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Advice & More May 2016

Repurpose, Restore, Revive!

By Catherine Maggard

Can you imagine coming home from a night out, maybe a little tipsy, to find that your living room had been redecorated and your furniture moved all around, sometimes to other rooms, by your 15-year-old babysitter?

I’ve always had this fascination with all things creative. Whether it be turning an ugly duckling piece into a lustrous swan or transforming an ugly room… I honestly believe there’s nothing I can’t revive!

As a little girl, I remember playing Barbies a lot  – but must admit, my favorite part was the setup. I’d roam the house, mine or a friend’s –  getting in trouble more than once for digging around in someone else’s closets or cupboards as I looked for all sorts of clever things to use to build the most elaborate Barbie houses. Thread spools, album covers, cans and bowls – I found goodies to use everywhere! This drove my little friends nuts as they waited, not so patiently, for me to finish so we could start playing.

Later, as a babysitter, I would clean my customers’ homes after putting the kiddies to sleep. Not that they asked, I just thought it would be a nice extra. I'd also rearrange their furniture. Can you imagine coming home from a night out, maybe a little tipsy, to find that your living room had been redecorated and your furniture moved all around, sometimes to other rooms, by your 15-year-old babysitter?

During my high school years, I also worked in a department store and to make the time go by faster, would work up displays for whatever department I was assigned. The store manager loved this and rewarded me the display setups for each holiday; for the entire retail store, that's every month. I was in heaven.

So, this is my passion – creating great spaces and unique pieces for decoration and gifts. Finding clever ways to repurpose, decorate and “bedeckle” your digs is such fun! Spring especially inspires me, and turns up the volume on my restoration spirit. When the flowers begin to bloom and the birds start singing their little heads off – everything just seems to scream "RENEW ME." I can’t help myself. I’m off hunting for stuff to be saved and revived.

After one particularly successful hunt, my husband came into the garage where I’d just laid out all the great things I found – the only thing better than the hunt is gazing upon the prize(s) we’ve dragged home. I was so proud. As he was walking away, I heard him mumbling something about hoarding. "One man's trash is another man's treasure" I protested loudly and proudly! He has since apologized for mistaking my remarkable findings as junk. He doesn’t always see the potential in my new smelly broken “thing” but he’s stopped questioning my sanity, at least out loud.


Tip of the Month:

I love working with lamps. Lighting in any room sets the tone and can make such a brilliant statement! Placing smaller lamps in unexpected places like on a kitchen counter, amongst the canisters or inside a bookshelf, next to a silk plant and some of your more attractive books will create a pleasant ambiance.

I can’t tell you how many of these big and little darlings I’ve salvaged. Besides the typical polish and spiff, what about painting it another color to bring back its lamp body luster? A new lampshade makes such a difference; try a size a little bigger or smaller and taller than you might normally select or a different shape. Go for a lampshade color – rich and dark shades cast beautiful glows when lit. I know, not very clever, huh?

Well, how about embellishing that shade with a bow or a beaded trim or fringe – that should kick it up a notch. Want more? Hang a tassel from the light switch knob, making sure it shows below the shade. Smaller garlands are perfect to place around the shade or the base, adding an attention-grabbing touch.

I also like to elevate these incandescent beauties. One way is to glue a candle holder, large enough to hold the base of the lamp. Make sure the candle holder isn’t too tall so the light fixture won’t be top heavy. Another suggestion would be placing smaller lamps on a stack of books or a decorative tissue holder.

Go on an expedition through that stuff at the back of your closet or in “those” boxes in your garage with an open mind and a new eye – you might just find something that is waiting to be transformed and loved all over again!


Catherine can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ;  her website is