Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Thoughts on repurposing

You may not like what I have to say on this post, so if you're easily put out or don't have a sense of humor, you might want to move on.

This trend where people take old things and repurpose them... 

it's got to stop.

I know a lot of you do it, but when you're a gal that actually uses antique and vintage items for their intended purpose and the prices keep rising on things you need, because of a trend, it's annoying.

Take for instance....

Clawfoot bathtubs that used to grace the inside of beautiful victorian bathrooms are now sitting in people's yards holding flowers. Can you imagine what your great grandmother would have said if she came across such a thing?

How about sinks..

or toilets...

Good Lord, the woman would have fainted!

Metal wheel barrows are doing the same thing.

Ripped out antique windows that have lasted between 80 to 200 years in their rightful place are now gracing God knows where, instead of going into other old houses, that had their beautiful windows ripped out too, for some double paned mess that will deteriorate in 20 years. (Ask me how I know and more on that later)

Doors too.

Seriously... what is that?

That knob is a hazard!

Typewriters that used to write beautiful letters and novels are being torn apart for things like cufflinks.

Remember that trend where people ripped the covers off of antique books?


The list goes on and on.

There's a particular store here that claims they sell antiques. John and I went in and our jaws dropped. Things that we've needed for so long for the house were everywhere, but turned into something other than what they were intended for.  And the stuff that hadn't been touched was so outrageously expensive that I just shook my head.

It was depressing.

You know what else is depressing?

There's been times when I've bought something old and the person taking my money will ask me what I'm going to do with it. 


"What are you going to do with that antique plant holder?"

Um... use it for holding a plant.

Look of shock.

"What are you going to do with that old window?

Um... use it for a window.

Look of bewilderment.

Now, I get that no one is trying to rain on my 'living vintage parade' and that everyone isn't as crazy as I am. 

I also get that some of those pinterest pictures are hard to resist.

I mean look how cute this is:

And I'm not trying to rain on anyone's farmhousey, Joanna Gaines loving heart, but I really wish another trend would come along and sweep everyone off their feet, so I didn't have to pay 50 bucks for a 1920s 2x2 window that used to be free.

I'm just glad I found Julia, 

before she was turned into this:

The horror!

By the way, she's restored and in place.

Next post is about her :)


I warned you ;)


  1. My mother was 100% guilty of this. Having grown up during the Depression, she suffered at the thought of throwing away anything. Thus, the bowed-out screen door was repurposed as a dog gate in the back yard. Any kind of pot, bowl, dish, no matter how cracked, became a planter. She turned old laundry detergent bottles into Easter egg bunnies, filled with candy for my class (she was room mother). Old pantyhose tied up tomatoes, or were stuffed and made into dolls. An old door became a table (without the knob, just set on sawhorses for "projects").
    I don't mind the thriftiness, even if I don't appreciate the aesthetic. A clawfoot tub really belongs in a bathroom--they are indestructible and can be refurbished. Other things, like old toilets--well, best crushed as landfill, I guess.

  2. I guess I am guilty of repurposing things. I have turned an old porch balustrade into a lamp. Sorry, not sorry lol. xo

  3. Oh my. I have repurposed a thing or two, but for the most part, leave the 'oldies but goodies' as they are. The trend of painting antique furniture is one that makes me cringe. ;-) I have to admit though, that some of the painted pieces do look lovely. We are all different, with different tastes. Some will call me old-fashioned because of the way I decorate, and that's ok with me. I am who I am. I want to be happy, content and comfortable here in my little Plum Cottage.

    I look forward to seeing restored Julia, in all of her glory in her new home.

    Happy Fall ~ FlowerLady

  4. I have a love/hate relationship with repurposed things. I've used old windows (out of my own home) and I do like some old things used in landscaping but I draw the line at bathroom fixtures. My grandmother had a toilet out in the front yard when I was growing up - hubby didn't believe me until I found an old photo of the cousins where you could see it in the background!
    I started looking for corbels to put in our entry when we first moved in this house but I found very few matching pairs and those were way out of my price range so I ended up with reproductions. The house was built in 2005 so I'm okay with it - if I had been refurbishing an older home I would have held out for vintage ones.
    Can't wait to see Julia!

  5. Yep - some things in life need no embellishment! And some of the "repurposed" things are just plain ugly. That table...shudder.

  6. I am with you to a point. I have an old wooden window in my living room that I rescued from someone that had it just laying around outside. I have replacement windows so that was not going to work in my house so I hung it and put a few hooks on it to hang jackets on. I love the old door headboards and would love to do that....however the tub, toliet and sink in the garden is not doable. But what really breaks my heart is the antique typewritters or singer sewing machines that are setting out in the yard or garden. They will be ruined so fast that way. However I do love rust in my garden but I will do that with newer metal rusty pieces. I am a repurposer and upcycler though and I had no issues using the spring to a baby bed in my garden for vines to grow up and I do try to find ways to repurpose lots of things. Can't wait to see your new piece redone and in the house.

