Making room for the past: How to renovate creatively by upcycling

deck-003a8833-webWhen I initially heard the term upcycling, the first thing that came to mind was the boys and girls in fluoro lycra puffing and panting their way up Dornoch Terrace in the morning.

As far as it applies to my version of building and renovation, upcycling is really about finding a new purpose for something that no longer serves its old purpose, with a dash of creativity thrown in.

The story of the house is definitely richer for mixing the old with the new. Here are some of my upcycling victories.

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If you had seen the beautiful hardwood—which had been supporting the 1940s extension—you would understand. Instantly, when the rough-sawn hardwood was cut, we could see the beautiful grains and colours and the potential to include them in the renovation. We dressed the timbers, then assembled and glued them together. Voila! Vanity benches. We sanded the tops of the benches and applied a stain. In doing so, we added a new chapter to the continuing story of the house.

The closed-in front verandah was being opened, so the beautiful front door had to go. It had seen too many comings and goings to take its stories to the tip. We found a place for it as the door opening onto the back deck. It was definitely worth the effort, despite the painter being less than thrilled at doing the repair and repaint.

Promising I would find a use for it, I quietly retrieved the traditional lattice—which had until now been screening the outdoor laundry—from the top of the skip. When the new patio went in, I used the salvaged lattice to hang flower pots above a new bench seat, adding another tale from the old house to the new.

When it came time to furnish the outdoor deck, my entire furnishing budget was already spent – inside(oops). Not to be defeated, I sourced some beautiful jarrah chairs from Gumtree. With some glue, a sand and a stain, and some new cushions, they blend right in!

Opportunities to take redundant parts of an old house and repurpose them —whilst also preserving history—are only limited by your creativity and problem-solving abilities. kitchendoor-003a7182-web timbervanities-003a7893-web lattice-20130811-web

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