometimes you get to know and that is very special, but mostly you don’t and the fantasies you can create are also part of the fun.
I’ve turned my heart to furniture lately, and one thing that really sticks out in my mind is that modern furniture is not made like it used to be. High end stuff is obviously better, but the mass market furniture you buy now is not. That is why I don’t bother trying to refinish newer stuff. It isn’t constructed with long term durability in mind. Older stuff though, has. Maybe its just that all the cheap stuff has already hit the landfill, that the pieces that didn’t stand the test of time are already forgotten and the stuff that’s left is better. I don’t know, and really one could wax philosophical about this for hours, but I think that if you take a look at a modern furniture flyer from a big store, and go though it, you will see what I mean!
One of the most important things about reusing old stuff or refinishing it, is that you are not consuming any new resources (save for maybe some paint or fabric). Not buying something new saves you on materials, shipping, packaging waste, deforestation, landfill waste; throwing out things has its environmental bad points but so does buying new things. Where was your chair made? What is that country’s wood industry like? How does it treat its workers? As a global economy it is important to ask these questions. Most of the furniture that I refinish is from the 60’s and before and it is all made in Canada or the USA. And I didn’t have to cut down another tree to get it! Score for everybody.
Lastly is the cool factor. Isn’t it great to have something totally unique that no one else has? In a style that isn’t trendy but is timeless. And cool! I don’t know how many times people, who have fabulous modern and trendy homes of their own, come to my thrifted estate sale furnished house and love it. Like, really really love it. My style is definitely not for everyone in their own home, but you can have one or two old pieces that fit in to your current decor. I’ll bet it cost you less than something new too (unless you’re talking about teak ’cause that is a whole other ball game, my friends)
Okay well, I think it’s pretty clear that I like hunting down old furniture like a wild Amazon woman, spear (aka wallet) in hand ready to pounce on my next victim. May that image stick in your mind next time you’re at the Sally Ann or browsing UsedOttawa. You can be an Amazon woman or dude too, creating your little cave of wondrous reused and refinished furniture among a forest full of jaguars and philodendrons and work life balance and family obligations. It’s fun!! And totally unique. I recommend it!