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!
Louis Vuitton Monogram Carryall
2006 Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas Nice Cosmetic Travel Case
Set of Six "PIA" Hand Painted Bone China Horse, Hound and Rider Napkin Rings
Flip-Top Writing Desk
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.
Antique Victorian Side-by-Side Secretary Cabinet
Mid Century Modern Walnut Secretary
Vintage French Louis XV Style Leather Top Desk or "Bureau Plat"
Vintage Buffalo Leather Doctor Bag
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.
Tory Burch Roslyn Yellow Pebbled Leather Tote
Vintage Embossed Metal Hotel Front Desk Counter Call Bell
Vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Round Acrylic Desk Clock
Secretary With Display Hutch by Century Furniture
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.
First Edition "For Whom The Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway
Chippendale Style Mahogany Secretary Desk
Vintage Jofco Mid Century Modern Walnut Executive Desk
Antique Double School Desk
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.
Webster Co. Sterling Silver Napkin Rings Set
Tiffany & Co Boxed Swing Desk Clock
Tumi Black Nylon Roller Bag
Vintage Neoclassical Style Mahogany Leather 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.
New-in-Packages Bed and Table Linens with Matelasse and Battenberg
Mid-Century Painted Yellow Desk
Executive Desk by Hekman Furniture
Antique Empire Style Flame Mahogany Slant-Front Desk
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.
Vintage Jacobean Revival Cabinet-on-Stand with Neoclassical Inlays
Early Victorian Walnut Secretary Hutch
Vintage Industrial Style Swivel Desk Chair
Chippendale Style Mahogany Writing Desk
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 Hardcover Books and Literary Classics
Vintage Italian P.B. Machina Achiaio Coffee Mill with Antique Leather Bag
Brass Lyre Shaped Accent Lamp
Vintage Jacobean Revival Style Double Pedestal Desk with Neoclassical Inlays
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.
Sterling Silver Embossed Napkin Rings
Contemporary Wooden Desk and Hutch
19th Century Early Tunbridgeware Walnut Lap Desk
Antique Painted Writing Desk with Chestnut Top
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!