Reuse And Renew

By Cindy Cafferty

January 2, 2009 5 min read


Working with what you have can create a beautiful atmosphere

Cindy Cafferty

Creators News Service

Whether your motive is to save money or save the earth, recycling, reusing and refurbishing what you already own are all affordable and creative ways to beautify your home and feel good doing it.

"The concept behind 'FreeStyle' was all about having style for free and leaving what you have in your house," said Taniya Nayak, a designer for the HGTV show "Designed to Sell," but started her career on the channel with the show "FreeStyle."

"One thing that happens a lot is that people have an excess of furniture in other parts of the house that can be moved around," she said. "A bench from the bedroom, for example, can be transformed to a table for another room."

Nayak suggested a couple of tricks for discovering items that can be refurbished or used in other ways to update your home.

"Opening your eyes and revisiting your spaces or taking digital photographs of spaces and items in your home is a good way to get started," she said. By seeing items individually in a photograph or looking at furniture with the intent to repurpose it for something else, you can take that piece out of the context you're accustomed or get a clearer idea on how to change it in the space it's in.

Jennae Petersen, chief blogger for Green Your Décor (, agreed that a fresh look goes a long way and advised enlisting the help of friends. It can expand your vision and maybe even bring some "new items" into your space.

"Friends can offer a new perspective to what you already own," said Petersen, "or they can bring things they own over and you can trade items, if need be. It's cheaper and better for the environment to make use of what's already there than to go out and buy something new."

So now that it's out with the new and in with old, how do you bring a new look to the same old stuff?

The quickest, easiest and cheapest way to update your décor is to move furniture from one room to another or to change the use of an item from one purpose to another. A lamp that may go unnoticed in the living room may actually be a perfect accent piece for a bedroom. That area rug in the bedroom could be way to add texture or color to a living room.

With a little creativity, a couple of tools and some light work, furniture and other items can be revamped and repurposed to update décor or change it all together.

Nayak and Petersen offered similar tips, projects and ideas to update your home:

Repurpose an old closet door into a headboard for the bed, a multipurpose project table or a huge desktop. Closet doors turned on their side and mounted to a wall make a unique headboard for a king size bed. An unbeveled door can be made into a desktop or project table by placing two bookshelves beneath it, and can be painted or stained for added flair.

Area rugs, ceramic plates and even placemats or ceramic tiles can be made into intricate and unique wall hangings with some double sided tape, iron on seams and a little ingenuity.

Twenty-inch-size carpet tiles arranged and mounted with a light adhesive backing are another alternative to buying a headboard for the bed.

Refurbish a coffee table with contact paper -- usually used to line shelves -- to add texture and color to a living room, or turn a coffee table into an eco-friendly bench with soy-based foam cut to size; wrap fabric over the top and staple underneath.

Many liners come in metallic colors now and can used to transform a plain white refrigerator into a stainless steel vision.

Pillowcases can be used to refurbish dining room chairs -- place over the seat back and tie a ribbon at the base to polish the look.

These are but a few ways to take what you already own and create brand new pieces without spending much money or exacting a toll on the environment.

Nayak has a host of other ideas on where, in webisodes, she guides viewers on how to make updates for $100 or less, and Petersen offers daily posts on reusing your possessions for eco-friendly updates on her website.

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