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Do-it-Yourself Design

Apr 27, 2010 12:42PM, Published by Style, Categories: Home+Garden, In Print




I’ve seen it all...bicycle tires (spokes and all) twisted and curved into a gorgeous table; a vintage suitcase, opened, padded and legged to become the back and seat of a stylish chair; glasses beautifully strung together to create a dramatic, cascading glass chandelier.

The results of these inspired reinventions give old pieces of junk, from bottles to bowling pins, a second life. Not all of us have the time, skill or equipment to create a sofa out of a perfectly halved claw foot tub (though the challenge is tempting!), but there are plenty of simple ways to take stuff collecting dust in the corner of your garage and transform it into design pieces that would make Crate and Barrel envious.

Top Drawer to Top Shelf

If you have an outdated dresser or desk hanging out somewhere, or the means to procure one, those drawers have the potential to hang elsewhere...on your wall. Who needs an expensive shadow box to display items when a drawer will do the trick nicely? Simply remove the drawers and give them a good sanding, if necessary, and a fresh coat or two of paint. Find the right spot and use your preferred wall attachment for a sturdy fix. Note: you may need to remove the backing where the drawer slid into the original unit on some models to make it flush with the wall. Drawers can also stack nicely to create a bookcase-type structure, just be sure to secure them with a fastener to keep it steady.

Opening Doors

Given its size, sturdiness and shape, an old door – especially if it’s made from solid wood – offers many opportunities for reuse. My favorite door repurposing, and a fairly easy one to accomplish, transforms the unit into a table, be it tall or small. I think a small coffee table style works best, but you can really choose any leg length for a preferred height. I suggest sanding or removing the paint before attaching legs, especially if you plan to repaint or add a new stain, and remember to remove all hardware – knobs and hinges – unless you prefer to leave them on. Once you choose your four legs (many hardware stores have a variety of styles), drill in the proper hole (there should be a screw at the end of each leg) and secure into place. Make sure to measure leg placement carefully and evenly to properly balance the table. Now all it needs is the finishing touches of paint or a nice stain…and you’re ready to entertain!

Screen Test

Dressing screens make great headboards with little fuss to install. Simply place the screen flat against the wall and push the bed against it to keep in place. You can also hammer in a thin nail or two should it not rest completely flush with the wall. If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, you can paint or stretch fabric around the screen for a completely different look. Make sure the fabric is tight and use a staple gun to attach it to the back. I’ve seen the same technique also used with doors and door frames, just avoid glass, as it can be dangerous. Wide bookshelves also make nice headboards, providing spaces for books, clocks, lamps or whatever. In a reverse twist, wrought iron bed frames could find a second life in your garden. Push the legs into the dirt or lean up against a wall. Watch your tomatoes, bougainvillea and other plants and vines crawl up this nifty makeshift trellis!

So before you buy new, see what you can repurpose around your home. Old can become fresh and innovative in a creative and “green” way.


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