The Decorating Divas
Don't Redecorate - Repurpose
March, 2006 - Issue #17
The original zebra stenciled cowhide used as a rug was laid on top of wall-to-wall sea grass.
The original zebra stenciled cowhide used as a rug was laid on top of wall-to-wall sea grass.
reA·purA·pose (r -pur p s) To use or convert for use in another format or product.

Donna: The latest in interior design is repurposing. In other words, use what you have, use it in a new way or reinvent it! Anne had grown tired of her home office and felt that she needed a change, but she couldn't financially justify redoing the entire room. We brainstormed, and I suggested she take the zebra stenciled cowhide that she was using as a floor covering and repurpose it to reupholster an occasional chair that she was tired of.

Anne: I'll never forget when Donna and I were shopping for shoes at Lane Crawford, Hong Kong's version of Saks Fifth Avenue. On our way to the ladies room, we both noticed a beautiful wall and at the exact same time realized that it was covered with tightly woven sisal, a natural kind of floor covering. It looked so gorgeous that we both vowed then and there to never look at floor coverings in a traditional way again.

It was several years later when a client of ours pondered over what to do with an old needlepoint rug that she had grown tired of. In the end, we decided to hang it on the wall above the bed in her guest bedroom.

Donna: A friend of ours, Trish, is a photo stylist by profession and a very creative person. No surprise then that she used an old door as her formal dining room tabletop! And she used two extremely large pieces of pottery to set the top on; the end result is stunning.

Anne: A few years ago, I was on the hunt for a new coffee table for my flat in Hong Kong. I wanted a large, oversized coffee table that would be the centerpiece of the room. It would be flanked by my two matching sofas, and any number of chairs, floor cushions, or ottomans that needed to be pulled up to it as well. I had the good fortune of stumbling across a gorgeous dining room table that fit the bill perfectly. I asked the shop owner what the price was, and she told me that one of the legs on the table was damaged beyond repair, so it wasn't for sale. I pursued, and the end result was perfect. I paid her $300 dollars and had the legs cut off so the table stood 18 inches from the floor.

Donna and Anne: Before you buy new furniture, consider using what you have (unless you're Anne, and you've sold almost everything). For example, try using a bedroom dresser as a dining buffet table. Mixing and matching gives the impression of pieces being collected over time, rather than buying an entire set of matching furniture off the showroom floor. And it cost a lot less, too!

Using space efficiently is required work for small-home owners. Here, a chair for two doubles as a single bed, and the primary sleeping area is lifted off the ground to create more space for its resident.
Using space efficiently is required work for small-home owners. Here, a chair for two doubles as a single bed, and the primary sleeping area is lifted off the ground to create more space for its resident.
Anne: Nearly as exciting as repurposing is making your living space multitask. After relocating to the SCV more than one year ago, I finally finished decorating my boys' small bedrooms. I knew immediately that I could create more space by moving their beds off the floor.

At my request, a craftsman designed a wooden bed that attached along two walls and was supported by just one leg on the opposite corner. I stained the wood black and allowed the natural wood grain to show through.

I needed to come up with a way to disguise the underneath side of the bed, as this created a "ceiling" in the "living area" of their bedrooms. I decided that I would wallpaper each of their new ceilings with black and white photocopies of their favorite things. I simply applied the pictures to the underneath side of their new beds like a collage using wallpaper paste.

Donna: Anne's perfect chairs were my idea. They are armless, can easily seat two boys at a time and are slipcovered - but the real bonus is that the chairs perform double duty. They fold out into a single bed.

Anne: The boys both loved the blue striped slipcover, so that was our taking-off point. Max wanted his room painted the color of his beloved royal blue soccer jersey, and Ben opted for army green, which translated, literally into Benjamin Moore's shade, GI Green. Max had three small square windows along one wall in his room, so I incorporated them into the design by painting a thick white stripe along the length of the windows. I then highlighted the stripe with thin black stripes to make it more prominent.

Next was the flooring. I hated the carpeting that was installed throughout the second floor of the house, and I really wanted to replace it entirely with wall-to-wall seagrass. However, the boys were bound and determined not to sit or lay around on "itchy or scratchy" seagrass. Yet, since our home is small, I wanted to keep the look clean and consistent.

Donna: I encouraged Anne to stick to her design instincts, and at the same time try to give the boys what they wanted: something soft and fun. Then it hit me.... What about one of our favorite new products: Interface Flor? Flor consists of modular carpet squares that can be used to create either wall-to-wall carpeting or simply an area rug. It comes in many shades and patterns and you can even create your own design. In the end, Anne got her wall-to-wall seagrass installed throughout the entire second floor of her home, and she then installed Interface Flor area rugs on top of the seagrass in Max's and Ben's bedrooms. Everyone was happy.

Anne: I then added a few decorative accessories. I framed sports posters and some of the kids' original artwork, and then added some homemade hooks for baseball caps and medals to finish off their rooms. Both boys are thrilled and feel they had a large impact on the overall design.


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