Why I Love Second-Hand Furniture

I’m sure this isn’t going to be a startling revelation for most people, but I wanted to share how much I love finding the potential in slightly worn (but solid) furniture. While I definitely have a few things from Ikea in my house, like our new KIVIK sofa, and occasionally cheap will trump quality, I usually try to buy solid wood pieces. Buying solid wood furniture doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money if you keep an open mind and consider buying second-hand. I have had a lot of success by routinely checking thrift stores like Value Village for steals. One of my favourites to date has been these chevron-backed wooden chairs that were only $11 for the pair.

thrift store chair for milk paint makeover

chairs painted with milk paint luckett's green

I try to look beyond the colour/finish of an item, because it’s easy enough to throw on a coat of paint or change the upholstery. Stripping, sanding, and restaining takes a bit more work, but for the right price it can be worth the hours of elbow grease. I’ve also been really lucky to inherit some great pieces from family members. I scored our dining room chairs as well as my dresser from my sister and her husband; the chairs have been reupholstered twice and the dresser got new hardware and a new paint job last year. I’ve never touched the wood on the chairs- some of them are a tad worn in places so it’s on my “eventually” to-do list, but overall they still look great.

Dining room with lantern light fixture

dresser before and after restaining and painting with chalk paint

My sister also gave me the old coffee table that they had bought when she was finishing school and just needed some cheap furniture in their rental unit (actually, writing this post has made me realize how much of my furniture originally came from my sis and bro-in-law… Thanks guys! Maybe I should have called this post “Why I Love My Sister and Kev”!). The colour and style left a lot to be desired, so I painted it and asked my husband to install a shelf to make it prettier and more functional. I found storage baskets that fit our board games and it became a functional storage space too! I can’t forget to mention the sectional sofa that my in-laws gave us, which I slipcovered with canvas– my biggest sewing project to date.


In the past year I’ve been on the hunt for a few more pieces, and two success stories that I am pretty proud of are a solid maple dresser from Kijiji for $40 and a cute little end table that I found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $21. As soon as the snow melts, you can bet I’ll be in the garage giving them some love with a bit of paint and stain.

If you are looking for a “new” piece of furniture, make sure you check in first at your local thrift store, browse Kijiji, or ask family and friends… maybe they have something they are looking to get rid of that you can rejuvenate with some new paint or fabric. Try to get creative with how you can change the look of something that isn’t exactly what you want, and you might score a deal on something solid that will last a lot longer than a lot of stuff you can buy brand new, for a fraction of the price.

Have you found any great steals second-hand that you transformed with some elbow grease and paint? Are you a hoarder like me with a garage full of projects for the Spring/Summer?

[Side note: I’m always careful when buying from a stranger online; I bring a friend or meet the seller at a public place, like a Tim’s parking lot. Safety first! Another thing I’m wary of is the possibility of bringing bedbugs home with used furniture, so I treat stuff before it enters my house.]

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Bathroom Hopes and Dreams

Since we finalized our bathroom plans, lately we have been tackling the next hurdle: deciding on our fixtures. Our goal was to order the vanity, tub, and faucets by the end of January but we had a bit of a setback; when we got the quote prepared from the bathroom warehouse, the cost of the vanity we liked was quadruple what we were willing to pay. Yep, I said quadruple.

wet style frame collection vanity

Wetstyle vanity, Frame collection

Actually when we first saw it we weren’t 100% convinced, but the more we looked around the more we wanted it. It had an option for putting a cupboard on one side instead of the 2 drawers, and I liked the combination of the warmth from the wood with the coolness of the modern white. Plus it was the size we were looking for and had really great use of the storage space- a lot of the 48″ double vanities we’ve seen left hardly any room for toiletries due to the space allocated for the plumbing or poor layout design.

But we were not able to stomach the hefty price tag. So we went back to the drawing board to try and find a different vanity that would do the job but not completely break the budget, and settled on this one from IKEA.

IKEA godmorgon odensvik double sink

Godmorgon / Odensvik sink vanity with 4 drawers

Compared to the vanities we saw at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Bath Depot, and many others, the IKEA one actually has the best design and use of storage space, the lowest price tag, and highest build quality (solid wood drawers as opposed to MDF). We could even modify it to put a cupboard on one side with a piece of walnut to emulate the look of the too-rich-for-our-blood Wetstyle vanity.

