Tired tables and dated decor items were transformed into gems at a 24 Avenue store this week to mark a day known chiefly in treasure-hunting circles.
Wednesday was National Thrift Store Day, and the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Thrift Store celebrated with free workshops on repurposing old stuff. Trendy techniques in chalk painting, distressing and image transferring were showcased.
Victoria Biggs, the store’s business manager, said making something old out of something new is growing in popularity.
“People like do-it-yourself projects, and people are very conscientious about being green and throwing things away. If you can recycle something and give it a new life, you have a better quality piece.”
There’s at least a half-dozen thrift stores on the Peninsula, and even more bargain hunting to be had at a monthly swap meet at the Star of the Sea community hall.
Biggs said project seekers look for items that might need a little bit of updating – or just a new look.
“They’re looking for wood furniture. They’re usually looking for something that has seen better days, because they’re going to paint it,” she said. “They’re looking for project pieces that you can put a coat of paint on in half an hour and have a totally new piece.”
Easy-to-use products such as chalk paint – which doesn’t require sanding, priming or stripping – have only boosted the number of vintage adventurers.
Sharine Kristoff, a designer, treasure hunter and lover of all things vintage and “farmhousey,” was one of Wednesday’s thrift shop presenters. Kristoff sells her creations at vintage markets and at her Farmhouse Butikk in Aldergrove. Repurposing is something she’s been doing ever since buying her first house at a young age.
“You either had money to buy furniture or you didn’t eat, so we painted furniture so we could eat. I’ve been doing it forever.”
Kristoff said the quality of old furniture is amazing, making such pieces ripe for repurposing. Many people also have family heirlooms that are special, but don’t necessarily fit in with their decor. Simple-to-use products like Plaster Paint can fix that, said Kristoff, who’s used the easy-bonding product on metal, concrete, books and doors.
“For a lot of people it’s about keeping it out of the landfill, but for the true vintage person it’s the history where the piece came from,” she said. “I like to use anything recycled – anything from a thrift store, anything I find on the side of a road. I’ve taken down parts of a barn and used barn wood to make signs. Anything I can paint on is great.”
Even people who aren’t convinced they have an artist’s touch can turn a thrift store find into a cool piece.
“Some people like it to be just one colour solid, some people like it distressed. Some people like it with different shades and tones coming through. There’s no right way and there’s no wrong way.”
There are diamonds in the rough waiting to be discovered in thrift stores, she said.
“I bought a really nice three-tiered nesting set of nice solid maple… for $20 and painted it up. They were just gorgeous.”
Trudy Desjardine from White Rock’s Cottage Living put new life into end tables (above photo) at the hospice thrift store Wednesday by painting, distressing and image transferring. Cottage Living sells artistically finished decor and furniture, and also offers classes for people to learn about refinishing and embellishing techniques themselves.
“We really love that we can take things that people have left on the street or got rid of in some way and make something fabulous out of it,” Desjardine said.
In thrift stores lies potential, said Desjardine. After a few coats of paint, some image transfers and stencilling, a thrift store shopper with a keen eye can create a “wow piece.” Most people who do a class at Cottage Living leave amazed at what they created, she said.
“They are just blown away by what they can accomplish and how much fun it is, and how therapeutic it is.”