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Creative repurposing offers fresh approach to home projects

Creative repurposing offers fresh approach to home projects

Written by Tim Smith on behalf of guest blogger Lynn Feinstein, Möbius Home 

With a bit of ingenuity, a minimal amount of work and a creative imagination, you can redecorate your home's interior and exterior without spending much money. The environment also benefits when utilizing materials already on hand to decorate a room or outdoor area. 

Recreating Old Furniture Pieces

When you think “out of the box,” there is no end to the design creation. An old dresser turns into a beautiful window seat. After removing the dresser legs, lay a decorative cushion or blanket and some throw pillows on the top of the dresser and place in a window with a view, interior walkway or room corner. The top of the dresser functions as the seating space. Additionally, the dresser drawers provide convenient storage space.

Whether or not you should add a coat of paint depends on your design preference. Leaving the dresser in the original state creates an antique “shabby chic” style while a coat of paint creates the perfect modern accent piece for any room. Using this same dresser concept produces a versatile coffee table with built in drawers as well as a child’s toy box.

For more dresser ideas, see 6 Great New Used for a Vintage Dresser.

An old baby crib can become a decorative quilt or magazine rack in very little time and with hardly any effort. Once you remove the side railing sections of the crib, simply display them vertically against any wall. Hang your favorite quilts over the individual posts or drape magazines, hanging them by their spine, with the front magazine cover facing out.

Window Treatments

Window treatments can run rather costly, yet the average household contains a variety of extra fabrics and prints you can reuse instead. Common bed linens come in an array of colors, styles and sizes, are machine washable and require little work in constructing. With the help of a measuring stick or tape, thread, a needle and a pair of scissors, cut out your own patterns for beautiful yet original window treatment designs.

One Yard, No Sew Window Treatment 3 Ways offers a "no sew" option.

Exterior Property Decor

Gardening season has arrived, so instead of purchasing flower boxes, use an old antique bed frame to add a unique and stunning conversation piece to any front yard or flower garden. Simply remove the headboard and foot-board and use as the exterior back and front walls of your garden. Plant rows of your favorite flowers in the ground area located between the head and foot-board. Once the flowers reach maturity, they become the bed spread, creating a literal floral bed.

Any common item can become an eye-catching masterpiece. An old claw-footed bathtub serves as the perfect container garden. Just drill a few holes in the bottom of the bathtub and fill with gardening soil. This design idea works perfectly for areas with minimal gardening space or for growing any type of small herb, vegetable or flower garden.

Visit Crackedpots 18th Annual Art Show to find something unique for your own space. It is August 1 and 2 at McMenamins Edgefield.

Caring for what’s under your roof

Caring for what’s under your roof

Summer is the perfect time to give your home some additional TLC.

Safety First

Before you start a home remodeling, demolition or construction project, learn how to avoid toxic materials and handle potential dangers you might encounter, such as asbestos or lead paint.

Before a home project, test for asbestos. Metro transfer stations require documentation for all loads of construction, remodeling and demolition debris that might contain asbestos.

Seasonal Maintenance

Taking good care of your home can prevent big problems and save a lot of money in the long run. Tasks like cleaning out your gutters and repairing exposed wood quickly help your home last as long as possible.

When you need to replace materials, consider reclaimed or salvaged. They provide unique character, and often are stronger, more durable and higher quality — and may be less expensive than new materials.

Local Resources

Find these local resources and more on the Resourceful PDX map to help you improve and maintain your home:

  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore
  • MetroPaint
  • The ReBuilding Center
  • Green Lents Community Tool Library
  • North Portland Tool Library
  • Northeast Portland Tool Library
  • Southeast Portland Tool Library

Resourceful PDX is your go-to for community resources.

Update your space with fresh colors or a new arrangement

Update your space with fresh colors or a new arrangement

By guest blogger Lynn Feinstein, Möbius Home

Change it up

One of the simplest ways to transform a room is to change the color with paint. Color can make a room appear larger or smaller, peaceful or energizing, brighter or softer.

The lighter the color, the larger the room appears. Darker colors make a room feel smaller and more cozy. For a calming effect, try shades of blue, green and cool grey. For the opposite effect, try warmer colors – red, yellow, orange and warm grey.

