A few years ago I found myself single after having enjoyed a two-income lifestyle for many years. The new situation forced me to become creative with the way I decorated my small condo, and I had to find a way to balance my strict budget with the desire to live in a uniquely decorated “cookie-cutter” space. I loved the process from the first brush stroke, and before I knew it, I had traded my nine-to-five career for a profession dedicated to upcycling.
Reinterpret What You Have
Living on a budget is not a strange concept for many of us. More often than not, it is the very reason we tend to neglect our home decor. While leafing through magazines and looking at images of beautifully curated rooms, you could be left with the impression that a fortune is needed to have a stylish home, but that is not necessarily the case. If you look closer, you will likely notice furniture and home accessories similar to what you may already own, just reinterpreted in a way to give it the one-of-a-kind feel.
An old dresser painted in a new and vibrant colour with updated hardware choices, a vintage plate turned into a wall clock, lamps assembled from vintage china and odd trinkets would seem like they would stretch the budget, when in fact you can easily attain them, too.
It may be considered trendy at the moment to incorporate “antique” furniture in modern homes, but these pieces come sturdier than any newly-manufactured dresser. This is largely due to the overall quality of materials used, as well as the level of craftsmanship that the artisans put into assembling them rather than being put together on an assembly line en masse.
Make It Your Own
Even though old pieces of furniture are not hard to come by (they can be easily acquired at garage sales, antique markets, and thrift stores), chances of finding multiple copies of one piece are rather slim, which is another benefit to upcycling. Originality starts with our DNA, and there is no reason why it can’t extend to the way we live and decorate. Even the current issue of the IKEA catalogue features ideas on how to customize their mass-produced line of furniture to make it your own.
Instead of serving a purely utilitarian purpose of storing our belongings, furniture fulfills aesthetic objectives as well. One of the easiest ways to update a piece of furniture is to replace the existing hardware. You would be surprised how far a small change like adding a new, shiny, and colourful pull or a knob can go.
Painting the piece would not only change its overall feel and character, but would also help hide any imperfections that often accompany older furniture. Besides masking the flaws, paint can also be used to enhance elements that may otherwise go unnoticed. This is particularly the case with pieces that have a lot of ornate elements. With so many paint choices available today, even two identical dressers would look vastly different if each one of them was to be reinterpreted in a different color and with a different set of pulls.
Paint and hardware seem like the most obvious ways to change the look of any piece of furniture, but it does not have to stop at that. For example, if you have a dresser with plain and flat drawers, there are companies that will create custom overlay panels for the drawers to give them a new dimension. Alternatively, a canvas painting (or a part of it) can be applied to the surface to instantly transform a “boring piece” into an “objet d’art.”
With all the aforementioned benefits of incorporating antique furniture in modern decor comes another one, and that one will benefit not only you but the greater good of our planet. If everyone was to find a new way to use items they already have, we would significantly reduce the waste that gets generated through over-consumption, and the generations to come would get a chance to enjoy a healthier and cleaner planet.
Photo Credits: Author