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Blog: Living Cheap in Kansas

Shopping at the Curb...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I always say that my favorite place to shop for furniture is at the curb.  Well, that and flea markets and thrift stores. In fact, I only have three pieces of furniture in my house that were purchased new - the sofa and recliner in the basement family room and the display case in my living room.  A couple of items did come from antique stores, but the rest arrived in pitiful condition with need of restoration.  Even the kitchen island came from Habitat Restore!  This is the story of my living room sofa and chairs which came from the Goodwill store.  

For many years I had wanted a Chippendale camel back sofa.  But they weren't available in stores and besides, that would have been too easy - and no doubt way out of my budget.  So I continued to look.

Then one Monday morning on my way to work, I stopped by the local Goodwill store to drop off some bags of clothing.  They weren't open yet, so I went to the back parking lot where they had a drop-off spot.  Sitting in the middle of the parking lot was my sofa!!!  Filthy and covered in blue fabric, it had no seat cushion.  I got out of the car and checked it for stability - it was solid.

I asked the two guys who worked there and were unloading a truck if they knew anything about it - when it would be available for sale.  One replied that it wouldn't - it would be thrown away because it had no cushion.  My eyes lit up - well, I asked "may I have it?"

"Sure" he replied, "but we have to have the lot cleared in 45 minutes so you'll have to get it out of here by then."  UhOh...

Now, I drive a Hyundai Elantra...wonderful car - love it - but it really wouldn't work to transport a sofa.  First I called my husband (who drives a van), but he couldn't leave work.  Then I called my co-worker Tony (who often rides a motorcycle to work) and asked (hopefully) "did you bring the truck today?"   Now Tony knows me pretty  well - after all, we had worked together for many years.  "Yeah, why?"  he asked.

"I need a really BIG favor." I said - and told him the story and (being a "junker" himself)  he agreed to come and pick up the sofa.  Then I spotted a couple of channelback chairs over to one side and asked about them.  The guy replied that I could have them for $10 (for the pair).  By then the store had opened and I went inside to pay for the chairs.

Tony arrived and we loaded the sofa and chairs into his truck and he delivered them to my house that afternoon.  Then they sat in the garage for a couple of years.

At that time, I still had one adult daughter and her dog and two cats living at home.  So I refused to do anything with the furniture until we were petless and childless...  So I waited.

It too another two years to track down the fabric I wanted for the couch (heavy cotton black and tan tavern check) and spend six months on a waiting list for the upholsterer but the day finally came. While I waited, I stripped and refinished the wooden legs (with supplies I got at the local recycling center for free).  Then  $600 later (including fabric and labor) it returned - just like I wanted.  I call it my free $600 couch.  The chairs took a while longer.  Determined to do them myself, I took a week-long upholstery workshop from the local extension office.  It was great fun, a lot of work and well worth the $75 and the week of vacation I took from work.  But I only got one of the chairs done.  My plans to complete the other chair on my own never happened, so the next year I took the workshop again.  Finally, they were all done!

It was all worth it.  If you do a search on for Chippendale camel back sofa, one that looks just like mine (but is unupholstered) is over $2000!!!

1 Comments | Post Feedback

Cat Tech Support


Borrowed from Internet - the cat looks just like our (loaner) cat Tiki. But that's another story...

Channelback Chair


Here is one of the chairs I reupholstered.

My Refurbed Furniture


Here is the couch and chairs - the room is decorated for fall. The mirror above the fireplace was my husband's grandmothers. The fireplace doors and the handles on the fire place tools used to be brass. I painted them with black grill paint from the recycling center.


Monday, January 11, 2010 | By pamphyila

The only kind of upholstering I can do is with a staple gun - which does sortta work. We cdn't even afford $600 for redoing a coach! But we make do anyway. True - used furniture is the best deal! We picked
up a computer hutch at Sal. Army for $30 - How much new at Ikea?? P.S. a vintage stove the like of which we had restored is going for $1000! (We got it free & had it restored for @ $200.)

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AnnieM (Contact)
Olathe, Kansas USA
About Me:

I've been a cheapskate just about all my life. In doing so I've learned to do just about everything. I can sew, paint, hang wallpaper, install tile and flooring, pull and replace toilets, sinks, garbage disposals and faucets. Remove and replace ceiling fixtures and fans, replace outlets and switches, I've installed windows (both on houses and on computers!), I can rehab almost anything from furniture (repair, reupholster and refinish) to computers (I built my husband a good laptop using three broken ones that I got for free)! I've taken cheap to a whole new level!

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