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Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Guest Post: DIY Ideas to Freshen Your Throwaway Furniture

Guest

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Hi Everyone! We know you may be over here shopping for new furniture, but here at Design Public, we love to mix old and new. So while you peruse for the perfect wallpaper or a new big boy bed, consider pieces you may already own to go with them. Here’s Alex Levin , a writer for Granite Transformations (a green remodeling company that advances sustainable construction practices reducing waste and recycling, such as using broken Skyy vodka bottles to make countertops), with some helpful hints about how to re-use and repurpose. take it away Alex!


In today’s economy, replacing outdated, broken or just plain ugly furniture isn’t always affordable. Furthermore, tossing old furniture also costs the earth. Learn to look beyond the finish of a piece of furniture to reveal the construction, design and material underneath. Here are some ideas to get your started.
Potential Projects:
Lightening up old pieces: Worried that your dark brown antique buffet table will look out of place in your new home – but you love the shape? Paint it a bright bold color that will play off other items in the room and throughout  your home.
Freshen up a wardrobe: Strip, sand and paint one white for child’s room. Add funky hardware (knobs and pulls can be changed out as your kids grow up).
Reupholster a sofa or chairs: Choose a fabric you like, and find a matching glossy paint for the wood frame and legs. You’ll need ribbon and adhesive glue to keep it in place, upholstery tacks and a staple gun.
Wooden tables, desks and cupboards. Whether you want to paint or sand down to restore the original finish is up to you. Kitchen cupboards gain a whole new lease of life through simple repainting, while desks can look completely
different through a coat of gloss and a new stencil design.
Getting Started
1. Evaluate your existing furniture. Make necessary repairs; fix wobbly legs, fill cracks, and take care of any other structural problems.
2. Look at the finish. Assess if you need to strip and sand before refinishing/painting.
3. Gather supplies. Round up everything from the dust cover to protect the floor to the paintbrush. You may need to purchase a few safety items, like gloves and goggles.
4. Choose a workspace. Factor in the weather, ventilation, and upcoming  in-law visits.
Upcycling: Repurpose an Old Item  to Make Something New
Here are a few ideas:
  • Place an old door atop two filing cabinets to create a hard-working desk.
  • Turn plastic bottles into chandeliers
  • Make an Adirondack chair from old baseball bats
  • Turn an iron into a bedside lamp for a unique retro look
  • Transform a clawfoot bathtub into a sofa
  • Turn a discarded dishwasher drum into a modern coffee table
Refurbishing old furniture is easier than you think, and is also a lot of fun. A few quick fixes can help your inherited old pieces fit into contemporary surroundings, save you cash and save the planet.
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Monday, November 7th, 2011

Designer Interview: Gitane Royce of Modern Playhouse

Becky

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Today we’re having a chat with Gitane Royce of Modern Playhouse. These earth- and kiddo-friendly playhouses make cozy modern spots for children to play and imagine. Who knows, they just might inspire your kiddo to become the next Mies!
1. Did you have a playhouse growing up?
I grew up in a rural New England setting and didn’t have a playhouse as a child. Instead I constructed countless forts made in and out of trees, couches, tables, and with lots of blankets. Modern Playhouse is my way of bringing my nostalgic rural childhood memories to an urban setting. The simplicity of my
playhouses leaves plenty of creative room for a child to make a space all her own… as I once did!
2. How did the Modern Playhouse concept develop?
My child was born. I wanted to give her a space truly her own in our home and hacked out my first modernist influenced playhouse for she and her friends to play in. I do maintain that my 2 year old didn’t care about the architectural influence on her playhouse structure but my idea was to make the openings simple enough that she would appreciate her defining space but still have a connection to the outside world from her domain. In this case the outside world was our living room and us.
The inside/outside connection in modernist architecture is well documented and I think a nice concept for childhood on so many different levels. I began to get orders for playhouses from other families in our San Francisco community and the Modern Playhouse concept was born: simple modern design for kids, made from sustainable materials, easily assembled, and made in the USA.
3. How do kiddos respond to your playhouses?
With overwhelming cheer! The pre-walkers crawl in and pop themselves up at the window, the early toddlers open and close the door and sit at the table with delight, and the 2 yr+ kids
engage in pretend play or artistic endeavors, snack eating, house decorating, and everything a child does but all with a proud sense of place. It is so fun to watch the kids play in their houses! Child-led play is so nice to observe and so important developmentally for them.
4. Why do you think it’s important to produce earth friendly products for kids?
I truly believe that good product design for kids has a sustainable element…whether it be recycled, recyclable, repurposed, made close to home, or made from responsibly managed raw materials. I think as a parent and business owner on this planet I am COMPELLED to do the best I can to manufacture
my kids products incorporating elements from the above list. By manufacturing this way, my hope is that my products reuse traditional waste materials, create less green house gases, and ultimately get passed on to other families after they are no longer needed. Truly there is nothing more satisfying than offering handcrafted, non-toxic, and long lasting sustainable products to my customer. Ok, besides the sheer joy the houses bring to the kids!
5. What is in the future for Modern Playhouse?
As a one-woman show and a parent, everything happens at Modern Playhouse from my perspective… and to coin a phrase from my father-in-law… in the fullness of time. Having said that, I am delighted to launch the Puzzle House during Fall 2011. This house goes together…well, like a puzzle… and is
manufactured from sustainable domestically sourced wood products. The Puzzle has a slightly smaller footprint than my existing playhouses. The Modern Playhouse product line has a bright future with other exciting products to be released in Spring 2012!
We can’t wait to see what’s coming down the pipe from Modern Playhouse. In the meantime, shop all Modern Playhouse.
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Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Guest Blog: Three Cheap-n-Easy Repurposing Projects

