Re-purpose Christmas Lights with a Clear Vase

January 25th, 2015

This is an easy project to complete with stunning results.  The project is to use an old tall clear vase and put a string of the small Christmas lights inside.  I saw in a restaurant in the South.  They had drilled a small hole at the base of the vase, large enough to get the light string cord through.  I assume they used a ceramic tile drill bit to drill the hole in the glass.

They push the cord from the inside of the vase, through the hole and re-attached the plug after doing so.  Those of us less handy could just have the cord come out of the top of the vase and tape the cord to the vase with clear packing tape and acheive the same results if we put the lamp in a location that would conceal the cord running down the outside of the vase.

Please go to this site to see an example of the project  http://imageshack.com/a/img913/2179/nlWMah.jpg

It truly is a great looking addition to any livingroom, familyroom, den or game room.

Re-purpose Christmas Lights with a Clear Vase

January 25th, 2015


New Look for Kitchen Cabinets

November 7th, 2014

We have finally finished all the projects we had planned for the house we purchased a year and a half ago.  I’ve done several articles describing the thought process and implementation of projects and now I have some time to show you the results and talk in more detail regarding the steps to get these results.

There were several projects that were obvious when we purchased this “short sale” but the most glaring to us was the kitchen cabinets.  All the stained woodwork in the house; kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, entertainment cabinet, buffet and front door were done in a light maple color.  While the cabinets were very nice the color was simply not our taste.





These were all custom cabinets and we knew we needed to find a way to reuse them.  Obviously we could sand them down and try to find a stain that would work with the maple wood to get the color we wanted.  We could paint the cabinets a solid color which is common today, but how long will that be in style.

As we talked to builders, these were the options they suggested.  Having done a kitchen remodel many years ago with new cabinets that turned out perfectly, I contacted the cabinet maker we used then and he suggested we talk with the fellow he used to do all his finish work.  We scheduled an appointment for him to come see the project and give us a bid.  He spent quite a bit of time looking at the construction of the cabinets and talked to us about what we wanted.

My wife and I have been through several remodeling projects and knew what we wanted.  My wife told he contractor that she wanted the cabinets to be dark, not expresso but more walnut color than anything else and she did not want the color to have any red in it like mahogany.  The contractor asked if he could take one of the drawers with him to do a sample finish on and he would return the next day to see if we liked the color.  Normally I would not let go of a drawer but this contractor was a known entity to us to we let him take the drawer with him.

The next day he returned with exactly what we wanted as far as color and finish.  His price was 1/3 the price of other quotes we had and they had not provided a sample.  I had to ask how his price was that much cheaper.  He said he was not sanding and refinishing, he was faux finishing the cabinets.  Here’s how they turned out.



Daily I walk by these cabinets and marvel at the craftsmanship that went into making our kitchen exactly as we had envisioned it.  If you happen to live in the Kansas City area I would gladly give you his name, Brad Busby with Finish Works.

House on the Market? Part 3

March 19th, 2014

We set a schedule to begin going through the new house and fixing/updating/demolishing parts of the house that needed the most help or would be best completed while we were not occupying the house.  The deadline was arbitrary since we our only wish was to limit cost of storage.  So we settled on the beginning of May which would be before my wife’s milestone birthday and a large party I had planned.

First I need to say everyone’s taste is different, things we changed others might find appealing.  Having said that the front door and all the kitchen cabinets as well as the dining room buffet and some hall cabinets were a very, very light maple color.  We are not light maple people in fact we like expresso and dark walnut colors.  The kitchen is very large with mostly every built-in appliance and to start over with new cabinets would be not only wasteful but very expensive.  We started looking at alternatives, thinking likely we would need to have someone sand down and completely refinish the cabinets.  We had a relationship with a cabinet maker from the remodel of our old house several years earlier, I called him and asked who he would recommend.  He said the guy who finished our cabinets before.

After looking at the cabinets and listening to our wants, he asked to take a drawer to try some things on and he would come back with a price.  Normally I would not let any part of the cabinets leave the house for fear that would be the last time I saw the part, but we had some experience with this painter and let him take the drawer.  A day or two later he returned with the drawer looking exactly like we wanted, it was faux finished.  The cost was 1/3 the number I had budgeted to do this work, including the front door and buffet as well as the hall cabinets and a bath vanity.

This is one of those projects I was glad we had not occupied the house yet.  The odor would make anyone light headed.  I don’t know how the painter managed, but he did.  The results went way beyond our expectations.