Every paint manufacturer sells a no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) selection. I recommend this to all my clients, to protect the air quality in your home. Paints that have VOC’s continue to off-gas for weeks as they cure, even after they have dried. For anyone with allergies or lung conditions, this is especially critical to minimize breathing toxic fumes.

My favorite local brand is Colorhouse paint, founded by two artists who supported themselves by painting interiors. They made the decision to create a brand that would be safe for them to work with since they were getting sick from breathing the fumes of other paint.

Move it around

Another way to make a simple update is to rearrange your space. You can move items from one room to another. Or simply reconfigure what is already in the room. Add fresh elements like different pillows, throws and artwork. Be creative and think beyond what you might consider conventional. Experiment and have fun!

In these before and after photos, the owner of this craftsman home in Southeast Portland contacted us to help create a cohesive and functional expression of herself from the charming eclectic collection of items she owned. This included a pair of chairs she had recently inherited from her father and wanted to integrate into her home.

Some simple adjustments were made and many of her items rearranged. The bookshelves were removed from the dining area and the photos and collectibles reorganized and simplified in the built-in shelving. We made updates with the wall colors to create a more cohesive division of the rooms, as well as to open and lighten the space.

And her father’s chairs – they were reupholstered with Makelike textiles, a local design firm specializing in wallpaper, fabrics and graphics.

The house has beautiful hardwood floors, and to add some depth and warmth we ordered FLOR carpet tiles to create a custom designed area rug for the dining room. FLOR carpet tiles are made with recycled materials; tiles can be cleaned individually, and when damaged beyond repair, can be returned to the manufacturer to be recycled.

Additionally, new drapes for the windows added finishing touches.

It is clear that with a little change in paint and some creative rearrangements, you can create a dramatic change for little to no expense.

Check tips from Lynn about maximizing space for efficiency from a previous blog post.

Spring into action with the 15-minute “clearing clutter” workout

Spring into action with the 15-minute “clearing clutter” workout

By guest blogger Kathy Peterman, Simple Up

With the help of popular books, like Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, people are ready to tackle clutter. However, we know a book won’t necessarily help you get started.

Here are my top tips for getting started with decluttering your space. You can do this as part of spring cleaning or anytime of the year, with the 15-minute "clearing clutter" workout.

1.       Start small. Begin by clearing two small surfaces within your home. That might be your bathroom counter, your nightstand, the top of a bookshelf or your kitchen table. It can be any surface.

Take everything off that surface, wipe it down, then go through the items to determine if you have any of the following:

·         duplicates (if so, pick your favorite)

·         items that belong elsewhere and could be put away

·         items you are not using

·         recycling or garbage

Do what you can to reduce the items you put back on the surface. Three is the ideal number, but less is good, no matter what the number is. You can box up items to try it with less if you’re not ready to let go of these things…yet!

2.       Get support. Many people need some support to get going. That can vary from having a friend or family member whom you can share your goals with, to an online group or hiring a professional organizer. Even just speaking or writing down your goals is one way to get more clear and committed. When we share this with someone else, it helps make it more real. It’s ideal if that person is willing to declutter too and you can report back to each other.

3.       Figure out your why. Why do you want to declutter your space? It is to help you find things? To reduce the amount of time it takes to clean? To clear space in preparation for downsizing? To feel more calm and less chaos?

It’s helpful to actually write out your why and post it somewhere you can see it as a reminder, especially when you need a boost. Be sure to share the why with your support person too.

4.       Put it on your calendar. Decluttering is that thing we think of doing, but rarely schedule. By putting it on your calendar and telling your support person when you’ll be doing it, you have a clear plan to follow. Set a timer for 15 minutes and commit to decluttering until it pings. Even if you declutter for just 15 minutes, you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make.

Once you’ve gotten started, you may be ready to move onto other categories like Marie Kondo describes in her book – clothes, books, papers and more. Don’t be afraid to break these into smaller sub-categories that you work through on separate days for 15-30 minutes, such as jackets, shirts and shoes.

Set that timer and start decluttering!

