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Eco Savvy Style

Creative thinking turns would-be trash into ingenious treasure

Repurposing-inspirational stores are recycling meccas for the eco-savvy, creative, and adventurous homeowner. When patrons visit these stores, they hopefully walk out with a treasure that will tell a story about its past and foretell of its owner’s future ingenuity. These stores help us to save memories and to avoid waste.

A patron usually has one of three different general ideas for their treasure. One, they will reuse the item as it was originally designed such as a bathroom sink relocated to a new home. Secondly, the item could be generally used in the same way, but located creatively such as older kitchen cabinets used for a laundry room. Thirdly, purchased items can be used for completely unique purposes such as an old door used for a table top.

Store owners receive donations or arrange special purchases from people that own buildings that are either renovated or demolished. In fact, these store owners are a type of hero that goes into areas where building materials would normally be sent to the landfill and they gather it all up and take it back to their store to clean and organize so that it can be purchased often for only a fraction of its original price. The variety of acquired materials ranges from basic architectural supplies such as over-ordered items to vintage light fixtures, decorative banisters, and century-old oak wood trim. On one hand, excessive building supplies are reused rather than wasted. On the other hand, special architectural features and history are preserved. “You can look at some of our items and recognize that we are keeping the city’s history alive,” says Lisa Doxsee, communications manager of Building Value in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Unpredictability must be seen as an opportunity more than as a challenge. “Often times, the items are ‘project starters,’” says Doxsee. Items move quickly, so your project ideas must be flexible. Some of the most common challenges include finding items that are the correct size for their intended repurposed locations and functions. For example, if a homeowner plans to purchase a vintage sink for their bathroom remodel, it may take several weeks before finding the sink that has the desired style and the specific size needed. Sometimes traveling from store to store or making a trip to another city is needed if you do not have a time constraint. In this case, flexibility and planning ahead are key strategies for a repurposing project.

It is so much easier to purchase a new coffee table from a furniture store rather than to make enormous efforts creating a coffee table out of unusual sorts of salvaged materials. There are advantages, however, and rewards for ingenuity and hard work. For a college student, the repurposed coffee table may better fit their budget. For the artist, the coffee table will engender a dearness that comes only from building a vision. For the eco-savvy homeowner, repurposing is one of the most enjoyable ways to improve the environment by diverting waste from the landfill.

Aside from frequenting a repurposing store for a home project, store owners have noted high school students come to find supplies for theatrical settings, artists find reclaimed materials for sculptures, jewelry, and furniture, and entrepreneurs such as restaurant-owners find the unique items they need to create a fun and swanky interior design.

Resources such as magazines and blogs are useful for the creative repurposing homeowner. If inspiration comes easy, but fulfilling the inspiration is a challenge, there are contractors and specialized furniture companies that can construct the project. “We have posted photographs of ideas that our patrons have shared with us to help shoppers come up with their own ideas,” says Chris Sauer, owner of Columbus Architectural Salvage. Employees and store owners are also great resources for the patron who needs guidance with creativity, inspiration, and/or the realization of the project.

Some extreme designers have taken repurposing to another level by renovating an entire kitchen by using all salvaged and reclaimed materials. In this case, mixing up materials is a key design element. It would also take careful thinking and purchasing so that the project’s materials are all purchased in advance before beginning construction. Take care to recognize personal dangers such as lead paints that may coat many of the best items in the store.

No matter how large or small the project, there is great satisfaction to be found when saving waste and creativity meet. Whether or not you plan to use materials from a reuse store, it would be of great value to think about donating your items because, “Deconstruction is simply the right thing to do. It creates jobs, it reduces the amount of waste going to our landfills, it saves valuable natural resources and it preserves architectural antiques that are abundant in historical buildings,” says Jerry Janszen, director of Building Value in Cincinnati.


Below is some information shared by Lisa Doxsee from The Deconstruction Institute website:

The deconstruction of a typical 2,000-square-foot wood frame home can yield 6,000 board feet of reusable lumber. This is equivalent to 33 mature trees, or the yearly output of 10 acres of planted pine.

The average American home (2,000 square feet), if demolished, would produce about 10,000 cubic feet of debris.

Deconstruction is more labor intensive than demolition. Consequently, more time and money is spent on hand labor than on the operation of heavy equipment. Building Value’s job training program creates well-paid, entry-level jobs for the construction trades.

The average single family home contains 5,174 pounds of steel and 1,830 pounds of plastics. Net green house gas reduction from recycling this material is 2,956 pounds, a benefit equivalent to the annual CO2 absorption of 114 trees.

