The most random treasure hunt ever

The very best thing about junk hunting (aka curbside shopping, etc.) is that you just never know what you’ll find. Even more-so than secondhand shopping, when searching the side of the road for discarded goods, you could literally come across anything.

Although I mostly pick up furniture & bigger things (because I don’t usually dig through bins & boxes, and just take what I can see,) sometimes I find other stuff that I just can’t pass up.

I’ve cut down on hunting for roadside finds lately, mostly due to a lack of space and a huge backlog of furniture that’s waiting for me to work on it.Ā  But when coming home from my parent’s house last week, I couldn’t help but notice the piles and piles of stuff all around their neighborhood. Much of it was empty boxes, but I decided to go down a few extra side streets in case anyone tossed out something good, maybe in their NY resolution to de-clutter šŸ™‚

But beteatowelfore doing that, I grabbed this cute tea towel from the top of a box put out by my parent’s next-door neighbor (the rest of the box contained old – but clean – men’s t-shirts, which I took straight to St. Vincent de Paul to donate.)


A few houses down from my parents, someone had set this dry-erase board & unopened wedding guest book on top of their closed trash can, essentially willing it to be picked up. (I donated the dry erase board and already sold the guest book on Etsy).


Around the corner I grabbed this neat old dart-board cabinet, complete with chalkboard interior for keeping score.


And then this spice rack – I won’t use the spices, and don’t need a spice rack, but I can definitely find another use for it (probably storing sewing or craft supplies). And this under-bed storage bin.


Then I turned a corner and saw this scarecrow sticking out of a box, along with a couple of big fake bonsai trees (which I didn’t take, they were huge). I hopped out of the car to grab it and the wreath sitting next to it, and then I noticed there were a few additional boxes filled with stuff that obviously wasn’t trash. Since it was freezing and close to the girls’ bedtime, I threw the boxes in my car to look at at home.


One box was full of (unused) colored copy paper, card stock, scrapbooking supplies, and those borders that teachers use around their bulletin boards. Another was packed full of CDs. There were also some Christmas decorations, a nice pair of Clauss scissors, and a big carton of foam stickers. (I donated most of this stuff – minus the CDs, which I still need to go through – to the girls’ schools).

paper stuffAnd a giant ziploc bag full of old pictures. They cover this one man’s whole life – baby pictures, him as a child, his High School graduation photo, him in the Air Force and working at a factory, he and his wife as a twenty-something couple, and then with a baby – the most recent (presumably) are him at his daughter’s wedding, and sitting around a campfire as an old man. I can’t believe someone threw these away. I don’t even remember which house I got this stuff from, or I would go back and see if it was done by mistake. None of it is marked, so I have no idea of his name. But I find the pictures fascinating. I don’t know what to do with them, but I definitely won’t be throwing them away.

picturesIf you would have given me 10 guesses of what I might find junk hunting that night, I don’t think I would have said guest book, spice rack, copy paper, or a lifetime of pictures. I love the unpredictableness of it. Of course, there are many times I go out specifically to junk hunt and find nothing. But those instances are worth all of the cool stuff that I have found.

Speaking of, I added a bunch of new things from this summer/fall to my Roadside Finds gallery if you want to check it out.

If you’ve found anything cool on the side of the road, please share!


Junk Hunting from a Junk Hunter

One time this summer I was talking about some of my great roadside finds when my brother jokingly called me “a picker.” I wasn’t insulted or anything, but the truth is, what I (and the many, many like me) do is far from what you see on American Pickers & the like.Ā  While I would love to be able to go through someone’s house/yard/garage/etc. looking for things to buy and hearing the histories behind any interesting items, my vein of “picking” is basically driving around the suburbs and grabbing things from the curb (it’s come to be known as “junk hunting” at our house.) There’s little in the way of human interaction, although once a very nice man came out with his drill and took apart theĀ  wooden bed he had set on the curb so I could fit it into my car. There was only one other time I actually talked to the person I was “picking” from.

I had seen a craigslist ad for free garage sale leftovers, and it was only a couple blocks away from my house. Funnily, I had actually WENT to the garage sale at that house the day before, but only had $2.00 cash with me so I bought very little. When I showed up, the guy was still bringing boxes of things to the curb. As I started loading up my car, he said “go ahead, take everything you can – I do it too.” I smiled and thanked him, and he kind of hesitated, then continued – “actually, I make a living doing just that.” I stopped loading and said “really?”

