Recently, I did a mental inventory of our house. I counted 6 pieces of furniture that we bought new. All of the rest are hand-me-downs, handmade or thrifted.
The basement reading nook shows our mix: Strandmon wing chair (new, though it was a birthday gift), ottoman (made by me), stump table (made by Matt’s Dad and me), monkey art (hand-me-down from Matt’s Grandpa).
I’m pretty proud that we’ve only bought 6 things new. I like walking through a room and seeing all of the things that I’ve made or found or rehabbed. I think it makes our home personal. It also makes me feel capable when I reflect on all of the projects we’ve done.
The environmental aspect is really important to me as well. By reusing and recycling we’re reducing our impact.
Here are my 6 newbies, along with the year we purchased them. I’m curious to know what’s your number?
- Ellie’s dresser (2018)
Another good example of a mix from Ellie’s nursery: dresser (new–Matt’s parents covered half the cost as I was stricken with sticker shock from buying new furniture), bookshelf (thrifted and repainted), Strandmon wing chair (thrifted this time), ottoman (made by me), triangle table (hand-me-down from my grandparent’s cottage). I should note that the crib was new as well (a gift from my Mom). It has since been passed on, so it is having a second life.
- Basement wingchair (2013)
- Basement ottoman (2013)
- Basement couch (2012)
- Living room couch (purchased in 2006 for our first house. Does this count as vintage now?)
- Living room chair (also from 2006)
This total does not include appliances, mattresses, lighting (though all of our lamps are second hand), or accessories (art, pillows, etc.).
If you look at the dates above our “new” furniture is not all that new. Holding onto things for a long time is another way to reduce our impact.
Furnishing our house in this way is financially beneficial as well. The Strandmon wingchair that I bought secondhand for Ellie’s nursery was less than half the price of a new one. Keeping the same couch for 16 years is obviously cheaper than buying a new couch.
Here’s a final mix from the basement TV area: sectional and ottoman (new), wood side table (hand-me-down from Matt’s Grandpa), lamp (thrifted and repainted), TV cabinet (made by my Dad and me), TV (new, but bought mostly with points), chair (won), Monopoly art (made by me).
Mostly, I thrift and DIY for fun. This is what I like to do and I love furnishing our house in this way.
Julia, I love your esthetic! The triangle side table is a gem! We still have our first sofa from 1976 or so, and it’s been reupholstered 3 (I think) times. My husband uses my dad’s old dresser and I love that it’s part of our home. My mother was very talented at refinishing furniture and had a book called “The Furniture Doctor”. I still use the dresser she received as a wedding present, but it’s in dire need of an overhaul. Do you have a favorite method or reference for painting/refinishing furniture?
Your home sounds lovely. I love the heritage of using family pieces. For painting furniture, I give a light sanding and then use Stix primer and Benjamin Moore Advance with a foam roller. For refinishing (where I want a wood finish), I sand, sand, sand. Sand til I’m down to bare wood (I don’t have a lot of luck with chemical strippers) and then sand in higher and higher grits to get a smooth finish. I’ve been skipping stain recently and just varathaning. I’m really liking the natural wood look and the varathane does enough to bring out the grain but not obscure the character of the wood.
Thank you for the information! I don’t usually have good results with strippers either. Looks like I need to invest in a sander because I’ll find a lot of reasons not to do it by hand. I have a number of pieces that are made of lovely wood but have collected lots of dings and scrapes over the years. While it gives them character, they would be much nicer with a new finish.
I have a fairly basic palm sander. It was not expensive, but it’s served me well for more than a decade.