Katie Brown, Brooklyn, NY
It’s been over a decade since she was introduced as “the next Martha Stewart" by Lifetime TV, but Katie Brown is in a class of her own. As a working mother of two – armed with little more than a contagious enthusiasm and a glue gun – her ability to turn a house into a home (and then turn that home into a party, workshop, or wonderland when applicable) is why she’s become a household name for so many aspiring DIYers who crave her approachable and authentic “dime-store domesticity.” Fans love her philosophy of embracing the mistakes and recognizing the beauty in the imperfect, which is integral in training the eye to see opportunities in thrifted and vintage items. Read Katie’s picks on what objects pack the most potential when it comes to giving them a second life, and shop her sale of wonderful treasures from her home and television show, “Katie Brown Workshop.” Soon you’ll be DIY-ing like a true design celeb.
1. Give an armchair a whimsical and modern update.
Pick a color and run with it. Find a high-gloss paint in that color and paint all the wood accents and trim. Next, pick a textured fabric in your color and reupholster. What once was a dated chair is now a bold monochromatic statement!
Leather Desk Chair from Hooker Furniture
1991 Louis Vuitton Paris Malletier Monogram Canvas Garment Bag
Louis Vuitton Monogram Keepall Bandoulière 55 Duffel Bag
Art Deco Style Desk from Hooker Furniture
2. You might see a trellis. I see a perfect headboard.
It doesn’t have to take a lot of manual labor and talent to reimagine one thing into something else. Sometimes repurposing just means thinking outside the box.
1960 Limited Edition "Picasso's Sketchbook, 1955 - 1956 Carnet de la Californie"
Vintage Walnut Kneehole Desk
Vintage Bureau à Gradin
1940 First Edition "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway
3. Update a desk that is perfect for any teen’s bedroom.
Paint it their favorite color, then replace the hardware with stunning mod options, and get a mirror cut to the same size as the surface to place on top.
Arts and Crafts Style Desk
Lomonosov Porcelain Sucrier with Blue Danube and Bombay Tableware
Pierre Arquie Limoges Hand-Painted Reading Desk Porcelain Trinket Box
Danish Modern Conversion Cabinet Desk
4. Reimagine old tools into new art.
An antique peg rake has such simple clean lines and would be a perfect objet d’art to hang on any wall. To use it in a super productive way, hang your onions, dried herbs and garlic from it in your kitchen.
Leatherette Jewelry Travel Cases
Mid Century Modern Children's Desk by Klein Kraft Products
Antique Eastlake Mahogany Cylinder Desk with Bookcase
Leather Desk Valets
5. Give old books a new chapter.
I like to take old books and cut off the front and back, and then secure white paper in-between the covers and use it as a diary or sketch pad. This can also make a great gift especially if you can find a title or cover art that celebrates the recipient.
Vintage Hartmann Skymate Train Case
Atenti Beige and Black Leopard Print Weekender Bag with Matching Pouch
E. J. Bellocq Silver Gelatin Print "Nude on Chaise" from "Storyville Portraits"
19th Century Cherry Slant Top Desk
6. Add a touch of whimsy to any house by repurposing big glass candy jars.
Scoop up collections to display on bookshelves, coffee table or other surfaces.
Set of Heywood-Wakefield Student Chairs
Computer Writing Desk by Stanley Furniture
Barbie Goes Traveling Carrying Case with Allen Doll & Accessories
Shreve & Co. and Rogers, Lunt & Bowlen Co. Sterling Silver Napkin Rings
7. Rusty old tools are great when given a second life!
Tools, wheels and gears can make a magical statement when placed on a side table, coffee table or entry table. These make the biggest impact when they are grouped together.
19th Century Regency Rosewood Davenport Desk
Parry Vielle Limoges Hand-Painted Porcelain Pill Box
A Chippendale Style Secretary by Maddox Tables
Mid-Century Writing Desk by Sligh-Lowry
8. Yes, yes, I know, I know this is a fire extinguisher.
However, it is copper, it is a beautiful shape, it has weathered just perfectly. and if you take the top off it is a useful umbrella holder!
Vintage Linen Sheets and Tablecloths
Woolen Tablecloth and Napkins
Narrow Secretary and Display Cabinet
Fostoria "Midnight Rose" Etched Glass Stemware and Luncheon Plates
9. Tablecloths and napkins are not just for the table.
They can be framed to add a touch of texture and color to any room.
Blue and White Flatware Including Vintage East German with Napkins Rings
F.F.A. Malveira Hand-Painted Portuguese Dinnerware including Casafina
Brass and Marble Bankers Lamp
Ethan Allen Wood Desk and Side Table
10. A gift within a gift!
Have a gift that is large or difficult to wrap? One fun and creative way to wrap it up is by using vintage luggage tied with a big bright bow. The bonus is that the luggage can be reused!