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Using everyday items for decorating

With a little imagination almost anything can be repurposed

duck ornament

I love using things for purposes other than the intended, and everyday items can be modified for decorative purposes.

Shelving for display

All kinds of items can be used as a shelf for display purposes. An old skateboard can be mounted to the wall of a den or child’s room with L brackets to display trophies or books.

I’ve fashioned a bookshelf where the shelf was made from an actual hardcover book where I display a duck decoy (top of article).

Attach a hockey stick to the wall (blade down) to use to display hockey cards or small collectibles.

Free-standing shelf cubes for things like books or shoes can be made out of everything from old solid-core doors to wood pallets.

An old window with multi-panes (glass removed) can be displayed drawbridge style (using decorative chain) in the kitchen for use as a pot rack or to hold cookbooks.

Consider fun items like vintage hat boxes to display lightweight items or a small trunk to use as a wall display. Hat boxes could house sewing notions or craft supplies in a craft room. An old trunk might be fashioned into a medicine cabinet. Attach it to the wall and add glass shelves inside. The “lid” will act as a door to the cabinet. Add a mirror to the inside of the door.

wall ornament printed with the word ParisFrom the junk drawer

I literally went through my junk drawer to garner some of these ideas. A collection of wine corks can be use to make a unique bulletin board for the home office or the kitchen. Use a wooden serving tray or an empty photo frame as the base for added interest. A bit of hot glue and voila!

I turned a leftover piece of scrap wood and some cording from my junk drawer to create this lovely Paris sign for my home office. A stencil and some paint is all you need.

A small collection of used pencils from the junk drawer could be glued to a picture frame for school photos.

Ceramic egg cups can be used at the dinner table to hold tea lights.

Old furniture

An old wooden kitchen chair can be turned into an adorable cat hammock simply by removing the seat and back and attaching a piece of fabric where the seat used to be on the remaining base. This is a fun way of including your pet’s needs into your décor.

I found an old wooden kitchen stool at a thrift store that was not sturdy enough to sit on as it was missing a few rungs but used it for display in the corner of the kitchen, where it provided a vintage look with its worn white paint.

From the workshop

A leftover kitchen door with a clear glass insert can be used to create an interesting photo collage. Create a backboard from foam core or cardboard, adhere the photos so they will fit into the ‘window’ of the door and hang in the kitchen or den. Leave the doorknob or handle on for a unique look.

A rickety old wooden stepladder is not safe to use as intended but can make a fantastic vertical display rack for pots, books, CDs, decoys, plants, bathroom linens or whatever suits your space. Put it onto the patio or balcony in summer to house potted plants.

Small decorative ceramic tiles left over from a renovation project can be turned into coasters. Adhere felt tabs to the underside of each tile to keep it from scratching the furniture.

From the sports closet

Hang vintage skates or snowshoes in a den or family room as a unique accessory.

Hockey sticks can be used as curtain rods in a games room or child’s room. They work well with tab curtains, which allow the stick to show through.

Make a headboard out of a collection of hockey sticks.

Cut an old basketball in half to use as a planter.

Free stuff from the earth

Driftwood can be used to create all sorts of unique décor items, from intricate chandeliers to simple painted and mounted displays.

Dried reeds are great when visual height is needed in a room. Use a floor vase and long reeds to create the look.

Old bird nests can add interest to a room. Take them with a bit of the branch if possible (after the birds have vacated of course).

Smooth stones can be stencilled with inspirational words and set around the house as accessories.

I love to collect beach glass and display it in a clear container in a sunny window.

table lampUnique lighting

Make a unique lampshade out of half of an old globe.

Other items that can be used for lighting are things like metal box-style cheese graters as pendent light covers.

Some of these ideas will require an advanced skill set but most are easily achieved. Look around and see where your imagination can take you.

About the author


Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Gimli, Manitoba.

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