We’re going to pair it with the Godmorgon tall cabinets and mirrored medicine cabinets for lots of storage space. I haven’t decided yet on lighting… we will probably do some recessed lights above the tub and shower, with sconce lights on either side of the vanity similar to this:

[from Houzz- click on photo for source]

[from Houzz- click on photo for source]

For the faucets, we decided on the Delta Trinsic collection in chrome. I don’t love the hand shower attachment for the tub but none of the collections we saw were completely perfect, and I’ll use that less than the vanity, shower, or tub faucets.
delta trinsic lavatory faucet delta trinsic roman tub faucet w hand shower delta trinsic shower head
As far as the tiling and general aesthetic of the bathroom goes, you may remember this photo that I shared in one of my previous posts- our tub and shower will be perpendicular to one another, with a glass partition separating the shower area from the rest of the bathroom, and a sloped floor for drainage.

[from Houzz- click on photo for source]

We will stick to something pretty similar for the flooring and accent tile, except in grey tones. We are leaning towards white subway tiles since they are relatively cheap and easy to keep clean, providing we use light grey grout like in this bathroom (who wants to spend their life scrubbing white grout with a toothbrush? Not this girl!).

[from Houzz- click on photo for source]

Whew! Now that the major decisions have been made, the only thing standing between us and starting this reno is installing our water softener to take some of the iron out of our water- no one wants a brand new white bathroom only to ruin it with rust stains.

Tell me what you think of our plans and if you have any other suggestions!

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Salvaged Wood Frame Gallery Wall

I’ve been waiting a long time to get my beautiful salvaged wood frame collection up on the wall- 1.5 years to be exact! We never had the room in our apartment. These frames were given to us as a wedding present from my extended family in South Africa- my aunt and cousins found them at a flea market in Johannesburg. My sister got the same gift at her wedding, so it was a very special present. As a South African-born Canadian citizen, it means a lot to have a piece of South Africa in my home.

Salvaged wood frame gallery wall

Salvaged wood frame gallery wall

The hardest part of hanging my frames was figuring out what size to print the photos and how to crop them; the frames were non-standard sizes, like 20×15 cm (roughly 5.5×7.5 inches). Printing at 5×7 inches would have been too small for the frame, and printing at 8×10 would have changed the photo too much after cropping it to size. In most cases I just edited the photos in Paint.NET, adding borders so I could print at the larger size without changing the size of the actual photo, like this:

Bride and groom on the beach

I then played around with the selection size, setting it to the size of the window in each frame, so I could preview exactly how it would look (’cause I’m picky like that). I took it one step further and took a photo of how I wanted the frames laid out, and then inserted tiny versions of each photo to get an idea of where I wanted to put them all!

Gallery wall frame layout

I know, I’m a little nuts.

Once I had that figured out, I ordered the prints and then cropped them to size. I had to switch one or two of them, but for the most part it worked out exactly how I planned.

Cropping photos for gallery wall

Hanging them was a snap thanks to a tip I read online somewhere. I traced each frame on to newspaper to form a template and stuck the templates to the wall using masking tape, centering them on the frame I wanted in the middle. Once I was happy with how it looked, I measured the back of each frame to figure out where to put the holes, and marked this with an X on each piece of newspaper. Then I drilled right through the newspaper at each X. If you’re curious about the specifics, I used a 3/16″ drill bit for the holes, then tapped in a #8 wall plug (dry wall anchor), followed by a Robertson 1- 1/2″ screw. And I did it alllllllllll by myself, with no mistakes! If you follow me on Instagram @cathyatdeardiy, I shared this photo of the process a little while back.

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Here are a few more close up shots of the frames. Check out that stamped plaster, and the tiny flakes of different paint colours.

Salvaged wood frame gallery wall Salvaged wood frame gallery wall Salvaged wood frame gallery wall Salvaged wood frame gallery wall Salvaged wood frame gallery wall

[Photos courtesy of LilyCreek Photography and Art Studio]

I’m so happy to finally have our wedding photos printed and framed! (psst… more details on our wedding here)

Have you tried hanging a gallery wall? Did you eyeball it or were you meticulous like me?

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