One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Greetings on this fine fall day! It's a holiday here today, so the city is quiet and our morning has been slow going.

cast iron heart cutout

Today I thought I'd show you some things I have recently found put out to the trash by others.

Here in Toronto we are required to put our trash out in big plastic garbage bins which you can't see through or into, so often if someone has something they no longer want but that might be of interest to somebody else, they set these items out near the street, separate from their regular trash, to be picked up by someone who wants them. Sometimes they will stick a sign on the goods stating that they're up for grabs. If the things don't get picked up before the garbage day, they end up going to the dump. But usually anything with some life left in it gets picked up.

In fact, recently I saw a nice little wooden shelving unit put out, that would have been perfect for storing our shoes at the front door. I was on my way to the store when I saw it, thinking to myself that I'd grab it on my way home. Not! Someone else also thought it was quite nice and nabbed it before I got back for it.

But this story is not about the things that got away, but about the things that have made it to our home. The most beloved being the wooden and cast-iron bench that Nick found four years ago. Before I proceed with the other things, I want to dwell on it a bit.

I hope you believe me when I say that this bench and our yard were meant to be together. After doing some work in the garden one spring day, I had a sudden urge for a nice bench to put in our yard. I had gotten everything looking quite pretty and thought it would be lovely and romantic to have a bench to sit on out there, to enjoy the view. I mentioned this to Nick and we had a conversation about where one would get a good one. We didn't want something light and utilitarian that we could find at the Home Depot or IKEA ... really what we wanted was a real park bench, and we wondered where they came from. The conversation ended with me saying that I would call the city parks department to see if they could give us some insight into where be could find a good durable bench.

Then, the very next day (honestly), I was upstairs when Nick called up to me for a bit of help outside. Lo and behold, he was trying to get this extremely heavy cast-iron bench into our yard. He had come upon it put out by someone who amazingly didn't want it anymore, and had carried it all the way down the street by himself.

old bench and leaves

wood and cast iron bench3

After that there was plenty of silly talk about Nick being the 'Magic Man' ... All I had to do is say I wanted something and he would magically find it for me!

As for these other more recent finds brought home by me throughout the summer ... The wooden drawer, with dove-tail joints was set out alongside the chair. There was no desk or cabinet to go with the drawer but I thought it would make a great spot to keep papers or magazines in, so I grabbed it and the chair. These same people had actually put out a selection of nice vintage wooden chairs, but I could only carry one. Plus I wanted to leave some of the goodness for someone else to find.

old wooden drawer

vintage chair back

vintage wooden chair

Another time I found the vintage pressed-glass light fixture globe put out with a bunch of other junky looking stuff and I actually walked right by it. It had paint all over it and I told myself that it was probably cracked or chipped. But after walking away from it for a block and a half, it called me back, so I turned around. Glad I did, because the paint came right off and I love it. I don't have a light fixture that it will go with but that's ok. I will find another use for it. The houses it was near were built in around 1900, but I don't think it dates back that far. I'd say it's from the 1940s or so. What do you think?

vintage glass sconce

The crystal carafe thing is a recent find, having been picked up the other day when Nick and I were on our way home from exercising in the park. I don't think we'll ever use it for its intended purpose of holding liqueur on a bar-cart, but it would make a pretty way to serve water at a dinner party. We'll see how it gets used, but I couldn't just leave this sparkling pretty treasure sitting there on the side of the road.

crystal carafe

Have you ever picked up good trash from the side of the road? Or do you leave things that you no longer want or need, out for someone else to find? Should I be embarrassed for admitting that I bring home trash?!

And now that I have gotten the Heart song "Magic Man" stuck in your head you might as well have a listen. The video is priceless. I can't say that if I were a mama, I'd be overly thrilled with my daughter coming home and encouraging me to try to understand that the new stranger she had met was a 'magic man' though.

Wishing you a happy Monday!
xo loulou

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8 Responses to One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

  1. Anonymous says:

    Our local council stopped people putting unwanted furniture in the streets shortly after I moved to Manchester. I remember the back alleys used to be brimming with goodies whenever someone had a clearout. My landlord found a rather nice cast iron fireplace which are quite expensive to buy from reclamation shops.
    These days I’m more of a charity shop hunter (not sure what you call them over there). I keep meaning to do a gallery of the useless stuff I’ve bought because it was there… Cufflinks, a cine camera, countless coats, shirts and lets not forget a statue of Ganesh…

    • Loulou says:

      Hey Plas! Well now you have me thinking … I know that you’re only allowed to put things out (including your bins) on garbage day or the evening before. I wonder if the people so kindly putting their good stuff out for others to take are risking getting a ticket if it’s out there at the wrong time.

  2. Jenny Lee says:

    Oh thank you for the music. I love that tune – such a great shower or car solo tune.
    You all have really scored with this trash thing. We do not have such luck. Most of what we see curbside is nasty (as in … old carpet or soiled cushion… mmmm.) However, my parents scored the most amazing treasures curbside when they lived in Germany. We’re talking old wooden biergarten wagons (complete with wooden wheels!), wooden sleds with the curly front piece, and even a vintage pair of wooden skis with the bamboo poles. Thankfully they shared their treasures with me!

  3. Bonnie says:

    This bench is beyond gorgeous! <3



  4. shakti says:

    I have a few things nabbed from the trash. My parents have far more. Once my dad stopped to pick up an end table that was on the curb and a guy ran out of the house flailing his arms. My dad started appologizing because he then thought he had inadvertantly picked up the table the arm flailer was using to sell his garden produce, but not so. The guy asked my dad if he wanted a nearly new table saw. Of course my dad said yes and it was promptly loaded into his truck. Crazy what people get rid of, yeah?

  5. Vix says:

    Always! There must be something in every room in the house that I’ve hauled out of a skip. I think there’s something beautiful about re purposing another’s man’s junk! x

  6. I am totally that person who drags stuff home from the side of the road. In fact, I was eyeing a desk just today. I might go back with my husband if it’s still there later. I love your story about the bench. How sweet and romantic.

  7. mama lola says:

    we have that very same bench and i can confirm it is super heavy! i’m always keeping my eyes open for other people’s trash, because it is kind of unbelievable what people will throw out!!! great finds, lou lou!

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