Repurposing for Home Decor

Reader Contribution by Ilene White Freedman
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I feel clever, creative and frugal when I repurpose items to meet my needs in functional home décor. There is a special energy to the repurposing process. Supplies often guide the design, filling it with story and intention, love and care. The project holds the spirit of those who bartered or gifted supplies toward the efforts—in this case, a friend, a relative, and a fish.

I like repurposing because it is resource-conscious: each time I avoid purchasing something from new resources, I’ve made an earth-friendly decision. And it’s homesteader frugal in a great way, as every penny saved is a penny earned. Since I work for myself farming, those savings are my winter paycheck. Winter allows me some time to focus on my house before I get busy in the greenhouse. Here are some of this winter’s repurposing projects:


I had been planning a curtain installation in my bedroom for some time. My bedroom has two full walls of windows. I collected Brazilian coffee bags for $1-5 each from some local sources. I chose to buy curtain rods, but I considered tree branches and dowels and clothesline. It is also worth looking for viable options in the attic, of course. The burlap is cool and lets light through nicely, but I made a last minute change of plans.

I recently acquired some shawls and wraps, cashmere and silk, all lovely. I dropped the coffee bag idea and draped the shawls and scarves over the pole. I can only wear one shawl at a time, but the curtain rod can wear them all! Simple and versatile. I love fibers and fabrics of all kinds. I can change them up by mood or season. Pull them back or clear them off for more sunlight. Yank one off to wrap around my shoulders when I’m cold. Challenge: to clip them? My pole is too fat for decorated clothespins, but I’m on the lookout.


Funny how I couldn’t bring myself to buy a potholder. What fun is that?? I considered making a knit-felted potholder. But then I found a big piece of thick wool left in my fabric stash. I cut it into squares. Done. I plan to fold one in half and sew it longways to slip onto cast iron pot handles. 



A quick search on Pinterest inspired me to make spoon hooks. My kids and I smashed spoons with a hammer on a vice and curled the handles for great kitchen hooks. You can hang mugs, jackets, towels. Just test out how much weight they can hold. Check out the results of the fun, easy project. I’m hooked!


Kitchen Wall Tiles

This was a bigger project, using all reclaimed tiles. Some were bartered with a friend for veggies, some were inherited from a loved one. Limited tile dictated the design, in a great way. For instance, I measured some little tiles for the edge and they were just shy of enough. We decided to gain a few inches by adding a detail design in the center of the edging. I fished out a few marbles from the fishbowl. It ended up being a great accent, as well as a great story.


What’s next for our house? There is a bathroom renovation in our near future. I was looking at bathroom vanities and holy cow, they are hundreds of dollars! And they look just like bedroom furniture! So, I will use old bedroom furniture to make a vanity. 

See all my Pinterest boards on repurposing in the garden and home, includingrepurpose home décor.

Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are one of six 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life at MOTHER EARTH NEWS and House in the Woods, easy to follow from our Facebook Page. Currently accepting CSA members in Frederick, Maryland.

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