Back to the Basics – Finding Junk

Happy Sunday! I hope that you are all having a wonderful weekend and finding time to do something you love! (if you missed Wednesday’s post about filling your bucket, you can see it here…)

I get a lot of questions about the basics of upcycling and so I thought I would do a series about getting back to the basics. These posts will help with a wide variety of topics if you are just starting to turn junk into gems or if you are looking for some tips and tricks to up your game.

vintage finds piled in the back of a Honda


Let’s start today at the very beginning…
“Where do you find items to recreate?”

Part of the fun of upcycling is the thrill of the hunt and finding inexpensive items to turn into beautiful decor. Here are some of my favourite goto spots to hunt up treasures on the cheap!


Thrift Stores

Thrift stores have become extremely popular over the past decade and you can find them in just about every town and city. Odds are there are more than a few around you. Thrift store regularly restock their items every week so there is always something new to be found.

Salvation Army Thrift store in Smiths Falls Ontario


Garage Sales

Garage sales are typically one of the cheapest places to find deals. You can usually strike a deal with the seller and walk away with some great finds. They tend to be only seasonal though so if you live in the North as I do, they are only around a few months of the year.


Reuse Centres

The Reuse centres in my area are one of my absolute favourite places to pick up pieces. These centres are located at the dump sites and people can leave things in them that are not ready for the landfill and others can take them for free. It’s a win-win. Reuse centres are becoming more popular so check with your local landfill or dump to see if they have started a program like this.

reuse centre at the dump McDonald's Corners Ontario


Freecycle Groups

Freecycle groups have also grown in popularity over the past few years and there is one in just about every area now. Generally, these groups are found through Facebook and people can post items they don’t want and others can pick them up for free. You have to check back regularly as things so pretty quickly but I have seen everything from large pieces of furniture to small craft supplies.


Online Marketplaces

Like the freecycle groups, online marketplaces have become commonplace for people to get rid of what they no longer want. The difference between the marketplaces (like Kijiji, Craigslist, and eBay) and freecycle groups is that people charge for their items. You can still find great deals though and often people will sell things cheaply because they just want to get rid of their items.


Flea Markets

Another one of my personal favourites, there is nothing better than spending a day poking around a flea market. If you are looking for quantities of junk, this is where to go! You will find every price point, style, and type of thing you might be looking for.

Country Living Fair


Giveaway Day

Many towns and cities have started doing giveaway days. These are usually weekends where two or three times a year people can leave anything they don’t want at the curb and you can pick it up. In Ottawa, we have one in the Spring and one in the Fall and as it has grown, is a great way to find larger items like furniture and mirrors that people are giving away.


Charity Shops

Charity shops can sometimes be a little more expensive to pick up things but remember… the money is going to charity. You can usually find a good variety of items at these shops as people are more likely to donate their items when they know it is helping a good cause.


Trash Day

It goes without saying that sometimes if you want good things for free, you just need to drive around on trash day. People throw out all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons so you just never know what you will find.


Antique Stores

Don’t overlook Antique stores because you think everything they sell is expensive. Generally, a lot of what they sell is, but there are great deals to be found there as well. Look for items that are broken or buried and you might just find a real treasure.

vintage hardware, hooks and knobs at Ottawa's 613 flea


No matter where you find items to upcycle, there are some amazing things to be found out there. It may take a little time to find what you are looking for but that just adds to the adventure.

And don’t forget… whatever you bring home, be sure to thoroughly clean before starting your project!

Be sure to pop by next Sunday for tips on what to look for.

2 Comments on " Back to the Basics – Finding Junk "

  1. Lisa

    Hi Lisa, First time visting on your site, but it seems so well put together… Hope I can fnd the time to come back to it and read and enjoy more! Thank you so much! Have a fantastic & special day…
    Gigi Carroll

    1. Lisa

      Thank you Gigi! That is so kind of you to say 😉 I hope you enjoy it and thanks for stopping by.

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