  7. Hi, Rue...I was so glad to see you come by for a visit.
    Looking around, I have nothing meant for one purpose redone for another. I do have the metal base of an old Singer sewing machine that my mom had...Bill made me a table with the base..I've no idea whatever happened to the sewing machine itself. Mother probably got the base at a garage sale.
    I've seen old doors used different ways that are cute...I LOVE painted furniture and some old things but have never been an antique lover.....we are all different and that's what makes life fun.

  8. We know a lady here in town that stockpiles old door knobs, hardware, windows, and the like and she is always happy to give folks that are working on old houses anything that they might need, that she has in her stockpile.
    I hope that you can find someone like that in your area! It sure would make it nice to not have to pay outrageous prices for 'antique' items :)

    Happy restoring, and looking forward to seeing how the old refrig turned out!!

    {{hugs}} from a gal that 'gets it' and understands about old houses.

  9. I've never understood the toilet planter is just gross to me, but I know there are those who really like that look. We have tried to find the vintage pieces to use in their natural state for our home as well and they are just unaffordable for us and we have to leave them behind. I'm so glad you were able to get Julia into place and I'm looking forward to the post! Love and hugs sweet friend!

  10. Rue, it reminds me of people who want a modern home but go out and buy a beautiful old home and then gut it and "update" it beyond recognition! If you want a modern home, buy a newer house to renovate and leave the beautiful vintage home for someone who will appreciate it.

  11. I love repurposed old things (except toilets for planters, lol) because I figure it's better than people throwing those things away and polluting our environment. But, I know...each to their own!

  12. I am on your side sweetie pie. I have a 1940's breakfront in my living room which I've shown on my blog. People say.. paint it! But it was bought and loved brand new and I don't have the heart. So I polished up the brass handles and I will try to redo the little bits that need it but, no, I can't touch it.
    My mother had an old Martha Washington.. a sewing cabinet.. that had layers upon layers of paint on it. The latest had been my aunts fascination with Chinese red lacquer. My mother was horrified and when it was finally hers, took every bit of that paint off and restored its former glory.
    Your blog has shown over the years how well that turns out and it is a nice testimony to the fact that old doesn't mean gone forever. Things can be revived and reused. Why, I still have my mother's 1960 Osterizer blender and my dad's weed wacker from that same time frame.
    Keep up the good fight darlin'.

  13. Thank goodness for someone else who thinks all this "repurposing" is a shame. The worst is painting beautiful, old wood pieces white!!! How would you get that off?!? And it is a crime all the tearing apart old books and typewriters. I cringe at people on TV who MUST have an old house--then tear everything out and make it one big room. If they think they are creating something new and trendy, they're not--people lived in one-room houses for most of human history. Thanks for letting me vent.

    1. I think the greatest damage anyone can do is tear out the insides of an old house. It makes me cry every time.

      Vent anytime :)


  14. The sight of toilet bowls used as flower pots was the ickiest and funniest thing I've seen in a long time, Rue! lol

    I see the trend for everyone painting everything white these days and shudder. Someone in my neighborhood was complaining about her "pink" brick fireplace and that she was going to paint it. All I could remember was years ago people complaining about their painted fireplaces and wanting to return them to real brick. I guess people are never happy and styles just keep on changing and if we live long enough we see those styles go back and forth. I found that the Habitat for Humanity Restore stores usually have nice vintage items for a good price--do you have any of those stores there? They run by donations. A great place to find an old door or window or vintage furniture.

  15. I'm with you, to a point. Living in a 1920's home that we've respectfully updated we've run into a lot of what you're going though. The items we need are impossible to find or they're ridiculously priced thanks to the repurposing and Joanna Gaines crazes. Ps...not a fan, never even seen the show. I'm also not a fan of taking perfectly good antiques and repurposing them. However, I have no problem with taking items that are broken, damaged beyond useful repair or heading to the trash because no one wants them in their current state and making them over. That said, I rarely find pieces like that. Most of my thrifty makeovers are pieces from much more modern times. Like the 70's and no offense, but I don't think anything from that era is worth saving. ;) Just kidding. Sort of...xo

  16. Ah ha ha! I love this post...even though at times, I am the offender lol!

  17. Entertaining post. Guess you'll just have to step up to the plate and start a new trend. And, thank you for capitalizing the "G" in God :)

  18. I am with you on the bathroom fixtures, but I think turning the wheelbarrow into a planter is a great idea. Those things are terrible to use, and I'd rather see it as a planter than in a landfill. I repurposed a birdcage into a planter too, as I'd rather see the birds in nature, and the cage on the veranda instead of the trash.

  19. I know - I know. I have a tiny house and inherited too much stuff. My house was so crowded, it was like a thrift shop. I tried so hard to get one of my children to take either the beautiful maple twin bed or the lovely four posted double bed. Sturdy, lovely beds. But no one wanted them and I already have too many matching 1920's and 1930's bedroom sets. I sold them at a garage sale for a shamefully low price I can't even type and saw them offered for sale, all cut up, into some kind of goofy benches - advertised for hundreds of dollars. It just breaks my heart. I would have gladly given them to anyone who asked. But they sat for four days despite advertising photos all over the internet. Bravo to you for saving the things worth saving!!!!

