Restyled, re-worked, updated and saved from the trash: vintage sideboards

I love sideboards from the 1950s and 60s. Sleek, timeless and very stylish. They are often great as they are, given some TLC and a dash of Danish oil, but are sometimes even better with some creative adjustments. Caroline Key owns Trash Furnishing in Edinburgh and creates a unique collection of bespoke up-cycled furniture. She restores and re-works furniture and brings the pieces up-to-date with stencils or some paint. I love the way she turns a simple cupboard into something totally unique.


Another company who does this sort of work is a little bit further away from where I live, but anyone reading this living in Australia is lucky. These sleek and funky sideboards are restyled and sold by Retromodern in Adelaide. Totally customisable to your taste and very cool looking.



Have you ever saved a sideboard or other piece of furniture from the trash and restyled it?

Repurposing furniture and other things

Hello everyone! It’s January 2011 and as most of us are broke after the December month I thought I write a post about repurposing or altering things you already own or can find for little money.

Looking at the overload of TV commercials from the home superstores it seems that the nation is obsessed with getting new furniture, buying new kitchens and bathrooms and basically getting their whole house done for springtime. I can’t help but think people must still all want to keep up with the Joneses and subsequently put themselves into debt as a result, despite the difficult economic times we’re in. Anyway, how about we don’t buy all those expensive new things but instead look at what we already own or can find for free or little money and how we can give it a new life?

This is a vintage sofa my mum once rescued from the marriage resistry office at the local Town Hall in Emmen, The Netherlands. Although not repurposed by physically changing it, I gave it a new purpose by placing it in my student room, and later moved it to my first apartment. When I moved again and the sofa turned out to be too large, I had it “adopted” by my good friend Mieke in Utrecht, who now loves it. Schools, local authority buildings and other offices sometimes get rid of furniture, shelving units and desks. Worth keeping an eye out for them…

I got inspired by this post on the Daily What and really wanted to share this with you. “The amazing transformed oven lounge”. Not something you would DIY on a Saturday, but what a great idea!

I also came across this – I must admit slightly silly – idea of repurposing a water wing via Apartment Therapy. Still, it’s very original!

Has anyone ever looked at the Ikea Hacker site? It’s brilliant how people take a run-of-the-mill Ikea item and just make it into something else. Now this Billy bookcase is still a Billy bookcase, except the owner has ‘hacked’ it by turned it on its side and mounting it onto the wall making it ‘float’. Cool!

Fruit crates are very versatile to reuse in the home. Here they’ve been mounted onto the kitchen wall to be used as open shelving, looking very nice. Found it on the great blog Poetic Home.

Another amazing project featured on Poetic Home is this huge desk made from repurposed books, created by Architectural students at Delft University of Technology. Could you imagine something similar for your own home in the shape of a smaller desk or coffee table?

My car (a lovely old Mazda Mx5 with pop-up head lights) had to go for its MOT today and failed on a rusty bottom (ooh, that doesn’t sound right, does it, haha). We’re getting it repaired – once again – but if ever it had to die, I would like it to be turned into a sofa, like Bel & Bel have done with a Seat 600. What a cracker.

I drive one in black – such a cool little car

What have you given a new life?

Making furniture out of old pallets

I am a big fan of recycling, or in other words, making sure that something doesn’t end up in the skip. I love seeing old wood being reused and pallets are an easy way to get your hands on some cheap, rustic looking and very versatile wood.

I found some examples of reused pallets on, but… £180 for coffee table made from a reclaimed old pallet? It doesn’t look that difficult to screw four wheels under a pallet, give the thing a good varnish and get a cut-to-size piece of glass to put on top of it, does it?


Hold on, I just came across this Studio5 website with some tutorials on it… Time to save some money, folks! Tutorial: How to make a coffee table out of a pallet

And another great looking coffee table here… And you know what? I’ve got the tutorial here just for you: pallet coffee table tutorial

You may be charging £180 for your own home-made creations soon!


This design is very nice too, an ottoman designed by BCK design from Canada. Looks very contemporary, beautiful and functional at the same time.



The lovely Recicla e Decora blog also shows a great number of recycled pallet projects (although I can’t understand the Portuguese text – I always enjoy the pictures!). What about this shoe rack…? I know, a bit basic…but an original idea.


