Decorating With Garbage: And How To Start An Art Collection For No Money At All

One man's trash is this woman's treasure.
Publish date:
August 2, 2011
home, art, home decor, decorating

Art. It's a little intimidating because a) no one can conclusively say what it actually is and b) it's expensive as hell. Even young artists won't sell anything for under a few hundred bucks, which feels like a lot to shell out for something you can't put on your body or take a vacation in. So I, for one, choose to fill my apartment with junk found in the wild--be it a Brooklyn sidewalk or the rolling country hills--for free.

For example:

Some people see a toilet tank cover; I see a surface on which to put pretty things. In this case I dried out some roses I bought last year, and added a huge (hawk?) feather I found on a power-walk with my mom in Connecticut. (The Dollywood lye soap and candy cigarettes were money well-spent.)

On another ledge in my bathroom, I've collected a bunch of girly white objects. My favorite is the enormous conch shell I found on a beach in the Bahamas. Photographing this with my iPhone in flattering light was a challenge.

Speaking of beaches, I recently found this lobster buoy washed up on one in Cape Cod. It says it came all the way from Maine and belongs to someone with the last name Sciara. So, Sciara! If you're reading this, hit me up! I have your buoy!

In keeping with the semi-nautical theme, here's what's possibly my favorite piece of art in my apartment. It looks so serene. A few years ago my boyfriend and his friends bought this ship on a stand for about $20 at a tag sale. When they later found the frame on the sidewalk, they took the stand off the boat and suspended it with some fishing line. They are geniuses.

Maybe this sort of thing doesn't happen outside Brooklyn, but I love finding random paintings on the sidewalk. They make me look like a collector and I didn't have to spend a dime. This one was put out with the garbage in front of my old apartment building.

Some see a shitty old ladder; I see a charmingly rustic shoe and/or towel rack.

I can't for the life of me remember if I found this on a street or if I bought it in a junk shop, but I know I didn't spend more than $10 on it. I call it "California Girl" and it hangs near my closet (along with my Fierce Tiger) to inspire me when I get dressed.

My friend Ryan found this adorable Timberline Huffy 3 in a dumpster in upstate New York and tuned it up for me. What a pal. And I suppose my bike could be considered an objet d'art since it sits in my apartment never gets used, right?

It's a law of attraction: if someone wants something picked up by a garbage man, I want to take it home. What's your most valued found object?