Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse

Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse Wallauers

Use the 3 Rs to become a more resourceful decorator while also saving money.

By Diane Franklin

Thinking of tossing an old table into the bin? Ready to donate the crib your toddler has outgrown to the Goodwill? Planning on tearing out old cabinets and countertops and replacing them with new?

Before you do any of those things, first consider trying the 3 Rs—recycle, repurpose and reuse. By making use of items you might otherwise throw away, you could save substantial dollars while also helping to save the environment. Read on for several suggestions on how to put the 3 Rs into action in your household.

Recycle Old Furniture

When furniture begins to show its age, your first inclination may be to discard it in favor of something new. Don’t be too hasty. With a little creativity and the right paint supplies, you can take an old table, chair, dresser or wardrobe and make it look like new.

Perhaps you’ve shied away from repainting a piece of old furniture because you don’t want to go to the trouble of stripping off an old finish. Good news—in most cases, you don’t have to! If the original coating is fairly sound—i.e., no peeling or cracking—you can cover up an old finish by sanding down the glossy finish, priming, sanding again and then painting with your desired top coat.

If the existing finish is peeling or cracking, you may need to use a paint stripper to get it down to its unfinished state. If so, there are plenty of eco-friendly choices out there that are non-caustic and don’t have harmful fumes.

How you finish your furniture is entirely up to you. You can use standard latex paint, high-gloss enamel or even create a decorative finish by mixing paint with glaze. Sponged or ragged effects can give a worn dresser a whole new look. There are plenty of tutorials online that will show you how.

Chalk paint is another great way to give new life to old finishes. This type of paint comes in a wide variety of colors. Finish with a chalk paint wax to give your furniture piece a rich and vibrant glow.

Repurpose Household Items

If a household item or furniture piece has outlived its usefulness in its original form, consider repurposing it. Here are a few ideas…

  • A wooden ladder can become a bookshelf.
  • A straightback chair can be transformed into a planter.
  • An old door can achieve new direction as a headboard or a desktop.
  • A baby’s crib can become the back and sides of a bench.
  • An armoire can have a second life as a kitchen pantry.
  • A dresser can be topped with a butcher block counter to become a kitchen island.

The key to these transformations is choosing the right paint color to suit the particular piece you are repurposing. For instance, in the case of the chair planter, consider a vibrant color, such as marigold yellow or lime green, to complement your chosen floral array. A repurposed crib may just need a new coat of white paint to match the seat of the bench.

Your repurposed kitchen pieces should, of course, complement the rest of the colors in the room. They’ll look especially nice in a French country or Scandinavian style, where clean greens, blues and yellows are decidedly on-trend.

Reuse Cabinets and Countertops

If you are planning a kitchen renovation, tearing out the old cabinets and countertops can be extremely wasteful—and expensive. Instead of doing a tear-out, consider using cabinet or countertop transformation kits, sold at many paint stores, which will allow you to update the kitchen at a fraction of the cost of a new installation. The kits, which come in a variety of colors, have step-by-step instructions to make the job easy. Once the color transformation is complete, upgrade your hardware to complete the look.

But let’s say you have your heart set on new cabinets and countertops. If that’s the case, you can still make use of your previous cabinets and countertops. Consider installing the cabinets in your basement or garage for extra storage. If you want to change the look, you can still repaint them. You can potentially make use of the countertops in the basement or garage as well. Use them to create that wet bar you always dreamed of or to make durable surfaces in your workshop area.

Being resourceful is the key to green decorating. Instead of instinctively deciding to throw away what is old or worn, make it your mission to be mindful of the 3 Rs for whatever decorating project you are considering.

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