By Camille Johnson
Broke In Columbia does a really great job of providing information about where to go, what to do, and who to see when your bank account isn’t exactly overflowing.
The only problem is that sometimes not only is my bank account not overflowing, sometimes it’s what experiencing what most would refer to as a drought. That’s right, bone dry. Whether it’s the day before the next paycheck is going to be deposited, the weeks following an unexpected big bill (oh hey, I’m talking to you, new water heater), or you just simply don’t feel like going out and socializing, sometimes home is the best (and cheapest) place to hang out.
As someone who’s go-go-go, I don’t feel like this often, but when I do, I turn into full-on hermit mode. Here’s the thing though, hanging out at home isn’t that exciting (if it is at your house, please invite me over, I’ll bring snacks) and doesn’t always feel like something special, and it doesn’t have to feel like that. Making a place to hang out at home doesn’t have to be expensive (at all!) and goes a long way in making those homebound hermit days feel a little more special.
My way of doing this involves a $3 can of spray paint, patio furniture found in the trash, and whatever snacks I can buy at the dollar store with the change found in my car’s drink holders! I work downtown and in May all of the USC students pack up and move out of various apartments, houses, and dorms, leaving behind a slew of furniture in the garbage piles.
Sometimes these left behind pieces need to be trashed (better yet, burned), but sometimes you can find a diamond (or three!) in the rough. I found some dirty plastic patio chairs and a filthy plastic side table while running errands on my lunch break, and they were like this, but a bit dirtier. (I did not take a picture of the exact ones because it was lunchtime traffic and people were already honking…oops.)
I took my treasures home that afternoon and hosed them down after scrubbing them with a sponge, dish soap and bleach and let them dry (in Columbia heat that took all of fifteen minutes). I always have various paints, etc in my utility room, so I found what seemed like the fullest can and got to spraying (I didn’t sand or prime, just made sure all the pieces were completely dry). This paint sprays and covers really easily and is between $3 and $4, so it’s completely affordable too.
I was able to spray and cover both chairs and the table with just one can, but I’d recommend getting two cans, so you don’t have to stop in the middle of a project. (Later on I realized I did miss a tiny spot on the back of one of the chairs, but no one’s going to see it, so who really cares!)
I let the paint dry and cure for about three days under the carport (of course it monsooned during some of the days but it didn’t affect the paint at all) and now I have a pretty little place to sit, people watch, drink, read, do other hermit-y things on days I can’t afford to or don’t want to go out!