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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Value Village Chairs

Hi friends! I’ve been posting less frequently lately, in case you haven’t noticed… I got some advice about blogging that I really like, which basically says “Run your blog, don’t let your blog run you.” I definitely notice on some of the blogs that I follow when a blogger is just trying to come up with stuff to post about, as opposed to blogging only when they are really interested in or passionate about something- so I’m going to try not to do that, and post only when I have some (hopefully) great content to share. Quality over quantity, and all that!

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, I’m @cathyatdeardiy) you may remember seeing this picture of a recent Value Village find:

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I’ve been hemming and hawing about what to do with them- yes, there’s two!- and I think I finally came to a decision: milk paint! You may have heard of milk paint on Pinterest or from one of the people bringing it back from antiquity, Miss Mustard Seed. Milk paint is actually made from casein, a milk protein, and is one of the oldest kinds of paints there is. There are a variety of great posts that talk about milk paint and it’s various uses and finishes, like this one, so I won’t go into that here. But suffice it to say that since getting on the furniture painting train with Chalk Paint, I have been itching to try it!

Specifically, I’m thinking of going with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in Lucketts Green. I’ve never seen this colour in person so maybe I’ll end up hating it, but since I don’t even have a place to put these chairs right now anyway, I’m hoping it will work out! Usually I’m a blue or a grey girl, so green will be a nice change for me, too. Here are a few shots from MMS herself to give you an idea of the colour.

lucketts green lucketts green2

I’m going to reupholster the bases because they are pretty worn and not very comfy at the moment, and choose some fun new fabric for the seat. I had in my head a sort of linen-y or beige-y graphic print, but when I looked on fabric.com I found some other great options. I’m not sure if the green will be more on the yellow or the blue side, so I’ll have to wait until the paint dries! Which do you like? The top of the chair has a semi chevron-ish effect so I don’t want to go too over the top with a chevron pattern, but something with a similar geometric or other bold print might be nice. The middle one on the first row below is actually a text print… it’s too small for you to see it properly but I kind of dig it. I have ordered online from fabric.com before and had a good experience, and I really like the design boards you can create to see how different patterns coordinate!

So that’s my exciting plan for the long weekend. That and doing some good ol’ Spring cleaning. I was looking back on my “boo-hoo Winter won’t end” posts and I can’t believe how much has changed in just one month! In Ottawa there are leaves on the trees and my tulips are up. It always seems like Spring will never come, but it eventually does!

Oh, and obviously I will be toasting to Queen Victoria with a nice cold bevvie. Cheers!

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Coming Soon… Dresser Facelift

I have decided that instead of being bummed about the longest, coldest winter ever and about delaying our house hunt yet again, I am going to take my mother’s advice and focus on the positive!

One project that I have coming down the pipes is fixing up my old dresser. I inherited it from my sister back when I was a broke graduate student, and at the time I did the bare minimum requirement of replacing the broken/missing drawer pulls. But now that my tastes have matured (or so I like to think), it’s time for a full-on makeover!

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As you can see, it’s kind of an organgey pine and some of the drawers are a bit crooked… and it’s damaged in places. Are you starting to wonder why I’m bothering at all? Me too. I do like the lines though and it’s a good size. Since my nightstand turned out so well, I decided to try Chalk Paint to spruce it up… but I can’t decide on the colour or finish!  At first I thought I would use Pure White and distress with tinted clear wax, like Katrina at Malenka Originals did with this beautiful piece:

Malenka Dresser Pure White

But when I saw how good my cream coloured metal chair looked in my bedroom, I started to lean towards painting it with Old White (a creamier shade), and doing a bit of subtle distressing with dark wax. Sort of like this one, except without the gorgeous stained top since mine isn’t solid wood (also from Malenka Originals):

Malenka Dresser Old White

Decisions, decisions!

I’m also going to update the hardware (again). When I first got the dresser, I pretty much went with the cheapest option that I could stomach. If I’m going to go to the trouble of painting it, I don’t want to scrimp on the knobs and then wish I’d splurged, since I have to look at it every day! Here are the ones I liked from Home Depot:

pull 3pull 2pull 1

knob 3knob 2knob 1

I want a less modern look than what is on there now, but at the same time I don’t want it to be too vintage-y, if that makes sense. As you can see, the top drawers will take 8 knobs in all and I don’t want it to be overwhelming. I’ve looked on Etsy and I will check out a few flea markets to see if I can get some salvaged ones, but I doubt I will be able to find 8 of a kind. I might paint the hardware as well, which will help me circumvent the problem of the knobs I like best having a brass finish (ick).

So what should I do? I’m totally torn!