Dumpster Diva

One evening in early January I turned into the parking lot of my apartment building and something caught my eye. I swiveled my head towards the dumpster to get a better look. Stacked in front of the dumpster were two wooden dining chairs – Captain chairs – the kind with the arms on them.

I quickly parked my car and briskly walked to the dumpster to pick up someone else’s trash.

I was super-psyched. I had a nice farm style dining room table but only one slightly wobbly Windsor chair left. The other chairs were broken in some rather colorful, X-rated ways and I never set aside the money to replace them.

Now I had two chairs! whoo-hoo!!! And the chairs were in great condition!

They cleaned up nice and I debated about what to do with them to refinish them. Then about three weeks later I was in my Dad’s truck on the way to a hockey game. It was freezing and pouring rain. As Dad drove past the dumpster on our way out I shrieked in delight and starting yelling stop the truck!!

There next to the dumpster were two more of the same chair! These two were side chairs since they had no arms but they were a matched set with the two I already had “acquired”. My Dad braved the cold, stinging rain and rescued the chairs for me. I set them to dry on some towels in the living room and hoped they weren’t too damaged from the rain.

My hopes were wrong and there was a lot of damaged to the rain chairs. The wood was splitting and was grey with water damage. After experimenting with some stain I realized that I would not be able to make the four chairs match.

Paint was my only alternative.

After a large amount of wood glue, wood filler, sandpaper and primer I have 4 matching chairs just ready for a French Country style paint treatment. I painted out the legs of my farmhouse table and stained the tabletop a dark walnut. A creamy white paint (as soon as I decide what kind) is all I need to finish off my “new” set.

While I was filling and sanding and gluing I noticed a label and date stamped on the underside of the seat. It was a Keller Furniture company chair made in June 1964. For some that would make it old and nasty. For me, it made it a set of retro wonderful chairs! I was very excited that I had mid-century furniture for free!

I am tempted to take a photo of the finished chairs and tape it to the dumpster with a note saying “Thank You” but I’m afraid that will deter people from throwing stuff away!!

Just this week someone threw out a large, sturdy wicker basket apparently because it had a dollar bill sized splash of white paint on it. No problem for me. I thinned out some white primer with water and now have a lovely white wicker basket that I am sewing a liner for. I can’t wait for the next treasure I rescue from the dumpster!


  1. I love dumpster diving and finding treasures.. 🙂 good job! you should stencil a design on the table and the chairs… let me know if you want help..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s