He went on to tell me that he earns around $30K a year picking up “junk” and selling it through local auction houses. He’s not a furniture rehabber or DIYer – his key is in the sheer volume of stuff he picks up & sells. He actually gave me some good tips on what neighborhoods to hit on various days of the week, and recommended the best auction company to use should I ever decide to go that route. It was such an interesting and unexpected encounter! (and the guy is practically my neighbor…) I ended up getting the speakers I used to make this piece of cat furniture, along with about 4 boxes of random glassware & Christmas decorations. I’m not really sure why he chose to get rid of this stuff versus auction it off, because it was all clean and in decent condition (but if I had to guess, I’d say he probably had no shortage of things to auction & didn’t want to bother with a few boxes of little stuff that would probably only go for a few bucks.)

Even funnier, a couple of days later I was picking things up from one of the online estate sale places I frequent (that also takes consignments) and in walks this very guy. Turns out he knows the owner well (as do I, by this point) and consigns things through him pretty regularly. He was bringing in this very unique wooden sculpture to consign – which recently turned up – refinished – at the antique mall where I have a booth. It’s a small junkin’ world around here!

I had to leave this on the side of the road….

….due to lack of car space & manpower (Sob!) It was kind of beat up, and I doubt it works, but what a beautiful piece of furniture! My mind was swimming with ideas for it, but after 10 minutes on the side of a busy road, rearranging my trunk and attempting to slide it over to my car, I came to the realization that there was no way I was getting it home. I only hope some other junker got it! Would hate to see this one go to waste.

On the bright side, before heading to a night-before-kindergarten dinner last night (yes, Piper started kindergarten today!) I took a drive around my parent’s neighborhood and came upon a house where it looked like the tenants had recently been evicted. I don’t normally dig through trash cans, but I took a look inside one that obviously didn’t contain actual garbage, and I found this beauty!

Only a junker could appreciate it, I’m sure….but I can’t wait to upholster a chair with it. I also got a couple pieces of pottery, a big jar full of unused matchbooks, and this neat little “spanish guitar tuning pipe” in a leather case.

I have about 30 pieces of extra furniture in my house that are just waiting for me to work on them. All I need is the time to do it! I hope to be back to share some finished projects soon….

Old Stereo Speakers Upcycled to Cat Tree

My inspiration for this upcycle was a double-decker cat bed made from an old suitcase that I saw a picture of. While keeping my eye out for a suitcase to use, I came across a set of mismatched beat-up stereo speakers on the side of the road. It was actually pretty interesting, because as I picked these up, the man who lived at the house came outside and told me to help myself to whatever I wanted (I also got a like-new artificial Christmas wreath). He then told me that he actually does “this” for a living, and proceeded to share the best nights to check out different neighborhoods and recommend an auction house if I ever decide to consign anything.

the crappy “before” pic I almost forgot to take

Despite having 1,001,001 projects waiting, and a few in progress, I got started on the speakers right away. It actually turned out to be a lot harder of a project than I anticipated! Part of it was due to my lack of certain power tools – a circular saw, in particular – and a real work table. I’ll be getting these things before starting anything else that requires sawing off 2x4s trying to cut a shape out of plywood.

As usual, I failed to take many “during” pictures. Steve helped me with the demo-ing, and that was the fun part. But I had failed to account for the fact that these weren’t real wood, rather a cheap particle-board material. The sides ended up falling off the smaller speaker, and it proved tricky to do any nailing or screwing without cracking a whole piece. But, I figured out that by relying mainly on L-brackets for support (and using tiny screws) I could make it work.

The top level was kind of an after-thought. I just cut a (rough) circle out of a piece of plywood that I had lying around and then used my staple gun to attach batting and then fabric.I sewed the pillows out of an old vintage sheet and hot glued a strip of velcro to the bottom and the surface so they wouldn’t constantly be falling off. I didn’t put a ton of effort into making everything look perfect – after all, this is just a cat tree, and it’s for my own home. But I think it turned out pretty cute, and it was definitely a TON cheaper than the carpet-covered cat trees you can buy in the store! Really, my only expense at all was the fabric and paint, which I already had, (and which barely cost anything anyway – the paint was from the mis-tint section, and the fabric was a remnant and an old sheet.)

Lacy wall art from an old headboard

Happy 4th of July everyone!

This summer has been crazy busy, which seems to be the case with everyone. I’ve done a decent amount of junking/thrift, and a ton of online estate sale shopping – but haven’t had as much time as I’d like to actually work on projects. I’ve had decent luck selling my no-rehab-needed antiques/vintage goods (I just found out I actually made a profit my first month at the antique mall!) but I’d really like to get back to my true passion – making old things pretty.

We needed something new to hang above our couch, and since I couldn’t find anything I liked at Goodwill, etc., this meant it was up to me to create it. However….I’m not an artist. I have next-to-no skills in drawing, painting, things like that. So I had to be creative!

I thought of this old wooden headboard frame that I had snatched from the side of the road a while back. I’m actually not even sure if it’s that old, but it was in pretty rough condition, and it only caught my eye because of it’s pretty shape.