Each year the United States buries about 33 million tons of wood related construction and demolition debris in our landfills. As anaerobic microorganisms decompose this wood, it will release about 5 million tons of carbon equivalent in the form of methane gas. This is equivalent to the yearly emissions of 3,736,000 passenger cars.

Every ton of wood that is reused avoids the creation of 60 pounds of green house gases that would have been created to harvest and mill new lumber.


 

Here are a few creative repurposing ideas to jump-start your imagination:


● Doors as bed headboards, tables, wainscoting, benches, desktops, countertops, and hinged together as a room screen.
● Windows as photo frames and mirrors.
● Bowling alley flooring as a kitchen countertop.
● Unusual furniture items used for different functions such as a library filing cabinet for a wine rack.
● Industrial and mail crates as coffee tables.
● Vintage door knobs installed as coat and towel hooks.
● Vintage architectural items such as skeleton keys and chandelier crystals used in jewelry.
● Vintage lighting fixtures rewired.
● Large granite slabs from a deconstructed bridge used as front door steps.
● Drawers gathered from multiple dressers and recombined to make a new dresser.
● A dry-erase board or a chalkboard used as a tabletop or a countertop.
● Reclaimed stone, brick, or concrete blocks for landscaping projects.
● Milk bottles turned into lamps.

 

Shop Locally - Cincinnati

Ready to go eco?

Here are some great spots to check out repurposed materials and furniture in the Cincinnati area.

Building Value
buildingvalue.org
Non-profit building materials re-use enterprise, founded in 2004 by Easter Seals. Doors, windows, sinks, cabinets, architectural antiques and more.

ReStore
habitat-tristate.org/ReStore.aspx
The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a home improvement resale store where building materials, appliances, plumbing and electrical supplies are sold at greatly reduced prices.

ReUse Centers
reusecenters.org
Quality reclaimed building materials with locations in Erlanger, Covington and Cincinnati. Non-profit which benefits the RESET Ministry.

Rustic Refinery
rusticrefinery.com
Rustic Refinery is a veteran owned retail business dedicated to supplying a range of high-quality and environmentally-friendly furniture to discerning customers.

Bizarre Bazaar
www.thebizarrebazaar.com
Recycled glass, reclaimed wood and metal, and many other unique materials producing beautiful decorative items.

Classical Glass
classicalglasscincinnati.com
Glass art including architectural art glass, custom one-of-a-kind pieces, expert repair and restoration.

Ohio Valley Antique Mall
www.ohiovalleyantiques.com
Antiques, collectibles, books, furniture, vintage clothing and accessories in 65,000-square-foot facility.

Proficient Assistant
theproficientassistant.com
Lifestyle management company helps reorganize and redesign spaces with a goal to repurpose items for budget-conscious and environmentally-friendly design.
 


 

Shop Locally - Columbus

Ready to go eco?

Here are some great spots to check out repurposed materials and furniture in the Columbus area.

Columbus Architectural Salvage
columbusarchitecturalsalvage.com
Columbus Architectural Salvage recycles old house parts, vintage building materials, and architectural elements for reuse in today’s decorating, renovation, and new construction projects.

Columbus Reclaimed Elements
reclaimedelements.com
Pieces are carefully designed and built to display the unique character and natural aging of the wood, metal and other materials.

Grandview Mercantile
grandviewmercantile.com
Showcasing 80 central Ohio antique dealers. Includes ReVue, a consignment store featuring antique, vintage, and previously owned furniture and accessories.

Heart of Ohio Antique Center
heartofohioantiques.biz/
Over 650 dealers from 20 states, featuring high quality antiques and collectibles.

Heritage Square Antique Mall
heritagesquareantiquemall.com
Antiques and vintage items in a 53,000-squarefoot showroom with over 400 dealers.

Trading Places
tradingplacesoh.com
A consignment store in Powell that specializes in furniture and decorative accessories for the home.

Ubberhaus
ubberhaus.com
High end used furniture and home decor resale store in Columbus.

Upscale Resale Furniture
upscaleresalefurnishings.com
Used and new furniture at a fraction of the original cost.
 


 

Shop Locally - Pittsburgh

Ready to go eco?

Here are some great spots to check out repurposed materials and furniture in the Pittsburgh area.

Black Lamb
blacklambconsignments.com
Black Lamb Consignments believes that finding second homes for things we have outgrown or no longer need is simply smart living.

Construction Junction
constructionjunction.org
Construction Junction promotes conservation through the reuse of building materials.
 


 

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