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Hi Everyone! Becky here! Please welcome Alex Levin, who is guest blogging for us today. Alex is a writer for Granite Transformations, agreen remodeling company that advances sustainable construction practices by finding new ways to reduce waste and recycle such as using broken Skyy vodka bottles to make countertops. Take it away, Alex…

Whether you are doing a complete re-vamp or just adding new elements to your home, there are endless possibilities for creating a unique and comfortable atmosphere for your living space. I try to be as green as possible, combining repurposed pieces with new ones in order to achieve a feeling of lived-in usability.  Here are a few tips for repurposing that will make you feel a bit like a Home Improvement MacGyver.


A Free Storage Solution For Mugs, Pots, and Pans: One of the biggest problems in kitchens is lack of storage space. I, for one, have more mugs than cabinet space. Some friends of mine found a great solution to this problem in their Brooklyn loft that will work almost anywhere: mounting a shipping pallet on the wall with hooks for hanging items. Pallets are available from trucking companies, warehouses and even home improvement centers, sometimes for free – keep your eyes open for them on the sidewalk, in the alleys, and leaning up against dumpster. Make sure the pallet you choose is clean and structurally sound. If you’re not feeling the natural wood, paint it or stain it.  Next, install hooks along the slats. The small, screw-in type of hook works well for mugs, but if you are planning on hanging larger items from your pallet, upgrade your hook quality accordingly.  You can also use “S” hooks is you don’t want to commit to your hook placement. Once you’ve got your hooks where you want them, mount the pallet on your wall, making sure to utilize the studs in the construction. Ask at your local home improvement store for advice on the hardware necessary for your type of wall. Voila! From beer steins to measuring cups, this is a great space saver.

Have an Old Door? Think Horizontal! Another resourceful idea is to use an old door as a table. With a repurposed piece like this, you can feel free to paint, stain or adjust whatever you want to work with your individual style. Scope out your local flea market or hit up an estate sale for pieces that will fit in your space. First, make sure your door is sanded and clean; this may require a wire brush.  Second, attach the legs. Home improvement and hardware stores sell table legs in various heights. Consult a pro when determining the best way to attach the legs. Before you know it, Knock, knock…who’s there?  Your dining room table!

If you’re still on a repurposing roll, an old ladder is a great piece for storage.  A short, fixed ladder can be suspended from the ceiling in the kitchen and used as a pot hanger. First, make sure you have a secure ceiling for this project as it will be quite heavy (in other words, don’t just screw it into a popcorn ceiling!) Simply grab some “S” hooks from a hardware store and hang pots and pans from them.  A ladder can also be used as a towel rack in the bathroom.  This is a great solution for a bathroom with tiled walls where installing a traditional towel rack is tricky.  Just lean the ladder against the wall at a suitable angle – no tile damage required!  If you have enough space in your bathroom, a step ladder can be a fun way to create even more storage.  Hang towels along the rounded rungs and place bath supplies, candles or houseplants on the steps.


Now that you’ve got a few ideas, head to your local flea market and go nuts! Look at things with new eyes and try to imagine how you could use it.  Repurposing projects aren’t just limited to large fixtures.  You’ll be amazed by what you can create from the most random of things – if you’ve ever used a coffee can for pens, you’ve already repurposed!

Images via Funky Junk Interiors

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Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Flickr Faves on Fridays: Repurposed Pallet Coffee Table

Becky

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I love the looks of this coffee table that?? Saídos da Concha posted to our Fresh New Spaces Group on Flickr:

It’s an upcycled pallet with some simple wheels attached and some very nice styling. The geraniums are the perfect touch. For more lovely photographs and images from her handmade life, check out Concha’s blog. She even has very simple instructions for how to make this table.

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Friday, January 28th, 2011

Flickr Faves on Fridays: A Mod Modular

Becky

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kitHAUS K1+K2, Santa Barbara

I couldn’t help but notice the new additions to our Fresh New Spaces Group from kitHAUS.

kitHAUS K1+K2, Santa Barbara

It made me want to know more about this project, like is it prefab? What green technologies were used? What is the rest of the context of the site? So I popped on over to their website, and recognized their smaller shed instantly, I know I’ve been in one a few times at different shows and exhibitions and such. This house is so much bigger – kitHAUS, we want to know more; you teased us by adding this to the flickr group, now come chat with us about how these modules are designed and how you put them together!

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