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  • Writer's pictureJames Treble

More Than Just Rubbish

If like me, you're a little creative, you'll find it difficult to not hang on to those interesting objects you find on the street or at the garage sale, or take home anything that can be revamped and used again... it's exciting, right? Well, sometimes, I can't find the time to revamp those objects and furniture pieces, or I finally decide that some don't fit in with my styling, or I've simply run out of space... So, what to do with what's unwanted? The lazy option would be to throw them in the bin or place them on the footpath at Council Collection time, but my conscience won't allow me, because I know that somebody out there, as creative as I am, is willing to give these pieces another chance ...

In the last two months I've been going through the many things I tend to gather, like tiles and finishes samples which I've used for my clients, or those pieces of furniture I intended to revamp but never got to, or things I simply like but don't have room for. So, if like me you too are planning to let some things go, I encourage you to find the right destination for those valuable but not necessarily suitable to you items. So, to try and get you all inspired this NATIONAL RECYCLING WEEK, I want to show you what we've done just recently with some of the wonderful things that were cluttering up my studio.

THIS IS GOING NOWHERE - Found on the street, I'm not sure, but I'm guessing it was for a large candle, and it simply gives me pleasure every time I look at it, and it's staying! So my first bit of advice is: select what you want and have room to keep.

THIS WE WANTED TO REVAMP - This cabinet below is a solid and gorgeous piece of furniture with its clean lines and elegant turned feet, and I'm sure you too can surely see its potential. We found it abandoned on the footpath and kept it for a few years now as storage for some of the styling bits and pieces I use in photo shoots, hoping to find the time to repaint it, add new handles and voilà ... But we didn't get to it, so we placed it as FREE at and described its qualities, measurements and potential ... And it went in less than 24 hours. Surprised? Not at all.

THESE WE THOUGHT NOBODY WOULD WANT - Working in Design means I must have true samples to show my clients and builders exactly what my proposed finishes and materials look and feel like... like an art collector, I cherish these beautiful samples and while I love receiving the latest new ranges, I sometimes forget to let the old ones go. As beautiful as they are, I realistically ask 'Who would want these things?' In the past I've delivered them to places like REVERSE GARBAGE, (which can be a dangerous place for me to visit, as I often find there new things to replace what I'm donating!!) but my clever partner suggested placing them online, just to give it a go. After a couple of days, these too found a new home with a student of Interior Design, (how happy was I to see a motivated genuinely excited young 'designer in the making', already getting hands-on with products and creating palettes and schemes) Tiles come in batches, and I used what I needed for presenting my new proposal but these can't be mixed in with newer batches due to difference in shades, and unusable now; yet these small amounts are perfect and very useful for understanding products and materials, to experiment with finishes-matching and practice mood-board making, all great skills for a designer.

THESE WE THOUGHT TOO UGLY OR OLD - Some things become 'outdated' to be given away, such as Electrical Items and Technology where aesthetics can change quickly and once again the temptation for many to chuck things on the footpath at collection-time is strong. But as we knew them to be in perfect working order, We decided to continue the experiment and placed these online too. FREE is a magic word, and very tempting. We described our items honestly, revealing any chips and scratches and only asked for the 'buyers' to lift the goods themselves when collecting. GONE!! (I stress that plugs, cords, switches and wheels on these items were all in perfect working order, undamaged, not just used. Remember: all electrical items should be checked/installed by a qualified electrician).

THIS WE SOLD - Not everything you are ready to let go of, has to be free; in fact, most items have a monetary value in the right market. So, if you believe that some things are worth a price tag, and you're able to wait for a buyer, you should certainly give it a go, Remember the reuse/recycle community can be about saving money and making money at the same time. This solid metal plan-drawer-cabinet has been in our studio for many years storing my partner's artworks, but as our shared studio has new storage options, this beautiful and very functional piece was no longer needed, so we decided to say goodbye. It's not an easy piece of furniture to place, as it's quality metal construction also means it's heavy to lift, therefore requiring the buyer to come pick it up. You see, quality items can be used and then resold many times, and the interest in it was strong but limited to a specialised group, and with a little bargaining on the initial price, it went within a week! PERFECT!

THIS HASN'T SOLD, YET - So, not everything goes as fast as you wish and you must be prepared to give it time. Offering the 'pick-up only' option, in fact, already reduces your market to the surrounding areas but is necessary for heavy or oversized items, and selling instead of giving it for free, also reduces the possible interest you'll get. This 1800s chandelier we've had for many years and already has a long story of being enjoyed and passed on, even before it came to Australia! We loved the classic twist it brought to our industrial looking studio, and it's hung above my working table as a great conversation piece. As we are reorganising the studio, this too has found a place on GUMTREE.COM.AU with a realistic price tag, and there has been a few offers already, and it might take a little longer than some of the other items, but it certainly won't end up on the footpath at Council Collection time, in case you're wondering ;)

Sold a few hours after the publishing of this blog :)

So, to reduce the amount of rubbish we tend to place on our planet, I encourage you first of all to buy sensibly: My mantra: Quality Before Quantity! And, if like me, you too slow down when driving past those items piled up along the footpath, my advice is: take only what you know you can and have time to give a new life too. Then, before letting things go, ask yourself if re-using, repurposing or re-cycling is possible. Finally, as the old saying goes, 'somebody's trash is somebody else's treasure', so let things go appropriately, let your friends and family know and give them away, or if they have a certain value, sell them. But it's important to remember this NATIONAL RECYCLING WEEK to always try to save items from simply being thrown away and becoming landfill, every time we can, allowing for the reuse/recycle process to become an easy way of life.

Tips for successful Online Selling:

  1. use good pictures, be honest with the item's description and reasonable with the pricing

  2. accept that everybody is looking for a bargain

  3. be patient - everything sells when the right buyer finds it

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has 3 decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to homes through clever design & styling. Watch his free videos on YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more free information.


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