Second Hand Living

The following is a guest post from Kerry of The Simple Year One who although she doesn’t follow a STRICT buy nothing new policy any more, still tries to walk the walk.  This is the first in a series that focuses on furnishing and decorating with found and used items. 


Housed with my favorite local coffee shop is a cute boutique that sells everything from socks with puns to the latest in home decor.  Normally, I buzz in and out without paying much attention, but last week I was stopped in my tracks by the window display.

They were selling MACRAME WALL HANGINGS.  Now, If you are not old enough to have ridden in a car without factory installed seat belts or  you never drank Tang as health food, you probably don’t know what I am talking about.  Macrame was all the rage during my childhood in the seventies and is basically knotted rope fashioned into wall art or plant hangers. Then, they fell out of favor and were first relegated to basements and garages and later became dusty jumbles of rope in someone’s trash bin.

Just like clothing, home decor seems to come in and out of fashion, I suppose.  But, lately I have noticed (based on my extensive research, watching HGTV while making dinner at night) the trends seem to be to make everything look old.  They call it farmhouse style, or rustic chic or mid century modern.

The stores even sell things that look like they’ve been picked up off the curb.  (don’t believe me, stop by a Target or Pottery Barn, then report back).

In any case this is good news for me as everything in my home is ACTUALLY OLD.  Well, not everything, but most things.  I started furnishing my home with cast offs after college, because it was all I could afford.  Later, it was because I was trying to conscientiously reduce my footprint.  Now, I will admit it has become a little more than that.  I find, that older items are better quality and tend to hold up better.  I also like that they have a history.  I particularly like old pottery as I love to think about it’s history and its functionality throughout the years.

With that said, I have a home that is almost entirely decorated with items that were either passed down to me or picked up second hand.  I am not a decorator and I don’t spend lots of time upcycling or repurposing.  While I probably won’t be getting spread in Elle Decor any time soon, I think it looks pretty good.

The photos below are my living room.   There are just two things that were purchased new.  Can you guess which?  (you can guess in the comments, which would be fun or you can just do in in your head)

The answer is…the lampshade (it actually still has the plastic on it in this photo…I’m testing it out before I commit) because I put my hand through the other one while hanging the gallery wall.  Also, the Persian rug  purchased by my husband about twenty years ago on a deployment to Turkey, was technically new.

Everything else, including the artwork and the plant, were given to me or purchased second hand.  My main tip when people tell me they never “find anything good”  when shopping at second hand stores or Craig’s list is to first find a photo of a room you like online and then look for things that look like they could go in that room.  You will be surprised what you can put together that way.

The artwork I have hanging is just a collection of photos, paintings and textiles I have collected over the years and in the past have just been hanging randomly around the house.  None of these pieces were purchased to “go together” they were all just things I liked.  So, when I finally got the idea to display them on that giant empty wall, I just laid them all out on the floor and spent an evening and half a bottle of Cabernet rearranging them till I was satisfied.  And, presto, my motley group of garage sale finds became a gallery wall.

8 Responses to Second Hand Living

  1. I have long believed that as long as I like something it will go with all the other things I like. You just proved that point.

  2. Bravo! I think it’s just taste and discernment that makes anything look beautiful, whether it’s all new or all repurposed. And new decor is often more likely to be trendy in a way that will date within a year or has no meaning (thinking of: chevron patterns, the macrame you mention, felt boards with letters, wood signs with words on them).

    I’d love a blog that took things from antique and thrift stores and showed how to make them into tasteful interiors. Actually… I’d love to make that blog. I thought it would be so cool to have a charity that made beautiful spaces for refugees and low income folks in public housing.

  3. this is so great. I guessed the lamp so I was close to correct. thanks for sharing your room, especially your gallery wall. A few years ago I laid out my design (on the floor) but never put the pictures on the wall. Our plaster walls are very resistant to nails. While clearing out a closet this week, I found my box of pictures. I realized some of mine were of a past trend that no longer appeal to me & they made good thrift store donations. Someone will get a good deal.

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