Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Free Furniture Acquisition Impulse Problem

I have "Free Furniture Acquisition Impulse Problem" (FFAIP). I just can't say no to free furniture. It's like smurf cocaine. Once you start, you can't go back.

FFAIP is a very serious problem. No control. Very dangerous. Leads to potential furniture hoarding. Just ask any shrink. They'll tell you.

It's not that I am ungrateful for the free furniture. I friggin' love it! It's just the, "Where the HECK am I supposed to put this?" part that usually presents a problem. You can only reasonably fit so much into your home. I am not reasonable. Ask anyone who knows me.

FFAIP starts up so innocently.

"Hey, there's this yellow china cabinet in my basement I'm trying to get rid of. You want it?" Um... Is that even a question? "Free, eh? I'll take it!"

So much potential here!

It doesn't matter that I don't need the piece of furniture. It doesn't matter that I don't always know exactly where it's going to go. It just matters that it's FREE and it could be mine. It could be snazzy enough to replace something I already have. Or it could get sold at our next yard sale. What do I have to lose? It's FREE!

Just so we're clear, this is how my brain interprets the word "FREE!":

Yes. That is an ewok. Don't question it. And Yes. My unicorn can shoot rainbows out of its butt. He's just that cool. Don't question it.

Free stuff. It's a weakness. Actually, the vast majority of the furniture in our home was either a free hand-me-down or a curb side snatch.

I know, I know, boo hoo!! So I have an addiction to free furniture. It could be worse. I could have an "Outrageously Expensive Furniture Acquisition Impulse Problem". Or I could have no furniture. Dear self. You are fortunate to have furniture at all. Amen.

I like to keep that in mind. It's just... Occasionally, when I think about my "Free Furniture Acquisition Impulse Problem", I have scary flashes of our local second hand furniture store...

I love visiting that store, I do, but I never want my home to look like that. The crazy clutter, narrow aisles, stacked furniture, & chairs hanging from the ceiling are fun and amusing in the store, but not so healthy in the home.

One of the dangers (for me anyways) of having a large-ish old home with no garage and no finished basement or attic, is that the rooms which are rarely used can quickly turn into our storage rooms.

It happens so easily. For example, here's what the Bat Room (so named (sorry Sarah) because we used to have a colony of bats in the attic and our attic access is in that room.) currently looks like.

One of these days, I'll get a red phone for the Bat Room.

Bad, right? I agree. There are 5 twin beds in there right now. Seriously. Three of them are hand-me-downs from our parents/siblings. Of the five, four are going to be future bunk beds and one is going into Joseph's big boy car bed. So I have plans... But still... It's bad.

The sad part is that I just cleaned out and organized this room about 4 months ago. But then we took down all the Christmas decorations, boxed them up, and plopped them in this room with the intention of getting them back up in the attic. Eventually. Then I boxed up the winter clothes and stuck them in there with the intention of putting them up in the attic too. And then... You get the idea. It really won't be so bad in there once everything goes up in the attic. I swear. There will be walking space and everything. But since we hardly ever go in that room, it's an easy thing to ignore. It makes me feel like quite the little hoarder.

My FFAIP was recently given free rein over my Dad's house... I think I'm going to need an intervention soon!

You see, he's moving into a smaller apartment and he's not taking everything with him. He gave me and my siblings carte blanche over the leftovers. That's like waving fresh chicken under a dachshund's nose. How can you resist? Initially, before arriving at the house, I planned to bring two bookshelves and a hide-a-bed home with me. That's it. Nothing else. That was my plan and I was sticking to it. Maybe I'd dig up some plants and toss them in the back too. No big deal. I borrowed my Mom's van and headed on over.

Upon my arrival, I was informed that everything left in the house after our looting spree was going to be cleaned out and taken to the dump. Hmm. Ok. Then I saw what was left behind...

Matching mahogany dressers? Going to the dump?!?! My heart clenched. It was a travesty. I couldn't stand by and watch that happen to innocent furniture. What a waste! Hell, I'll take it to Goodwill myself before I let good furniture go to the dump. NUTS.

The decision was made. I'll take 'em! And anything else I can get my hands on! Famous last words... It turns out there was quite a lot left in the house.

You see what I mean?? It makes me feel like we just moved in all over again. And I think I'm in great danger of becoming a furniture hoarder. I swear I didn't take it all. I helped my sister Kate take whatever she wanted (such as the IKEA like furniture), but the more traditional stuff? That was coming home with me.

The final take from my pillaging adventures? It's going to blow your mind.

