Reduce, reuse and upcycle

Spring is the time when garage sales pop up like tulips and daffodils! They are great places to find all sorts of bargains, and a great way to recycle your ‘stuff’. I used to think I was ‘cheap’, but it seems that I am really actually ‘green’. Beach Metro News has listings for all the upcoming garage sales in the neighbourhood that will get you out of bed and prowling the streets early Saturday and Sunday mornings. Take cash with you, be prepared to bargain for prices, and remember not to insult the seller. You may end up paying more…. not less!

I have to confess I have never been one to rouse myself from bed to be the early bird at the neighbourhood sales. As I mentioned last column, I prefer the online garage sales through craigslist and kijiji – no rain or early mornings! But I have been known to circle the block later in the day when something has caught my eye at a garage sale just winding down. The selection has diminished, but you can still get deeply discounted items. Unsold items at the end of the day often find their way back into the house, the Goodwill, or even perhaps the curb for garbage pickup! Curbs are a great place to find things at an amazing price – FREE! My husband keeps trying to put blinders on me when we go out in the car and I comb the curbs.

Besides craigslist, kijiji, Goodwill and garage sales, recycled furniture or other treasures can be found at used furniture stores, or stores that sell on consignment. I wish I had a huge storage area because I see things that I know I could use one day, but unless I know where it is going – and what it is going to replace – I have to pass it up in order to keep harmony in my house.

Recently I picked up a neat $35 floor lamp with two shades on goosenecks, perfect to put between our reading chairs at the cottage! I also bought six teak chairs for my son and daughter-in-law, refinished them and then reupholstered them in a more contemporary fabric. This is now called ‘upcycling’. You might not even have to go shopping in order to recycle and upcycle things you already have in your own home. Look for items that may change their purpose with a little nip and tuck or a coat of paint. Who knows what treasures you may uncover!

In our own neighbourhood we have a great used furniture store called Frontier Sales. It is located at 3313 Danforth Ave. just east of Pharmacy (416-691-3300). I don’t like to divulge my favourite stores, but it seems that decorating personalities on Cityline, and in Style at Home magazine have already discovered Frontier Sales. A Facebook page mentions what is coming in everyday. There is also a website – – and a YouTube presence. But the best way to find things at Frontier Sales is by visiting the store regularly. One of my student employees said she needed a dresser so I told her about Frontier Sales. She went there immediately and found exactly what she wanted within her student budget.

Another place to check for recycled items is the  Habitat For Humanity Toronto Restore. It is exactly as the name suggests, selling quality new and used renovation materials donated by homeowners and businesses. Everything is sold at discounted prices with proceeds helping with the fundraising for Habitat for Humanity. Two of these great stores flank the Beach: 155 Bermondsey Rd., and 3 Carlaw Ave. I have bought paint from there, and found two full kitchens for a friend who seems to collect kitchens. My husband found the glass cover for our 1950s design outdoor light fixture that was missing when we bought the house 12 years ago. It made his day! We have also donated bathroom fixtures when it came time for our own renovation.

Enjoy the warm weather and practice some ‘upcycling’ this summer.

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