Awesome DIY Reuse Ideas

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Originally published on Design Sponge, this creation comes from comes from graphic designer Wade Keller, who updated the green pleather chair with new material. Photo: Design Sponge

The mantra reduce, reuse, recycle has been an effective phrase for years now, and companies like Terracycle have been successful following the model of reuse and reduction.

Operating under founder Tom Szaky’s belief that “there is no such thing as trash,” Terracycle has found innovative ways to reuse everything from computers to drink pouches.

With a creative eye and a bit of elbow grease, the endless possibilities that reuse offers can easily make their way into your home.

Finding a new purpose for items you already have not only reduces your overall environmental impact, but it also gives you a way to become a frugal and funky visionary. Each piece that you revamp from a thrift store or from your home has the potential to become a unique work of art filled with sentimental value.

Furniture is built to last

Not to mention that furniture is also incredibly expensive. But it’s amazing what a new coat of paint or finish can do to improve the look of a used desk or dresser. Head to any store that specializes in secondhand furniture, and you will quickly see that many of the best finds have already been in use for decades.

A sturdy piece of furniture is meant to last for years and to often be used by multiple households, so start your redecorating endeavors with a treasure hunt at a local thrift store. Here are some ideas to help turn your finds into fashion statements:

  • Free is the magic number! Start your search at places like the free section of Craigslist and the Freecycle Network. Also, let friends know that you are on the lookout for furniture in need of rehab.
  • Frames and mirrors can be painted to match your color scheme, or consider covering the original print with wallpaper or fabric for exactly the look you want.
  • Bookshelves, desks, tables and chairs can all be transformed with a new coat of paint. For a funkier option, consider sponging on paint or peeling or sanding off old layers of color. Remember to look for low-VOC or zero-VOC paints and finishes.
  • Embrace the magic of new fabric! You may not like the color of that couch, but if the couch is comfortable and well-made, a new fabric cover can create the perfect addition to your living room.

Hire an expert

If the idea of doing it yourself is just too overwhelming or time-consuming, ask around for recommendations of interior designers, artists and carpenters that use repurposed goods. Upcycling old furniture is beneficial for your budget and the planet, and many designers are starting to work with recycled building materials.

If you are contemplating a remodeling project, ask the builders and designers you are working with if they would be willing to source wood and other supplies from repurposed sources. Other designers, like Jennifer Schweikert, will “redecorate” your home by moving and revamping the possessions you already have.

Lesley Steinman made this jewelry box for her twin sister by threading copper wire through this copper storage box that she found at a thrift store and adding colorful flowered paper to the bottom for a feminine touch. Photo: Alexis Steinman

Fab fashion finds

A remodeling project can be a bit daunting, but you can find fashion throughout your entire home. When thinking about ways to revamp your closet, thrift and vintage stores are always a good first stop. There are now also designers such as Zachary’s Smile who work with reclaimed fabric.

The possibilities for reuse also extend far beyond the clothes closet and range from high-end and fabulous to affordable and chic. Sandhi Schimmel Gold creates mosaic artwork out of paper waste such as junk mail, photos and calendars.

At Greenpurse, customers can find bags and accessories made out of everything from jeans to plastic bags, and Ashley Watson crafts beautiful handbags and totes from reclaimed leather.

Schedule a consult with contractors

Even if you don’t consider yourself crafty or just aren’t sure where to begin, you can easily avoid an unwieldy experience with a little guidance. There are several blogs and Web sites devoted to ideas for revamping everything from your old vinyl records (it becomes a bowl here) to T-shirts:

  • Craftplace is an excellent first stop for those looking for inspiration. It is a clearinghouse for resources, blogs, ideas and even a discussion forum, which can double as a support group for the newly-minted reuser.
  • Cathe Holden writes the blog Just Something I Made and has many ideas for making everything from a custom baseball cap to a an old wallet converted into a vintage photo frame.
  • Craftster’s weekly “Keepin it Green” section highlights DIY projects that have a low environmental impact including how to turn a wine bottle into a lamp.
  • You can find repurposed remodeling ideas galore at Design Sponge.

Whether you come up with your own project or follow in the footsteps of a friend or blogger, with a little bit of interest and ingenuity, you are sure to create a low-impact treasure.

Read more from Libuse Binder at Weekly Way and Ten Ways.

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