Summer is a hard time for me to think about decorating; I mostly turn my focus outside to my garden and porch. But I do use these months to edit my closets and clear the clutter. (I am inspired by all of the tag sales taking place in my neighborhood every weekend.) Aside from donating a fair share of goods to my local thrift shop, I try to concoct new uses for old stuff. Here are 10 super-easy ways to give everyday items new purpose. In most cases, all you need is a few minutes, scissors, tape and glue.
Vases: Have a cylinder glass vase left over from a flower arrangement someone sent you? Rather than have it collect dust in a cupboard, why not turn it into a picture frame? Not only is it pleasing to look at, but you can also hide stuff behind the picture – like your television remote controls. First cut a band of colored paper the same height as the vase. Center a photo on the piece of paper and affix it with double-sided tape. Bend the paper to fit inside the vase.
Empty tins: Transform old tins by covering them in Japanese washi tape. Similar in texture to masking tape (in that it’s super easy to tear), washi tape is much more durable and comes in tons of pretty and stylish patterns.
Maps: Rather than have your maps sit unused in a drawer or glove compartment, you can turn them into place mats. Choose maps of where you live, favorite destinations or somewhere that you are about to go on vacation. Cut them to size and laminate to reuse, or use once and dispose of.
Gift wrap and wallpaper: Create instant art by framing wallpaper samples or even scraps of your favorite patterned wrapping paper. Or take any “paper” collection and turn it into art. I recently framed a client’s collection of potato bags.
Toothbrush holders: These make an ideal vase because they have holes that keep the flowers in place. Fill with water, place the lid on top and add flowers. Just make sure that you cut the flower stems short enough so that the vase doesn’t topple over.
Wine corks: Save the corks from finished bottles of wine. The next time you have a dinner party, make a slit on one side and insert a place card in each cork.
Leftover tiles: Don’t discard unused tiles from your bathroom renovation. Instead attach adhesive felt tabs to the bottom corners of the tiles. Stack them and keep them handy to use as coasters.
Tea saucers: Put a pretty orphan tea saucer to use in your powder room as a soap dish.
Casserole dishes: If you’ve broken the top to a covered casserole dish (like I have), use the bottom as a vase for fresh flowers or as a pot for plants or orchids. If using it as a planter, make sure you create a drainage layer by adding some stones or pebbles to the bottom of the pot, under the soil.
Old-fashioned toast racks: Store new mail in the slots of a toast rack; when it gets full, go though the mail, pay bills, respond to invites, and shred or toss anything else.
Mayhew, a “Today” show style expert and former magazine editor, is the author of “Flip! for Decorating.”
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