This year I’ve really fallen out of love with Ikea : partly because my anti-shopping pledge to buy no new clothes naturally extended itself to disposable exploitation furniture as well! Making myself think through the whole life cycle of everything I buy has really helped me focus on the real cost of ‘cheap’ things.
And in terms of furniture, the street has been very generous with its gifts to me this year. In many large cities, they have a system whereby on a certain pre-arranged day, residents can drag out unwanted items of furniture, and leave them on the pavement for the City Authority to dispose of. In practice, this makes cities like Berlin and New York into a wonderland for people who love old stuff. In my bit of London, it’s a bit more random : you just heave stuff out whenever you like, leave it for a few days, and it’ll probably be gone.
I recently ‘asked the universe’ for an old Belfast sink, to make into a small wildlife pond in my tiny back garden, and yesterday, look what I found :
So I lugged it back to mine with the help of my trusty Christiania bike : and believe me those things are heavy! So thankyou, Holmleigh Road!
A few weeks ago, one rainy morning, I came across this :
Beautiful 1960’s radio and record player, sadly missing it’s speakers and with the plug cut off. I haven’t got round to fixing it yet, but I am very excited about seeing if it works. When I found it, that rainy day on the way to school, on Forburg Road, I could hardly contain my excitement! To get it home, I had to knock on the door of a school acquaintance, and look truly mad by asking him to shelter my rescued item until I could get a zipcar to pick it up! It was worth it though. As this detail shows, it was Precision Crafted in Great Britain, and it’s not much you can say that about these days!
In the summer, I found this lovely, possibly Ercol dining chair :
I had gone to talk to a school about the possibilities for rehabilitating an unused space full of Japanese Knotweed, and was trying to look at the back of it in the Housing Estate between Wick Road and Ballance Road, and this was sitting by the bins. Luckily I was able to balance it on the front of my bike and get it home along the canal tow path. You have to get used to people looking at you as if you are crazy, and being called ‘pikey’ by your friends, but I think in both cases, jealousy plays a part! I love this chair all the more for the fact that it has been painted a revolting shade of green, and been used as a saw bench by apparently the clumsiest DIY-er in the world. I will get round to stripping off the paint eventually, but in the meantime, I’m happy to keep snagging my tights on it, as I love it more every time I see it.
I am not absolutely sure I like them yet, but maybe I can pass them on to someone who would… Which is exactly where this whole ‘find free stuff on the street’ thing can get a little dangerous. You have to be Really Selective, or you will very quickly find your whole house full of crappy furniture, and you are a candidate for Help Me, I’m a Hoarder.