Have you ever seen a beautiful home in a magazine and thought… I wish my house could look like that?
But the budget keeps getting in the way! Well, this is the story of my life. I love beautiful homes and interior design. But the reality of what I love are typically showcased in multi-million dollar homes that have been professionally designed and styled. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of these fortunate clients and their designer/builder teams. It really is incredible to see how a project can come together when you’re not constantly crunching numbers and “robbing Peter to pay Paul” when it comes to where you will spend your money. There are so many beautiful things that can be incorporated into any home but many of them come with a steep price tag.
My goal when designing my personal home (my mission… you could say) is to create spaces that deserve to be in one of those featured showcase homes but on a more “real life, actually have to worry about how to pay for everything” budget. Figuring how to create treasures from trash (or something someone no longer wants) is so much fun and you can get some great pieces for pennies on what the original price must have been.
A different kind of DIY…
So I definitely consider myself a DIY’er but I have a hard time with things that look like they were DIY. So the projects made out of paper plates and clothespins will not be on my feature list. But, I’ll be honest, I get a lot of satisfaction out of the reactions I get when someone asks me where I got a repurposed piece of furniture or accessory. When I tell them “the Habitat ReStore, a consignment shop, a yard sale, etc,” their jaw drops and then they start asking questions. I have had friends tell me that they’ve gone on shopping missions after we’ve talked, to the same exact places and they just turned right back around because it all looked like “junk” to them.
I get it… I promise. Like all design, you have to have a vision. This is so true when shopping in a consignment or thrift store environment. When I’m on a good thrifty search, I’ll typically have 3-4 different things in the back of my mind that I need. Because you never know what you’ll find on any given day, having a couple prospective projects makes it easier to search.
I’ve posted several times about how I’ve been able to utilize repurposed furniture to create some of these looks throughout my home. I think one of the easiest places to start is repurposed wood furniture. It is one of the most forgiving DIY projects, when it comes to an upscale look. Although I love the entire farmhouse trend that is happening right now (most of my house is shiplapped), I really didn’t want the “rustic” element that you see most often.
So when it comes to refinishing/painting old furniture I prefer to go with a higher gloss, more finished paint in place of the chalk paint/distressed option… (I have used it though). I think that a nicely painted solid piece of furniture with interesting hardware can be timeless as trends continue to change. AND… the beauty is you can always repaint it again and change the hardware over the years as you go.
My favorite finds.
Most of my best finds have been dressers and small tables that I have been able to repaint and replace or refinish the hardware and voila… brand new (to me) furniture. Currently, there is not one dresser in my home that has been purchased brand new in any of our rooms, no nightstands either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to buying new. I think it’s important on many items. For me, I really can’t see myself purchasing any upholstered items that I’d be comfortable putting in my home unless I knew who had them previously. So our sofas and upholstered chairs have been purchased new.
On that note though, I will consider leather. Because it is more durable and doesn’t absorb odors & stains like fabric I feel like I can get it clean enough. One of my best finds was a pair of leather club chairs that are currently in our living room. I have gotten more compliments on that set than anything else I’ve found. They actually came from the ReStore as a larger set from a hotel conference room. I went back to buy more but they had been wiped out in a day. *Note: If you find something you love… buy it then, it may not be there later!
I am also particularly proud of my beautifully stained coffee table. It was purchased it under the pretense that it was kind of ugly but sturdy. I also told the guys selling it that it was my birthday (it really was) so he sold it to me for $40! So I figured I could repaint the top, spray paint the base and put it in the kids playroom. Well, due to the high shine and 90’s look cherry stain on the top I decided to sand it… manually…yeah, seriously.
As you can guess, I didn’t get very far with that so a trip to the hardware store and an electric sander later, I had this beautiful patterned wood top. I went with a rich ebony stain, a poly top coat, and just left the solid brass base alone. I was so pleased with the final product that I decided to use it in our living room instead. It’s such a great staple piece of furniture and it’s substantial enough to hold it’s own in the room.
Oh yeah, I can’t forget about the $35 executive desk that now calls our house, home. I’m telling you what, it was so ugly my husband thought I was crazy. You can see the transformation here.
You can use repurposed furniture for new construction, updates, & remodels too!
When we were building our new home, I new I wanted a “furniture look” for our kids bath and guest bathroom. So I began hunting for pieces of furniture that I could use in place of a traditional bathroom vanity. By repainting them and adding new countertops, sinks, and faucets we were able to get a custom feel without spending the big bucks. And the even better news is that I know my home won’t look like any of my neighbors’ homes. If you are considering a bathroom project like this, you should check out the post on how to choose the perfect bathroom vanity here.
Bamboo… all of the bamboo…
You can search Pinterest, Instagram, designer magazines, and you’ll find in everywhere. The mid-century faux bamboo furniture is making its way back. From gorgeous high gloss lacquered finishes in bright colors to neutral understated pieces, finding a spot for faux bamboo is always high on my list. When I was searching for inspiration for my daughters room, I kept coming back to a pink bamboo dresser on Pinterest. Although I love the Palm Beach vibrant colors, I haven’t been able to incorporate them into my home designs just yet. I’ll have to work up the courage to commit.
