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Cheap Thrills: Finding Treasure in the Trash

Another Way to Recycle and Go Green


"Norma Jean" trash to treasure makeover dresser

- Rose Wilde

Quick Tips for Transforming Trash to Treasure:

- Looking at less-than-perfect antiques and collectibles with a fresh eye is the first step in recycling discards into something useful or fun.

- Trash to treasure potential can be found inexpensively most anywhere from flea markets and estate sales to, yes, the dumpster down the block.

- Inspiration for trash to treasure makeovers abounds in do-it-yourself books, decorating magazines and even on this site. Take a look at the user-submitted photos in our Trash to Treasure Makeover Gallery for some clever ideas.

- Keep in mind that one of the most unique aspects of recycling antiques and collectibles in this way is being able to make them your own by incorporating your favorite fabrics, colors and decorating style into your makeover projects.

Finding Trash to Transform into Treasure

You might be wondering about where to find the base pieces to work with so you can transform a few trashy treasures of your own. Many people shop thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales, and find lots of "stuff" to redo. But what about taking a literal look in the trash, too?

One of our forum bulletin board users once told me that she's absolutely hooked on rummaging through junk left on street corners to salvage antique and collectible pieces worthy of a makeover. "These past few months I have been treasure hunting in the trash. It's surely amazing what I find," she said.

From small furniture pieces and huge picture frames to quilt tops and wedding dresses, you name it and Gerrie has seen it piled in a heap of trash waiting for either a new home or the landfill. She opts to give these items new life or pass them on to someone else who will certainly do just that. Not all of her trash heap finds are "used," however.

"Recently I found a Hummel [figurine] in its original box," Gerrie remarked. She's also discovered brand new cookie jars, jewelry items, linens and the list goes on and on. Of course, these things aren't usually located in ordinary household garbage. Gerrie notes that a house being cleaned out for a move or before an estate sale offers the most potential.

While having loads of fun sharing her free-of-charge finds with friends, she's even inspired a few other forum users to give her foraging techniques a try. "While walking through my neighborhood, I spotted a perfectly good mirror in the trash," said Rahuba. "Of course, I carried it home with me!"

Trash to Treasure Challenge

All this talk of finding usable and restorable items for no more than the cost of a gallon of gas or two really gets me revved. And thinking about being able to transform a few more discards into my own personalized creations makes me want to head out for some foraging to see what I can find to play with.

Perhaps you'll find some inspiration in these tales of trash to treasure hunts and makeovers. Tell us about your finds in our forum, or better yet, submit a photo for the Trash to Treasure Makeover Gallery.

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