Reuse: Some Projects at Our House

I’ve talked before about reuse being even better than recycling. Recycling is certainly better than throwing something in the trash, but recycling does require energy to process. If you can find a way to reuse an item, it’s possible to do that with less energy output than recycling.

Fortunately for us, my husband enjoys woodworking and is also very creative. He consistently finds ways to reuse wood scraps and left over items from projects in our home. I thought I’d devote this blog post to a few of those things in our house. Today, I’m starting with our girls’ room.

When we bought this house in 2004 there was an icky room off of the laundry room, next to the garage. It had a stained, gray concrete floor, really dark wood paneling — generally dingy and grimy. After our girls came along and we were desperate to get some of their toys out of our living room, we decided to fix up the icky room. We painted the paneling and all the trim and my husband installed bamboo flooring. In the end, the room turned out like this:

As the girls have gotten older, we started having a problem with their shoes ending up all over the place. We finally worked out a system to get them to take their shoes up to their room each night, but there wasn’t really anywhere to put them. After a week or so of looking at the “shoe pile” in their room, my husband came up with the idea for this shoe rack. He made it out of left over bamboo flooring strips from the playroom and extra plywood he had from a train table he’d made them. I’m happy to report that the shoe rack works beautifully. They love to put their shoes away now.

Like most 4 year olds, our girls like to look at books. Books have become especially useful in the mornings when they awake at 5:00 a.m. and we’re not quite ready to get up yet. We’ve told them that if they wake up before 6:00, they may read quietly until we come to get them.

We had a large bin of books in their closet, but the books never seemed to end up back in there. I saw a bookshelf similar to the one below in a Pottery Barn catalog and showed it to my husband. He gathered some scrap wood together and came up with this. The girls love it.

Years ago a friend of mine decided she no longer wanted the wooden shutters on her house. My husband was happy to have them because he knew he’d be able to use the wood for something. He was in the process of building a storage cabinet for me and I asked him to use a pair of the shutters for the doors. We’ve since put the cabinet in the girls’ room to store some of their baby items and other mementos.

I realize that not everyone is a woodworker and that some of these projects would be very difficult to make by someone who is not. What I hope this post is more about, though, is thinking in creative ways. How can something be reused? What’s another way to re-purpose something you already have?

Stay tuned for more projects from around my house. I’d love to know what creative things you all have done.

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