Flex your space for maximum efficiency

Flex your space for maximum efficiency

By guest blogger Lynn Feinstein, Möbius Home

When setting up a small space, the best way to make the most of it is to consider all the surfaces for storage and function. Walls for shelving, under furniture for storage, and even the ceiling for hanging dividers.

Finding furniture that transforms from one function to another saves space. A simple example is an ottoman that is hollow, and the cushion flips to become a tray. Murphy beds are popular, as well as couches that convert to a bed. In a kid’s room, you can paint the bottom surface of a murphy bed with chalk board paint so they can use it to get creative when the bed is stored.

Plan ahead and look at the entire picture to help you save time and additional expense. Consider color, not only for mood, but to divide the room into its functions, or make it feel larger than it is. Lighter colors make a space feel larger, darker colors make it feel more cozy. Use materials, patterns and lighting to add variety and visual cues.

Here’s an example from a client who shared a room in a house with other people.

He used his bedroom for an office as well and needed to figure out the best way to divide the space. The solution was to hang dividers from the ceiling so he could block out his work area when resting, and could open them to allow for more light when he was working.

We had him hang shelving for his printers and books, add wall hooks to store his bags and guitar, and use a small space-saving desk that attached to the wall.

Want more inspiration? A favorite resource is apartmenttherapy.com. In the search field type in “small spaces” or “efficient use of space” to get endless ideas for storage solutions.

 

Five ways to create more space in your home

Five ways to create more space in your home

By guest blogger Casey Hazlett, Sustainably Organized, Inc.

Are you looking for more space to provide storage and organization in your home this year?

Look no further than these five places to refresh your space and repurpose what you already have to fit your family.

1.       Guest bedroom

If a guest bedroom has turned into the catch-all space in your home, consider how to flex the space so it works for you when you need it. Maybe turning the space into a playroom or office space that can shift to a guest room when the occasion arises.

Create more room by getting a murphy bed with a quality mattress to free up floor space. If you need art space for the kids, paint the bottom of the murphy bed with chalkboard paint so they can be creative when the bed is not in use.

2.       Attic or basement

Think about what you need to store and avoid piling just anything in these spaces. Store items that you only need a few times a year, like holiday décor or clothes for your kids when they grow into them. Line the perimeter of the room with shelves with storage bins, keeping the middle open for easy access. Only buy new bins – or reuse something you already have – once you know what’s going to go in them and where are they going to be stored. Don’t forget to label at least two sides of each bin so you can know what’s inside even if the bin gets turned sideways.

3.       Doors

Take advantage of the space behind doors for extra storage by using an over-the-door hanging organizer. Is it the door to the bathroom? Use it for overflow or rarely used toiletries and keep only what you use every day in the bathroom cabinets. Is it the door for the coat closet? Use it for mittens, hats and everything you need to keep warm during the winter months and get out the door faster with less stress in the mornings.

4.       Office

 Casey organizing boxes and making space for a client.

Casey organizing boxes and making space for a client.

If your New Year’s resolution includes organizing your home office, take the time to set up the desk to be ergonomically comfortable. Now may be the time to try a standing desk. If your monitor or laptop needs to be higher to get it at eye level, repurpose something you already own, like a box or drawer, to set your laptop or monitor on. Use the bin or drawer for additional office supply storage.

5.       Vertical space

Look for unused vertical space in every room. Do you have space to install shelves to create more storage and help you stay organized? Think about space above the toilet or to the sides of the sink in the bathroom. These are great for often used bathroom supplies. Do you have a partial empty wall in the living room? Use it as a place to set up a household command station.

 

Make room at home and enjoy the holidays more

Make room at home and enjoy the holidays more

By guest blogger Casey Hazlett, Sustainably Organized, Inc.

Enjoy the holidays rather than just survive them: Consider these tips to create a plan.

Tip 1: Determine how much time you need to get ready for the holidays

No matter how much time you think you need – double it! This allows time for the unexpected and a little extra relaxation. Did Rudolph lose a leg? Consider how you can fix it before throwing it out. Make sure things (like gift bags) are stored properly so they can be reused each year. If you are planning to wrap gifts, consider creating a supply bin so you can just grab and wrap.

