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Repurposed with purpose

February 09, 2012 | view archive


It seems like you can’t turn on a decorating show, open a home decor magazine or check out a design blog these days without hearing that seemingly all-encompassing buzzword: REPURPOSE.

You know we think that good pieces are worth preserving.  The finest antiques are best left untouched.  But, there is also a treasure trove of fun merchandise out there just waiting for you to give it a new identity.

Repurposing is an idea worth exploring.  It fits nicely with the whole waste-not-want not, Green ideology that is so 21st century.


These pretty English cups and saucers may not be your cup of tea. 

But, if  you are in the market for a unique  lamp, the answer might be right in front of you.  With a drill, some glue, a little wire and an amazing lampshade, you could turn those teacups into the cutest lamp in town. Take a look at what Mandi at Vintage Revivals did:

Repurpose vs. Reuse

Sometimes, the term “repurpose” can be used a little too liberally—I don’t really think putting a new coat of paint on an old dresser and using it as a sideboard is exactly repurposing, but it is a really great way to reuse something.

Turn that dresser into a bathroom vanity, though, and you’ve just repurposed!

The trick of repurposing is to turn an object into something that it wasn’t before.

Turning an old industrial cart into a day bed or adding giant casters to a palette, transforming it into a rolling coffee table worthy of the loftiest loft both are tried and true repurposing ideas.

Can you imagine the possibilities with this large industrial rolling cart sold at Antique Helper in October, 2011?

What about  this nice Empire sofa?  You could always reupholster, but that would be oh so pedestrian and certainly not in the spirit of repurposing.  

In the end, you'd still have just a sofa. 

Now, if you were to convert that sofa into porch swing, you’d be in the repurposing business. 

That’s just what happened at Three O’Clock Winds, and we bet you could do it, too.  Take a look:


What would you do with an awesome trunk like this?

Using vintage luggage as end tables is a long-standing repurpose tradition. But, you may not have thought of turning a suitcase into a chair, or adding legs and converting it into a tall side table. That’s the sort of cool stuff that the folks at Recreate are doing, and I think it’s downright inspiring.

Have a peek at their website to witness the wonderful products that can come from old suitcases and a little imagination:


It goes without saying that our own crew at Antique Helper has some tricks up their sleeves, too.

We think Lisa Ripley wins the prize for the coolest piece of repurposed jewelry when she turned heads by wearing the noisiest charm bracelet ever at a recent auction. This wasn’t just any charm bracelet— it was created from Indy 500 pit badges from the personal collection of none other than retired racer Jigger Sirois.

Lisa says her father is responsible for this inspired work of genius. He made a point to be the winning bidder on every single 1980s pit badge at the Jigger Sirois auction in June of 2011.

According to Lisa, “He purchased several items that day, which was not unusual for him to do at one of Dan's auctions. Among the items he purchased were all of the pit passes from the 1980's. These were medal badges that were worn by individuals to obtain access to pit row at the 500.”

Lisa’s dad had a project in mind as he was bidding that day.

She says, “As my Christmas gift, my father took all of the badges to a jeweler and repurposed them and had them made into charms. He then had all of the badges put onto a charm bracelet to give to me. My father first introduced me to the famous Indianapolis 500 in the 80's, so the bracelet represents the many races that we would have seen together.”

You can’t get much more purposeful than that.

It’s your turn to get creative now. How do you plan to give an old castaway new life?




1 comment

February 17, 2012, 4:22pm
I like most of your reusing ideas, but oh my! Not that beautiful Empire sofa. It breaks my heart. The original was amazing.

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June 02, 2016

50 Year Flood... of Jewelry!

It may be another 50 years before this opportunity comes around again... MORE