field trip: Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Habitat for Humanity ReStore light fixtures

Project by project, week by week, slowly the apartment is coming together to look and feel like home, with most of the moving boxes gone and art and mirrors hung on the walls. To aid the process, Jeff and I made it over to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore a couple times in the last few weeks, now located out near Mall 205. Both times, I forgot to take exterior pictures of the building, but it's what's inside that counts, right? Honestly, we're lucky I remembered to take any photos at all, concentrated as we were on nosing around like hound dogs on the hunt.* (Thank goodness for camera phones.)

Habitat for Humanity ReStore hardware section

Habitat for Humanity ReStore tile and flooring sections

As mentioned in the Hippo Hardware post, the ReStore is an actual thrift store for building supplies, with some decorative and furniture odds and ends thrown in here and there. Overall, this place is cheap, but as with any thrift store, you won't always find what you're looking for; the search for project items usually takes patience, repeat trips, and a flexible imagination. For example, since I finally figured out where my two black metal filing cabinets should go—side by side in the weird gap between the tall prep counter and the gas wall heater in the kitchen—I've been looking for a scrap slab of stone in granite, marble, or quartz to make the file cabinets into an intentional prep space, something like this photo. Unfortunately, the stone scraps I've seen so far are all cut by the square foot, while each HON cabinet is 15 inches wide by 25 inches deep. I'd rather not pay to get a slab specially cut and I do want the slab to cover the entire top, so it'll take time and luck to find the right size for this project. And that's okay: I have more time than money.

(As a side note, it breaks my heart to think about all the beautiful polished stone slabs that used to be parts of mountains now gracing all the expensively remodeled McKitchens in America that will be solidly out of fashion within ten years and destined for the dump. Hello, people: once you cut down a mountain, it doesn't grow back.)

Habitat for Humanity Restore stone tiles and slabs for countertops

For his shop space, Jeff found a decent mid-century credenza with some chips out of its veneer (hard to fix), the top sliver of which can be seen in this post (scroll down)—and which (I'm editing to add), he just learned was rented out briefly from Hawthorne Vintage by the set designers of Portlandia, so we'll be playing Find-Jeff's-ReStore-Credenza when Season 4 comes out on Netflix. Another day, he picked up a vintage round diner tabletop with a burnt-orange Formica top and a metal rim that he's going to repurpose into a coffee table by attaching those four vintage Pendleton spindles bought in July.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore hooks and screws

I snagged a bunch of inexpensive hooks and screws, which Jeff drilled up for me this week in what I call my "garage," i.e., the long narrow closet parallel to my entryway storing my vacuum cleaner, ironing board, sleeping bag, a small box of Christmas decorations, and other odds and ends I can't seem to toss. Some of the hooks are obviously used and some are brand-new in their packaging, but all are secondhand discards, which is how things should be: using up what already exists rather than making more stuff, most of it now inferior, shoddy crap made over in China. (Trust me—I've spent enough time at thrift stores to track how globalizing mass production has dropped quality each decade in almost everything made.) The two-pronged orange hook is now holding cleaning implements up off the floor, while other hooks are holding my stepladder and other tools, the hooks all for about 25 cents each.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore pendant lights

I'm still waiting to thrift some large white glass ball pendants, but I'm patient. Till then, I'll console myself with unexpected treasures like the vintage chocolate-brown wood-handled Le Creuset saucepan—with lid!—sitting alone on a shelf I snatched up on the second trip and carried around the store with me in both arms like a baby, the first Le Creuset I've ever thrifted myself and, amazingly, just four dollars. Later, Jeff sanded the handle for me and then I finished the handle with spoon oil (recipe here via 3191 Miles Apart). Vintage. Solid. Made in France. Heirloom. Perfect.

vintage wood-handled brown Le Creuset saucepan, top view

vintage brown Le Creuset wood-handled saucepan with lid ($4 via Habitat for Humanity ReStore)

Note: Though it may be hard to believe, there were actually quite a few shoppers in the ReStore, but I framed them all out of the shots. (What can I say? I'm an introvert.)

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