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Top 10 Dumpster Diving Finds

By Editorial Staff

dumpster diving treasuresContributed by Info Guru Korina Rossi

Dumpster diving, the art of scampering through dumpsters outside of vacant houses for useable furniture and knick knacks, has been practiced by college students with empty apartments for decades.

But savvy decorators know that valuable collectibles and curiosities can also be found in dumpsters. Arm yourself with a pair of gloves and sturdy shoes, and be prepared to discover treasure.

Here are my top ten dumpster diving finds:

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10. Suit of Armor


Connoisseurs of oddities often collect sizeable knick-knacks like armor in a dumpster when the moving van comes, and finding one is a score for a rumpus room or even a living room. In your dumpster diving escapades, try to find pieces that will provoke conversation.

9. Billiard Table

Billiard Table

Billiard tables, because of their size and sometimes because of minor wear, often get left behind when someone moves. Call a friend with a pick up truck or a small trailer, and you can start your pool practice in no time.

8. Globes


Revisit your childhood by grabbing the next globe that you see in a dumpster, but be sure to refuse the inflatable kind. Instead keep your eyes pealed for a wooden or crystal globe.

7. Maps


Vintage maps can often be adopted from dumpsters. Hang one in your home office or bedroom, along with a model sailboat, to give your décor the look of a turn-of-the-century gentleman’s smoking room.

6. Chandeliers


Chandeliers, lanterns, and sconces are often tossed in the dumpster when a house changes hands. Look for pieces that have a unique style: some art deco lamps and chandeliers auction for premium prices.

5. Dressing Screen

Dressing Screen

If you spot a dressing screen in a neighbor’s dumpster, it can be salvaged and rehabilitated as an accent to your home. Even if it looks a little weathered, solid wood dressing screens can always be repainted and finished: they also fetch top prices at used furniture stores.

4. Sewing Machines

Sewing Machine

For DIY decorators, be on the look out for sewing machines made in the 1950s that appear in dumpsters and thrift stores from time to time. Unlike today’s plastic generation, the older cast iron machines have the strength to sew through thick fabrics, like heavy canvas and denim seams. Best of all, sewing machine parts are readily available.

3. Surfboards


Vintage surfboards propped up in an empty corner make great conversation starters, and even older surfboards can still be towed to the beach for a Beach Blanket Bingo weekend.

2. Patio Furniture

Patio furniture

Dismiss the plastic garden furniture, and focus your energy on finding high quality teak outdoor furnishings that you can enliven with wood sealant.

1. Exercise Equipment

Exercise equipment

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Treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bicycles in good working order can be picked up cheaply or for free when the current occupants of a house decide to sell or rent. Keep an eye on sites like Craigslist, and you could build a home gym for pennies.


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