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!
2000 Burberry London Brown Leather Doctor's Satchel Briefcase
American Mahogany Office Storage Cabinet by Vetter Desk Works, 19th Century
1994 Customized Harley-Davidson 883 Hugger Sportster with 1200CC Engine
Pair of Scheibe Luggage Stands
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.
Boleslawiec Polish Pottery Serving Pieces
Bronze Patinated Curved Metal Bird Form Table Lamp with Sliced Agate Shade
2002 Louis Vuitton Paris Monogram Canvas Reporter PM Bag
1988 Vintage Louis Vuitton Paris Monogram Canvas Keepall 45 Duffle
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.
Vintage Coach Cabin Black Leather Duffle Bag
Empire Mahogany Fall-Front Secretary Desk, Early 19th Century
Bottega Veneta Black Rubberized Canvas Marco Polo Bag
British Colonial Style Painted Wooden Writing Desk, 20th Century
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.
Herend 1997 Artist Show First Edition Gold Fishnet "Starfish" Porcelain Figurine
Antique Farmhouse Style Table in Pine
Cherry Writing Desk, Early 20th Century
Queen Anne Style Walnut Drop Front Secretary Desk, Early 20th Century
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.
Pair of Hancock & Moore Desk Chairs
Georgian Mahogany Secretary Bookcase, Early 19th Century
Herend Hungary First Edition Hand-Painted Porcelain Leopard Trinket Box
First American Edition "Harry Potter" Series with First Printing "Chamber"
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.
Fostoria "American" Square Glass Cake Stand
Prada Sacca 2 Manici Bianco Nylon Convertible Satchel
Federal Style Mahogany Slant Front Secretary, 20th Century
Herend First Edition Green Fishnet with 24K Gold "Mare with Foal" Figurine
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.
Eastlake Walnut Bookcase over Cylinder Desk, Early 20th Century
Federal Style Secretary Bookcase
Fostoria "American" Round Pedestal Cake Stand
Art Deco Style Figural Desk Lamp
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!
Lenox "Christmas Holly" Table Linens by SunWeave
Antique Table Linens
Stone Inlay Desk Globe
Sterling Silver Napkin Rings and Spoons including Towle, Gorham and Wallace
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.
Rookwood Pottery 1926 "Hercules" Desk Tray for Cincinnati Commonwealth Club
1950s Vintage Golden Leaf of Shanghai, China Tan Pigskin Leather Briefcase
14K White Gold Diamond Trellis Bridge Ring
Christofle Silver Plate Desk Set and Bottle Opener
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!