At the same time the cabinets were being redone, many places in the house were being painted.  Every bedroom had large pieces of artwork painted on the walls including horses, fairies, plants, cherubs and even religious figures in some areas.  Like I said before some of you may like that sort of thing, it’s just not our style so we had that painted over.  We checked with the local paint recyclers to see what paints were available but in this area the recyclers are content to mix all colors and end up with gray which they market to prisons.  But don’t give up hope of recycling, if you have a large quantity of paint.  Several of the large paint suppliers will re-tint your paint for a fraction of the cost of their lines of paint.  However here we ended up using Sherwin Williams Super Paint, which has a primer in it, so only one coat was needed.  We tried other paints which were supposedly one coat paints without success.

All four of the upstairs bedrooms had built-in desk and book shelves and two of the bedroom had large display cabinets.  None of these built-ins were in line with our taste.  None of these were easy to remove but you have to start with a mess to end up where you want.  As I removed the display cabinets, I placed them in the basement.  I didn’t realize how many lineal feet of display cabinets I had until I got them in the basement.  I lined them up and it was the beginning of a wall which I planned to build in at a later time.  Since the desk, shelves and cabinets were built in I had a lot of wall repair to do.  I’ve never had a problem mudding and patching sheetrock as long as I use the light weight patching material which is much easier to sand.

The master closet had a stacked set of washer and dryer built in also.  There was a laundry room up stairs also and as we looked around to see where we could get a laundry room on the first floor we knew where we would have put it and found behind some shelves in a closet in that area was the hose bibb for a washer.  As we peeled a thin layer of wood off the wall, in the area, we also found the outlet for a dryer.  Using some of the wood from the shelves removed up stairs I covered all evidence of a washer unit in the master closet.

That’s probably enough for this installment.  In the next installment I’ll show some photo of our projects.

House on the Market? Part 2

January 23rd, 2014

Moving is a great time to edit your belongings.  So as you prepare to pack sort items in piles to take, piles to sell, piles to donate and piles of trash.  It is a good time to be ruthless as you sort because you will be paying by the pound to move these items or if you are moving yourself you will be picking up these items to load and picking up these items to unload.  During a prior move I vividly remember unloading boxes and watching my wife throw away items from the box I had just lifted twice, so try to avoid this.

Be sure as you start your pile for trash you separate what is recyclable and what is bound for the trash heap.

You may question what to keep and what to discard because you are unsure how items might look in your new house.  I will mention this later also… if you buy a house you truly like, most of the items you truly like will work in the new house.  Your taste is reflected in your house and in your belongings and they will go together.

For the items you want to sell, garage sales and craigslist.org are the best way to deplete your pile of things to sell.  Any household items that are left, please look at your local charities to donate.  Often they have a large need for exactly the items you have and typically they will come pick them up.  Any remaining items can go to Goodwill or Salvation Army.  Getting a receipt will get you a tax deduction.

After the movers pick up our remaining boxes of belongings and delivered them to our storage unit (in our home town), this is where our story bogged down.  For a year our stuff sat in a storage unit packed away, unsure if it survived the move.  Our storage unit was very nice, large with access on both ends.  However after a little Internet research I put mice traps and bombed the unit twice in the year for bugs.

Systematically during the year we would need an item from the storage unit.  The movers did a great job of packing, labeling the contents in each box and wrapping all items in excessive amounts of paper, all of which is recyclable.   Ultimately when we unpacked the contents of our 4000 sf house that had been stored for a year, not a single item was broke which was a real testament for the skill of the packers.

After a year on the market our real estate broker presented an offer that we could accept.  The timing of the sale was not great, we loss a large sum of money but we were getting ready to take advantage of someone else’s bad timing when they sold to us.

Over the years in our house in Florida we had completely gone through the interior and exterior of the house.  When we were shopping for a new house I guess you could say we were looking for a house that we could recycle.  Not one that was perfect, or decorated like Crate and Barrel, a house that had location since that you can’t change.   We knew we wanted a large yard, our preference of bedrooms and baths in a house with good bones.  We searched for the entire year we had the Florida house on the market.  However we were lucky that we were not under any timeline since we had our other house in the area.  The negative part of that year was the cost of maintaining the house the Florida house as well as the home town house and paying for storage.

Finally we found a house that was a short sale.  The house was pricey for a short sale but it was easy to see the potential.  Bad decor along with poor maintenance and neglect turned away most buyers away from this diamond in the rough.  Paint colors, bad wall murals, bathroom vanities with amazingly bad taste, loose tiles, an unmowed lawn with a lot of dead grass, along with leaks around hot waters heaters had most people running form this house.  We bought this house, a house to recycle!

