By LAURI GROSS
Maybe your creative side is masquerading as a sense of adventure, or hiding behind your tendency to be practical but it’s there somewhere. Unleash it by joining the throngs who convert flea-market finds into new-again treasures for their home and garden.
Remember in “Toy Story 2,” when Mrs. Potato Head tells Mr. Potato Head, “I’m packing you an extra pair of shoes and your angry eyes, just in case.” Well, this is like that, only different. You won’t need your angry eyes but you will need your “sees things in a whole new way” eyes. Walk around your own home. See that old dresser? What if you added new knobs? Bam! You have transformed and restored! See that old white bench? Paint it a fun new color. Voila! You have refurbished.
Now take your newly opened eyes to a vintage shop, antiques store, consignment place, flea market or garage sale, along with these ideas to get you started:
Wallpaper an old bookcase on the back wall, between the shelves. Add a new set of legs to an old dresser. Paint a set of wooden dining chairs and reupholster the seat cushions. Reimagine an old nightstand as a child’s pretend kitchen, or an antique tea cart as a lemonade stand. Pick up some cheap glass vases and bowls at a second-hand shop. Clean them with soap and water and then with alcohol. Spray paint in a light bright matte finish for a whole set of coordinated display ware. Now you’re getting the idea.
Let us illuminate the possibilities of creating new-again light fixtures (but please consult with an electrician for the actual electrical parts). A magazine rack? The base of a floor lamp. A coffee grinder? A table lamp. An upturned metal bucket can be reborn as a ceiling light. A vintage automobile front grate can be a wall sconce. And then there’s Steam Punk, a design trend that incorporates old industrial gears, pipes and other machine parts into just about anything, but especially light fixtures. (It actually began as a sub-genre of science fiction inspired by19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.) For your steam punk fixtures, don’t overlook things like old telephones or typewriters, bottles, globes, fan housings, gauges, plumbing fixtures etc.
Even old metal tubs deserve new life. Fit an upholstered wooden top onto a large metal tub to transform it into a footstool or extra seating. A metal washtub on tall legs becomes a kitchen island when you add a pretty stained wood top. Smaller metal tubs can be patio planters, vases or organizing bins. Fit a tub with cute stubby legs and you’ve got a nifty spot for throw blankets, extra pillows or even dog toys. Fit a larger metal basin with a butcher block or glass top and it becomes a coffee table.
When is an old door something more? When you use it as part of a drink station, a bench-and-coat-rack combo, a photo display center or the top of a large coffee table. (Google it for ideas!) An old window can also become the top of a coffee table, its own photo display area, or the front of a curio cabinet.
Take the mirror from an old dresser. Keep the frame but replace the mirror with a chalkboard or bulletin board. Paint it and add fun knobs or hooks for a message/memo/display center. An old dresser or the bottom half of a tall dining room hutch can become a bathroom vanity by replacing the dresser top with a sink and countertop material. An old clawfoot tub can be turned into a front-porch couch. A side chair with a woven or rattan seat becomes a planter when you staple some chicken wire in place of the seat. Refresh a nightstand with a new top, painted tongue-and-groove sides, and new knobs or drawer pulls. Whew. That should be enough to get you started.