Reusing and repurposing discarded items can be a fun, creative way to furnish and decorate your home on a budget. With some imagination and elbow grease, you can give old materials new life and keep them out of landfills. Here are some ideas for salvaging items for use around your house.
Salvaging Building Materials
Constructing or remodeling a home can generate a lot of waste. However, many leftover building supplies can be reused in creative ways:
- Old wood pallets can be taken apart and the wood used to build shelving, garden boxes, shed doors, and more.
- Leftover trim, molding, and wood flooring pieces are great for smaller DIY projects.
- Reclaimed wood from old furniture or buildings can add beautiful rustic accents to walls, ceilings, and furniture.
- Nails, screws, nuts, bolts, and other hardware can be cleaned and reused in new projects.
- Vintage doorknobs, hinges, locks, and other hardware add charm and character when repurposed.
Bricks and Stone
- Chipped or broken bricks can be used for garden paths, landscaping, and drainage projects.
- Crushed bricks create attractive loose material for driveways and patios.
- Salvaged stone is ideal for wall accents, landscaping, fire pits, and rock gardens.
Windows and Doors
- Old windows make beautiful picture frames, greenhouse glazing, and garden art when the glass is removed.
- Doors can be sanded and repainted for indoor use or made into shelving, workbenches, and headboards.
Finding Furniture Potential
Don’t be so quick to toss out old furniture. With a little creativity, you can give it new life:
- Dressers can become kitchen islands, entertainment centers, or bathroom vanities.
- Table legs can be reused to build a new tabletop surface.
- Chairs can be reupholstered and paired with a distressed table.
- Filing cabinets work for concealed storage around the house.
- Metal desks, worktables, and shelving are great for garages and workshops.
- Vintage metal lawn chairs bring retro charm to a patio or deck.
Salvaging Home Decor
Add personal flair throughout your home with repurposed decor:
- Turn old dinner plates into wall art.
- Use colored glass bottles and jars for flower vases.
- Make pillows and cushions out of vintage fabric and clothing.
- Display your favorite photos in recycled frames.
- Give worn silverware new purpose as wind chimes and candleholders.
Finding New Uses for Old Household Items
Everyday household items can also be creatively reused:
Kitchen and Dining
- Glass jars and containers work for food storage.
- Mixing bowls become pet food dishes.
- Cutting boards can be wall art or serve as trays.
- Mismatched dishes add charm to a cottage or farmhouse kitchen.
- Old toolboxes and crates substitute for bath caddies.
- Salvaged ladders or towel racks add vintage farmhouse style.
- Repurposed bowls make sink-side soap dishes.
- Metal buckets, tubs, and pots become planters.
- Bins and baskets corral yard tools or potting supplies.
- Old wheelbarrows hold flowers and greenery.
With a little creativity, you can find ways to salvage and repurpose all kinds of items for use around your home. It takes some work, but reusing discarded materials is a budget-friendly way to create a unique, eco-friendly space you’ll love.
Frequently Asked Questions
What safety precautions should I take when salvaging materials?
Always inspect materials thoroughly and wear protective equipment like gloves, dust masks, and goggles when dismantling salvaged items. Be cautious of exposed nails, broken glass, or hazardous substances. Research if any older building materials contain dangerous materials like lead or asbestos.
Where can I find salvaged materials?
Check secondhand stores, antique shops, salvage yards, auction sites, estate sales, thrift stores, online classifieds, construction sites, and dumpsters. Ask friends, family, and neighbors if they have old materials they don’t need.
How do I clean and prepare salvaged items for reuse?
Clean surfaces with mild detergent and water. Use sandpaper, steel wool, or paint stripper to remove residue and restore surfaces. Seal porous materials like wood. Assess repairs needed like tightening hardware or patching holes. Disinfect if the item had previous use.
What kind of paint or finish should I use on salvaged wood?
Use milk or chalk-based paint for a smooth finished look. Stain or polyurethanes work for showing off the natural wood grain. Research the best primer and finish for your particular salvaged wood type.
Is it cheaper to salvage materials versus buying new?
It can be, especially if you salvage quality materials for free or at very low cost. Factor in your labor and any supplies needed to refurbish items. The tradeoff is you reuse quality materials and prevent waste.
Salvaging and repurposing discarded items takes creativity and some elbow grease, but can be very rewarding. You reduce waste, stretch your budget further, and end up with beautiful, eco-friendly solutions that add character and charm to your living space. Scout for high quality used materials and put your imagination to work finding ways to give them new life in and around your home.