Bonus: Donate, give away or swap unused décor or supplies (like saved ribbon) that you hold on to but don’t ever seem to use or display. Organizations like SCRAP, Swap Positive or possibly family, friends and neighbors might appreciate them and it helps you clear the clutter.

Tip 2: Move furniture to display your holiday décor

Look at each room you’ll use during the holidays and think about it as an opportunity to declutter and reorganize. If you are moving a piece of furniture to fit more holiday décor in the living room, consider if any items can be donated. Check the Resourceful PDX map for options for resale shops and donation centers.

Tip 3: Plan for overnight guests

Use the guest room for guests, not storage! Consider giving yourself some time to make thoughtful decisions about where the best place is for stuff rather than hiding everything in a spare room or closet. If you still need that table or chair (or still love it!), discover a way to incorporate it into your home. 

Tip 4: Make space for new toys, games and stuff that comes home during the holidays

Now is the time to clear space to make room for the new stuff that’s coming in. What toys are no longer popular? Donate, fix what’s broken, or even consider having a party with friends to trade toys so you don’t have to buy new ones for your kiddos. PDX Toy Library is a local option for donation.

Tip 5: Take inventory of what you already have before heading out to shop

Gift wrap, holiday décor, baking supplies and presents that you’ve been saving to re-gift are just a few categories to check before you head out to shop. You’ll save time and money shopping at home first before heading out to the stores.

Bonus: Clean out the Tupperware drawer to reuse what you already own. If you are hosting a holiday meal and plan to send home leftovers with your guests, this is your chance to clear the clutter where you store durable and reusable items. Make sure you have the sizes you use (or can give away) and every bottom and top have a match. Use tins and baskets you’ve collected or buy used at a secondhand store.

Start DIY home projects with salvage and reuse

Start DIY home projects with salvage and reuse

By Shawn Wood from Resourceful PDX partner, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

 Salvage wood wall in remodeled living room. Created by craftsman Greg Simons of  Studio G .

Salvage wood wall in remodeled living room. Created by craftsman Greg Simons of Studio G.

Plan ahead for home improvement opportunities that tap into Portland’s extensive reuse community to make your projects unique. 

“The change of seasons is a great time to focus your efforts indoors. While my summers are jam packed with outdoor projects and activities, I welcome the change in weather and the opportunity to transition indoors. You may already have some project ideas in mind, but if not, head to your local salvage or reuse outlet and walk around. Creative ideas will start to flow and before you know it, you’ll have figured out your next project.

Local places abound in Portland to purchase used building supplies, salvage wood, materials for kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and every room in between. Portland offers interested homeowners and individuals plenty of options for home improvement DIY projects.

Salvaged materials are often high quality, provide unique character, are stronger and more durable - and may be less expensive than new materials.”

Habitat for Humanity ReStore, ReClaim It!, Salvage Works and The ReBuilding Center are just a few of the resources where you can find what you need, donate what you don’t and tap into Portland’s reuse community through building supplies and materials. Check out the map for more resources, including salvage yards and online material exchanges.

Using salvaged or reclaimed building materials in your projects can save you money and offers many other benefits:

  • Adds character to your project
  • Supports the local economy
  • Offers period-appropriate fixtures, fittings and cabinetry and high quality materials (both aged and contemporary)
  • Allows for builder overstock or "new salvage" materials
  • Keeps building material tonnage out of the landfill

Here are some ideas where reuse can play a role:

  • Install salvaged wood floors in a kitchen or other room. Tip: If removing old linoleum flooring, have it tested for asbestos first.
  • Give a wall some bling and warmth using salvaged wood. It is easy to install because it goes right over existing drywall or plaster. Tip: Check out the WOW walls at Salvage Works
  • Furniture, wall art or built-ins are another DIY project that can involve reusing materials. Want a great dining room table? Pick up some unique salvaged lumber or slabs and have it planed/sanded. Tip: Creative Woodworking NW is a local resource that can assist in taking rough lumber and turning it into a smooth masterpiece.  

Digging into summer projects with borrowed tools

Digging into summer projects with borrowed tools

When Robert Bowles learned that two friends were opening a tool-lending library in Northeast Portland, he liked the idea so much he became a volunteer on the spot.

