I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where you can’t walk down the block without finding a treasure that someone left out on the stoop for a passerby to take. Occasionally, there’s a sign that says “free” or “please take,” but most often it’s just a cardboard box full of stuff (books, knick knacks, kitchen items, etc.) and locals know to look through the box and take anything that they need or want. My husband and I have found about a quarter of the books we read this way, and then we pass them on to other friends (the other three quarters we borrow, either from the Brooklyn Public Library or friends and family). This “leave-what-you-don’t-want-anymore-on-the-sidewalk” method is a super-efficient form of recycling!
Every once in a while, there are bigger giveaways, like pieces of furniture left out on the sidewalk begging for a new home. I found this giant mirror on my walk home from the subway – literally on a trash heap – the night before our twice weekly neighborhood trash pick-up. It looked like it once belonged atop a fancy wooden dresser, or maybe as an installation in a brownstone entryway.
I envisioned transforming this dark, beat-up piece of trash into a clean, fresh, bright white mirror for someone’s entryway or bedroom wall. I wiped off the dust and dirt, removed the small wooden pegs that lined the top of the mirror, and covered the mirror with newspaper to prep it for painting. I took it outside into our postage-stamp sized backyard onto a plastic drop cloth, lightly sanded the wooden border, and wiped it clean one more time before beginning to paint.
I used Krylon spray paint from the hardware store around the corner in “Whisper white.” To be safe, I wore a face mask which I found really uncomfortable and hot!
Here’s what it looked like in the end, after a few coats of paint and some time to dry:
Then we had a stoop sale and I sold it to a nice young couple who had just moved into the neighborhood around the corner for $60! I don’t have a picture of the couple who bought it, but here’s an images of what the stoop sale looked like:
I got a pretty good return on this investment – I obtained the mirror for free, bought the spray paint for about $6, and sold the finished product for ten times that! How’s that for my first sale?