We were fortunate that we could stay in our other house and begin work on the new house right away.  We gave ourselves two months to get initial projects before we moved in and then we would put our old house on the market.  This is where our true recycling, re-purposing and reuse began on a large scale.  See the next installment for more details.

House on the Market? Now here’s a great chance to Recycle, Reuse, and Re-purpose

January 5th, 2014

This is the first of several articles developed when we placed our primary residence on the market.  Actually we decided to place our house in Florida on the market, sell it and place our other house in our home town for sale when we found a new house to buy in our home town.

We have been retired for several years and had a large house in Florida for 9 years.  After 9 years it was apparent that we were spending half of our time in Florida and the other half with our family in our home town and we were never going to call Florida our full time home.

The cost of maintaining two homes was costly but we enjoyed the neighborhood and our friends there.  Not until we started working on our website rentalhome.com did I realize, we could  sell our place and still rent a house near the water and pocket a tidy sum of money annually without all the cost and headaches associated with having a home a long distance away.

In this experience we learned so many valuable lessons that I want to pass on to you, beginning with picking a realtor and covering subjects like; picking a mover, picking a car hauler, picking a storage facility, what do with the contents of the house for sale, negotiating the sale, and ultimately how to recycle, reuse and re-purpose within the many opportunities that are presented in the sale of one house and the purchase of another..

This first installment will deal with the particulars of selling and moving and in later articles we will get to the matter of recycling.

Picking a realtor…….many lessons learned here.  I picked a realtor that was big in the area and part of a national brokerage firm which didn’t turn out.  We literally introduced her to some interested buyers on her first day who presented an offer to buy which we accepted.  The buyer was having problems getting the interest rate that they wanted and throw some bad advice from our realtor, we played hard ball with the buyer and they walked away.  Then the showings became very infrequent.  When we sat down and looked at the process we looked for a realtor with a great presence on the internet, since most property searches begin on the internet.  The new realtor not only had these qualifications but also had a staff that checked the home after showings to make sure lights were turned off and doors we locked.  While our sale wasn’t immediate, it sold and we had confidence it would with this realtor.

When our first buyers looked promising we wanted to be out of the way for closing, so we look for a mover to move our furnishings.  This can be extremely important not only for transporting you property safely but also if the moved property needs to stay in a storage facility as it happened for us (for nearly a year).  If you are moving more than just across town in my opinion you need a national or coastal mover, one of the big names.  Prices varied a lot more than I thought possible but the important things to look for are first make sure when you are getting quotes from your movers they do a detailed inventory of what you want moved and get a copy.  The more detailed the better.  The next thing I would suggest is that the insurance, which is costly, has little value when you look at how it is applied.  Ask questions about the insurance you will see.  The option of packing yourself or not is up to you, we paid to have them pack most everything.  A year later we could find things, in labeled boxes at our storage facility and they were still safe from damage.  We ended up with our belongings on two different trucks because the mover had a client add a lot to their move contents at the last minute.  Wasn’t a problem other than needed to meet two truck rather than one at the storage facility.

Picking a storage facility is fairly easy as long as you think about it.  You will want to be in the general area where your new house will be.  Cost certainly varies a lot.  But one of the things most often overlooked is that a tractor/trailer will need to get near you storage unit otherwise you will need to pay extra for the mover to unload your furniture.  Visit the storage facility and look at the layout.  Many facilities are shoehorned on to lots in congested areas without thought of how anything other than a small truck having access.

And finally in this article, finding a car hauler.  This part is easy.  I would not go online and find a hauler.  You won’t find any haulers, you find brokers who sell the lead to a hauler at a price where they make a good profit.  The best thing to do is find someone who uses a hauler they are happy with and negotiate a price directly.  Most car haulers are going to want cash at the delivery point, be aware of that.

This article is getting long and believe it or not I have been brief in the description of our services.  The next article in this series will address “Recycling and Conservation when relocating”

Custom Furniture Using Recycled Plastic

December 6th, 2012

We were recently made aware of a company in Kansas City that makes custom steel furniture using tops made from 100% post consumer plastic.  The company is PK Steel Designs who is using Yemm & Hart plastics.  The plastics are very interesting from the stand point of color and texture.

According to information we received regarding the the manufacture of Yemm & Hart plastics, it takes around eight mike jugs to make a pound of their product called “Origins”.  PK Steel Designs end tables using 1″ thick pancake type tops will require 100 milk jugs.

