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Re-think, reinvent your old things
Cast-offs, heirlooms, consignment shop finds, even curbside treasures on trash day –they spice up home interiors, personalizing spaces like store-bought furniture seldom can.
With elbow grease, fresh paint or daring fabric, reinvented furniture can become unique accents and conversation starters.
Refurbishing a wooden chair or chest can mean taking bold, irreverent steps, especially if the piece might be considered antique.
Price Clarke never hesitates to break the rules at Prize’s, Art & Fun Furnishings, her shop in Eastville on the Eastern Shore.
“I just love color, and I think brown can be pretty boring,” Clarke said. “I don’t feel badly about painting something; I think it’s more fun to be surrounded by color. I’ll paint an old chair black and put a zebra print on it.”
She recently repurposed 1960s-era drapes she found at an estate sale. After washing the bright, orange and yellow print fabric, she used it to reupholster a Duncan Phyfe sofa she’d painted white.
The Neoclassic conversion wasn’t criminal – just creative.
“When you paint something, it’s amazing,” she said. “Especially when it’s a lighter color, you see the details so much more. You paint it and go, ‘Wow!, what a cool table!’ When you paint something that has claw feet, oh my gosh, you really notice it.”
Most often, she waves a magic paint brush over chairs.
“Chairs are probably the best things that are painted,” she said. “I’ve got maybe 100 painted chairs … . Say you have an outdoor picnic and have a long table and put all these colorful chairs around it. That says, ‘Party!’, right there.”
Besides the joy of reinventing old pieces that she says were better made than many new ones, she feels like she’s doing her part to be “green.”
“It doesn’t help the planet to buy new. We can repurpose what we already have,” Clarke said. “Just think of all the baby boomers. We are awash with stuff. Why would you buy anything new?”
Terri Marko agrees.
The interior decorator never hesitates to paint furniture and sells refurbished pieces at Vintage Wild Orchid: European Farmhouse Inspired Living, a shop near the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach where she is co-owner.
Vintage, even antique, to her is an invitation to reinvent.
“I’ve been in all those situations personally and professionally,” Marko said. “If it’s sentimental to you, and has been passed down to you, the person who passed it to you would want you to have it and keep it instead of saying, ‘This isn’t my style.’ So if there’s something you can do like paint it or repurpose it, you should. It’s about that person who had it – that energy – then it’s transformed into something personal to you.”
If doubt creeps in that a truly valuable antique may be ruined with a renovation, Marko advised asking an antiques expert before making changes.
The idea of attics stuffed full of frumpy things bothers her to the core.
“Repurpose the things you truly love in a way that makes them current and fit into your home,” Marko said.
“Most of my clients have a real problem: There are so many things that are passed down to them that don’t fit into their life anymore. Sometime it’s just time to pass it on. I love that. It means that someone else will give it life. When you have what you need, and you bring something else in and you have to put something in the attic, it’s a weight and a burden. Keep the special things. They come alive in your house.”
Before going to the trouble and expense of reupholstering or refinishing, make sure the piece is worth it and well-constructed.
Celebrate the discovery of a used piece of furniture by a respected manufacturer.
“There’s a market for used Ethan Allen furniture,” said Christie Doss, interior designer at Ethan Allen Design Center at Town Center, Virginia Beach. “People move into the area and what they had in one house may not necessarily fit in their new one.”
Look for maker’s names on previously owned furniture, she advised, pointing out that her expertise lies in the sale of new Ethan Allen pieces. The furniture company just launched its Express line of furniture and accessories, featuring more than 200 pieces that are offered in limited finishes and fabrics, which allow them to be pre-made and ready for quick delivery. Orders arrive sometimes within days, as opposed to months, allowing the company to satisfy the demands of shoppers not excited by the prospect of long waits or of previously owned pieces.
But used furniture sleuths eager to flip pieces upside down in consignment shops to get a better look know that high-end manufacturers as well as makers with reputations for solid construction do label their furniture.
“When you’re buying good quality, … when you open a drawer, the inside of the drawer or on the back or bottom, it will say the manufacturer’s or maker’s name,” Doss said.
Search for a metal plate or the name burned into the wood itself. Upholstered pieces still in their original fabric will be marked by a label under the seat cushion.
