Life Hack: Forget Your Pride and Dumpster Dive

It’s 9:00pm on Sunday night. Deanna and the kids are excited (especially our son Oliver) to hop in the van and take a drive around the neighborhood. Why? Because Monday morning is garbage day! Many of our neighbors have put out old doors, windows, furniture, paintings, prints, lamps, skis, all kinds of “trash”. Out to the curb…. Ripe for the pickin’!….soon to be our treasure. All these pieces need is a little TLC and some creativity! We have found paintings worth hundreds of dollars, up-cycled furniture to sell for thousands and cabinets to hold the tools and materials to make our finds come back to life.

I first learned the term “Dumpster Diving” in college. I took a sculpture class where one of the assignments was to create a piece from items that had been discarded, taken to the curb or tossed in the dumpster. I made some obscure sculpture made from scrap metal pieces, clothe and chair parts. It was horrendous! So much so, that I never took photos and it quickly ended up where it began, back in the dumpster. However, the lesson opened my eyes to many possibilities. I quickly got over what some would consider an embarrassing situation after digging out a broken frame with a perfectly fine beveled mirror. The frame only took 3 nails and some wood glue to repair. Using a multitude of brightly colored paint and some masking tape, the frame had an array of checkers, dots and stripes. I put it on the wall. Any time a friend saw it, they made an offer to purchase it. After a year or so and dozens of offers and “how much do you want for it? I’ll buy it right now” situations, I finally gave in. $300! This was 1991. I’ve been hooked ever since. Thankfully, my bride AND kids have been bit by the “Dumpster Dive” bug as well.

Take a look at our most recent project with step-by-step photos! We took an old desk and created a new reception desk/retail counter.

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