Image: recicla e decora

One of my favourites is this rustic bench and a similar one was shown in the BBC gardening programme Gardeners World last Summer. I’m pleased to say there’s a video tutorial for it on the BBC website. It’s not the most glamorous looking thing, but hey, it’s a pallet – what do you expect!

Image: treesandthings via GrowsonYou

Pallets are not just great for making tables and benches, London based Studiomama also makes lamps out of them.

Image: studiomama

That’s it for today! But if you still can’t get enough of pallets and the magic you can create with them, go and have a look on, for many more ideas and “The 8 best resources for Building with Pallets“.

Time to dive into the skip, I think, and find some old planks…


Recycling vintage maps into notebooks, cufflinks and lampshades

What do you do with maps when they’re worn, torn or out of date? Plenty of inspiration can be found on Etsy. I love Etsy and have bought many beautiful hand-made jewelry on there as well as a super cool guitar strap made out of an old tie. Why buy from the high street when you can buy from creative individuals around the globe making beautiful items just for you? Often items arrive with personal thank you cards and wrapped as gifts and you almost feel as if you’ve made a new friend somewhere in the world.

MrYen‘s notebook on Etsy

Today Etsy featured this gorgeous notebook made out of recycled maps and it’s just beautiful. It really makes you want to start doing some serious travel-writing.

Cufflinks by WhiteDoveJewelry on Etsy

Vintage maps also have something romantic and poetic about them, don’t you think? The fact that someone has used them to travel somewhere, the history of this person and the places on the map, the story of the journey.

I bought my husband a set of custom-made cufflinks for Christmas last year, with on one a map of where we met (The Hague) and on the other a map of where we were getting married (Greece). He wore them on our wedding last May.

Envelopes by PaperRoute

For those of you who still write real letters and have not gone totally digital, there’s also a great set of envelopes made from maps.

Bunting by MonkeyPuzzle

Or what about some vintage map bunting?

Coasters by Susweedesigns

I could go on and on (is it me or does Etsy just seem to get bigger everyday?), but to finish it off… some coasters and a lovely set of wooden bowls.

Bowls by YanniCreations

Make your own lampshade!

Now to get those creative juices flowing… how to make a lampshade out of a vintage map! Chez Larsson has a great how-to on her blog.

You could start selling them on Etsy of course, but if you are going to give them away as a present, at least make sure they are offered in a matching gift bag! Have fun!  DIY gift bags

How to make garden lights out of tin cans

I came across this idea on Recicla e decora, a Brazilian blog, and thought it was great. The site luckily had the link to an English website as well, as my Portuguese is not that fluent… The Brazilian blog is worth checking out though, if only for some cool photos of recycling ideas.

Anyway, where was I. Yes, making garden lights out of tin cans. Now at this time of year Scottish nights ‘al-fresco’ are not particularly cozy, so I’d probably use the lights inside, but I’m sure they look awesome outdoors too. For the full how-to – in English – look at this article by Michelle Gervais.

How to turn your leftover drinking straws – and boxing gloves – into a chair

Now THAT’s what I call recycling. Got more tennis balls than you can throw a racket at? Why not make a chair out of it. Don’t know what to do with that stack of magazines? Paste it onto a chair! What about those boxes of drinking straws leftover from your garden party? Well, you get the idea. That ‘Argument chair’ made out of boxing gloves actually looks rather comfy, but sort of gives the phrase “giving a kick up the ass” a whole new meaning.
A creative use of your comic books…papered onto an old chair
Mike Tyson’s favourite seat?

A table made of vintage plates

I came across this table from Imu Design, a so-called prototype named ‘Plate U’… and isn’t it brilliant? I mean, I’m not sure how practical it is (imagine having an animated gossipy chat with your best friend while holding a glass in your hand and then you decide to put down your glass on the table while keeping your eyes on your friend, not looking where the actual holes in the table are… that sort of thing), but it’s cool. The frame is made of steel, the plates are “hand-picked” as the designers describe it themselves and I assume they found them in charity shops or on the local flea market.

Bureau Makeover

I posted this picture some time ago, of an old flaky dark brown bureau that I found on Freecycle and was giving a fresh lick of blue paint. Well, I’m glad to say it’s finished! I’m still planning to line the drawers with some nice vintage wall paper but I can always do that later. The bureau is now proudly sitting in our study and matches my favourite blue print (by Glasgow artist Kenny Hunter).