Saturday, June 1, 2013

It's Furniture Season in Provincetown

Throw the right bedspread over this couch and it will blend into
all but the most formal living rooms. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
I recently wrote a post about what I have called "hors d'oeuvre season" in PTown, where many restaurants are throwing opening parties and offering tidbits and samples from their menus as they open for the season. It is always followed closely by furniture season, when you can walk down any street in town and find a couch, a desk, maybe a microwave or a window fan that's yours for the taking, or the hauling, left by someone who is making a seasonal move to different living quarters for the summer. It happens every year, and can actually be good fun.
Furniture season rolls around like clockwork, twice a year, in the spring and the autumn. Perfectly usable items in good condition can often be picked up right on the street, free of charge, when the previous owner moves to a smaller apartment for the summer, or perhaps returns to another town for winter employment after working the summer season in Provincetown. Guesthouses and motels may set out chests of drawers, kitchen tables, TVs, even entire bedding sets of mattresses, frames and headboards when refurnishing rooms at the beginning or end of the season. The comfiest bed I've ever owned was a furniture season find. I set it out for someone else to use when my apartment was condo-ized and I had to move to a smaller place.
I generally try to make use of something that's been previously owned or used, rather than buying something new, which cuts down on the amount of energy and raw materials used to manufacture and ship consumer goods around the country each year. And besides all that, I just prefer the look and design of something old rather than new. Give me the rounded corners and retro look of an old toaster every time, rather than the rectangular shape and square angles of a new one.
The other day I spotted a roll of "FREE brand new" carpeting, according to the sign taped to it. Minutes later, by the time I returned with my camera to get a photo for this article, it had already been snapped up. Not only can we all save a little money while finding cool furnishings for our homes and apartments, but repurposing household items and furniture also saves fuel that would be used to haul off and incinerate objects that haven't yet reached the end of their usefulness.
Refrigerators, courtesy of a local guesthouse.
Typically, household items at the edge of the road are up for grabs, going to the first person who walks by in need of the item, or to the first person to borrow a truck and a pal to help wrestle a couch or dinner table or other large piece of furniture into the truck. Often there's a sign of some sort to identify free items, but if there's no sign, and you have the least little doubt about it, a knock at the door can confirm that the floor lamp and mirrored medicine cabinet leaning on the fence are indeed meant to be carted off to a new home. Just be a little careful about electrical items, or appliances that may have sat out in wet weather. 
Some folks may feel a bit odd about taking home things that have belonged to someone else,, but we try to do it around here whenever possible. There hasn't been a landfill in Provincetown for about 20 years or so. We ran out of space to bury trash long ago, so anything cast off has to be hauled out of here to be burned, which is expensive, terrible for the environment, and a crying shame when items that are still useful are wasted this way.
So keep an eye out for something you can use, refinish or adapt to fit a need, and don't be shy. Take it home and give it a new life. Happy furniture season!

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