“The Northeast Portland Tool Library is a great community resource,” said Robert. “It empowers people to complete dream projects and save money by not having to buy tools for one-time use, like a table saw. Thanks to the tool library, people improve their surroundings while reducing the resources necessary to do it.”

Robert is passionate about fixing broken things. He enjoys helping people find the right tools for a job and hearing stories about projects the tool library helped make possible. “My favorite stories are from people who really stretched themselves and took on something they didn’t think they could do.”

He is also a Master Recycler volunteer who has since joined the board of the Northeast Portland Tool Library and continues to give back to the community. “Doing small things to make our neighborhood a better place makes it better for all of us.”

 Aushti and Parfait Bassale

Aushti and Parfait Bassale

Concordia resident and local musician Parfait Bassale is a Northeast Portland Tool Library member who has completed some home and yard projects with tools he borrowed. He’s completed many yard improvements, like building planters, and finished a painting project.

Parfait, and his son Aushti, typically stop by the tool library on Saturdays. He’s been a member for three years and has gotten to know other Northeast residents and neighbors through the tool library. “It is wonderful to see familiar faces one week after the next and hear about the progress they are making on their projects.”

One dream project on Parfait’s list is a building an outdoor veranda in his backyard. “It would be a fun project and one that I’ll be tapping the tool library volunteer staff to help me with. Is Robert available?”

Do you have home projects to complete? Need some inspiration? Tool libraries are available to residents of East PortlandNorth PortlandNortheast Portland, and Southeast Portland. Become a member of one near you!

Find more stories about borrowing in Portland. #sharingcommunity

Read past articles about Portland’s tool libraries. #tool library

Green Lents builds community through borrowing and sharing

Green Lents builds community through borrowing and sharing

Are you a resident of one of these Portland neighborhoods: Lents, Powellhurst-Gilbert, Pleasant Valley, Foster-Powell, Mt. Scott-Arleta, Brentwood-Darlington or Montavilla? Do you know of the many reasons to visit Green Lents, the organization that supports community-led projects like the free Community Tool Library?

Green Lents Community Tool Library contributes to community livability in this diverse area of the city by providing free tools and resources to residents in and around the Lents neighborhood in outer Southeast and East Portland.

The Community Tool Library functions like a book library, except that you check out tools or other project materials instead of books. They also have a seed library, where you can borrow seeds, grow food and then return seeds back to the library for others to use. Since its founding in 2012, there are over 500 members who check out tools for a one-week rental for free, with the option of renewal. It is open two days a week and is volunteer run.

One volunteer, Renee Orlick, started as a user of the Community Tool Library. When she moved to Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood in 2013, she was able to borrow a tall ladder from the library to harvest the fruit trees she had throughout her yard. Around this time, Renee started volunteering and has since joined the organization’s board. Her main goal is to make the library as functional as possible including checking tool donations into the system so members can use them.

The community based nonprofit, Green Lents, offers even more for residents. There are two fellows, April Jamison and Izzy Armenta, who work with the organization as volunteer engagement coordinators for all four of their projects. April works on Community Tool Library, Malden Court Community Orchard and Pollinator Habitat, while Izzy works on Livable Lents.

Since education, skill building and sharing all promote a thriving, sustainable community, April and Izzy want to combine these into actions to share with neighbors, build community and grow knowledge.

They have ideas, like offering a summer DIY workshop series with the tool library, and are already conducting a survey with Livable Lents so they can hear from residents about their visions and needs for the community.

"What I like best about this organization is that it's a community asset that has been built by the community, for all of our neighbors. The dedication to sharing and growing strong together is really inspiring," said April.  

The organization looks for volunteers and those in the community who are interested in participating from the ground up, with ideas to grow within the established network. One such idea is about volunteers themselves. “Green Lents, like so many nonprofit organizations, rely on volunteers so we have defined a commitment where members can volunteer for two-to-four hours a month for six months. It’s working and we would like to see the involvement continue,” said April.

Visit the free Community Tool Library to borrow what you need and get involved with Green Lents to share ways to make a difference in your neighborhood.

Portland residents can access tool libraries around the city, based on where you live. Check out the North, Northeast or Southeast resources to learn more.