Repurpose with Purpose: How to Use What You Have to Get What You Want


If you’ve ever opened an interior design magazine or watched an HGTV renovation show and sighed with longing, you’re not alone.

While most of us can’t just run out and create a new space on a whim, you can repurpose some of your favorite pieces to transform every room in your house.

But Where Do I Start?

Begin with a single room. Let’s say it’s the living room.

Identify the key items in the space. Are they functional? Decide which pieces you want to use: the sofa, the chair and the coffee table? Then, take everything out of the room except for those pieces, so you can see the room from a new perspective. Everything else goes to the side for a “shopping” space. (Yes, you are going to shop from your own inventory.)

From the big items and your side items, pull one inspiration piece. Maybe it’s a painting or vase. Maybe it’s a rug. It could be anything that catches your eye that you want to focus the room around. Pick one color from that inspiration piece.

And then repaint the room. Repainting rooms is one of the least expensive ways to make a big impact or change. If you don’t want to repaint an entire room, choose an accent wall, or even paint a piece of furniture.

Once you paint, spruce up the sofa or chair. Pull in a beautiful blanket or sheepskin from another room to drape over a couch. Swap pillows on chairs or the sofa. Place a mirror over the sofa to enhance the space. Switch art from one room with another.

Begin bringing in items from that shopping space, but only keep pieces you really love. Remember that you are trying to generate a feeling, and less is always more. Donate what you don’t need.

Room by Room

For the dining room and kitchen, stay simple. If you have a good dining room table, paint it. Swap out a light fixture with a shabby chic chandelier. In the kitchen, change knobs and pulls, add or change a backsplash, or create an accent wall with wallpaper.

For bedrooms, headboards go a long way, but if you’re not a DIY type, hang art above the bed. Just make sure it’s something soothing, as you want to create a peaceful environment to bolster rest. To bounce light around, perch two symmetrical lamps on nightstands. Hang mirrors behind the lamps to create a nice backdrop. Or, if you want to shake things up, pull in mismatched nightstands. (To create symmetry, make sure they are the same height.) Swap bedding, and create a seating area by bringing in a bench at the bottom of the bed, or use an ottoman instead.

Any time you become overwhelmed by the process, remember: Our lives and our spaces are entwined.

Use these tips to clear the clutter
(and your mind):

Empty out the room.

Get back to the basics. Simplify your space and your life. When our rooms (or minds) are all junked up with what we’ve been carrying around, it doesn’t feel good. It feels stale. It feels like we’re in the need of a spring-cleaning. Mindfulness is key. Come to the table with a beginner’s mind of possibilities. Ask yourself: What is possible here?

Take a step back.

Reorient yourself with yourself, and use the people in your life to help. If it’s reorganizing a room or going through life, you don’t have to take any of it on by yourself. Let people in to help you assess and give you a fresh perspective where you need it most.

Stop apologizing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a client’s home, and they have apologized for the mess. If you’ve ever thought, “I can’t let anyone come over unless my house is clean!” think about how that applies to your life too. Instead, stand up and say: This is what it looks like. We’re going to go from here.

“There is no perfect, so let people see the mess. The mess is real.”

At the end of the day, using what you have can bring you satisfaction and joy. Stop wanting what you don’t have, take a step back to appreciate what you do have, and you just might be surprised what you find.

Lindsey Cavanaugh