the ReFab Diaries: upcycled decor
Showing posts with label upcycled decor

I’m always on the lookout for surprising, useful upcycles. So, when I came across numerous projects that involved repurposed window shutters, I did a happy dance. Take a look at just a few of my favorite, unusual ways to reuse shutters in your home.

Happy 2020 fab friends! It's a new decade and I've decided to revive this tired little blog. Kicking things off with a round-up of simple ways to use rattan (or cane) to make and upcycle everything from lamps to Easter decor. 

I've always loved pretty much anything made of rattan - perhaps growing up in the southern hemisphere has something to do with that? In the past, I've shared some ideas for repurposing wicker plate holders, and when I made over my cane-backed, regency chairs, I showed you guys my process

Happy 2019 to all of you! I'm getting this blogging year off to a generous start thanks to the lovely family running Stencil Revolution. One of you lucky refabbers will be receiving $50 to spend on the stencils of your choice from their shop. I've also rounded up some inspiring stencil makeovers for you, with links to the original projects.

Yup - it's a $50 giveaway! 

If you live in the northern hemisphere, then it's the time of year when you're aching to throw open windows, pack away blankets and refresh, well, everything! You've been stuck indoors with your stuff for months and you're tired of it. Maybe you're even ready to donate half of it and throw the other half into a dumpster somewhere. Today's message is... don't. There are other, less wasteful ways to refresh tired old spaces. Here are six great tips from today's guest blogger Kacey Bradley, of The Drifter Collective!

My lovely friend Tania Rodamilans is a creative force. Not only is she an accomplished jewelry designer, artist and photographer ... she's also the snappiest dresser I know. Just saying. Read more about here.

One of the things I love most about Tania's work is the way she incorporates found materials. Apparently she's good at crafting with them too. For the upcoming Stylemax show at the Chicago Merchandise Mart, she made these "new" jewelry displays out of fallen branches. And because she rocks, she's got the goods on how to make them yourself.

This weekend involved apple picking and pumpkins and all things "fall". And I found myself, unexpectedly, in a thrift store a long way out of the city. The kind of place where nothing has been curated for (or by) a discerning eye. It's just a mishmash of great grandma's stuff that no one really wants anymore.

And there was a lot of kitsch ceramic. Dogs, horses, angels etc. What my grandma would have called "knick knacks". I guess I have some knick knacks of my own, but this It still made me curious though. What can you actually do with an ugly ceramic dog? The answer, it seems, is paint it! Milk-glass paint is especially effective. So here are some ideas:

Hey - look around! I've been pretty quiet the last couple of weeks working on a big, much-needed site refab. What do you think? I'm really happy with how it looks, but the big goal was to have it be a friendlier place to visit. Hopefully things are easier to find and posts load faster.

Goals - Week 27: 
  1. Repurpose
  2. Upcycle
  3. Draw!

It's Sunday and I'm feeling nostalgic. Maybe it's seeing all my friends' (and cousins') children growing up and starting to look exactly like them! Anyway, I have albums of old photographs and negatives from a time when that's how we did things. And today I went looking for some ideas for "keeping" these things in a different way:

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some of the frustration I was feeling around this project. Let's just say that when I'm making it up as I go, my upcycles rarely go smoothly. But now you get to benefit (a little) from my mistakes! Full tutorial after the jump.

What do I even call these things? Paper-plate holders? Plate chargers? Wicker plates? Support for floppy paper discs we probably shouldn't be eating off of? Whatever they're called, they were a big part of my life growing up. Why? Because South Africans like to braai (grill out, barbeque). It's a warm place. We wear shorts on Christmas day and eat outdoors a lot. So, I have strong memories of these plate-holder things scratching my bare legs.

My mom started collecting decorative plates when I was 12. Her collection adorns the top of the cabinets in her kitchen. And when I say collection, I mean 40+ plates. I have always been, at best, blind to them. At worst... well, not very nice about her dust collectors. But. I already know that when the time comes to choose what of hers to keep, I will choose a selection of her damned plates. So, in the spirit of imagining (and re-imagining) their future, this is a collection of ideas I really like.

To say that this project has been years in the making is no exaggeration. I enjoy local craft beer. In particular, Revolution Brewing's Anti-Hero IPA. And it's mostly their packaging you're seeing piled up. Craft brewers, across the board, package their cans in a very specific way. The plastic is 96% PCR (post-consumer) and completely recyclable - go them! But I kept all this packaging because it just looked... useful? And as the plastic sheets started to stack up, they looked more and more like building blocks. But for what? 

I'm often very inspired by online home tours, but until I saw Emma Whyte's upcycled cottage (Isle of Skye), I never wanted to just copy something wholesale. Or just move in!

A few months ago, the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse posted the pic below on Facebook. The message: everything you see here is free! Great for artists - come and take it! 

A few days ago I was contacted by Holly from Chairish, inviting me to participate in a style challenge. I'm no designer. But I'm usually game for things like this and I do love Chairish, so I accepted. 

My home is featured in the August issue of Reloved Magazine. Just typing that sentence makes me a little giddy. Why? So many reasons. Because upcycling is something now deemed worthy of print. Because I really LOVE this magazine. Because the little girl in me who always wanted to be a journalist, just got something published in a magazine. Thank you to my amazing friend Julia Brenner for shooting EVERY picture you see across the 4-page spread. Also mentioned in the piece are artists Meg Peterson and Heidi Shedlock, both of whom inspire me and have gifted work to me that makes my life better. 

Ok ... if you're actually here via Reloved, hello and welcome! Scroll down for links to all the upcycling projects mentioned and/or pictured in the feature:

In case you're wondering, my dress is from my favorite consignment store (Crossroads Trading Co) and my earrings are South African 1c coins lovingly upcycled into hearts by The House of Kallie.


1. Book planter / vase

2. Hardcover "bud vase" 

3. Book clocks

4. Folded book art

Behind the scenes ... Julia Brenner at work :)


1. Bamboo desk (mod podge refab)

2. Hollywood regency chairs

3. Metal plant stand to bookshelf

4. Vintage wood art hangers

5. Drawer-front shelf and salvaged mirror

Vintage sheets repurposed:

1. Shower curtain

2. Thrifty kid bedding


1. Kitchen organizer

2. Pallet organizer

If you're a regular reader (thank you!), then you know I moved in February this year. It was a significant move, from a one-bedroom basement space to a two-bedroom apartment on the third floor. So, I acquired a LOT more space overnight. Including a room for Ms R, when she stays over. It's taking me a long time to make all this new space feel like home. In part because I don't have the money to "just furnish" it all. And, more to the point, that's not how I function. 

Ms R's room has taken an especially long time to come together because I knew what she wanted, but it took time to find it. It's now complete thanks to a $12 sheet from the 1970s

Confession: the whole pallet fad left me cold. In part because pallet wood (when you can get it) is mostly terrible wood. I mean TERRIBLE. So I avoided that particular bandwagon. Until I found this one, left in my alley (the provider of all things). This pallet was almost brand new. And made of solid, beautiful, mostly smooth pine. So this pallet came inside with me ... and the movers got to move it for me. And then I went to work and turned it into a workbench organizer.  

Creative repurposing of old drawers is one of my favorite things. This extraordinary media console by Kara Paslay is an oldie but a wonder! I love the mixture of vintage wood fronts, metal and color. She even managed to build in a hiding place for a DVD player.

Find the complete tutorial here.

Lots more images on Kara's blog.