Today’s post was first published in 2011, by Jim (who used to be) from Clark’s Grove.
As an impoverished student I learned to do a lot of improvising. In those days I got by with shelves made from boards and cement blocks which were also found in many other student apartments. I even had a guide to living as an impoverished student that gave all kinds suggestions for living cheaply. It gave a recipe for cooking a tasty chicken dish to serve on special occasions, along with instructions on making your own beer, and talked about using colorful cloth to cover worn out sofas and other things.
Most of the improvised things from our student days have been replaced by items that cost a little more and don’t need to be covered with colorful cloth. The lamp made from an over sized beer bottle is no longer in use. The board and block shelves were replaced by less rugged shelves made with 2 by 2s and boards and those shelves were finally replace some that were purchased at a furniture store.
We are still making use of some used furniture that we refinished during our student days. One of these items is a Hoosier cabinet that we bought for next to nothing at a back street auction house. We painted this cabinet and used it for many years before stripping it and giving it a coating of polyurethane. We even found a source of hardware that matched the style on the cabinet and replaced a broken latch. This cabinet has a lot of interesting features and is still in use for storing dishes and other things in our dining room.
There are some other pieces of refinished used furniture that we are still using. Most of these refinished items came from relatives. They include and old arts and craft styled oak kitchen table. The legs of the kitchen table were not refinished and still are covered with the old wood finish and decorative stripes of green paint. We are also using a refinished dresser that might be made of maple and a small refinished table made from some kind of fairly good looking wood. An old oak dresser has been stored for many years in our basement waiting refinishing, but I doubt that I will get around to working on it and I think it will end up as a donation to the Salvation Army.
The most treasured remnant of impoverished student days is a homemade spice rack still being used in our kitchen that is seen in the picture. It was made from some rustic wood slats that came from an old wooden orange crate and is filled with sets of recycled glass jars of various kinds. This is one of the few times that my tendency to hoard all kinds of things, including used jars, paid off. It isn‘t a highly attractive item, but it has a ‘folksy’ look that keeps it from sticking out like a sore thumb. It could use some new better looking jars with better looking labels on them. This spice shelf is a well liked reminder of the days when we didn’t have much money.
It can never be replaced.
What’s your greatest low-budget improvisation?