Design Hints

From Trash to Treasure

Erin Boles, a seasoned pro in the art of upcycling, loves finding new uses for old things in her Doylestown, Pennsylvania, home. “I never look at something for what it is or what it’s supposed to be,” she says. “I think of what it could become or how I can use it.” Here are five tips for incorporating salvaged materials into your home:
This New Old House
  • Devise Custom Collaborations: Seek out objects that can be combined to create something new for your home. "If I'm looking for a table, I don't look for a table," Erin explains. "I deconstruct it. I figure out what I want for the top -- is it a shutter? A floor plank? A door? Then I move on to the legs. Are they porch posts? Spindles? If you love something, find a way to use it."
  • Make Simple Swaps: Replace new doors with salvaged doors to provide a pop of texture and color. Erin also likes to trade traditional lighting fixtures for something completely unexpected, such as a reclaimed turbine roof vent or a wire basket. You can combine such finds with simple hanging fixtures, or work with a pro to have them wired.
  • Elevate the Ordinary: Shabby shutters, vintage doors and weathered windows make for especially unique wall art because they are versatile and can function as a backdrop on which to layer wreaths, signage or other decorative objects. They are also fabulous as stand-alone statement pieces, especially when painted.
  • Recast Scraps: Discarded wood scraps and molding are ideal for creating functional racks that blend in with a decorating scheme. Simply paint, add a few pretty hooks, and presto—instant coat hanger! Other bits and pieces of varying shapes, sizes and colors can be incorporated into striking elements such as wainscoting or a backsplash.
  • Let It Be: Not everything rescued from a flea market or trash receptacle will be required to undergo a massive transformation. Vintage suitcases, antique signs, old crates or a random piece of scrap metal are often perfect just as they are. Simply dust off and display for that finishing touch.
Written by Rebecca Razo
Photographed and Styled by Gridley + Graves