I’m still not sure how I ended up with the gene.

You know.

The one that makes you look longingly at trash.

There’s just a little piece of my heart that goes out to something that’s broken and sad or a little neglected.  I want to encourage it.  I want to lift it up.  I want to clean it up and dust it off.

I want to tell it that there is life beyond the dumpster.

I know there are new stores out there full of bright and shiny things.  Why have old…people say?  Why waste your time with all that dust and chippiness and dings?  When you could just have new?

And I like new, too.

I get it.

I understand.

But the old?  The pieces that everyone else overlooks?  They have the challenge.  They have the realness.  They have the history and the character and the authenticity and the lifetime of a life well lived that something new will never understand.

Here are their stories.

You’ll want to read every one.

And just between us?

Don’t take out the trash….

…until you’ve read this post.

This is the ladder from yesterday that inspired this post.

I just brought it in from the trash pile, dusted it off, leaned it up against the wall and added a blanket.

You can read the rest of its story here.

Piece of Molding

See those architectural pieces on the wall?

The first picture is from my current office and the second picture is from the entryway at the farmhouse.

They were renovating an old house and these were sitting out by the curb in a trash pile.  I just brushed them off and sealed them and they’ve been with me ever since.

Never underestimate the power of a piece of trash.

The shelf on the back wall of this bathroom?

It was part of an old built-in that was about to be thrown away.  You can still see the little chips at the edge of the corners.  We cut it down slightly and created a shelf for the back of the bathroom at the farmhouse.

We added the corbels to make it look more purposeful.

This calendar was made from a forty-pane broken window that I found by the side of the road.

The panes were broken.

The edges were broken.

But all I could think when I saw it was how amazing of a calendar it would be.

You can read its story here.

These are the doors from an thrift store hutch.

My mother-in-law built-in the hutch for storage and they took off the doors.

I hung them on the wall with fall wreaths.

You can read their story here.

I’m not really sure what these were before I met them.

Maybe cabinet door fronts?

I found them and never let them go.

I’ve added them to the built-ins at the farmhouse and hung them on the wall in the kitchen and tied snowflakes on them and hung them in the bathroom with dried eucalyptus tied on with twine.

Nothing says wall art than abandoned cabinet doors.

These two doors still fit together.

I thumbtacked book pages on them and hung them in the upstairs landing and added wreaths to them and hung them downstairs in the living room and placed them in the downstairs bathroom and hung ornaments from them.

But my favorite piece of almost trash?

The one that was lining the drawers of a yard sale dresser?

The one that was overlooked and forgotten about and almost discarded?

These maps of the streets where I live.

You can read its story here.

You know what is the most interesting thing I discovered when I was researching this post?

The trash that came to visit?

It never left.

Look at all the rooms and all the uses and all the different ways the pieces of trash were used in the house.

They never went away.  They just got repurposed and reused and moved from room to room.

So the moral of this trash story?

When you meet a good piece of trash—you’ll have a friend for life.

After all.

It’s really hard…

…to keep a good piece of trash down.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Sharon Smith Sharon Smith

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I have done similar things with old and it's awesome. While new is nice every now and then, nothing says love and warmth like old. So glad you shared this today. I will be moving soon to a condo that is older than what I am living in. I will be near my children which is so important since my hubs passed away. I will decorate with old more than new and I know it will have a welcoming warmth for everyone who passes through my front door. You are so talented and inspiring and the book you sent me "You've Got This" soothes my soul. Thank you again.

  2. Image for Eileen Eileen

    I am the queen of repurposing....unless it's you!! I see things so differently from others and also feel the need to rescue yet another treasure. People don't put enough value on the old things. Love your house. I plan to move and downsize in the near future and am using photos of your rooms for my story boards/mood boards, whatever. Such a great use of white with the color.

  3. Image for Peg Peg

    You always have the BEST trash to treasure! And I loved seeing pics of the farmhouse!! I have such fond "virtual" memories!!! xoxoxo

  4. Image for Therese Therese

    We must be related! I'm the same way. Love how you used the "trash." Your blog always puts a smile on my face, and sometimes brings a tear with your touching stories. God's blessings!

  5. Image for Cindy@countyroad407 Cindy@countyroad407

    I too love trash and moving things around but I have a quick question. Do you patch the holes in the walls each time you move something or do you just leave it? Sometimes the previous holes can be covered by whatever is put in its place but sometimes (a lot of the time) the holes are seen. What do you do about it? Thanks and I love each and every story plus each piece of trash you've shown!

