Oct 27, 2016

A Junk Picker’s Guide to the Galaxy


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By day, I am a graphic designer, making things look good on screen.
By night, I am a builder/creator/decorator/refinisher of all things used and discarded.

Restoring old furniture and building new pieces from reclaimed materials is my favorite way to decorate my home. Bringing outdated pieces back to life or giving something a new function and purpose is beyond satisfying. Not to mention it saves money, is much better quality than IKEA (and way more environmentally friendly), and produces a one-of-a-kind piece with a story.

After recently moving into a new apartment, the home improvement projects have been never ending. My previous jewelry organizer didn’t survive the move, so that made it to the top of the list. I’ve seen homemade necklace holders constructed from wood and screw hooks on Pinterest and Etsy and decided to try something similar. The first step was finding a worthy base. While hiking near Chatfield Reservoir with my pup Lucy, I fell in love with an old, gnarled piece of driftwood. You get some pretty weird looks when hiking with a big slab of wood, similar to the stares you get as you rummage through discarded furniture on the side of the road/alley, but it’s always worth it.

I stopped at a hardware store on my way home to get a pack of hooks, and dug up some twine in one of my many buckets of “this could be used for something, someday, I think.. better hold on to it just to be sure” bins. After drilling some holes (to avoid splitting the wood) and screwing the hooks by hand, the driftwood had a new purpose–to keep my necklaces organized and untangled. The final step was roping the twine around the wood and hanging it on the wall!


ndblog_pic2This project was definitely easier and less time consuming than others, but I enjoy them all. From hunting for my next fixer upper at thrift stores, Craigslist, and junk piles to the moment I decide it is done and ready to be used. The whole process is therapeutic and a creative outlet that involves working with my hands rather than sitting in front of a computer. I always loved browsing other’s creations and watching people construct masterpieces on HGTV, and a few years ago, finally decided to try it myself. There are countless online tutorials and do-it-yourself books that the possibilities are endless. My biggest piece of advice to anyone who is interested or curious about making something themselves, rather than buying new, is to just start. Don’t worry about not having the right materials or tools–get the necessary basics to begin and find a local hardware store/tool library that rents out the goods. And more than anything, don’t worry about messing up. Chances are the worn-down dresser, desk, chair etc. that you want to revive already looks like sh*t and anything you do will be an immense improvement!

Some furniture favorites:


Coffee Table I made for my sister as a housewarming gift. The top of this table was constructed from an old cedar dock that I noticed buried in someone’s firewood pile next to their shed. Although they didn’t love me knocking on their door and disrupting dinner to ask if I could buy it, they let me take a section of the dock home. I sanded, cut, and stained the wood and then assembled on the base of a discarded coffee table that I stripped and repainted.


Before & After of an old cabinet that I updated for my friend Kayla who had a very tiny kitchen with little to no cabinet space. It was sitting in my dad’s garage and he happily let me take it off his hands. I stripped, sanded, painted, stained, and added new hardware to give this beast a complete overhaul.


Before & After of a set of extremely comfy chairs I found for next to free on Craigslist. I reupholstered the seats with vintage fabric from a local thrift store and painted and waxed the wood to make them look much less sterile.


Before & After of the first piece of furniture I ever sold at a local coffee shop. I later found out that my friend made the purchase.. but uh, still counts? Thanks, Kim. I painted and distressed the table to give it a more modern and lively look.


Nina DeWane is a designer and interiors extraordinaire at BrandJuice. Stay tuned to learn more about Nina.

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