Tips for Decorating with Repurposed Items
For interior designers, the answer to the question, “How often should I decorate the rooms in my house?” is pretty straightforward. Most suggest a full refresh at least once a decade, if not twice during a 10-year span. Yet many homeowners are reluctant to go out and buy everything new. What they might not realize is that decorating with repurposed items can be a more frugal, practical way to spruce up any space.
In fact, decorating with repurposed items isn’t just something that’s nice to do. For one business in Colton, South Dakota, helping patrons understand the ins and outs of decorating with repurposed items is how they’re earning an income. The store owners opened their doors for Small Business Saturday 2020, the shopping date sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Their whole store is filled with upcycled and recycled gems and treasures, just waiting for customers interested in decorating with repurposed items.
Of course, you don’t have to move to South Dakota or even visit “Dust to Dawn,” the aforementioned homegrown retailer if decorating with repurposed items is your style. You simply have to use your creativity to give new life to older items that you might not have realized could have a second go-round as decorative pieces in your house or apartment.
Would you like to redecorate your home on a budget? Are you interested in learning more about decorating with repurposed items? Your first step is to find or purchase some exciting objects. From that point, you can deck out every room with spectacular, new-to-you stuff that adds a fresh veneer of charm, classicism, and maybe a touch of modernity to your “home sweet home.”
Shopping Small and Repurposing Old Items in Your Own Home
“Where on earth can I find things so I can get started with decorating with repurposed items?” It’s a good question. If you’re planning to get out your wallet, consider stopping by antique stores, consignment shops, and other venues that are nearby. It might be nice if you focused on purchasing from entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, such as visiting minority or women owned small businesses in your neighborhood.
What are you looking for? To be perfectly honest, anything that catches your eye. One of the best aspects of decorating with repurposed items is that there really aren’t any rules to follow. Usually, decorating with repurposed items involves seeing what inspires you. For instance, you may see an old, large clawfoot bathtub being sold at an antique warehouse. To most people, the bathtub might seem outdated and ready for the junk heap. But if you have a vision, you might see it as a potential loveseat or flower garden decoration.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to have a guiding theme for a room. However, you don’t necessarily want to limit yourself by strictly adhering to a specific type of decor. Part of the fun of decorating with repurposed items is that you’ll end up with rooms designed like no others in the universe. And that’s pretty exciting, particularly if you’re pretty imaginative.
What happens if you’re low on cash but you are bent on decorating with repurposed items anyway? You may be able to find more than you think for free. To begin with, scour your house looking for everything from old chairs to hang on the wall as shelves, or used wrenches that you could bend and attach to a door as clothing hooks. Try to look at everything in a different way rather than seeing it as it’s been used before.
This isn’t to suggest that looking at stuff with fresh eyes is easy for everyone. You’ll probably have to be patient with yourself. You may also want to look around the Internet to see how other people who believe in decorating with repurposed items have turned regular objects into extraordinary decor and furnishings.
As a final note regarding saving money as you’re decorating with repurposed items, be sure to check out things your community members and friends are giving away for free. You’d be amazed at all the free items that folks would practically pay you to haul out of their homes or off their yards! You can really get a steal on plenty of eclectic furniture and more. Never say never: Your next big find could be in the pile outside your neighbor’s house on garbage day!
Once you’ve amassed a fairly decent haul of objects, you’re ready to begin giving each room a facelift. Below, you’ll see different rooms that are found in most people’s homes. Use the ideas listed for each one to inform your decorating solutions. Just remember that you’ll want to be bold. You don’t have to think subtly or put too many limits on your imagination. The more “out there” your dreams, the cooler the outcome is likely to be.
Let’s start with the kitchen because, quite frankly, it’s probably one of the most-used spaces in your house. What does that mean? Generally speaking, it gets tons of wear and tear. This means that kitchens get worn out fairly rapidly. They also start to look dated fast, often in just a few years.
A good way to revive your overall kitchen before decorating with repurposed items is to give it a complete once-over with paint. Liven up the kitchen with a vibrant paint color, or tone it down with soft neutrals. Whatever hues you select should make you feel good whenever you walk into the room to prepare or eat a meal.
What are some ways to decorate with items? Consider adding kitchen cabinets that weren’t originally cabinets at all! For example, you could hang old wooden drawers from a desk on the wall to use as open cabinets to display some fun and funky plates or glasses. Or, you might try to make a one-of-a-kind chandelier from empty wine bottles above a repurposed, newly varnished old farm table. Just make sure if you’re adding any kind of electrical elements that you’re not violating any regulations laid out by fire sprinkler contractors or, if you’re renting, your landlord or property manager.
