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31 Days: The Thrift Project – Day 26: Lamp Elevator

(You need to sing the title of the post to the tune of “Smooth Operator”.)

I have an old fashioned dresser that I use as a bedside table. The table used to belong to my in-laws. When we got it, it was blue. Husband painted it a blue-green color when we moved in to our first apartment.

It was a makeshift TV stand – you know how it goes. Do you remember your first apartment? Ours was in married student housing on campus, had linoleum throughout, and the walls were made of cinderblock, as you can see above. We had a tiny refrigerator that was only slightly larger than a dorm-sized one – our freezer couldn’t even hold a whole chicken. And I’m pretty sure rent was under $200/month. Ah, the good old days.

That little dresser has worked in many different spaces in the years since those Tech Village days. A few months ago, I decided I wanted to paint it the same color as the walls in our bedroom (yep, lime green) and use it as a bedside table. I sanded it, painted it, and replaced the drawer knobs. I loved it.

Except I couldn’t get the lamp placement just right. One side was too far from the bed, and the other side was already filled with my alarm clock, my book, and a place to charge my phone at night. I wanted it in the middle, but it was too low and just looked wonky.

I figured out I could use books underneath the lamp to give it the proper height. I searched my house for “pretty” books, but nothing worked, so I added “black books” to my thrift wish list. I spent several thrift store trips taking the jackets off the largest books they had – I’m sure I looked a little crazy. These are a few of the winners:

All page-turners, I’m sure.

But stripped of their jackets, they are lovely.

And as lamp elevators, they are quite effective.

A couple of more stories about that apartment:

We lived in that apartment for 10 months before we realized the water heater was broken. It fit in under the counter in the kitchen, so we just assumed it was too small to actually heat much water. I took the fastest showers of my life those first 10 months.

That air conditioning unit you see in the top photo was the only one in the apartment, so during the hot, humid months of summer in middle Tennessee, there was no cool air in the bedroom. Every night, we would drag our mattress out to the living room to sleep. It was like camping. For 5 months of the year.

OK, your turn. I want to hear about your first apartment – the free furniture, the funny roommates, the hilarity, the horror stories – let’s have some good laughs to get the weekend started!


  • This post is part of a 31 Day series. Find all the posts in this series here.
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5 thoughts on “31 Days: The Thrift Project – Day 26: Lamp Elevator

  1. funny, becuase I mentioned my apartment living in my blog today. I have so many stories I wouldn’t know where to begin. Btw, this is another one that you have been talking about for ages, and I have actually done at my own since you told me about. Thanks again for all your thrifty ways!

  2. Our first apartment – my parents “remodeled” their garage. We had a kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom/living room. We stayed there until Jim graduated from UT – a little over two years. My mom bought extra groceries for us and Jim’s parents fed us at least once a week. We couldn’t have done it without them. After we moved out their neighbor drove her car through the wall of our apartment. That was 37 years ago.


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