Starting from Humble Beginnings

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

001 When I was young my mom worked at the public library in a small town on the other side of our valley. It was a small mostly farming community with acres of fruit orchards, poultry farms and row crops; the kind of town with a main street and few stop lights…if any at all at that time. The library was on the corner of the main street and a winding road that lead through citrus orchards and over the hills to the north side of our county.  The library was tiny by today’s standards, maybe 1,500 square feet. Across the street was the local junk store, the kind that people prowl through to find deals and treasures.

With three kids at home and new to the area money was tight. Tight enough that buying things like bedroom furniture was a luxury rather than a necessity. My mom was always combing garage sales and junk stores to furnish her new home. It was in that little junk store, in that tiny town that my mom found most of what we kids grew up with.

Each month mom would cart home her latest find and dad would clean it up, make any necessary repairs and paint or refinish it. I remember there was a dresser with big round knobs and a bed with a carved headboard; a vanity with an attached mirror and a stool, and a few bookcases.

It’s funny how those junk store finds served us well all through our growing up years and even into college. The paint or stain may have changed, but their functionality and meaning never did. Decades have passed since these little treasures entered our home, but surprisingly some are still with us today, some whole and some broken up and used for different purposes.

The bed carried Brianne through junior high before it was sold at a garage sale; sent on for another little girl to enjoy. The dresser serves as storage for a collection of floral arranging vases. The vanity, with its mirror long gone, has been refinished many times and now sits as a bedside table in my sister’s house. And that little bench for the vanity, well it has been repurposed—again—as a side table in my greenhouse sitting area.

I found the little gem while helping sis clean out her garage last summer. After days of stripping off layers of old paint—pink, purple, white—I finally got down to the bare wood, now more than 60-years old. But, as with years past and changing tastes the little bench was destined to a new life as a shabby chic table; a place where I could set a glass of tea, a book to  be read or a stack of seed and gardening catalogs to be perused while working in my greenhouse.

The joy in repurposing is the pleasure of seeing objects in a different way, how the things around us can be used in many different ways. The challenge for each of us is to see with new eyes, in a new way.

Over the years I have taken many pieces of furniture and made them new again. An entertainment center that stands in my greenhouse is a potting cabinet, filled with the tools and supplies of an avid gardener; a buffet serves as a focal point and useful storage in my bathroom; a three-tiered plant stand holds bathroom towels, soaps and lotions a long side the tub; an old potting bench turned beverage station sits on the patio. And, my coming project…a refinished server will become a decorative vignette and buffet for my patio dining area.

Inspiration changes with the times, but the things we love stay with us forever, even if they do get a face lift from time to time. What do you have around your house that can be used in a new way? I bet there are several, so let you mind wander and see where it takes you.

2 Responses to “Starting from Humble Beginnings”

  1. Dora Friedli says:


    I’ve enjoyed your blog for several years. Glad to see you’re posting more often!


  2. jenn says:

    Thank you Dora.

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