While you’re upgrading the kitchen, you may want to add to your utensils, cookware, and more by purchasing mismatched plates, dishes, and other things at garage sales or online. Just make sure that whatever you buy safely can either go in the dishwasher or be washed by hand. Always be careful about purchasing and using any vintage cutlery or plates that may contain lead. If you find a gorgeous plate and suspect it may contain trace elements of something you’d rather not have near your food, use the plate as a wall art piece instead of a functional kitchen or dining room object.
The Living Room
In addition to the kitchen, you’re bound to spend lots of time in your living room. Be honest: When was the last time you gave it a complete spring, summer, winter, or fall decorating makeover? Has it been quite a while? Now could be the perfect time to add seasonal or long-lasting touches by decorating with repurposed items.
As mentioned earlier, some people like to completely revitalize their living spaces by adding furniture made out of upcycled items like old bathtubs or hollowed-out upright pianos. How far you want to take your decorating with repurposed items is really up to you. Unless you’re pretty confident that you can create a comfy place to lounge or rest, you may want to stick with traditional furniture and use unusual pieces as visual accents.
An exception to this rule might be if you have always wanted a fireplace for your living room, but couldn’t install a chimney. An electric or gas fireplace could be a nice touch. And you could upcycle or recycle tons of objects to turn them into mantels. Maybe you found a single, gorgeous twin headboard and fell in love with it. Could the headboard be restored and repurposed to be used as a mantel? You never know until you think outside the box!
Another mantel idea could be to create your own out of wooden beams salvaged from an older home or barn. As long as the beams haven’t been ravaged by time or insects, you can securely bring them into your house to pull together a mantel look. You don’t have to have many tools or much experience to construct a unique mantel that will get you plenty of likes on social media!
The Master Bedroom
You may spend quite a bit of your time in your master bedroom asleep. However, don’t let that stop you from turning the space into a paradise. You deserve to feel like your master bedroom is a refuge from everyday life. And that’s where decorating with repurposed items comes into the picture.
Again, you probably won’t want to repurpose unusual items to make your bed, simply because you’ll want to be sure that you have a firm place to sleep. Nevertheless, you can easily decorate the rest of your bedroom in whimsical ways. Start with a trip to an antique jewelry store, or any place where you can snag some retro costume-style jewelry.
What can you do with jewelry like necklaces, brooches, hat pins, old-fashioned earrings, bracelets, and cocktail rings? With a little imagination, you can do plenty. Jewelry can be hung from the wall just like artwork to display its beauty. Or, you may want to decorate a large, plain mirror frame with jewelry pieces or gemstones taken from jewelry.
Want some new pictures for your bedroom walls? Think of a motif, such as trees. Then, purchase some plain canvases and older jewelry. Create interesting tree designs for each canvas, and glue jewelry on the canvas to construct your “trees.” This type of project isn’t just visually satisfying; it can also be extremely relaxing. Plus, you’ll get to show off your artwork when it’s all said and done.
The First-Floor Addition
Maybe you’ve thought about adding a home addition. Many families do. Whether you want your home addition to be an all-purpose place where your whole household can gather for entertainment and conversation, or you have a specific need for the room, like a home office, you’ll want to engage in some decorating with repurposed items.
A few recommendations for a first-floor addition that’s going to be a catch-all type of room could be to turn something like a retro sewing machine table into a mini-buffet. Pair it up with a small fridge and you have a great snacking station, especially if your first-floor addition will serve as a game or TV room.
Are you dying to have more places for people to sit in your addition, but aren’t sure you want to head to the furniture store? Outdoor furniture can easily be repainted and repaired, and then used for indoor purposes. Don’t forget that other furnishings, like pianos that will never play again, can be turned into everything from bookshelves to console storage units to desks.
No one ever said that your bathrooms would be immune from decorating with repurposed items. Consider the vanity, for one. Many homeowners have discovered that sinks can be dropped into just about any type of furniture. Therefore, if you have anything from an old rolling server cart to a solid kids’ dresser drawer, you can turn it into a sink-vanity combo that no one else will have.
Another good project for decorating with repurposed items in the bath is to build a bathroom bench. Your bench can be made from anything you like, even old skateboards secured together. Your bench can be a place to store all sorts of bath items from hygiene products to paper goods to toiletries in wicker baskets.
Could your basement space use a dash of contemporary design help? Whether you use your space as a basement family room, or as a gym for an intense workout several times a week, continue your repurposing magic downstairs. For instance, if you’re very intrepid, you may want to turn old pieces of wood, halved rubber balls, and other objects into handholds for a lower level climbing and bouldering wall.
If you’re just looking to rev up your basement area as a place for better storage, remember that ladders can make great bookshelves. The top of a baby grand piano can be hung against a large wall to serve as a place to hold everything from documents to vases.
Above all else, let your mind go wild as you dive headlong into decorating with repurposed items. You don’t have to spend a million bucks to feel like you’re living in the luxurious, contemporary, or vintage place of your dreams.