Gone are the terms cheapskate, tight-wad, frugal-fanny. These days it’s frugalista this, budget savvy that. It’s chic I tell you and I am riding that bandwagon. Though I prefer the term resource economist, the principle is the same. Use what you already have and turn it into something you want. Repurpose. Restyle. Reuse.
Not only do you save money (!!!) but it also keeps perfectly usable items out the landfill. This may not seem like a big deal to some but seriously take a little trip out to your local landfill, I dare you. I have been about 12 times (yep, when you DIY you tend to frequent some less than reputable establishments).
This is my usual arc of emotion on a dump trip.
First: awe and amazement. “Look at all that stuff! Where does it come from? Can you believe they threw that out?”
Then: horror and disgust. “Look at all that stuff! Where is it all going to go? This is valuable land!”
On this (our third) whole house renovation project we are making a conscious effort to cut down on our waste. We understand that this method of renovating and decorating isn’t for everyone. Repurposing an item usually means that you have to:
- be creative about how to use a certain material
- be flexible in your design plans
- be okay with things that aren’t perfect. Some see beauty in imperfection, others don’t. It depends on your personality and priorities.
Here are some ways in which we repurposed items from around the house for our bathroom redo:
These glass knobs made me weak in the knees when I first spied them on all the doors in our cottage. However, when I first got stuck in the bedroom because the blasted knob refused to turn I realized they weren’t going to function in their current job (so sad). So I quickly came up with plan b...
We used four knobs in the bathroom to hang some decorative tiles.
These two were sprayed to match all the new door hardware then screwed into the new ball-catch french doors leading into the new master closet (more on that later!). The knobs are stationary - meaning they don’t turn - but they are still functional hardware. Those back plates also came off some of the old doors and were painted the same bronze color. They don’t actually match (one has a collar, the other doesn’t) but after getting the same treatment, they look like they have always been together.
This mirror was also given a new life:
Here it is above the fireplace when we first bought the house (and yes, the WHOLE house was teal - except for the kitchen, bathroom and office which were pink). We knew immediately that it would not stay in the living room but it was big and free and I needed one for the bathroom. So we used a glass/tile cutter to cut it down to the right size. This resulted in some very jagged edges but those were covered with new molding.
Because we matched the mirror frame to the molding around the window and door, it blends right in and sort of looks like another window (you can see the only window through the reflection). The drawback: it is built in so there will be no changing of minds or other equally fickle behavior (which I have been known to exhibit). It is also not perfect- there are a few black spots here and there due to its age-but I think that just adds to the character.
P.S. Just in case you have a few old knobs laying around, here is how we hung ours (this trick took the two of us and two guys at Ace to figure out so I thought I would spare you those wasted hours):
You just need a few items: two plastic hollow wall anchors, one double sided bolt, knob
Place one of the plastic anchors inside the hole of the knob making sure that the top sits flush (otherwise when you screw it into the wall, it will show). You may have to snip the end in order for it to fit. The other plastic anchor gets hammered into the wall (sorry no pic) where you want the knob to hang. Screw the bolt into the knob first, and then screw that into the anchor on the wall. Easy!