Something not many of you may know is that I renovated an old farmhouse with things I found on Gumtree. It’s true! I had a very small budget and a 220sqm house to upgrade, and since I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, I scoured the online classifieds and went Gumtree-crazy. Windows, doors, lighting, furniture and even the gorgeous Victorian bathtubs I have in 2 of my bathrooms I all bought on Gumtree.
Patience is key when you are waiting for people to sell what you would like to buy online, so I bought the bath a couple of months before I found the window. But when you finally find that thing, that one thing that you thought would never come, it’s completely exhilarating! I couldn’t believe it when I found this acrylic Victorian bath for R950. I mean seriously, that’s a steel considering that they retail for 5 times more. And it wasn’t used, it was brand-new, but because it had a dent on the side (the side that sits against the wall!), it couldn’t be sold in the store. With its pretty little feet sitting on a checkerboard floor, it really makes the room.
Because I had this whole Victorian theme going, I also needed a sash window of course! The man I bought the corded sash from said it was left over after a building project and sold it to me at a greatly reduced price. This is often the case with building materials – the construction guys are quite happy to just recover their costs or get it off their lots and because they often buy in bulk they get really good deals from the suppliers.
The pretty kidney-shaped dressing table I inherited from my Gran. It is quite common to find ball-and-claw furniture on Gumtree though – just type ball-and-claw in the search bar and you’ll get a couple of pages of listings. I painted this one in a matt charcoal waterbased enamel and re-upholstered the seat in a pretty floral and I completely love the way it came out.
Here are my 7 tips for when you are looking for building materials on Gumtree:
1. Make sure that woodwork is in great condition, without cracks.
2.Don’t be too concerned if the glass on a window or door is cracked or missing – that’s easy enough to replace. Just make sure that you negotiate the price then! Which brings me to my next point.
3. Negotiate. I lived in Asia for 6 years so negotiating comes quite naturally to me, but in South Africa it’s not such a common thing. If you feel that you would like a better price, ask. They worst thing that can happen, is that they might say no!
4. If you buy something that comes in parts (like a bath with feet), then make sure that all the fittings are included. All the screws, all the parts, everything.
5. Take the measurements of your room and make sure that the thing you want to buy is going to fit. But if it doesn’t, you can always sell it on Gumtree again!
6. Especially when you’re buying furniture, look for the SHAPE of STYLE that you like. Don’t be too concerned with the finish, you can always paint it, sand it down or re-upholster it.
7. When you go to view the item, ask the seller if they have anything else they want to get rid of. The stunning shelf against the wall is actually a cornice that goes on top of a wardrobe that I found by asking this question.
The things I bought for this bathroom make-over cost me just R1,750 and that’s why Gumtree’s always the first place I look when I need something. Sure, it might take a bit longer to find, but the rewards are amazing. Look out for the next post on my kitchen – this one is quite something!