A Home That Proves You Can Turn Trash Into Treasure

HGTV Magazine takes you inside a California bungalow that takes the phrase "finders keepers" to a whole new level.

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Photo By: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

The House

Diehard junkers Linda and Chris Bradford are the first to admit that the 1927 bungalow they rent in Long Beach, CA, is filled with trash. “We decorate with stuff people throw away,” says Linda. A rummager since college, Linda has a knack for spotting the potential in the dusty, the musty and the rusty. That’s apparent in the couple’s 1,100-square-foot seaside cottage, which they moved into a year ago after retiring and downsizing from a large house in Northern California.

In every room, Linda manages to stylishly arrange far-from-perfect reclaimed pieces  —  the wood is battered, the paint is chipped the metal is dinged  —  and the overall result feels light and airy, comfortable and casual. “I keep the walls neutral and bring in something upholstered from Pottery Barn. It all just works,” she says. Five years ago Linda turned her treasure-hunting hobby into a full-fledged business called Junk Style Design, offering customers who visit her stall at the Long Beach Antique Market the same kind of scavenged wares that fill her home.

Now she and Chris hunt down hidden gems year-round  —  including on two annual buying trips to Texas  —  and they’ll happily dig through salvage yards or shiver in chilly predawn rain waiting for estate sales to start. “There’s something special about things that have lived with, and been loved by, someone else,” says Linda. “Each piece has a history and a story to tell.”

Living Room

Chairs: Nabbed at a swap meet for about $25 each, the leather-cushion chairs were in pristine condition. “The rattan makes them look beachy,” says Linda.
Side table: A big fan of pieces that multitask, Linda uses this old metal stool as a perch for her morning tea as well as extra seating for guests.
Coffee table: Linda’s husband, Chris, cut down the legs of a timeworn kitchen table to transform it into a coffee table. “I love the faded linoleum on top,” Linda says.
Collectibles: A gift from Linda’s mom, the pine drop leaf table displays scavenged treasures, like Big Ben clocks, a 1935 trophy, and a $2 thrift store lamp.


Dishware: Taking off a cabinet door put Linda’s dishes — including a green-striped Roseville bowl and ’50s-style Anthropologie juice glasses — on full view.
Stools: Carved with students’ names and initials, stools from the Los Angeles school district add some character to the neutral kitchen.

Dining Room

Plates: Linda scored the Buffalo China dinnerware at a salvage yard selling vintage restaurant goods. Total cost for the three dishes: $3.
Centerpiece: For a laid-back display, a silver-plated bowl, a food cloche, and an old battery jar used as a vase are corralled in an upturned drying rack.
Dining table: The couple bought this Amish-made table, built from barn wood, 25 years ago and paired it with Pottery Barn chairs.
Bench: A 7 1/2-foot-wide hand-hewn bench found on a buying trip to Texas “is great for casual meals, especially with our grandkids,” says Linda.

Dining Room Console

Folding table: The second Linda caught a glimpse of this slim folding-leg table at a Texas flea market, she was convinced it would be perfect as a console in her dining room.
Sign: Linda felt this metal notice was a sign in more ways than one: “When no one bought it from our stall, I knew it was meant to come home with me.”
Model boat:
Nautical finds, such as a handcrafted pond boat snagged at an antiques show in Idaho, reference the cottage’s coastal location.
Tub and crate: With closet space at a premium, a galvanized laundry tub and a wood crate were put to work holding blankets, books, and magazines. 


Unframed art: A vintage clipboard showcases a rotating collection of art. Currently on display: a mini oil painting of a sailboat.
Lamp: A stacked-coconut lamp — one of Linda’s first purchases after moving to Long Beach — brings a Trader Vic’s tiki vibe to the desk.
Console: Chris teamed an old metal table base with planks salvaged from a fruit drying rack to create this two-tier desk. 


Beach chair: Striped in greens and yellows, a canvas chair from the Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, TX, has the impact of vivid artwork.
Accent pillow: Along with Serena & Lily Euro shams and a Garnet Hill coverlet, Linda added a vintage orange-and-aqua floral pillow from a local flea.
Cabinet: An industrial cabinet is perfect as a nightstand, thanks to the locker that hides clutter. The green gourd lamp on top is from HomeGoods.

Master Bedroom

Sign: Purchased from a fellow junker, the ’50s particleboard sign in the master bedroom reminds Linda of her teenage days as a lifeguard.
Swimsuits: Wool bathing costumes from the 1920s are “my weakness,” says Linda. After mending the moth holes, she had the suits professionally framed. Dresser: Passed down from Linda’s grandmother, this battered maple dresser was rehabbed with white paint (Swiss Coffee by Behr). 


Suitcases: A rack that once held film reels now shows off vintage luggage. Stashed inside the wicker and canvas suitcases: shoes and office supplies.

How to Spot the Beauty in Junk

Buy out of your comfort zone: “A home filled with furniture, art and accessories in the same style from the same era is boring,” says Linda. “Mix things up a little, and layer in some different pieces you thought you’d never look twice at. Some commonality in the pieces is good, though. In my case, it’s the neutral color palette and the simple lines that connect everything.”
Ask yourself: Is it functional? “I don’t bring anything into my house unless it is versatile and can be used in a million different ways,” says Linda. “Nothing I own has a single purpose. If I buy a huge metal bowl, it can be a mail catchall, a pot for a plant, or a place to stack folded kitchen towels. I’ve even used a goldfish bowl as a vase.”
Be sure it has good bones: “When you’re junking, you aren’t strolling through a pristine showroom. The stuff is smelly and dirty and gross, but you have to look beyond that,” says Linda. “If a piece is well made, minor cosmetic problems can be remedied. Rust can be waxed or sealed, grime and grease can be washed off, and upholstery can usually be cleaned. But walk away if something is moldy or completely rusted through — chances are, it’s beyond fixing.”