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Patience + Elbow Grease = A Beautiful Bargain

Ylan Mui

Today we have our first guest blogger: my editor, Kathy Lally.

My house is littered with monuments — I try not to think of them as tombstones — to the inordinate joy I find in a bargain and my deep sense of optimism, a sometimes uneconomical combination of character traits.

I see a bargain, and I am overcome by the conviction that it must have a good use and cannot possibly be passed up, not at that price, anyhow.

Take the 3-foot-by-5-foot antique stained glass window and stained glass French doors I bought at an auction in Baltimore some years ago because no one was bidding and they were simply too beautiful — and European! — to pass up.

After they sat in the basement for a few years, we put an addition on the back of the house and they fit right in, though I must admit to a stained glass transom (okay, two) hauled off from that very same auction that linger still in the basement, awaiting inspiration. (They were so cheap, and I’m positive some day I can hang them from the porch to marvelous effect and I’ll be so glad I bought them.)

Ah, deals. They are part of the luxury of a pre-recession life, now gone, gone, gone, a pleasure no longer affordable.

So I was only looking three months ago when I cruised the monthly warehouse sale Restoration Hardware holds at a warehouse north of Baltimore. Here they send returns, damaged furniture, pillow shams orphaned when the matching duvet covers are sold and assorted discontinued stuff to be sold at big discounts.

There I spotted a coffee table, originally around $800, that was gouged on top and looked sadly beyond repair, even at $50. I passed it up, though I knew perfectly well my daughter needed a coffee table for her apartment and surely there must be some way to make it presentable.

Next month, I went back. Now it was $25. Come on, I told myself, it’s no bargain if you can’t make it useful. Feeling the cold economic winds at my back, I went home without it.
Last month, I returned. It was $10. I had a coupon for 10 percent off any one item, bringing it down to $9. If I couldn’t fix it I could always use it for firewood.

The next day I went to Jo-Ann Fabric, found a yard of 54-inch wide deep brown leather-like fabric, asked if they had any coupons (yes, 40 percent off a single item) and got it for about $20. Four packs of decorative brass nailheads at $1.49 each, and I was out of there.

Later, I held the fabric onto the top of the table while my husband pounded it in place around the edges, hiding the gouges and giving the table the elegant look of hand-hammered leather upholstery. Cost, about $35. My daughter loved it.

Patience, the economy had said. Restraint, it instructed.

I listened — and what a deal I got!

By the way, the next warehouse sales are April 10, 11 and 12 and May 8, 9 and 10 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The warehouse number is 410-671-9687, and it’s 4 miles off I-95 (exit 77) at 1701 Trimble Road in Edgewood, Md.

I’m hoping you won’t see me there.

Pics of my table:
Thumbnail image for table2.jpg


By Ylan Mui  |  April 3, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bargains , Ylan Q. Mui  | Tags: bargains  
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Next: Will Clean for Rent


Great advice! A little restraint and discipline can lead to a lot of savings.

Posted by: darylnorthrop | April 5, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Great article! Super idea.

Posted by: mediaskeptic | April 6, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Great looking table!!!!

Posted by: mlc2 | April 6, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

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