Sunday, April 15, 2012

Let’s Talk About Antiques – Part the Third – Repurposing

In part one of our antique talk, we talked about how old an item needs to be an antique (100 years) and where to find them.  In part two, we talked about country of origin and various time periods that influenced the style of an antique.  Part one and two were rather academic (for which I apologize), so for part three, I decided we needed to have a little fun.  Drum roll please…today we are going to talk about repurposing.

What is repurposing? It is taking an existing item and using it in a different way than originally intended.  Does an item need to be an antique to repurposed? Absolutely not.  I’ve seen old t-shirts turned into shopping bags (awesome idea) and I have a friend who upcycles (fancy work for repurposes) jersey material into headbands and infinity scarves (and I totally recommend you check her out at

I think it can be a lot of fun to take an item that may be seen by some as junk and give it new life.  I personally find joy in preserving pieces of history and making the item usable at the same time.  Additionally, I come from sensible Midwestern stock.  We learn early on that you use and reuse items until they’re no longer useable.  My great grandmother crocheted various items for me as a child out of plastic bread bags. I have a hat, a purse, and a small rug.  Great Granny Creamer knew how to recycle before it was cool to do so.

You may be reading this and saying “Melissa, this is great, but I don’t have a creative bone in my body.  I need some visual aids to see what you are talking about!”  Never fear my friend, I’m getting to that.

A few weeks ago, I assisted my antique dealer with an estate sale.  One of the items at this sale was the top part of what used to be a drop front desk.  The bottom part of the desk had been removed a long time ago.  It had been painted or distressed at some point as well.  This desk top was super cute and unique.  I wanted to figure out a reason to bring it home with me.  However, I already had two drop front desks in my house.  How could I justify bringing another one home?  This is where my repurposing hamster got on her wheel and started to formulate a plan.  I may not have room for another desk, but I needed a new over-the-toilet storage item.  The “current” one I had was purchased when I got married in 1999 from Target. It was time to update!  And with that, I knew where this desk top would go.

Isn’t this super cute?  My repurposing didn’t end there!  You can’t just stick an old desk top on the wall and call it good.  You have to decorate it. In the spirit of repurposed decorating, it must be eye-catching and functional.  Enter an old milk bottle crate I had purchased a few months ago.  The crate was a nice little piece when I bought it; I just didn’t know exactly how I would use it.  Light bulb!  Roll up various colored wash cloths and use it to store them.  It’s beautiful and functional!

Another thing I love to do with repurposing is using salvaged moldings from older homes.  First, I have used one as a cornice (think old valance).

The next one I used as a shelf.  It makes an adorable shelf to display some family pictures and some old boots.

I hope today’s blog has inspired you to repurpose items.  Maybe you even have something lying around your house you are thinking about getting rid of (which would be doubly awesome since you already own it) that could be repurposed.  You just need to think outside the box and visualize all the possibilities for an item, not just the purpose it was intended for.  Happy repurposing!

Until tomorrow - Melissa

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