  • 2 mahogany dressers
  • 3 end tables
  • 4 pine bookshelves
  • 1 filing cabinet
  • 1 50s-ish classroom chair/desk (which I've been on the lookout for at the thrifts!)
  • 1 furniture dolly

  • 3 lamps
  • 1 colonial style mahogany wardrobe
  • 1 toybox/bench (actually from Stephen's parent's house)
  • 1 white beadboard laundry hamper
  • 1 twin mattress/boxspring/frame
  • 1 stand alone pine cabinet
  • 1 mahogany trunk
  • 1 large & 1 small simple human metal trashcans
  • assorted cast iron, tupperware, & other random household items
  • assorted linens, quilts, blankets, & curtains
  • free plants galore

Altogether that was two van trips (I am the Tetris Queen). I wasn't sure whether to be proud or dismayed with myself, but at least I was done. Right?

Next thing I know, my Dad called me up and let me know that I could take anything from the garage, which had previously been off limits (Again, thank you so much Dad!). We're talking camping gear, kitchen cabinets, tools, and POWER TOOLS. I think Stephen was out the door faster than I was.

So, in the third trip (two van loads with Stephen's Dad's driving assistance - Thanks, Dad!), we came away with:
  • 10 foldable camping chairs & 2 bbq canopy tents
  • 2 long & 1 short heavy duty cafeteria tables on wheels for big bbqs, yard sales, etc. Two are down in the basement and this one is probably going in the dining room storage closet for now.

  • 2 pressure washers (Stephen claims he can convert one into a snow making machine... which we clearly NEED)
  • 1 electric miter saw
  • 1 leaf blower
  • 1 lightweight belt sander (Sorry Sarah - you can borrow the less heavy one in the future!)
  • 1 giant shop vac
  • 1 flood light
  • 1 electric chain saw
  • 1 electric drill & saw zaw combo
  • gallons of white trim paint, primer, & assorted paint colors to be used in future DIY craft projects
  • stains, wood fillers, etc.

  • 2 heavy duty saw horses with foldable metal legs
  • 1 light weight table saw (EEEEEEEEEE! YES! A FLIPPIN' TABLE SAW! FREE!!)
  • 1 handheld circular saw
  • 1 foldable carpenters grid table
  • extra heavy duty extension power cables
  • 2 kitchen base cabinets (which are going into our laundry room!)
  • assorted new shovels, rakes, etc.
  • assorted flower pots

  • 8 tool boxes worth of tools & hardware. really. no joke. DIY heaven.
  • other stuff I'm forgetting about because seriously who can remember all of this?

Tool organization is an ongoing project right now. Neither Stephen nor I are the most organized individuals and we get frustrated when we can't find the tools we need. Which happens more often than not. So, I'm working on that first. Wish me luck!

Due to my inability to say no to free stuff, the house is a little crowded right now. Obviously all of the furniture can't stay, but bear in mind that once we finish making the Sandwich Shoppe livable (this summer!), we have to furnish it and a lot of things will get shifted around. So, I do have a location in mind for a lot of the furniture in my head. I need to draw up some diagrams. Once I figure out what's staying and what goes where, the rest is getting sold at the Yard Crawl in August.

I am incredibly, incredibly grateful to have acquired all of this stuff for free! Thank you, very much Dad, for giving us this opportunity. We are extremely thankful. Now it's time to start organizing, rearranging, and culling stuff out.

Oh, and about the "Free Furniture Acquisition Impulse Problem"?

Per my own orders, I'm currently banned from bringing anything else into the house. BANNED.

Even if the Ewok tells me it's ok. I don't want to turn into a furniture hoarder. Please. Send help.

I told you it was bad, Sarah!


  1. OMG, I love the picture the most. I mean, free stuff is great and all. But the picture. Please have it enlarged and framed when you start letting more stuff back into the house!

  2. I'm serious when I say I want that dresser set.


    And I think your affliction is actually a good thing. I just cannot see the downside. Okay, well I saw the junk room. But, it will all get put to use eventually. No harm, no foul. ;)

    XOXO - love the unicorns. Your welcome for completely not helping at all with your self diagnosis.

  3. and I'm seriously laughing my butt off at the need for a snow machine. Totally a need. ;)


    No. Kim can't have that dresser set. I NEED it. She just wants it. Plus, I will actually drive and pick it up. It's a little too far of a drive for Kim.

    I have actually turned down free stuff before, but mostly its decorating stuff from my grandma. I do like a lot of her things, but I don't have the time to put up and take down decorations for every single holiday and season change. Christmas decorating is more than enough for me!

    Seriously. I will take ANY of that furniture you don't want. Just sayin'.

  5. You do have a problem. But I'd jump at that dresser set too, so I approve. Also, I approve of the Unicorn picture. We need more rainbow-butt unicorns in our life. ;)


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