It's not junk: It's chic
By Bonnie Britton
By Bonnie Britton
Repurposing for your home can mean anything from thinking of a new way to use a piece of furniture to turning junk into imaginative furniture and decor. It's a way of life for some.
It's a way of life for some.
Steve and Jim Kelley star in the popular HGTV show "Junk Brothers." Taking a tired, burned-out electric stove and tricking it out for use as an outdoor grill is just one of their junk-to-die-for projects.
"There's stuff we do on the show that's over the top," Jim says. "But there are parts of what we do that can be applied to everyday things."
Sue Whitney and Ki Nassauer, editors-at-large and columnists for Country Home and JunkMarket Style magazines, are goddesses in the world of turning garage sale finds and trash into treasures.
"We really like the green aspect about recycling and reusing rather than putting it in a landfill," says Whitney. "People with $3 million houses are (repurposing)."
So are interior designers. Annarie Cox of Annarie Cox Interior Design in Indianapolis moved to a new home and didn't want to get rid of some cherished pieces.
So she removed the upholstered back portion from a mahogany ottoman and placed an unused piece of black marble on it for a top. She and husband Howard hung a gold-leaf pier mirror over it with the bottom resting on the base.
"Use and reuse your treasures throughout life for real pleasure and great joy," says Cox.
TV's "Junk Brothers" use their treasures to help others. They got their start in a family business, restoring fine antiques in Ottawa.
Now they scour neighborhoods for junk that's been set out as trash, spirit it away in the night, and return it on the eve of the next trash day, repurposed.
That takes imagination, says Steve. "By brainstorming and bouncing ideas and a little trial and error, you never know what you're going to get."
Whitney and Ki Nassauer's book, "Decorating JunkMarket Style," and magazine are proof that castoffs can be turned into decorating items and furniture with cachet. In 2000, they started JunkMarket, a retail business, and now appear on HGTV's "Country Style."
They met as hockey moms in Minnesota and discovered a mutual passion for the throwaways at flea markets; soon they found themselves traveling the country looking for items they could transform.
Whitney says her children used to make fun of her, but now they understand her passion for making a house look great without spending much money.
The magazine and book are filled with how-to projects. Iron vents and woodblocks become a decorative ladder shelf. Mechanical games, predecessors of modern pinball machines, look great on walls as art. Vintage faucet handles mounted on factory thread holders hold fresh laundry. An upside-down birdcage easily transforms into a planter filled with cocoa matting.
Whitney estimates that over the years they have repurposed "thousands" of items, and jokes that she does it even in her sleep.
A 1930s truck door proved a challenge she couldn't work out, though.
It was too heavy. She wanted to turn it into a case with a TV behind it. "I just had to say OK, can't do it."
A round grate that used to surround a stove vent is transformed into a candle-holder with the addition of a hurricane glass.
Got junk? Here's some advice for repurposing household items.
From Jim Kelley and Steve Kelley, the Junk Brothers:
From Sue Whitney, half of the original JunkMasters: