Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Making Do With What You've Got

(funny how I never noticed the film negative on the floor until this picture! That's why taking pictures can help your eyes see things around your house more clearly!)

Our couch is at least 30 years old. It's been sat on, jumped on, and rested on probably enough times to set it in the Guinness Book Of World Records. It was handed down to me from my aunt and uncle when I moved West for my first news reporting job right out of college. But before that, it was handed down to my sisters' for their college apartment. It was my first couch while single, and it became our first couch as a married couple. It continues to serve our family, and it never complains even when jumped on like a trampoline by three little boys.

For a long time now, I've been aware that the lifespan of this couch is slowly drawing to a close. Many days, I've wished to speed up that process and find a replacement...but of course, that takes money, and this couch was, after all, free. We did receive some money for Christmas that could be used to purchase a new couch; however, after thinking about it long and hard, my husband and I realized this couch just isn't done yet.

We can make do with what we've got. The zipper of one seat cushion broke, but this weekend, my handy husband fixed that. Good as new 30 years old! There are some tears in the upholstery and a hole in the back of it thanks to a child playing with Dad's screwdriver in the house ("Look, Mom, if I poke this in here, it makes a big hole! If I poke my finger in the hole, it gets even bigger! Isn't that cool?!"). But we realized that's nothing a slipcover can't fix. You can get them from Walmart for around $50; I know if I looked around hard enough, I could probably find one for less, but I'm willing to spend $50 for a "new" couch that I paid nothing for to begin with, even though that goes against my frugal grain.

Now onto our kitchen table--

I never thought I would say this when we were first married (it was my husband's bachelor pad table), but I actually kind of like it now. It is that '50's retro Coca-Cola style. As you can see, it is supposed to have four matching red chairs. As you can also see, there is only one red chair around the table. The other three are in the garage waiting to be repaired, again thanks to the boys! So we have mismatched chairs and a table we are slowly outgrowing.

That's why it was so tempting when we heard from a furniture store owner that this time of year is the best time to buy kitchen and dining room sets. You can get a nice oak table with 6 chairs for less than $400. So we thought maybe we'd forgo the new couch and get a new table instead. And then we realized we can save our money and make do with what we've got. For $5-$15, I can create a totally new look just by purchasing a pretty tablecloth. Being my frugal self, I would normally never spend $15 on a tablecloth, but again, it's a bargain compared to the cost of a new table. To me, it's a few dollars (ok, several) for a little "pick-me-up" that encourages me to be content with what we've got.

I love what I read this week from Edith Schaeffer in The Hidden Art of Homemaking:

"There is great satisfaction in making something out of nothing, in restoring some old cast-off to a place of usefulness and beauty, or rescuing some discarded piece of wood, stone or metal from the dump and turning it into an object that has purpose and charm in your home. Among other things, this would also help to limit the ghastly filling up of dumps and the wrecking of woods and fields with everything that people toss out in order to make room for the latest plastic replacement. Ecology is of vital importance in our moment of history....You are adding to the problem if you are carelessly tossing out things which could be useful. On top of that, you are neglecting to stimulate your own creative talents if you throw away things and adopt an attitude of 'buying whatever the local store might have.'"

So slipcovers and tablecloths, here I come! (By the way, Jodi, do you think they're still on clearance at Walmart?!)
P.S. If you do go furniture shopping, know that the mark-up is incredible. Always ask when the piece you're interested in will be going on sale; a friend of mine even offers lower than the sale price (she brings cash). The salesperson usually takes her offer, or dickers a bit, but they still arrive at a figure lower than the advertised sale price!

Making do with what we've got instead of buying new works for me!


  1. Always, always bargain with the salespeople, especially in small, factory-direct type stores. Many times, if a set has sat on the floor for a few months the owner will take a very small mark-up to get it out! (My brother-in-law worked in a store for three years. I scored a couch for $235 with his family/friend discount, but even the regular price was far better than Ashely's or Basset's, for the same pieces!)

  2. Great post! I am really bad about when I have the cash, I jump to buy something new. This post made me rethink that and now I am ready to make due with what we already have! Thanks Cheryl!

  3. Great post! And so true - I turned a very old table from my in-laws' barn that had been sitting in hay, bird poo and years of dust into a cute little desk!

  4. Bravo for being frugal. I love your kitchen table. I hope you find a fantastic slipcover for your couch!

  5. Using what I have is a recurring theme for me. For example, these posts:

    I love your post! It certainly works for me, too! I'm looking forward to browsing around your blog.

    Happy New Year!

  6. It is hard sometimes to make do with what you have - I like that you are willing to spend a little to make what you have last longer, sometimes that is the key to making it a happy solution.

  7. Want To Boost Your ClickBank Banner Traffic And Commissions?

    Bannerizer makes it easy for you to promote ClickBank products using banners, simply visit Bannerizer, and grab the banner codes for your selected ClickBank products or use the Universal ClickBank Banner Rotator to promote all of the ClickBank products.