I recently described my personal home décor style as an “old house full of old things I love but that do not necessarily match.”
“Eclectic” sums it up more efficiently.
Our house was built in the ‘60s, which is both charming and not-so-charming at times, and I’ve managed to fill it with a lot of vintage, collected and pre-loved furniture and décor.
Some of my favourite pieces are used; the wood credenza we repurposed into an entertainment unit, a vintage teak dining set with fresh upholstery and an antique dresser with white chipped paint finish that was too perfect to touch.
Every room is home to something old, handed down or picked up second hand, and since opening Far and Wide, a few pieces have migrated down to the shop, too.
I grew up in Juniper Ridge, where the community garage sale is a big deal. As a kid, the annual sale was a magical day when my brother and I sold the toys we no longer used for earnings we could put toward something new — before spending the afternoon running around with friends and scouring the block for treasure.
Our budget was any allowance money we’d managed to squirrel away, and I always found something I wanted to buy, most of which (like an oversized fuchsia occasional chair) was met with a firm “no” from my parents.
Even then I was intrigued by the glimpse into people’s lives that a garage sale provides — seeing someone’s possessions, normally tucked away inside, displayed so prominently on lawns and in driveways.
I love the thrill of the hunt, the chance to find something perfect that I didn’t know I needed.
The price of second-hand doesn’t hurt, either, when you’re decorating on a budget.
However, there are a lot of factors to consider before buying used. Condition is always a main concern. These pieces have already lived a full life and small nicks and scratches are to be expected, while bigger issues such as broken or missing pieces, large cracks, odours and staining often require specialized equipment and know-how that may not be worth the time or cost.
Whenever possible, I try to limit myself to pieces that only require small updates, or can be used as they are with a good cleaning, quick coat of a wood refinishing product or a little paint.
It can be easy to fall in love with a bargain and snap up a dresser or bench without fully thinking through the amount of work the piece might require.
After letting “project” pieces pile up in the past and parting with some pieces I never got around to working on, I’m painfully aware of how quickly the excitement can dissipate once I’m home and faced with a daunting amount of work.
Recovering a dining chair seat can be a fun and relatively straightforward DIY project, but tackling an upholstery project on a wingback chair on the other hand is not.
Upholstery is a true artform, from matching fabric grains and patterns to rebuilding cushions and perfectly hiding everything under a trim of piping, it takes a lot of time, experience and equipment and should not be entered into lightly.
The same is true for projects that strip the finish off an older piece of furniture. Make sure to always research these projects first and take the proper safety precautions.
Recently, a commercial for IKEA ran showing a little girl who rehomes a lamp she finds discarded on the sidewalk.
“Reusing things is always better,” the commercial states — and they have a point. Buying used is something you can feel good about, whether you’re motivated by budget, personal aesthetic, the environment or something else.
The Juniper Ridge community garage sale is on May 5, with many other neighbourhoods holding collective garage sales over the next six weeks.
I encourage you to check them out. You may just find a new project to tackle.
Calli Duncan is co-owner of Makeshift Kamloops and Far and Wide. For more, go online to farandwidekamloops.com.
Upcoming community garage sales:
- Brocklehurst, April 27
- Oak Hills, April 27
- Rivershore, April 27
- Westsyde, May 4
- Juniper Ridge, May 5
- North Shore, May 11
- Batchelor Heights, May 26