By Howard Eason, owner of HE Designs, LLC
Growing up in a small town, I had big interests in finding ways to repurpose or reuse discarded items to transform them into something interesting and outside of their traditional purpose. I recall being really inspired by one of my siblings who reused draperies as the fabric to reupholster furniture in our home. One of my favorite transformations was when she used the shell of floor model television and repurposed it by making a curio display cabinet.
As an interior designer, I believe that design is about transformation. Design transformation does not only mean changing the form, shape or appearance of something, but it also means to change the feeling, purpose, and use of something. We now live in an era where being economically responsible is important. Making the decision to become more eco-friendly is now a driving factor for designers, developers, and architects. Designing your home does not have to break your bank in order to create an exciting and impressive look. You just may have everything that you need right in your home.
The concept of reuse and repurpose is a benefit in design in many ways. As a designer, my motivation for reuse and repurpose is to ultimately create a fresh new look for your space. Designers often use the concepts of reuse and repurpose for design not only to save costs on projects but also to reintroduce design elements that maintain the integrity and familiarity of the space. The purpose of reusing items is to develop a totally new use for the item outside of its intended or expected use. The same goes for repurposing items where items are reintroduced outside of their intended purpose. During the design planning stage, it is important that I consider elements which my clients have previously chosen. This helps to show off the owner’s authentic style in a new way. The best way to determine which elements to reintroduce to your space is to choose items which have great structure, interest, and/or texture. Let’s begin with some ideas on how to reuse items in your design projects. Items such as books, draperies, and glassware are examples of simple items that can be reused as a base to transform for more decorative uses. Here are a few tips to help you discover new uses for traditional design items.
Reusing hardcover books as accessories is an easy and inexpensive way to add to your home’s décor. For a complete transformation, paint or re-cover the exterior of your books. This will add uniformity and present the books more like a collection. To create an even more elegant look, use metallic spray paint to cover the edges of the pages. This transformative look is a simple way to add additional pattern and pops of color to your shelves. Books can also help to bring additional visual height when used vertically and length when added horizontally. One other tip is to use books to help elevate smaller decorative items and to emphasize your prized collections.
Adding draperies to a room will add personality and a sense of formality to a room depending on the texture, color, and print. They also can be a timeless addition to a room, but in many cases, draperies provide a perfect opportunity to update your room’s décor. My tip is not to quickly discard the drapes once you have selected another window treatment alternative. Draperies provide a large square footage of fabric with can be reused for other design projects. Reuse drapery fabric to create new pillow covers to transform seating or bedding. Heavier drapery fabrics can be used to reupholster dining chair seats. Drapery panels cut and sewn lengthwise can make a great custom table runner.
Glassware is also a great reusable item because it is found in so many varying shapes and sizes. The most reusable glassware items are the ones that can be used as vessels to hold or store other items. Clear glassware is flexible for any space because of its classic appearance and easy
to blend capability. A great way to reuse barware glasses such as wine, cocktail, and beer is to add a votive or tea light candles to each and collage them to create a simmering centerpiece for your dining table. This can be done on large or small scale depending on how dramatic the display. Another tip to creating a total transformation of your glassware is to paint them in a metallic finish. Incorporating metallic finishes is the new design trend and glassware makes it simple, easy, and inexpensive to achieve. Consider also using metallic paint finishes on bottles and glass canisters with interesting shapes. This creates interesting vessels as accessories and floral arrangements.
Repurposing items in design is a great way to think outside the box and to break the rules of typical design aesthetics. Adding repurposed items to your home can add elements which make your home more interesting, unique, and eclectic. Two items I like to repurpose are furniture and flooring. Here are a few tips to help you find a new purpose for traditional design items.
Wood furniture is usually made to be durable and built to last; however, there are times when the look of the furniture becomes outdated and less appealing to your style. At that point, it is
recognized that it is time for an update. Completely replacing the furniture becomes the big topic of discussion when planning the next phase of design rehabilitation, but replacements can sometimes be cost-prohibitive. Achieving an updated designer look does not have to blow your budget.
One way to repurpose your furniture is to consider using your furniture in a nontraditional way. For example, consider moving furniture that has adequate storage such as dressers, night stands, and cabinets into unexpected areas. Horizontal dressers make great television stands and add additional storage for DVDs, game consoles, and media equipment, while a vertical dresser creates secure storage for special occasion dinnerware, utensils, table linens, and collectible items. My tip for a total transformation is to repurpose lower kitchen cabinets to create a kitchen island, paint the cabinets in a fun or complimentary color, and change the knobs for an updated look. Cabinets can also be repurposed for additional garage storage.
Natural and stained wood will add warmth to any space. Wood accents have become a major focus for today’s design trends. Not only is wood used as flooring, but is also repurposed as a strong design feature on other surfaces. My tip for repurposing wood and laminate flooring is to create a focal point by adding the wood to your walls or ceilings. For a greater transformation consider repurposing wood as a back drop in your built-in bookcases or wrapping wood around your kitchen island. The more interesting the wood grain or pattern the greater the impact.
Reuse and repurpose are two great design techniques that will help make a unique statement in your home design. With just a little time and creative thought, your space can be transformed into a unique, trend setting, and style-driven oasis.
Howard Eason, a self-taught Interior and Creative Designer, was featured as a cast member on the second season of HGTV’s All American Handyman and became one of 20 contestants on the show to compete in weekly timed elimination challenges. He successfully made it through to the top 12 on the All American Handyman series. Eason launched his company, HE Designs, LLC, as a full-time focus in 2011.