Friday, June 11, 2010

Goodwill and Spray Paint are My New Best Friends

I fully admit that I have an unusually ridiculous sense of aesthetics. I want things to look beautiful, and even though I know that form is supposed to follow function, most of the time I only care about form.  If it is ugly, I simply do not care how functional an item is, it is not going to be put on display in my house.  It will be hidden in the cupboard or something.

Joel and I have had many discussions on the matter, and he does get it.  He's not as visual as I am, but since he wouldn't allow ugly music to assault his ears, he understands my issues with having to be surrounded with beauty at all times.

Unfortunately, my preoccupation with having a beautifully decorated home often meets resistance from both my less-than-full bank account and my more-than-full schedule.

But, I do my best.

And go to Goodwill and yard sales a lot.

I usually buy things that I think have some potential for beauty, even if they're looking pretty ugly at the moment.  This is necessary because most people don't leave the greatest stuff at thrift stores.  Although you do find the occasional treasure.

When I get home from Goodwill, the spray paint inevitably comes out (usually black), and what was once broken down and ugly becomes worthy of display.

Here are a couple of little Goodwill projects that I have done recently.

Bedroom shelf

This shelf and everything on it came from various trips to Goodwill.  The shelf itself was white when I found it.  White with chipped paint and some kind of gross stain.  So, I cleaned it up, painted it black and now it looks Pottery Barn worthy.

I stalk the picture frame section at Goodwill.  I love taking photos, so I'm always in need of frames.  I thought this one was particularly cool.  There was a chip in the frame, but a black sharpie took care of it.

The little picture tree holder thingy was silver with some green crud all over it.  But covered in black spray paint, it looks great.  I kind of like the modern-y look of displaying it here with nothing actually in it.  I also used it to display Christmas Cards back in December, but it hasn't really had a home since then.

If there's one thing Goodwill has a plethora of, it's candle holders.  I buy them here and there, and they are usually in pretty great shape.  Sometimes they even have candles, but those can be so gross I don't even want to look at them.  But I did get lucky this time.

Total cost of this particular little project, which is in my bedroom and makes me very happy to look at:  $8.95.  Take that, Pottery Barn!


My house was built in 1920 and my very favorite feature is the fireplace.  We don't use it much, because it's so open, but we did use it occasionally this past winter.  Nice and cozy.

(I'm thinking of painting the living room walls a subtle green...kind of close to the candles on the left....what do you think?)

(And yes, I see that I need to clean out the magazines.  Sigh.)

Anyway, those candlesticks were the ugliest things you have ever seen when I first found them at Goodwill.  They were a very gaudy gold leaf, with some fake marble stuff.  Truly hideous.  I stared at them for a while before deciding to bring them home and paint them.  A few weeks after I did, I saw some really similar black candlesticks in Pier One for like 40 dollars apiece and I felt really smug about my thriftiness right then.

The candles that are on the candlesticks were purchased on clearance at ShopKo.  ShopKo has great clearance prices, in case you didn't already know.

The wreath was one of those lucky Goodwill finds.  One of the employees saw me carrying it around the store and remarked that if she had seen it earlier she would have saved it in the back for herself.  Now I know why there's never anything nice!

Here's a close-up look of the wreath:

Wreath close up

I found the poker set a couple months ago, after fire season.  But we had wished for one all winter, so I snatched it up.  It's really classy-looking, too.  I like it.

The other little embroidered things were either on clearance at ShopKo (the bigger one), or free at Deseret Book with my accumulated points in their club (the small one, which has two counterparts that you can't see in the picture).

Total cost of the fireplace (excluding the things from ShopKo):  $11.95.

Now, this summer I have decided to not even enter the doors of Goodwill or any other thrift store, although I may still go to the occasional yard sale.  Instead, I am going to work on painting the dining room, stripping the wallpaper in Sophia's room and refinishing some furniture (all thrifted).  This way we don't spend any money.

But, I love me a good find at the thrift store, that's for sure.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. You have some talent! And I have the same problem. I can't display tacky.

  2. Love this!! I need to remember the spray paint. I did it for the crib, but I need to buy some black. Does it work for kitchen cabinets?!