Check tables and desks for sturdiness and legs that don’t wobble, Doss said. Look for dovetailing on drawers, pulling them out to check drawer backs, too. That’s where makers of cheaper furniture will use staples instead.
Some clues to quality are universal, no matter what the brand.
“The main thing I check for is the frame construction and the springs,” said upholsterer Tony Fairchild. His Virginia Beach shop, Fairchild’s Upholstery, has transformed chairs and sofas for nearly 40 years, putting new twists on old things. “If it’s not shaky, it’s probably a pretty good frame.”
Next, look and feel under an upholstered piece, he advised, to see if the springs are webbing-supported coil springs or flat.
“Coil springs are good,” he said. “They cost more to put in. So if they’ve gone to that effort, it’s a better piece of furniture. The S-shaped, curlicue kind are not so good.”
New fabric for a well-constructed, well-loved sofa or chair can cost less than throwing the piece out and starting over, Fairchild said.
Another advantage to reupholstering an antique chair or sofa is having the chance to soften up the “sit” of an old piece.
“The stuff from your grandmother can have horsehair or wood wool in it,” Fairchild said. “If it’s still in good shape, you can just build it up. Nowadays we use foam and Dacron. It’s actually a little more comfortable. The older stuff didn’t have much ‘give’ to it.”
Do-it-yourself and reinventing still unappealing? No problem. Individuality can be purchased direct.
The urge for something new, something different, for something nobody else has is so popular that stores such as Haynes Furniture are stocking buys that conjure an element of surprise.
The company is banking on the idea that people want to create personality for their homes that sets them apart from friends and acquaintances and gives them something to talk about when visitors stop in.
To that end, Haynes launched a special lifestyle area in its four Virginia stores, calling it the “Other Side of Haynes.” The collections target shoppers with niche interests that range from modern farmhouse to urban loft to a little bit Western. The hub of this wheel is a category dubbed “The Emporium,” a mini-bazaar where one-of-a-kind pieces to fit any setting are stacked up flea market-style.
“These are antique reproductions, pieces from all over the world. We look at it as a treasure hunt and treat it like a treasure hunt. People are more eclectic these days and don’t want to be all matchy-matchy,” said Randi Strelitz, the Haynes executive vice president involved in the project.
The predominantly all-wood furniture pieces come from as far away as India, as close as Mexico, and includes accent tables, ottomans, Bombay chests, commodes and armoires. Some are specially crafted for the store, such as doors from an old home used to make a bookcase, some are reproductions of antiques.
“One-of-a-kind” is both a description of these pieces and a warning very familiar to the slow-thinking curbside cruiser or consignment shopper looking for second-hand.
“When it’s gone, it’s gone,” Strelitz said.
Check online for cheap crates or even your local supermarket (they may have some old crates as giveaways.)
10 Common Thrift Store Finds That Work Great for DIY Projects
Artwork: If you’re thinking of hanging a wall of clustered artwork, thrift shops are a great place to build a cheap, out-of-the-ordinary collection. Or add some subtle changes to a cheap piece of art to really make it yours: 5 Ways to Update Thrift Store Art.
Shelves and Secretaries: Storage pieces are always useful around the house. Clean up shelves with paint or wallpaper. Although old-fashioned, secretaries are really useful pieces that can easily transform into a home office, bar, or linen closet.
Sweaters and Blankets: Have these dry-cleaned, and then use them to add some coziness to your home by reupholstering a chair seat or covering a footstool.
Trunks, Suitcases, and File Cabinets: Industrial trunks and storage pieces or vintage suitcases are easy to find at flea markets and thrift shops. Clean them up and use them as occasional tables.
Dining Chairs: Whether you’re looking for a whole set or a single side chair, dining chairs are always waiting to be scooped up at second-hand shops. If your chair needs a little love, try painting it, reupholstering a seat, or staining it.
Dining Tables: Simple thrift store tables can be used for kitchens, dining rooms, or repurposed as a desk. If the table is scuffed or needs some DIY love, try restyling it with paint, fabric, or even just a tablecloth.
Lamps: Sometimes all a lamp needs is a new shade and a good cleaning to make it brand new. If you find a broken lamp at a thrift store, you can always try rewiring it.