  20. I agree! My claw foot bathtub is in my bathroom just for the record. Another crime is drilling holes in good old metal buckets (gasp!). The old buckets are a far better quality to use as buckets! If you want a planter, buy a new bucket and drill holes. Also, it should be much easier as they are practically tinfoil. Hang on a minute. Is there really enough room on this soapbox for two? I better step down 😉

  21. I agree with you about repurposing, although I have been guilty at times! My husband wanted an anvil for his blacksmithing hobby and went to a private auction only to find himself bidding against a lady who he later found out wanted the anvil for a plant stand in her garden. He ended up paying more than he wanted to but was happy in the end to get it as it was in good condition. She was quite surprised when he told her he was actually going to use it for its original purpose.

  22. Windows are double "paned" not pained.

    1. Fixed. I must have missed that mistake when I went over everything before pushing publish. Thanks!

  23. Oh Rue, It really is sad to see where some prized 'antiques' end up. I will say that I would rather see something being used for some purpose though rather than taken to a dump and bulldozed under and destroyed. Sometimes things are so structurally compromised that they can't be used for their intended purpose-wood that has rotted or metal items that are so rusted that they can't support the weight they were intended to support. Other than that, I love seeing things reused for their original purpose and re-loved.

    I hope you and John have a wonderful, blessed weekend, Rue! Love ya, kiddo!!!! xo Diana

  24. I remember someone telling me when I first moved to the mountains to drive down this particular stretch of road, that someone had a toilet on their lawn as a planter....and I didn't believe them! That is, until I was actually on that road one day and nearly swerved off the road when sure enough, there it was in the middle of their front lawn - the horrors!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. I could not agree with you more. It saddens me to see things "repurposed" that could have had a nice life the way they were. I was recently in a thrift store and there was a man that was almost crying because someone had chalk painted a set of mid-century Danish modern chairs. As I was walking around the store for over 20 minutes I could hear him talking about it over and over. He was so crushed and a beautiful set of teak furniture was destroyed. The worst to me is the books! I actually have a ton of old books and most of the covers fell off and it makes sad to see them without their "clothes" so to speak. Have a great weekend.

  26. Oh Rue, I bet you had all of us checking our conscience for these things. Let's see, no bathroom fixtures in the yard ever for us and I wouldn't dream of taking covers off old books. It sickens me when I'm flipping through my large collection of vintage magazines and find that someone has torn out a page. I'd rather see my collection burned someday than it to be shorn of all its Coca-Cola ads.

    But the window thing caught me out. I do have a gorgeous tall window with diamond panes that RH found and surprised me with it at Christmas years ago, its glass replaced with mirror. All of our windows in the 1920 part of our house then were original windows with great wavy glass and I loved them but also loved my new old mirror window. Still have it here in this 1935 cottage where the previous owners replaced all the windows with energy efficient ones, the old ones long since gone to window heaven probably. Another thing that bugs me is that they clad the whole house in vinyl siding. We peeked under a section when we moved here and it's old red painted wood siding. How marvelous is that! Probably will stay covered though as our landlord is our son and someday when we aren't here it will probably be sold. Still, I dream about what the beautiful red house that hides beneath the vinyl.

    I'm glad you're sticking up for authenticity!

  27. Having a 1929 home I have always kept what was left original original . I can't stand when someone buy and old house and guts it to make it new...Its so upsetting to me. My home is decoraoting using thrift store finds and I rarely change them up since what I love about them is their age. I wouldn't paint over good wood e.ver but some that are in such bad shape, as my dressing table, I did. I like that other repurose things...its keeping them alive but with a new look, but only if they need a new look!

  28. Ohhhh, I agree! Well, I have to say, your icebox caught my eye as we have a restored icebox in our kitchen, as well - and YES, it is being used as an icebox. The former owner used it as a dresser and then stuffed it onlovingly into their basement for years. My husband thinks we should resort back to a "real" fridge, but I'm not sure I can let this piece of history go .... please, do tell me more about your icebox. Mine is from the 1800s so it is wooden, unlike your metal one. My husband did, however, find me a 1950s fridge to use if I feel the need.

    1. Hi Gigi :)

      Is it an icebox that uses ice or a converted one? I had one that took ice in my last house, but I never could convince my now ex to let me use it for it's original purpose. It just sat on my back porch and I was going to use it here, but long story short, it never made it here. I posted more about Julia on my last post, but I'm happy to answer any other questions :)

      I hope you see this, because I have no way of reaching you except here.


  29. oh dear, you wouldn't approve of some of my "projects"... lol...

  30. lol

    And indeed you do have a very valid point here, Rue.

  31. Right you are! I am glad you found Julia too! About those double pane windows, well they are not worth any amount of money as far as I am concerned. I am having to replace the ones on my house because they just do not last as longs as far as the seal goes and they stop sliding correctly after a while.
    So LOVE this post.

  32. I agree Rue, so many of the ideas you shared, I roll my eyes at. The planting flowers in bathtubs, sinks and other really makes my eyes roll.

  33. I must say I agree. Ripping the keys off old typewriters and using toilets as planters are a no no for me.

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