After some brainstorming, I decided to paint it this rusty orange color and then use it to frame some pretty decorative fabric. But when reviewing my collection of fabric/linens, I couldn’t find anything that would look quite right. I moved on to my stack of curtains, and when I found this vintage lace valance, I knew it would be perfect! I just used my staple gun to attach it to the back of the frame, and I ended up putting a dark blue fabric behind it to make it stand out better against our wall. I topped the paint with a brush-on poly, and then did just a bit of distressing.

I love how it turned out! If it were up to me, I’d rather that the seam of the curtain not show under the arched part, but that was the only way that the curtain would fit, and I don’t think it really detracts from the overall look at all.

(it’s not hung yet because I’m still deciding where exactly to place it and what else I want around it)

Stay tuned – I’ll be back soon (really!) to share the yet-to-be-seen outcome of my most ambitious project yet – a cat tree made from a pair of old stereo speakers!

Mini Makeover…Thursday? (Crate & Board Ottoman)

Well shoot, right when I started to get into a posting groove, life got crazy and I just haven’t had the time to do much of anything related to Secondhand Fancy.

Since I also dropped the ball on “Mini Makeover Mondays” (projects that took less than 30 minutes to complete,) I thought I would just share one now.

When I began working from home full-time we transitioned the kid’s playroom into my office, and it’s since morphed into my office/craft room. I think I’ve come up with some pretty unique storage solutions that allow me to fit everything I need for work and fun into a 10×10 space, but this was one of the simplest.

I found this plastic crate, along with another 2, on the side of the road.

I wanted to use it for storage, but it didn’t stack with the other two, and since space is at a premium here, I wanted an alternative to just having a crate sitting there with stuff in it. This is what I came up with.

The top was formerly the door to our old bathroom cabinet. After screwing the doors closed, I just covered it in a layer of batting and used my staple gun to cover that with a pretty pillowcase (the counterpart to the one I used on this chair).

I attached a couple brackets to the bottom that help it fit nicely on top of the crate, but it’s not attached – so you can’t sit on the edge of it or anything. But it’s fine for resting your feet on! Or even doing art projects, as K demonstrates (I placed another piece of wood on top, here,Ā  since she had been painting.)


I got my volunteer assignment for Crafty Supermarket today! (I’ll be helping to direct people outside from 2-4.) I’m excited to be able to participate in this super-cool event, and am looking forward to being inspired by these awesome vendors (and doing some shopping!)

Beat-up Bench to Kids Step Stool

Remember this, that I found on the side of the road a couple of weeks ago but wasn’t quite sure what it was (bench? stool? step stool?) From the looks of it, it came from someone’s workshop – or was used as a target for hatchet-throwing practice. Seriously, the thing had about 1,000,001 little nicks over the entire top.

old step stool


I was happy to find it though, because it’s a sturdy, solid piece, and is the perfect height to use as a step stool for our bathroom. Once I told the girls they were getting a new step stool they got all excited, so this quickly moved to the top of my list.

I started by filling in some of the bigger holes and ruts with pre-mixed grout (I figured it would be more durable than spackle.) I didn’t attempt to fill every little knick – that would have been impossible, plus I like the slightly-worn look. Once that was dry I lightly sanded and then painted it with two coats of Pink Carnation by Glidden.

Because I planned on varnishing the top, I wanted to add something to make it a bit more slip-resistent, and decided to use a roll of non-slip shelf liner from the dollar store. I drew the shapes freehand (I didn’t want them to be too perfect) and used Mod Podge to apply them, then added two layers of MP over top. I finished with two layers of glossy craft varnish.

I liked it, but wanted it to have a little more color, so I painted the piece underneath with a turquoise craft paint that I had – it’s not exactly the same color as the shelf-liner cut-outs, but close enough!

The finished product:

All in all it cost me $1, because I got the stool for free and already had the paint.

NEW Roadside Finds Gallery

I could have included this in the previous entry where I shared this week’s roadside finds, but I wanted to post it separately in hopes that more people would see it this way.

I’ve added a Roadside Finds page to my site. You can see pictures of all of my roadside finds here, including many that I’ve never posted about before. Take a second to look – you just may be shocked at the amount of stuff that I’ve managed to pick-up within the last year or so.(I’ve also added a Before & After page)

This Week’s Roadside Finds

First, I wanted to share what I found this week. It was another good one!

In addition to the wicker chair in the previous post, I picked up a camping chair (gave to my parents), hose-holder-thing (haven’t decided if we’ll use it for that or not), a cool Singer sewing machine table (minus the machine), and an old brass candelabra lamp (it doesn’t work, but will make a gorgeous candle holder! It looks like someone converted it from an oil lamp to an electric one at some point.)