Making interiors new with old items

Gone are the days when green living lacked style. Now, it’s common to hear homeowners talk about the different — and sometimes surprising — ways that they are reusing and repurposing items in their home.

Two local interiors experts shared tips for using old items in new settings.

Claim old wood furniture as your own

“A lot of times I can shop within the walls of the client’s actual home vs. even going out and buying something that’s old,” said Cristi Holcombe, the owner of Cristi Holcombe Interiors. “They may have something that can be reupholstered and repainted.”

By reupholstering, you can make a family antique or item you love fit your design style, said Jill McKenzie, a co-owner of Steve McKenzie’s, an Atlanta interiors and lifestyle store that opened in 2012. For example, she has re-covered old chairs in a natural flax Belgian linen that is digitally printed in North Carolina.

“It helps tremendously that it’s a piece that you have either an attachment to or a special affinity for,” she said.

When using reclaimed furniture, the finishes on some chairs purchased at yard sales, antique stores or consignment shops, or handed down from friends or family, may be in good condition. But if the finish needs attention, McKenzie said one idea is to use paint in a glossy finish to add personality to your room. In one project, Steve McKenzie — formerly the CEO of the custom framing company Larson-Juhl — took a set of French Bergere chairs from the 1880s that were purchased from neighbor Anne Flaire Antiques, stripped the wood and waxed it.

Another option that interior designers and do-it-yourselfers use is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, which the company says has no odor and contains low volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

“It gives the furniture such a great patina,” Holcombe said. “It gives it an aged but updated look at the same time.”

Reinvent items, from floor to ceiling

Sometimes items for the home can be found in everyday places. Supermarkets may be willing to let go — for free — the wooden crates used to haul fruit, vegetables and other products. The crates can be repainted or stained and reused as bookshelves, tables and even a bench (topped with a piece of wood and upholstered seating).

Holcombe suggests that old baskets being stored in your attic or even used as a planter can be turned into chandeliers and pendants. Kits or a local lighting store can transform a basket into unique lighting.

Mix and match

The trend is moving away from completely shabby-chic decor to an eclectic style that brings together distressed pieces and modern elements, Holcombe said.

Place sleek furniture next to recovered antique chairs next to an old industrial cart on an antique runner, and it can look cozy, warm and inviting, Jill McKenzie said.

“I think it helps speak to showing your personality,” she said. “Everything did not come from the same store and same vignette.”

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