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!
Locker Kneehole Desk by Pottery Barn Teen
Kyle Kinser Hand-Made Walnut Writing Desk with Two Drawers
Antique Mahogany and Pine Desk-on-Stand, Circa 19th Century
Louis XVI Style 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.
Signed First Edition Works by Eric Carle
French Country Style Secretaire A Abbatant
Antique Poplar Schoolmaster's Desk, Circa Second Quarter 19th Century
Antique Flat-Top Steamer Trunk, Circa Late 19th to Early 20th Century
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.
Pair of Signed First Edition Eric Carle Books
Writing Desk and Chair
Pablo Picasso Color Linoleum Cut "Picador Goading Bull with Matador" 1962
Vintage O.C. White Co. Copper Desk Lamp
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.
Regency Style Writing Desk
Vintage Hartmann Leather Briefcase
Four Sterling Silver Napkin Rings
Pablo Picasso Color Linoleum Cut "Picador and Matador" 1962
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.
Mahogany Executive Desk
Pablo Picasso Color Linoleum Cut "Picador and Bull" 1962
1942 First Edition "The Moon is Down" by John Steinbeck
1960s-70s Indonesian Modernist Original Oil on Canvas
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.
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!
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!