  3. You should check out My friend runs the site. You would love it! Great post...

  4. Dearest Lara, you are amazing.
    With a capitol A.
    I want to be you.
    Will you plesae come decorate our house? :)

  5. pssst...Florida Location (in Calumet) garage sales today at 4:00. Don't let the rain scare you awy.

  6. That green is very similar to the color the exterior of our house is right now. I kind of love it.

    You have such a talent for making things beautiful. Want to come be my interior decorator?

  7. These projects are just beautiful! I have a problem of worrying that something won't turn out the way I wanted or hoped, and so I don't do it at all. I need to get brave!

  8. I am with ya. A piece of furniture, especially, has to speak to me. i don't care if that big fluffy couch is the most comfortable thing on the planet. If it is not pleasing aesthetically it is outta here!

  9. Between thrift stores and Ikea, my home is a thrifty Heaven. I think I'd be that way no matter what the budget was like, it's so much fun.

  10. I admire people like you who have an "eye" for this. I could wander a goodwill store and never find anything I could make into something worth decorating with.
    Kudos to you!

  11. I always get excited when I see your post title indicates a project you're either working on or completed. I wish I had better vision at seeing what could be instead of what actually is. You definitely have to frequent Goodwill on a regular basis to put together a whole ensemble, but with persistence and patience, you can score some awesome stuff. My sister in law painted her walls a great shade of a lighter green that made her house look awesome. I'll try to find a link to it on her blog and send it to you.

  12. Okay so it's
    I don't know how to send you directly to a link for the particular post, but the whole page isn't very long. I love the yellow she put in their bedroom and the shot of the room with the fireplace in it is the green I'm talking about, but the lighting isn't that great in the shot. Let me know if you interested and I'll ask her the color.

  13. I am always impressed with people who can turn trash into treasure. I guess I don't have the right vision. Maybe I just need to practice more (or have a goodwill that isn't super tiny in town).

  14. OH, I love your home decor posts!!!

    I miss ShopKo, used to shop there a bunch when I was a BYU student & got some great buys there.

    And your picture tree wire thingy -- that's a steal!

    I hear you on shopping less, though, even @ thrift stores. I used to go religiously thrifting every single week, now I go closer to 1-2 times a month. But still, the thrill of the find is, well, thrilling, isn't it?

  15. I would have to agree with you that Goodwill and spray paint are your best friends! Great finds Lara, and the way you transformed them is beautiful. I am grateful you posted some of what to look for there because the few times I have gone I give up because it looks like a giant trash heap to me. It is so unorganized, and it smells funny. Now that I know what to look for I can go straight to certain sections. Thanks!

  16. OK, I really need to learn some of your shopping techniques.

  17. OH, I knew it! I was right about the kindred spirit thing. I adore my fireplace and my home. I have WAAAAAYY too many magazines. Our walls a painted a pale, pale green called willow and I adore it. Anyway... This wasn't just a comment to say, "Me, too. Me, too." But to thank you for the spray paint reminder. I really have passed up too many good deals in not thinking about that.

  18. Oh Lara. A woman of so many talents...I wish i could be creative like that,but I am a mean clearance shopper. Love all of it.

  19. I kind of want to go shopping with you. Look at all those steals!

  20. Hey! I found your blog thru Google 'cause I bought paint there today. I didn't know people gave away paint.

    We have a Bins/outlet store where they sell by the pound. You can check Yelp to see if there are any in your area. Ours sells big cans of paint for .50, .75, $1.00. I bought a small can of gray paint (never opened) (marked on the bottom as being made on 3/1/10) today for .50 and painted our fence with it. It was sweet! Wal Mart sells their Color Place paint for .99 which is a very good deal. It's better paint than Krylon.

    You can use Goo Gone for getting rid of the wave on your used candle holders if you ever have that problem. I bought a candle holder for my sister that had wax on it and it got it right off.

    Best wishes!

  21. Ah, Goodwill, how I love thee. The house looks great, and I love your ideas for transforming thrifted treasures. The end result is gorgeous!