is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.


One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure. Never has that been clearer to me than this year, when Pete and I moved into our new home in the country.

Back in mid-January Château Tracteur, which we named our new abode, was in pretty terrible shape. The couch was a cast-off from the local brothel (no, seriously). The curtains in the lounge were ripped and stained and falling off their rods. The slats were falling out of the base of the tiny bed, meaning Pete and I had to sleep in separate bedrooms for a while (which is actually kind of my dream – sorry but Pete’s a snorer).

Anyway, suffice to say, we had work to do. But we also had very little money.

That’s where the fun began.

See I love bringing pieces of unloved furniture back to life – turning what’s essentially someone’s rubbish into a prize piece in my living room. Apart from saving money, this also saves the furniture from ending up in landfill, making it a sustainable way to redecorate.

So we set to work, moving all our old pieces into the Wwoofa shack (it too was getting an upgrade), then putting the word to our family and friends: WE WANT YOUR TRASH.

Our call was heeded. My parents-in-law just happened to be redecorating their house at the time, so we picked up a coffee table, dining table and chairs, hall stand, sideboard, kitchen stools and more that were all just about to go to the tip.IMG_0103 (1)IMG_1002 (1)IMG_0628

At the same time, my auntie and uncle were downsizing, and instead of either throwing away their large pieces of furniture or putting them into storage, they gave or loaned them to us. Couches, antique armchairs and rugs – even a king-sized bed that was almost brand new.

There was also loads of stuff just laying round the farm: an old paint-splattered desk that just worked in our place, a rocking chair that I spied stuffed up in the loft above the worker’s shed that was covered in cobwebs, an antique carved wooden sideboard that was missing a couple of handles.

For the small pieces we headed to the Wollombi Markets for pelts, vintage urns and lamps, an antique bird cage and other vintage decorations. We hopped on Gumtree and found a very cool second-hand bamboo couch and seats for $90. We also used what we had to decorate the walls – old textiles and hats that had been stored away in the cupboard gathering dust, and lots of potted plants we’d found around the farm or at the local nursery. For soft furnishings, I held off until my work trips and bought some antique textiles from Morocco and Turkey.IMG_0098 (1)IMG_1003 (1)IMG_1004 (1)

So now, just ten months after we’ve moved in, we have a house that very nearly feels like a home; one that we didn’t have to bust the budget for. We saved our families a couple of annoying trips to the tip, we reduced and we reused, and we saved the planet from having to deal with more landfill. We’re now also surrounded by pieces of furniture that remind us of our families – all of which feels pretty damn good.

Next up – figuring out how to sustainably redo our floors and how to revamp the packing container next to our house to create an extra room. I’ll keep you posted.