As you might guess from their name PK is a steel fabricator.  Visit their site at pksteelfurniture.com to see these custom pieces.

Recycling Chalkboards

December 5th, 2012

It is always interesting to see how people recycle, reuse and re-purpose different materials and this is no exception.  A small clip in the local newspaper showed using discarded chalkboards to make serving trays.  In the example they used the chalkboard to serve cheese with the names of the cheese written in chalk below each different cheese.  Can this be safe?

After some research I learned that prior to 1950 chalkboards were mostly made from slate and later made by enameling porcelain on steel, who knew?  With the advent of marker boards many new schools are being constructed without a single chalkboard in them.  Of course this will make old chalkboards more rare as time goes by.

So would chalk be a problem?  Chalk is made primarily from calcium carbonate which as I understand it as a layperson is not harmful to humans in general.  Like everything I’m sure there are exceptions with individuals allergic to calcium carbonate and these people should avoid contact with old chalk boards as well as chalk.

The news clip also showed a site with reclaimed chalkboards available for purchase  at www.uncommongoods.com .  These boards would be great for diner parties or events where labeling of your display would be helpful.  We at recycled furniture are constantly amazed at the ingenuity and creativity of all those showing respect for the plant by reusing, recycling and repurposing.

If you have an idea we would like to hear from you.

Repurposing Door Knobs and Pulls

August 20th, 2012

Door knobs and pulls come in such a wide variety of designs and materials I can see why some people collect them.  The very old glass knobs found around the turn of the century are like large jewels and drawer pulls come in many designs, colors, materials and vintages.  So what should we do with them?

The decorative nature of drawer pulls makes them great for craft type uses.  I saw a plaque in a child’s room that was no more than a painted piece of wood where drawer pulls where used to spell out the child’s name.  A one of a kind piece of art.

While you likely don’t have a collection of knobs laying around your house they are easy to find at estate sales and auctions.  Architectural reclamation stores are a good place to shop for unique pulls and knobs as well.   Pulls are a different story if you have done any kitchen, bath or furniture remodeling.  For some reason it is hard to throw away these little gems.

The easiest place to use knobs and pulls are for hangers and hooks.  Imagine several of those old glass knobs mounted to a board and used to hang coats on.  Or a single knob mounted on the wall to hang a picture or mirror from.  Use them in your shop to hang garden tools or extension cords, etc.

Without thinking too hard you can likely come up with ways to utilize your cash of pulls.  Remember whenever you reuse or re-purpose anything the savings are many fold.  You didn’t throw the pulls or knobs away so there is less waste in the landfills.  You didn’t buy a new product that needed to be manufacturer consuming energy in the manufacturing.  That product didn’t need to be transported by truck or rail which consumes a large amount of energy.  It didn’t need to be packaged in any way which also avoids waste.  Being creative saves!

100 Year Old Wood Right Under Our Nose

June 27th, 2012

As we began thinking of getting rid of an old piano, one my wife learned to play on and a gift from her mother, she immediately thought of creating a memory for herself by making a wall hanging using some of the piano’s keys in a picture-frame made from some wood from the piano, but we didn’t give one thought to the age of the wood.

<p>Not until we began disassembling the piano did we find a clearly stamped serial number on the harp of this old Carlisle piano.  It only took a couple seconds after typing in the name of the manufacturer and the model number to learn the the piano was manufactured between 1903 and 1905.  We had wood that was milled over 107 years ago!  Not only was it 107 years old, it had not been exposed to the elements and was in pristine condition.  Suddenly it was important to save as much of this wood as possible.

<p>A quick search on youtube.com and we found a video explaining how to correctly disassemble a piano which showed in detail the procedure used by the person who filmed the  deconstruction of his piano.  It was interesting to watch and then put into practice.  The detail and intricacies of this 100 year old instrument were fascinating.  Ultimately we found in the piano an extremely heavy large harp and immediately thought of the woods ability to support this harp for so long and so well.

<p>My original thought was to call for a special pickup from our trash collection company.  Then I remembered a friend telling me that he had put new gutters up and posted the old gutters on craigslists.org as scrap metal and someone picked them up.  It only took 20 minutes for a person to pick up this heavy harp and I knew they would take it to a scrap metal yard where it would be recycled instead of ending up in in a trash dump site.

<p>A nice pile of 100+year old wood with many uses, metal recycled, and a happy wife…a win, win, win!


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