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!
Pottery Barn Storage Utility Desk and Two Wood Stools with Woven Rattan Seats
Kate Spade New York Black Leather Briefcase Bag
Pottery Barn White Bookshelves and Lateral File
Carved and Burl Veneered Secretary with Hutch
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 Hepplewhite Style Writing Desk
Longchamp Folding Backpack in Leather and Nylon
Rustic Style Desk by Hooker Furniture
Stickley Cherry Desk
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.
1970s Signed Volumes of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child
Three Folding Luggage Stands
Vintage Walnut Desk by Owosso
Louis Vuitton of Paris Monogram Coated Canvas Rolling Suitcase
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.
Federal Style Mahogany Secretary Bookcase
Circa 1970s Roberta di Camerino Small Canvas Duffel Bag
Mid-Century Modern Desk and Pottery including Weller
Vintage Wooden Spinet 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.
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.
Art Deco Style Vanity Desk by Williamsport Furniture Company
Mid Century Painted Knee Hole Desk
Oak Cabinet with Slanted Desk
Vintage Faux Fur, Felted and Woven Cellophane Hats and Case
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.
Inlaid Stone and Shell Desk Globe
Villeroy & Bach Crystal Candlesticks and Assorted Decor
Vintage Chippendale Style Mahogany Secretary Bookcase
1949 First Edition "The Devil in Massachusetts" by Marion L. Starkey
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!
Fendi Pequin Stripe and Leather Duffel Bag
Vintage Wurlitzer Upright Piano
Vintage Fostoria "Mother of Pearl" Iridescent Champagne Coupes with Ice Bucket
Offset Lithograph on Paper after Henri Matisse "The Red Room (Harmony in Red)"
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.
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!