Shabby Chic Home Furnishings

Incorporate the latest home furnishing trends into your space.

Recycling? So yesterday. These days, design enthusiasts are all about creatively reusing furniture, card catalogs, medicine cabinets and far more unexpected items, mixing them in with modern furnishings or creating entire spaces from so-called “upcycled” goods.

Reclamation is the name of the game, and shabby chic—which got its moniker in the 1980s when designer Rachel Ashwell began selling slipcovered furniture and vintage accessories under her Shabby Chic brand—has become more about sustainability than aesthetic. Here are some of the simplest and most endearing ideas around.

From the blog of dedicated upcycler KariAnne Wood from her Byron, Ga. restored vintage farmhouse, comes this idea: Fashion old silver-plated spoons into retro-cool cabinet handles. Start by flattening the head with a rubber hammer, bending the handle, engraving the spoon with its storage purpose (“cereal,” “snacks,” etc.), drilling holes into the top and bottom of the piece and screwing it into your cabinet. The look—in a minimal space—is both clean and witty.

Brooklyn writer Grace Bonney, who runs the DesignSponge website, proves that anything can be rewired—or wired for the first time ever—as cool accent lighting. She made a simple tree branch into a floor lamp by running a wire up the branch and through a warm copper pipe fit with an exposed bulb. There you have it—waste upcycled into useful art, and so much more original in the midst of a burgeoning or already beautifully curated art collection.

Brothers Maxwell and Oliver Ryan, who launched upcycling site Apartment Therapy in 2007 to help people creatively reuse and reduce their need for stuff, provide 10 fantastic ways to reuse a library card catalog. Their solutions include putting it on wheels and using it as a rolling storage bench, making into a closet organizer and repurposing it into a mini bar. Reduce, reuse … and upcycle. It’s the most sustainable way to personalize your space.

Click though our gallery for ideas on reusing older furniture and adding to your design aesthetic.