8 sources for fun, cheap DIY projects

February 3, 2021


DIY is having a moment. As home has evolved into a place to live, work and staycation, many of us have decided it’s finally time to get some of those long-lingering projects off the to-do list. Maybe you want to find a dresser to upcycle for your spare bedroom, or some end tables to stain or paint to match your family room. No matter where you live or what’s on your wishlist, there are so many sources for fun, affordable pieces to reuse and repurpose! And don’t be deterred if you live in a part of the country that’s got colder weather right now; products like BLUE BEAR® Safenol™ Paint & Urethane Stripper  and BLUE BEAR® Soy Gel™ Paint & Urethane Stripper are easy-to-use, low-odor and safe indoors, making DIY a year-round possibility. Pick a small, simple project and start at the kitchen table or tackle something larger that has more layers to strip in the basement or spare room - the possibilities are endless!

Friends & family

My current stash of pending DIY makeovers was acquired when my Dad downsized and sold my childhood home. Nicer pieces that he couldn’t use were donated, but the beat-up, drop-leaf farmhouse tables (at right), the hexagon-shaped end table that needs the base reglued and an antique cabinet with a top covered in water stains were among the finds that came home with me. need work, but they all have good bones, and some elbow grease and imagination will bring them back to life. If you have a neighbor moving out-of-state or an aunt leaving her house for a condominium, talk to them about what they might be leaving behind.

Garage sales

As the old saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Great deals can be had on everything from furniture and fixtures, to decor and more. Feel free to bargain for anything you want; most sellers don’t want to lug the stuff they’re selling back in the house again.

Estate sales

Typically held when someone dies or downsizes, estate sales (also called tag sales) often include much of a person’s lifetime accumulations. Typically held in the seller’s home, you can expect to walk from room to room and find everything from furniture and antiques to knick knacks and decorations. Most sales run two or three days and discounts off the marked price are common after the first day. Check for the sales in your area; many sellers provide descriptions and photos prior to the event.

Thrift stores

The original mission of thrift stores was to sell donated goods at a discount price in support of a non-profit. Goodwill, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity Restore are among national names familiar to many. Today, there are also for-profit thrifts that may also have potential DIY projects at competitive prices. Some stores have an active social media presence where you can see new merchandise as it becomes available.

Facebook Marketplace 

Facebook Marketplace is like a virtual garage sale. Just put in your location, and search for the items you want. (Bonus: If you are traveling, you can search other destinations as well.) In my community, I’ve recently seen a small three-drawer wooden dresser for $3; lots of small tables for for $10-$25; a bench for $15, antique doors for $5 each, and small bookcases/dressers for $20-$40. Typically, you’ll be picking up at someone’s house.



Facebook buy/sell groups

I searched “cheap furniture” in Facebook Groups and found three groups near where I live to join. In one, “Great Furniture Deals/Only Furniture,” recent offers included a free desk with hutch that needed to be picked up from the owner’s basement; a large dining table for $20; a 76-inch corner hutch for $30, a wooden storage cabinet for $30 and a Pier One wooden table and four chairs reduced to $40 (at right). Expect to pick these up at the seller’s home, too.


Here, price is determined by the number of people interested in a specific item, and what’s for sale varies greatly. You’ll see everything from antiques and collectibles, entire estates or what’s left of a shuttered business.  Bidding can be in-person or online, depending on the auction, with previews available before the sale begins. Check for auctions near you.

On the curb

Driving through a neighborhood the evening before garbage pickup? Keep your eye on the curb - you never know what people might leave out with the trash!


Take a look at what’s available online and in your community, pick a project and let BLUE BEAR help you make something old new again! Our bio-based paint strippers are great for the DIYer - even if you’re a beginner -  and convenient to use indoors. You don’t need a garage or a lot of space or fancy equipment - just some spare time and a piece that sparks your creativity!


Happy hunting!


Karen Hansen Apfelbaum works in the marketing department at Franmar and would love to blog about your experiences using Franmar products! She can be reached at