Rocking Chairs: We can’t tell you how many Thonet rocking chairs we’ve found at thrift shops around the $30 mark, usually in excellent condition. Rockers are great for a child’s room, a porch, or even a corner that needs a big piece. If your chair is a little dull, try painting it.
Fabric: If you’ve got basic sewing skills, thrift stores are the perfect place to look for fabric scraps to use for pillows, napkins, tablecloths, curtains, and any other project that could use a stash of mismatched prints. Just make sure to wash your fabrics before using them.
Replace wrapped vinyl on old lawn chair.
Rewire a lamp
Barn Find 1947 Cadillac
Artist transforms scrap metal into incredible lifelike creatures.
Wicker Furniture Repair
How to Re-Cover a Lampshade
How to Upholster a Chair Seat
Old Dresser repainted with and a change of a few knobs.
How to Recycle Household Items for Handmade Ornaments.
Old Tractor Refurbished
Redesigned cabinet with white paint, black pulls and flower design.
Redesigning teens bedroom. The fun part is finding old furniture and reinventing it.
Vintage Suitcase desk!
Old Cabinet Door.
Another table top door.
Dinning room table made from old door.
Simple Children Room Reinvented
Room Redesigned for Twin Babies
Don’t throw it away reinvent it.
Mirror off of a dresser.
When it comes to re-purposing old stuff, there endless ideas to reinvent an item and give it a new purpose
Vintage Sewing Machine furniture
Old TV’s made into book holders.
Old Chairs painted and made into swings
Old Rocking Chair Refinished
Old Chair Re-invented
Repurpose old door – Picture frame
Magazine Bowl a great way to recycle your old magazines into a useful item…no directions but a balloon would be a great base with a final coat of Mod Podge
Wine bottles made into outdoor lightening.
Richard’s Trunks: Creative Vintage Furniture Made Out of Old Trunks
Childs Desk – Idea from All Things Thrifty
Old cabinet & shelves re-painted
23 Creative Ways To Reuse Old Plastic Bottles
DIY recycling projects are always cool, especially when you can turn your trash into something new and useful. We’ve written posts about ways to recycle before, but it turns out there’s so much that you can do with recycle plastic bottles that they deserved their own post.
The PET plastic that most plastic beverage bottles are made of is a fairly useful material – it’s resilient, flexible, transparent and food safe. As such, there are probably countless applications for these bottles that will give them second lives. These 23 are a great place to start, but can you think of your own as well? Go to website above for more ideas on how you can reuse old plastic bottles.
El Anatsui, King Of Trash Art, Explores His Minimalist Side
In 1990, a man named El Anatsui was among the first batch of sub-Saharan Africans ever to present at the Venice Bienniale, the grand ball of the art world. By 2007, the Ghanaian artist was the beau of the very same ball, having transformed the end of the Bienniale’s main hall, the Arsenale, into a corridor of disorienting light, beamed off the sort of ingenious piece that would become his calling card: a suspended sheet woven of flattened liquor bottle caps.
Pot Rack for Planters
When your pot rack just doesn’t seem to suit the kitchen anymore, take it outdoors. Blogger Erin Lepperd revamped a hanging pot rack in her outdoor space by arranging potted plants, succulents and tea lights inside Mason jars. Suspended over her dining table, the new “chandelier” is whimsical, organic and perfect for alfresco entertaining. Source: HGTV
Refurbish old rustic chairs
Take the above chairs and reinvent them into the chairs you see below.
Refurbished Painted Furniture
Use Broken Pots As Garden Markers
Great ideas from http://diyncrafts.com
Check out their website for more ideas
If you have terra cotta pots that are a bit worse for wear, you don’t have to throw them out. You can use them to make gorgeous garden markers. This even works if you only have one pot that’s broken. Just take a few pieces and write the names of your flowers, herbs or veggies with magic marker so that it won’t come off or you could be really creative and paint the names on (you can create a bit of artwork on them as well). If you have several old pots that are not fit for planting, use them to label everything in your garden.
DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Hardlyhousewives
Breaking things is never fun and often means throwing out something before its time. You may have loads of broken tea cups, picture frames, furniture or other common household items that you
50 Most Exciting Tricks To Recycle Old Things