At the end of May, Matt and I celebrated 2 years of marriage! Our anniversary fell the day after Memorial Day this year, so we took off Thursday through Monday and had a staycation! Staying home saved us a ton of money because MDW + hotels = EXPENSIVE, and we still had a lot of fun eating at our favorite vegan-friendly restaurants and visiting with friends.
We also spent some time working on our thrifty anniversary presents: furniture! I know, year two is supposed to be for cotton, but Matt has been jealous of my “reading chair” for some time, so we finally made time to go hunting for one. I wanted to try secondhand first, and our search took us to a consignment shop in Greensboro that I frequented in college. A great thing about consignment shops is that many of them will drop the price after an item has been sitting for a while, so check to see if they have a color-coding system or dates on the tags and you might find a great steal. We ended up in a room past the main showroom, where a bunch of chairs were packed in against a wall, and found this chair all the way in the back.
It had been there for long enough that the price had dropped twice, and we took it home for around $50! Our cats have really taken a liking to it, and I can’t blame them because it’s so comfortable! I also found another little something I’m hoping to write about soon.
My present was technically already sitting on our back porch. Several months ago, Matt found this little desk laying on the side of the road, and brought it home. I’ve had plans to sand and paint it ever since, but our weekends are usually packed to the brim, and I just hadn’t found the time. So Matt helped me pick out the paint, did most of the sanding, filled the holes in the top where it used to have partitions (which were too damaged to salvage), and then we painted it together.
I’m pretty pleased with the final product:
Once it was done, I used the opportunity to completely reorganize our entryway area (not technically our “real” entryway, as the front door comes into the kitchen, but this wall serves as our landing pad). We have been using a white bookshelf in this space for a while, and the multiple shelves were honestly just begging to be filled up with junk. The “new” table only has one small drawer, so I had to be more careful in deciding what to put on and in it. This area is now really well organized to help us get in and out of the house quickly, and to handle our incoming mail.
Overall, the change only cost us about $4 for the two baskets, and the price of a quart of paint. Everything else was already in our house. To give you an idea of how everything came together, I’ve broken down the different items, where I got them, and why I put them there.
- Two baskets – both from Goodwill. I shared photos of what the white basket looked like when I brought it home, and how it cleaned up, on Instagram. The small basket is for incoming mail, and the white one is for paper recycling. I’m hoping to get more into our new mail system in another post (the shredder is also involved).
- Books – inherited from my grad school advisor’s collection. I like using pretty books to create height when I’m arranging decorative items, and I also enjoy that they highlight our interests (these are all old science books).
- Faux rose vase – a hand-me-down from my grandmother’s house after she passed away. I love thinking of her whenever I see it.
- Clay vase – bought at a small shop in Costa Rica back in 2008. I’ve since seen similar vases from Nicaragua go for 5 times as much here! I love having that memory of my first international trip close at hand, but it’s secretly also a place for us to drop our loose change 😉
- “J” coffee mug – a gift. It keeps pens handy.
- Dish – thrifted. It may be Depression glass, but I’m honestly not sure (in any case, I like it because it’s pretty). It makes a perfect spot for holding Matt’s wallet, keys, and work badge.
- Paper tray – Matt actually brought this home from one of his deployments with the Army. A previous tenant of his office had left it behind. He was pleased to see that I didn’t take any of the labels off; I actually like that it has a bit of character to it. It holds important pieces of mail and documents that need further attention.
- Step stool – bought from a friend who decided it didn’t suit her needs after she bought it from Ikea. It keeps my laptop bag at an accessible height. I keep my keys, sunglasses, wallet, etc., in my bag instead of on the table so I can’t ever forget them, and that keeps the space looking tidy. The stool is also still accessible if I need it for its intended purpose.
- Mirror – thrifted. For last minute hair checks before walking out the door.
- Cross – bought new when I moved into my first apartment (eight years ago!)
You might notice that all but a few of these items are functional in some way, but they’re also things that I like and I enjoy the way they look together. As I have worked to figure out my personal home decor style, it has become a guiding principle that things which are functional should also be decorative where possible. That idea has helped me choose items which I have loved for a long time, and which I’ve been able to use in several different apartments. I’ve also learned in my thrifting adventures to be patient and wait until I find exactly what I want, which has kept me from bringing home things that ended up in the donate pile six months later (although I have sometimes learned that lesson the hard way). Minimalism as a decor style is not my thing, but I do think having less turnover in the things that we own is a good thing. Creating a home I enjoy spending time in is important to me, especially because I’m an introvert and a homebody, but I don’t want to use that an excuse for carelessness in my purchasing habits. I love that I was able to create this new space without compromising on my values.
So that was our Memorial Day/Anniversary weekend : ) Moral of the story: Secondhand shopping can be an adventure, and you can find some great deals while not contributing to the demand for the production of new materials. And sometimes “trash” furniture just needs a little TLC to bring it back to life!