However, I wanted to pull some of that feel in. So my hunt for the faux bamboo dresser led me to a consignment shop in Wilmington, NC where I purchased a Broyhill dresser & matching nightstand. I painted it white to match our trim color and you can see how her room came together here.
Fast forward 2 years and I was looking on Facebook Marketplace and saw a lady was selling a set … YES, A SET of Thomasville bamboo furniture for $100. After I collected myself and confirmed that she in fact meant all the pieces (dresser, nightstand, bookshelf, and desk) for only one hundred American dollars, I told her I would be there in the morning to pick it up. So I took the nightstand that matched my daughter’s dresser and the new dresser / nightstand pair, painted them all the same color, spray painted the hardware, and now I have a complete set for my guest bedroom.
Sometimes you get really lucky!
More bamboo here folks, bear with me. One of our local consignment shops can be hit or miss. I’ve found great stuff there like my daughters bed, and other times I walk in, make a lap and leave. Well the moment I spotted a pair of Kessler vintage cast aluminum TEAL chairs… I had to have them. They didn’t look like much then, but after a couple coats of gold spray paint and re-upholstered seats, they make me so happy!!! I am still on the hunt for more of these. If you can find a complete set of these chairs, I’ve seen them go for thousands. And to think I got my 2 for only $199 total!
Don’t be afraid to buy incomplete pieces…
So a nod to the set of chairs above, one day I will have a full set that I can use at a dining table. But the same idea rings true with other items as well. I found an awesome headboard/footboard set at the ReStore. It was a low poster bed with cool dental molding details. I knew it would be perfect for my son’s room. I wanted a room scaled for a child but not necessarily using children’s furniture. So for $90, that bad boy was headed home with me. Unfortunately it did not come with bed rails but I figured worst case, I could order some on-line.
WELL, who knew bed rails were like $150!!! Not me, that’s for sure. So instead of jumping the gun an just ordering them, I went to another ReStore in a neighboring town. Fortunately, they had several sets that were available and for $7, I walked with my bed rails. They didn’t match at all, but I knew I was going to paint the bed anyway so as long as they were the right size, I was good to go! I decided to go with a high gloss black paint for the bed and the dresser (that had been previously painted aqua for his nursery). It turned out super cute and perfect for a little boy room with a grown up feel.
Unexpected ways create treasures from trash?!
Keep in mind, I’m using the term trash loosely here… but seriously somebody donated this stuff. If they hadn’t, I’m sure it would have ended up on the curb or at the dump. If you guys have hung with me this long, great… I’m just getting to the good stuff. These are the secret tips that most people aren’t talking about. The accessories! Well, let me tell you… if you know what to look for, you can score big. So I’m letting you in on some of my favorite little finds while treasure hunting.
Hardback books – Go to any thrift / ReStore and you’ll find shelves and shelves of unwanted books and they’re usually charging some crazy price like $0.25 or similar. Well, look for the hardback books with the dust covers. Usually under that beat up cover is a beautifully bound and probably well kept book underneath. The good news is, it doesn’t really matter what it’s about because the content specific images are on that dust jacket, what’s left is just a simple binding with print letters typically in white, gold, silver, or black. These are so great for filling bookshelves, creating vignettes, coffee tables, etc. You can see some of the small spaces we’ve used repurposed books here.
Lamps – Again, you will find shelves and shelves of sad looking lamps with their missing or yellowing shades just begging for an update. Most places will note if they’ve been tested and are in working condition. I don’t even bother if they don’t work since that is not my specialty. But if they are functional, you just need to grab some spray paint and have a little fun. If the lamp is metal, you can go with any of the metallic finishes and turn an old brass lamp into a cool chrome fixture or a rustic oil rubbed bronze option. Go to any home decor, hobby/craft, or even super center and grab a new lamp shade and you’re good to go.
Frames – I love artwork. I hate to pay for artwork. Granted my grandmother was a very talented professional artist so I’d love to think I have just a hint of that in my blood. Regardless of the general consensus, I do love to paint and I enjoy using these paintings as decor in our home. Do you guys know how expensive nice frames are? Especially for large artwork!? Well at my local ReStore, I know they are desperate to move some of their artwork because it is so taste specific (and typically people get rid of it because … it’s UGLY).
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the frame is. Again, because nobody except me seems to want to buy art from them, they will pretty much let me have them for nothing. I think the most I’ve paid for a big piece of art has been $15. Then I just measure it, buy a canvas the same size and boom… custom art!
Whew, well I’m sure I left some goodies out but there will be more to come!
Do you have any cool repurposed items that you’ve incorporated into your design? If so, I’d love to see them. Like I always say, I can find inspiration anywhere and your great ideas will just lead to more great ideas for everyone else. So please share!
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