And I got it for FREE!

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday, and in case you missed it, I talked about her crazy-craftiness, specifically in regards to stuff she’s made for my home.  In addition to being all-around awesome, she is also salvage-savvy.  Before it was all abuzz in the blog-o-sphere, she was re-purposing old doors into headboards, picking up “damaged” dressers off the side of the road and repainting them, and she even once got an 8′ artificial Christmas tree from a neighbors’ “trash.”  Yeah, she’s that lady.  (Hm… I think I’ve made her sound crazy… but she’s not.  Only crafty-crazy.  See? That’s so much better than just straight up crazy.)

And however seemingly, um… weird… I found this behavior to be as a child, she still somehow managed to instill in me the same values.

And I passed these “values” on to Josh.  (I’ve made her very proud.)

It has often been mentioned in many design shows and magazines that if you live in a big city, you could probably furnish your whole apartment on things you found on the side of the road — things deemed “trash.”  More often that not, there is nothing wrong with these items and the previous owner was either too lazy to donate or sell them or didn’t see the hidden potential for further use.  When this happens, passers-by with two free hands score, and such has been the case for Josh and I since we have lived in NYC.

Among our many finds (and thus, additions to our apartment), the BEST has been our new butcher block table top:

butcher block dining room table

Ta da!

(“Thank you, Courtney, for that extremely blurry picture!  It really shows you care.”  “You’re welcome!”)

As you may remember, the original tabletop was found at Ikea for $19.99.  The Singer sewing machine base was from an actual circa 1920’s, antique Singer sewing machine.

antique singer sewing machine dining room table


I liked the previous table top, but we knew that because it’s cheap, Ikea wood (like a step up from particle board) that we’d eventually want to replace it.  Being that the Singer base is made of iron, we knew we could replace it with just about anything and it would be fully supported.


On Halloween of this year, Josh was walking down our street on the way home from work, when he spotted a butcher block table top sitting on top of someone’s trash.  It was near what looked like its previous base, but the base was broken (and cheap looking anyway).  We assume that once the base broke, the previous owner just decided to trash the whole thing.  Josh — probably hearing the sound of my voice in his head — inspected it for stains or damage, found none, and carried it home.

That sounds so easy, right?!  However, the carrying-it-home part was faaarrrr more difficult as it weighs a BAJILLION pounds.  It is solid, maple butcher block after all.

(In fact, I remember calling him and asking where he was, to which he replied, out of breath, “I… am… bringing… a surprise…. home…. t’you. [gasp] Be… there… soon!”  I later Googled how much a typical butcher block of this size actually weighs, and it’s about NINETY POUNDS.)

After a lot of stop-and-go walking as Josh carried the butcher block 1/4 mile down the street and up FOUR flights of stairs, he brought it into the apartment.  I remember seeing it from a distance and saying “That isn’t laminate, right?”  He got a bit sassy with me as said “Um, NO — Definitely not!”

Later, we removed the Ikea top, attached the butcher block one, and stood back and smiled.

Let’s look one more time :)

butcher block dining room table

Ta da!

Isn’t she lovely?

It’s just the tiniest bit wider and maybe 2 inches longer, but this little bit really makes ALL the difference.  And since I have virtually no counter space, this really helps out in that department (I felt weird using the veneer/laminate/particle board stuff before as a prep surface, not that I ever used it as a cutting board or anything).

And because we like to pat ourselves on the back, we decided to Google how much a similar butcher block table top would cost, brand new.  We saw one here that has about the same measurements as ours for $289.


So yeah, we were pretty happy.  The next step is to go over it a couple of times with a fine-grained sand paper, and rub it down with mineral oil (this isn’t because it’s damaged, this is just what you do with butcher block tops).

And don’t worry, the original Ikea top will not be going to the trash.  We’ll think of something else for that… or we’ll Craigslist it!

The moral of the story:  The next time you walk or drive by something that looks like it might have some hidden potential (or that is already awesome in its own right), stop.  It may be complete junk… or it may be something that, once it’s been given a little TLC, you cherish and pass down in your family for years to come!


You might also fancy…

Books and Nooks: The Living Room Edition

The Odyssey of the Curtain-Bookshelf Thing

Recycled Market

This ridiculous picture of Josh singing 80’s music:


5 thoughts on “And I got it for FREE!

  1. Danny’s a dumpster diver, too. I have 2 guitars in my house that he “rescued” from the trash. No one in our house plays guitar, but he had them both re-stringed and they’re now decorative accents in my family room.

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