So you want to do some DIY things on the weekend.  You check out Pinterest or a blog and think “I can do this.”  Then you stop.  People always ask me “Where did you find that?” or “I wish I had one of those.”

Where do you find the stuff to upcycle/repurpose when you think you have no “stuff”?

Here are 10 places you can go to find your new “project”.

1. Grandma’s Garage or Attic

Earn some brownie points by showing up to Grandma’s unannounced. Bring hugs, Girl Guide cookies and a big dose of patience.  After she yaks your ears off regarding the weather, politics, and her neighbour’s unkempt lawn, you know you have her full attention. You can casually mention you are trying to update your digs and need some “ideas”.  Nothing will get Granny motivated than the opportunity to unload some of her hoard onto you.  I highly suggest you take EVERYTHING she offers and then donate what you don’t want/need/is a gift you once gifted her. Note: You may need a proper moving van to successfully complete your trip.

Grandma’s Garage or Attic

2. Garbage Day Curb Cruising

I like to call this “Sidewalk Shopping”. Takes a bit of patience, and you’ll likely get some stares.  You might even get competition from the can collector driving by as well.  Take your vehicle and suspiciously “drive by” a potential goldmine of trash.  Look for wood, windows, frames and other solid objects.  Remember, just because it “looks dirty” doesn’t mean it can’t be cleaned. Once you have your goods, squeal the tires and make a quick getaway for dramatic effect.

Garbage Day Curb Cruising

3. The Dump

Hear me out! I am not suggesting you put on waders and jump into the depths of the stinky pit. If you live in a smallish town, or can easily access the country, take a drive to the nearest dump.  Often, people who don’t want to pay for “big item” disposal, will leave items outside the dump’s gates. If you live in a rural area, you know when dropping off your garbage, there are usually “piles” of “still works, but we were too lazy to donate it” stuff.  Ask the dump coordinator to guide you in the right direction.

The Dump

4. Value Village/Salvation Army/Goodwill

This is a no-brainer. Head out to your local second hand store and you are sure to find something to upgrade, make-over or create.  Most things are reasonably priced and it can also serve as inspiration to other things you might want to start. Among popular items there? Hardware for drawers and cabinets, wood shelving, planters, birdhouses, knickknacks and kids’ room stuff.  You can also find cushions, material and tons of sewing/crafting supplies.

Value Village

5. Estate Auction

This is sort of like a designer yard sale. A lot of times, an older relative passes away and their house needs to be sold in a hurry.  If you check out your local classifieds, there are often a bunch of estate sales.  Usually the location and time are mentioned. At the sale there are generally “lots” of items that you bid on.  You get everything in “the lot”.  It is an inexpensive way to grab items like furniture, kitchen stuff, picture frames and one-of-a-kind decorator items for your projects.

Estate Auction

6. Yard Sale

Ah yes. Especially in the summer, every Saturday and Sunday, you can find a bunch of pop up yard sales where people are hawking their goods.  Get there early, all of the “like minded” people are generally out in full force in the morning.  You can usually barter a ton at yard sales.  And often, if there is something else that catches your eye (even if it isn’t posted for sale), you can usually get them to sell it to you. You may have to have a bit of patience as you wade through all of the crap to find the gems.

Yard Sale

7. Neighbour’s House

We all have neighbours, whether we like them or not. We all know the neighbours who are hoarders or tossers (see #2).  Get to know your neighbours, and if you see something that catches your eye, make a mental note of it.  If it hasn’t “moved” in a couple of months, just be upfront and tell them you want it.  Chances are, for a beer or a swap, you can get your coveted widget and everyone is happier.

Neighbour’s House

8. Farmhouse

Farmers are hoarders. I have no idea why.  They just are. Their barns and utility sheds are ALWAYS full of crap.  Lots of bad crap, and lots of good crap.  Everyone knows a farmer. Unfortunately, farmers are known for sentimentally holding on to EVERYTHING.  Sometimes, you might need to do a favour (or chore) to get them to part with something.  But usually that something is OLD, unique and envious.


9. Cottage Country (seasonal)

At the end of summer, many cottage dwellers need to pack up and/or winterize their cottages and head back to the city. Some really hate this task.  The ones who really hate this task like to dump and go.  Head to cottage country at the end of the season, and you are sure to find a lot of treasures that cottage owners are just dumping because they can’t be bothered to make it fit in their trunks. Likewise, at the start of the season, a lot of owners are doing projects and renovating.  That means there is a lot of stuff out at the road, ready for your inspection and collection.

Cottage Country

10. You DO have STUFF!

Crawl spaces, attics and basements. We toss stuff in there, forget about it, and it stay there until we move. Look amongst your stuff for ideas.  Have a baby crib? That can be transformed into a desk, or trellis.  An old sink? Can be repurposed as a planter.  Old shutters and windows can be made into shelves and upcycled into cool picture frames.  So dig into your hoard and get started!

You DO have STUFF