Your Navigation Guide to Furnishing your Apartment Entirely Free with Discarded Goods, Brooklyn to New York

With apartments fluctuating in new construction, end of the lease to new lease, and couples progressing into cohabitation, curbs fill with various items that just don’t fit in the home. Last and first of the month bring mattresses covered in plastic, desks, broken mirrors, shoe racks, gadgets & utensils, to the curbs. Walking to and from with good vision can turn a bodega run into carrying a box of cooking utensils your kitchen would benefit from.

Continue reading to discover the benefits trash browsing can bring you, also some rules/guidelines to protect you from bringing home unwanted guest. Leave your stories below, have that be venting from bed bugs or excitement for the calf hair lounge chair now occupying your living room.

First free find

What a fantastic night! Living in my start-out home in Flatbush on just an air mattress and an Ikea dresser, 2/of 3 drawers attached, I was in need of human furniture.

I was out with my girl Kelly in LES (Lower East Side) when a robin egg blue knock-off Eames chair appears accompanied by trash bags to be taken to the dumps. My face lights up as I quickly shuffle over to the chair bright eyes and smile wide. It took a little convincing Kelly that this chair was worth at minimum $150 for a bad knock-off, sure it had a broken leg, but that was a quick fix thanks to the hardware store conveniently located around the corner.

Majority of all my side curb finds come with an experience, whether engaging with new people, rolling large heavy coffee tables down the street and up a flight of stairs (only for your roommates to throw it out days later), and thankfully having a friend that agrees to help you carry this curbed item you are so damn excited about.

Is it trash? Or treasure?

You have to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Could this have Bed Bugs?   *Try to avoid fabric*
  2. Can I fix what is broken?
  3. Will a good wash bring this item to its potential?
  4. Can I realistically carry this home?
  5. Do I actually need this?   *The Chair Queen*

Did I really need the green plastic piggy bank staring at me from a standpipe in LES? No, but I watched this pig and counts of people walk by him without notice and said if no one takes him I will. I named him Elvis and even had people put coins in him on my subway commute home. Cashing!

Items to pass up & factors to consider

The Bed Bug aspect. Lord, could I have more people mention Bed Bugs when I describe how excited I am about the BEAUTIFUL bowls I found? Yes, the horror stories people descriptively ooze whenever they have a chance is terrible. These little bugs, microscopic naked to the human eye, eat you while you sleep. This is where insomnia kicks in (when you do have them) and if you are lucky enough you can create an alter ego say, Tyler Durden, and build an army of “space monkeys ready to shoot off into space” (Fight Club) at your command. Heck maybe end the Trump Association.

Fabric is Questionable

Pass up Fabric. Clothing, upholstered sofas and chairs, and mattresses! (Not a set rule) Little Bed Bugs tend to live in hot places, this is why they are attracted to your oh so warm sleeping beauty of a body. Yes, they can live in the little wooden crevasse, but the fabric is their choice when a human species is not accessible.

Go with your gut. I was bringing a nightstand home on a hot summers day when I reached my doorstep something did not feel right. I left it out on our curb, no one took it until the trash collector came. I do not feel bad about letting that go, there was something off-putting either Bed Bugs or plain bad emotional feeling. It wasn’t right for me.

Location (& transportation) consider

Avoid popular streets. They tend to have much more dirt on them, like oh god never open a microwave on a busy road. Might be due to all the noise? But it is my assumption the care for the discarded items is not well maintained.

Consider your commute. Carrying my knock-off Eames chair was WORK. Although I did drag it to 7 bars, there is a whole Snap Chat of the chic that carried a chair all through LES, bottom line it was not the easiest task.

Rolling a kitchen island from Williamsburg to Bed-Stuy, it can be done, but I won’t officially know since my friend hopped on the unstable (but fixable) furniture. It came crashing down rack after (so much extra space) rack, hitting my knee cap along the way. I cried mainly over my loss, not the knee.

Coat racks, bowls, some chairs, lamps, and microwaves are acceptable carry-on items for the subway. Seen it done.

Success you can be proud of

There you have it. I can say as a New Yorker that I have successfully furnished my entire room for free, and it is cute, quirky, fun ME. There have been items I bring home and then cannot resuscitate so it goes back to the curb, but the majority of OMG LOOK! Has stayed with me. My roommates might like me to stop bringing chairs home, but then we wouldn’t have our new favorite piece, modern chair with wheels leather upholstery secured by smooth wood backing. Sorry to the security guard I think I took it from…out of excitement I did not think when I ran off with it. I hope you found another one just as comfortable.

What curbed items do you boast about? For other savvy trash shoppers, what are guides you follow? Share knowledge and finds below.



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