  6. Image for Alice Genzlinger Alice Genzlinger

    God gifted you with an amazing imagination Karianne! You sees thing that others cannot see. I look forward to each and every one of your posts knowing I will receive a blessing. Praise the Lord for his goidness!

  7. Image for Cindy Cindy

    Haha, LOVED reading this fun post KariAnne! I'm a trash lover too...much to the chagrin of my family...as we drive by a pile of garbage and I'm oohing and aahing at all the stuff I'm spotting...begging them to please go back! It makes me want to sing...To all the trash I've loved before...:)

  8. Image for Nancy Nancy

    So I totally agree with you. The old trash is so much better. Sometimes I like new but I’m never as satisfied with something new than when I run across a treasure no one else saw the potential in. Second chances are the best! Nancy

  9. Image for Missy Elam Mangum Missy Elam Mangum

    Every weekend I have headed to the NC coast and helped haul out water-soaked sheet rock, carpet, insulation, and beautiful, old furniture. I keep looking at the piles in front of peoples homes and it breaks my heart. There are pickers driving around and pulling stuff out of the piles. I don't know if they are going to resell or reimagine their moldy finds. It keeps things out of the dump, but it is sad to see people lose their family heirlooms.

  10. Image for Gina Gina

    I'm a trash picker, too! I have wooden plantation shutters in my dining room that came from the side of the road!

  11. Image for Missy Missy

    What a fun and meaningful post! Thanks for sharing these pieces and their stories. I think we are much the same way in our human nature. Broken and discarded and thankful that our Creator cares enough to pick us up and make us whole, new, and beautiful with a purpose. :-)

  12. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    Some of the trash type treasures I have Karianne are my most adored items in my home. When I look at each goodie I know that the when, where and how is what makes it special! Trash lovers of the world, United we stand!

  13. Image for Pam Pam

    The 2016 Tax Day Flood and then Harvey flood waters poured through our pasture and home bringing lots of new weeds and taking some of my yard 'art' to who knows where. We are richly blessed that we have things almost back to normal. Each flood brought one large propane bottle into our yard.. My husband painted them orange and I drew jack-o-lantern faces on them. They now sit in front of my arbor and bring a smile each time we see them. Prayers to all those experiencing the devastation of Michael and other recent storms; hopefully they will find a trashy piece to convert to something that will bring a smile.

  14. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Oh yeah! It's like the time we were moving our daughter to a different apartment when she was in college (lots of things get thrown out between semesters) and there next to the dumpster was a sad looking sofa table. Some had tried to strip the finish off and it was wobbly but it had good bones so I made my husband stop so I could load it up. They laughed at me but that table with some tightening of screws and new paint is fabulous. Score! Then there's the ladder shelf in my studio - I could go on but yep! Trash is really treasure! 😉

  15. Image for Carol Carol

    My favorite trash story goes back to the 19th century. We had an old deer camp on our property that my husband learned to hunt from when he was young. After we married, he no longer slept there and over time it fell into disrepair. It became home to a variety of happy rodents who had no sense of housekeeping. Eventually he had to burn it down worried about hantavirus. But he saved two boards from the ceiling for me-they were parts of an old sign from a former rooming house in town. Painted in silver and green, the only letters left were "NION HOU" -Union House. After lightly cleaning & sealing them I used them as shelves for a while but realized they were too fragile and put them aside. Fast forward several years...I ran across a small booklet when cleaning out my mother-in-law's apartment after we had to put her in a nursing home-the Union House. It was a quick history of the town written by the sister of the woman who farmed the property where we now live. One of the final sentences about the history of the Union House mentioned that the author remembers the day the original sign was taken off the building when it was no longer a rooming house. She wondered what had happened to the old sign. I guess her brother-in-law never told her that he used it to build his deer camp on the side of the mountain! My husband and I finally decided (it was time to clean out the basement) to contact the historical society and they are eager to receive the sign pieces. I guess what goes around comes around in peculiar ways!

  16. Image for Catherine Catherine

    Your house is a fairy tale. I want so much to live there. I love my little cottage, but I don’t know where to begin. After 27 years here, I can’t seem to get it like I want.

Comments are closed.