Re-use, Re-purpose, Re-Cycle
One man's garbage is another man's treasure. Not sure who coined the term but don't you find it true? How often do we toss something out because weâre tired of it and because we really donât know what else to do with it?
Iâve gone to garage sales with friends and watched them buy old battered wooden chairs and shake my head thinking âGod, what do they want with that old junkâ. And then staring in astonishment and with a little bit of envy at the stunning new chair or garden accessory they have and realizing that itâs that old chair which they recycled into something new.
Not everyone is creative or artistic enough to look at something old and see something new and for those who arenât, Iâm hoping the pictures and suggestions below will spark your creativity and get you seeing that old broken window or pair of wooden shutters in a new light!
I know I have to consciously make an effort to look at everything in a re-purposed way before tossing it out. But in keeping with the "green" spirit, I've discovered our local Habitat for Humanity re-use center and when I drop something off there, I feel good knowing that someone more creative than I will find a way to use an old treasure.
How to Books to Fire Up Your Imagination
A Little Taste of Yesteryear
It seems to be getting harder and harder to find those unique items at yard sales today. Great as a door stop or a decorative item on a fireplace mantle Antique irons, once everywhere are now in scarce supply. The same with old milk crates which look great sanded down and used on your table to hold napkins and condiments.
Re-cycling Architectural Elements
These are the real treasures . I love the old doors, windows and shutters and there's so many different ways use you can re-use them in your home.
Seen here is an oval window frame turned into a mirror and a pair of matching shutters which get a new life "au natural" on a fireplace mantle. This looks especially beautiful at Christmas surrounded by greenery and twinkling lights.
Old doors also make wonderful headboards or can be re-finished to become living room tables. Shutters can be hung on the wall on their own as works of art.
Recycled Hard Suitcases
Still plentiful at garage sales and flea markets, hard suitcases can be converted into pet beds, side tables or left open as a decorative display case for antiques and collectibles.
Even if the lining has been stained or ripped, an old piece of lace or embroidered fabric draped over the soiled area can be used. I love this one shown that's been converted to a pet bed. Notice the toys tucked into the suitcase pockets? What pet wouldn't love this?
Though a little harder to find, old steamship trunks are wonderful for storage or living room tables. Luckily, you can find reproductions of these if you like the look of recycled dÃ©cor.
Some people are young enough to not even know what this is! Long before CD's and MP3's and even tape cassettes for that matter were around, there were record players. You'd put the record on the turntable, drop the needle on the record and as it turned the music (LP) played. It takes a real visionary to turn a record player into a clock but it's certainly a one-of-a-kind item.
Many household items can be turned into clocks including family heirloom dinner plates, piece of slate, unusual driftwood shapes and ceramic floor tile. There are endless possibilities for recycled clocks. I've even seen very neat clocks made from the gears of a bicycle and even the tire rims.
Recycled Wine Barrel
Sometimes you can look at an item and it's a no brainer. Like this wine barrel. Anyone can picture it becoming a rain barrel. Or turned on it's side and made into a flower bed. But how many have the vision to see a vanity in a wine barrel? Only the very creative! What an absolutely awesome idea!
Old Doors with a New Purpose
A pair of stunning double doors painted and hung on the wall as art become a very unique dÃ©cor statement and the focal point of a room. Notice the great wooden box painted red and used as a coffee table. Both pieces blend beautifully into the room.
A Bit of This & That
As you can see by this picture of a piece designed by San Francisco studio owner, Thomas Wold, recycled art can be made from many forms. This piece and others like this are sold for high dollars in his studio and are definitely one-of-a-kind pieces and works of art. But if you look closely, you'll see many every day household items that he's used. Recycling at it's best !
Recognize this material? If you thought "pallet" you're right. A great idea using a pallet with a couple of boards taken out. This piece uses two pallets which have been sanded and stained, then hung on the wall for shelving. Pallets are a popular reuse item as they're strong, durable, can be stained easily and if used outdoors can stand up to the elements.
Take a couple of boards away from a pallet and you've got yourself a very unique wine shelf and wine glass holder which costs next to nothing to make and looks wonderful! Of course this one looks nice and worn and antiqued but easily done with a new one by leaving it out in the sun and rain for a bit.
Antique Tub Gets a New Look
Perhaps this example is not the most comfortable looking but certainly one of a kind! I personally would add a lot of puffy cushions on the back and the seating area to make it more comfy and I can just picture it being a wonderful spot to stretch out those legs and get into a good book. Somewhat like a soak in a tub!
Even a Barrel
There are some who have wonderful imaginations and think outside of the box when it comes to design and saving our planet. Those are the lucky ones. The rest of us have to steal their ideas but what fantastic ideas they have! Who would have thought to repurpose a barrel into a sofa? I love it!
Flea Market Finds
One item that always seems to be plentiful at yard sales and garage sales are old mismatched cutlery that can be recycled into so many things. I love this soup ladle that's been re-made into a candle holder. I've also seen many people make wind chimes out of forks and knives and bend cutlery into unique shapes like flowers.
Perfect for a Child's Room
You can find them at flea markets or maybe you've got some tucked in your attic. The yardstick gets a new life as a wall mounted coat rack.
Another great use for yardsticks? If you've got an old wooden desk or bureau and the top's not in the best condition, nail or glue yardsticks to the top of it.
Uses for Antique Hardware
There's so many things you can do with antique and modern hardware and with such a variety available from flea markets to your local Walmart you can make any recycled piece your very own one-of-a-kind piece. The example here shows antique hardware attached different sized wooden pieces. They almost look like the face of a drawer and would be great fun for a kid's room done in bright colors!
Who hasn't done something at one time with old crates? I remember stacking old Coca-Cola crates, one on top of each other and using them for shelving. Of course, those crates are worth a fortune now but you can still find old wooden crates at flea markets. With a little loving and sandpaper and a bit of stain they can still be recycled into shelving and tables just like this one. And if you can't find them, well I guess you could cheat and buy them at Ikea and just refinish them to make them old!
Display Your Catch of the Season!
When I saw this I thought it was so creative, especially for a summer cottage or fisherman's lodge! A great idea to display the "catch of the season"
A beautiful sun kissed piece of driftwood and antique drawer pulls get a new life and look fantastic as a necklace holder. Think of how many walks you've been on and perhaps seen an interesting piece of wood that you weren't quite sure what to do with. A jewelry holder? A clock? Depending on the shape and size of the wood, some pieces are so unusual and unique they can be a focal point on a mantle or a coffee table.
Re-Purposed Cutlery = Wall Sculpture
Now here's something that's readily available! No matter how many garage sales you go to, people are always trying to get rid of mismatched pieces of cutlery. I love this piece! It's so creative and I can also see the same idea done as a wall clock! It's hard to tell from the picture whether this is just a wall sculpture or if it's actually a mirror - but you could certainly do both!
Wash Tub Lighting
From the laundry room to the dining room ceiling, old wash tubs get a new life as lighting.
Doors Becomes a Table
The old doors, windows and even shutters had so much character. It doesn't really matter what type of home you have there's a door that will fit into your home decor. The nice thing about the older doors are that they were often hand carved and loving carved in fine detail. Definitely works of art!
Sculpture by Mati Karmin
Okay, maybe this is a stretch for us regular folks but I had to include a piece by the Estonian Sculptur Mati Karmin who's made this one-of-a-kind office desk from a piece of granite and recycled sea mines. It just goes to show you that if you have imagination almost anything can have a new life as something else!